I drove south today. I don’t have any memories of this ground. This was the first time I have been there. The Saints are moving back to Moorabbin after failing to establish themselves at Seaford and not coming to an agreement with Cricket Victoria to share the Junction Oval. This is their other historical home: after having moved there from the Junction Oval in the mid-60s. The Saints have also played home games at VFL Park and of course, recently at Docklands. If I think of Moorabbin, I think of the early days of Tony Lockett, the Saints getting smashed, Danny Frawley and a muddy oval.
An article from 11th March 2017 in The Age, “we’ll have a combination of an elite training facility […] where our players can train and learn and develop whole interacting with a thriving community which people want to be part of. We didn’t have that really at Moorabbin in the past and we didn’t have it at Seaford.” (Caroline Wilson, “St.Kilda’s home base gets new name”, The Age, 11th March, 2017, p.50-51). And, just like at the renovated Arden St, “the new facility will not have a grandstand”. The club has called the project, “Reimagining Moorabbin”. And ‘reimagining’ means wiping out traces of history and appropriating them into a slick, linear, all-encompassing narrative of success and transparency.
I arrived and parked my car at the back of the grandstand next to mural of a mulletted and young Tony Lockett. A man was walking his dog which looked like a cross between a blue heeler and some kind of pit-bull. The dog walked on an angle trying to break free. The man, with his fu-man-chu mustache did his best to hold him. A grandfather took his grandsons for an outing and they rode their tricycles in the car park. Some pokies-users got an early start on putting their coins into the machines so that their beloved St.Kilda Football Club could cover some of their costs of trotting out a team in the AFL for the sake of tradition and little expectation of winning the damn thing.
I walked under the grandstand and heard the loud hum of airconditioners. What was being airconditioned I’m not sure. The social club could have surely got by with opening its doors. A table was covered in pigeon shit. Pigeons fluttered about. A fire-hose lay in a heap. A sign warned spectators not to take photographs or to make video recordings or do anything of the sort – lest the AFL’s copyright be breached. Quelle horror. I did not go in to the ‘Social Club’. It is not my place. I’m happy to be a voyeur of ruins but less so of people whose business is not mine. There was only one and a half goal posts at the northern end; and this was all that remained at the south. The turf was soft and the lines of the field were fading.
There is gym equipment: at some point someone had hopes for re-purposing the stand. There is graffiti and a sign saying do not come in: this door is alarmed. This is an unloved ruin of the VFL era. It will be demolished with little sense of nostalgia and we will hear much about the new Saints and integrating with their community. Let’s hope so. Maybe they will become a Bulldogs of the South and surprise themselves and others to a premiership while advocating progressive politics. Maybe.