History of Princes Park

Princes Park

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History of Princes Park


3 September, 2004 CARLTONFC.COM.AU


Stephen Walsh is a history honours student and is writing his thesis on the history of Optus Oval (Princes Park). He has spent much of the year researching what others have said and written about the ground in the past. While not part of his thesis, Stephen has written the following article on what the ground has meant to him for the past 22 years.

I love Princes Park. I have been going there since I could walk. Probably earlier. I have literally grown up there. The ground was where my passion for the Carlton Football Club and football grew.

I think it was a Carlton v Hawthorn game in 1991 that sold it for me. That year Hawthorn would go on to become premiers, and we would have our worst ever finish (11th) at that point in time. We lost convincingly, and if it wasn't for a late Simon Minton-Connell goal, the result would have been over 100 points.

Although I'd been to the footy before that countless times, it was this game that sold me. Some may find it odd, but it was the level of passion that I witnessed for the Carlton Football Club, and the way the crowd (including my sisters and I) harshly treated the Hawthorn supporters. They had no place to be at our home. We took on a rather large man sitting across from us who was a passionate Hawk. We could not believe it. How dare he sit amongst Carlton Football Club reserve seat holders?

This continued for every game I attended at Princes Park until the mid-90s. The team grew as I did. We became a team to be reckoned with. We cheered as we beat Essendon by 52 points in 1992. We cheered as Kernahan made amends against Hawthorn in 93 (after the infamous kick against the Dons the week before) and as we scraped over the line against the lowly placed Swans in the last round of that year, which ensured a second Placed finish to the year. We went berserk as we crushed Richmond and WCE at the end of 94. A premiership seemed inevitable. If the finals had been played at Princes Park, we had it in the bag. It was not to be.

We basked in the glory of 95. What a year. Undefeated at Princes Park. Bradley's rushed behind against Geelong. What a game that was. The best I can remember at the ground.

However, the ground changed in 1996. The outer was on the 'outer'. A distinguishing sense of the ground's character was lost. It was replaced by a large, sweeping structure which could have been found anywhere in the world. The ground had grown up too. It no longer could truly claim to be a 'fair dinkum' suburban ground, but rather a boutique stadium, which would ensure Carlton's immediate future as a power to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately that was not to be the case. We wanted to keep the ground as our home - after all, Collingwood was still at Victoria Park, and the Bulldogs would provide financial support for the construction of the new stand by playing games at the ground. Up in the Pratt Stand, the mood was the same. The same people year in, year out. Friendly, passionate Carlton supporters. There was never not enough to talk about. 'What a player Kouta's going to be'. 'Why isn't young Lance getting more game time?' ' Is Kerna gone?'

It was comfortable, and it was familiar. We loved it. Playing at the G or at Waverley was not the same. You didn't feel as welcome. It didn't feel like 'home'.

However, times have changed. Collingwood have moved from Victoria Park, but more significantly Western Bulldogs have moved from Princes Park. Like Hawthorn and Fitzroy had done earlier in the decade. We were alone. The writing was on the wall. The construction of the new stand had been a compromise. An expensive compromise at that.

The future was clear. As soon as the Legends Stand was unveiled, we were being lured away from Princes Park. Would it happen? 'Pigs arse' it would. Carlton was our home. We had built it. The other clubs wished they were in our position. We had power over everyone. As the tide turned in 2000 with the coming of the homogenous bowl in Melbourne's docks (if not with its announcement), named after a soon-to-be-overrun bank, Princes Park looked out of place on Melbourne's sporting landscape. It was Melbourne's Prince of Parks.

So the ground is no longer to hold AFL matches after next year. A tear will be shed. A last drink will be drunk. We will mourn. But life will go on. We will prosper. We will create a new sense of 'homeliness' at our new homes. Although these are shared grounds, we can make them what is essentially and fundamentally Carlton. This is achieved not by landscape, but by the people around us and by our shared experiences.

Goodbye Princes Park. I wish you didn't have to go. But life goes on.

Contributed by Lygon Legends (Stephen Walsh)

Princes Park


As a wee lad it was sitting in the smoke filled pub til 1:50
And then the mad dash in dad’s beloved old FJ,
Parking in a dank laneway somewhere near the ground,
Followed by the frantic rush with all the other supporters,
Like creeks joining, forming a river, the crowd would gather
Sweeping me along until we hit the Princes Park grasslands
And the grass, like a bright green ocean, would open us up
Before us the gates, the Heatley stand and the shining Carlton monogram.
Behind and around me I’d hear the voices calling like wolves to the moon
'Fooooty re-cord, footy re-cord! Get your fooooty re-cord!'

Later it was a train ride to Royal Park and the slow jog
Around the walls of the zoo and across the many ovals
Kicking newspaper footballs that came apart with each kick
But always lasting until the ground came into sight,
Then once again that Carlton monogram and the waiting gates.
Inside the ground was a push, a human equivalent of a caterpillar,
Segments still and then segments moving until everyone found a position.

Princes Park is the smells, the smells of men and smoke
And old, wet overcoats, the smell of beer in cans and beer on breath,
Or the worse smell of all, the smell of the toilets when dad took me for a pee
And my feet stood in an inch of water mixed with urine
While I waited behind a thousand men for relief.

It’s the peanut man who could hit every outstretched hand
As a penny was lobbed for a bag of peanuts,
It’s the walk around at halftime with the blanket,
Another player’s testimonial and everyone threw a shilling
Or two to contribute to another number’s retiring.

In those days the turnstiles clicked as old men in long coats
Hovered like tram conductors, collected your ticket
And I’d stand line, ticket firmly clenched, listening,
Knowing each click meant I was a step closer
To the grand entrance into the ground, the walk up the rise
And the grass, the green, green grass of Princes Park.

Always we'd stand together on the concrete steps
Under the old time keeper's clock, a famous clock
Only beaten by the Clocks of Flinders Street
As the most important meeting place in my life
Until progress tore it down and we lost another piece of history.
Dad and pop and my brothers would be there, and others,
A community of spirits meeting each fortnight under the clock.

I’d scurry in amongst the feet of the crowd gathering 12 tinnies
To make a platform, a wobbly Dias that allowed enough elevation
So that a small kid like me could see above the crowd and catch sight
Of a Jezza mark or a Big Nick tap or a Sydney Jackson drop kick.

As a young man it became a tram ride, the famous number 1 up Lygon
Then the mad dash from the Rising Sun to the ground,
Approaching from behind and entering the gate near the old outside toilet.
Again a walk up the rise and then the view of the grass m.j
And the sound of people's voices, that's the ground for me
People's voices, all shapes, all kinds, calling, chatting, screaming
An ocean of voices, a blanket of sound that gathered me in
And held me captivated throughout the entire game
As people pushed and shoved and lurched this way and that
Ebbing and flowing in sympathy with the game, the sound,
The sound of football, the colosseum scream of Christians and lions.
And around us the stands of Princes Park holding the sound, capturing it,
Increasing it until the whole of Carlton reverberated with the scream ‘Ball!’

Then the final siren and the scramble home as dusk turned to dark
And a thousand car horns sound, their air is filled with voices
And radios and the clinking of the tram bells along Royal Parade.
The ground empties, and everyone heads home
Leaving the ground silent, empty and, at least until Tuesday, just a little sad.



Media coverage of Princes Park (Optus Oval) from November 1993-2002, paying particular attention to economic and historical issues. The ground’s name-change and Legends’ Stand redevelopment will be used as case studies.

Princes Park may appear merely yet-another average sporting ground located in a city well-equipped with excellent sporting facilities. It does not have the mystique and majesty of the MCG, nor the luxury fittings of Docklands Stadium, and although it has its own interesting history and is well-known for its picturesque surrounds, Princes Park is most significant for being the last Melbourne ‘suburban’ ground serving as a venue for AFL matches. As such, it outwardly represents a different era of Australian sport to many people nostalgic for the way things ‘were’ – arriving early on game-days for a small space of standing room in the ‘outer’; frequent battles with inclement weather and parochial, almost tribal, opposition supporters; the inherent character and charm of suburban grounds and the way the football club connected with its suburb.

However, the presentation and staging of Australian sport, including ‘Aussie Rules’, has changed markedly in recent times, and the corporate and media markets are now significant. In the decade of focus in this essay, Windy Hill, Victoria Park, Moorabbin, the Western Oval and Waverley have all been replaced as AFL venues. Economic factors have become far more important than nostalgic links.

It is interesting that the Carlton Football Club (CFC), often referred to as the ‘corporate club’, or ‘silver-tails’ have become the champions of retaining the suburban tradition. As other clubs have upgraded by moving to larger venues, Carlton have upgraded their own venue. Economic benefits (whom did the redevelopments serve) and gender issues (who made these decisions), as well as whether nostalgia played a large part in the strong reluctance of Carlton to shift from Princes Park, will be considered in this essay.


Princes Park is competing for tenants with the ‘new age’ grounds from Melbourne and interstate (Docklands, Stadium Australia and the MCG) in a war that it may ultimately lose. The CFC decision in late 1993 to sell naming rights for the ground to Optus for a lucrative sponsorship was an early shot fired in the war. This action created enormous controversy, became the butt of many jokes in both tabloid and broad-sheet media, and was signalled by some journalists as being the ‘beginning of the end’ for traditions in Australian sport – “all the sponsors’ dollars in the world won’t save our game from spiritual bankruptcy”. It appeared anything could, and would be bought by the commercial market ‘in the best interests’ of the game. The sponsorship was sealed after McDonalds had placed its logo on the ball, and advertising was planned to feature on the back of football guernseys the following year.

The name-change issue prompted The Age journalist Kenneth Davidson to write – “sport is entertainment, but its hold on supporters is built on values, which in the main, are not commercial values”. These values, namely loyalty and tradition, still remain an important aspect of Australian sport and illustrate that nostalgic influence was still profound in 1993. It is little wonder that when the announcement was made, many supporters did not hold with the club’s view that corporate sponsorship went hand-in-hand with tradition – “Optus uses as its slogan… ‘yes’, but a common reaction to yesterday’s news… was ‘no’”.

Nowadays, commercialisation is more accepted, and ‘Optus Oval’ became a Melbourne trend-setter – and now many famous sporting facilities across Australia have donned a commercial mantle. By 1998, with the renaming of Kardinia Park to Shell Stadium, commercial sponsorship of sporting grounds had become a non-existent issue. More of an issue in the latter case is that too many name-changes – four in five years – have seen many people revert back to using the original name. In this case, and possibly with others in the future, tradition has won over economic factors.

Despite being the first such arrangement in this city, the Optus/Carlton alliance has remained strong, and the contract has recently been extended. Again, Princes Park becomes the trend-setter. Despite initial criticism, the media and the football community have generally accepted that without the support of a major ground sponsor, the CFC would not have been able to make required improvements to the ground’s facilities and playing surface.


To some degree, but not as much as the former suburban grounds, Princes Park had (and still has) its problems. Significant reasons these grounds ceased to be AFL grounds included that they were located on residential streets with limited parking and sub-optimal public transport, and were unable to develop and update facilities. Princes Park did have redevelopment ability, reasonable parking and adequate public transport.

In the late 1980s, Princes Park expanded with the addition of the John Elliot (now Heroes’) Stand, removing the old, dilapidated press box and standing-room in favour of limited seating capacity with state-of-the-art corporate boxes and dining rooms. The next plan was to ‘finish’ the ground – encircle it with grandstands. The outer – regarded as “one of the last bastions for watching football” – and the revered, old-style scoreboard were to make way. In mid-1994, Carlton unveiled plans to increase capacity to 45,000 (from approximately 32,000), with long-term aims of adding floodlights (in line with other major grounds).

Right from the outset, resident groups tried to thwart these redevelopment plans on environmental issues. The residents were concerned in particular about Carlton’s future plans to build an underground car park and floodlights for night matches. They argued that increasing capacity (and therefore the venue’s importance) would increase traffic, noise and game regularity. Richard Malone (Secretary of the Princes Park Protection Association) reacted strongly, calling the project “Albert Park Mark II”. Letters to the editor such as this – which were always written by representatives of minority groups – were published by The Age, but there was little incisive comment on the merits of the argument by sports writers or in opinion articles.

Criticism initially came from local residents, rather than from ‘football experts’ predicting the downfall of the ground and the wisdom of such a move. The media instead focused on the positive aspects of redevelopment – that it will be good for Melbourne – it will create competition for Waverley as Melbourne’s second most important venue. Stephen Linnell stated that the redevelopment was to “transform the ground into a key sports and tourist attraction capable of hosting national and international events”.

As the issue continued, the residents’ profile was raised, eventually forcing the capacity increase to be lowered to 35,000 to ensure the preservation of nearby parkland. Parts of the media portrayed this dispute as a class struggle between David (residents) and Goliath (the CFC), as they battled “the privatisation of a public park”.

In a series of feature articles on the ground a few years later, Karen Lyon argued that “probably unknown to a football club not skilled in the planning and development debate, Carlton’s plans could not have come at a worse time. With several other projects planned for Melbourne’s parklands, there was a growing fear that the city’s famous parks were becoming construction sites”. This statement does not take into account that battles between the football club and residents had been ongoing from (at least) the construction of the 1970s ‘Hawthorn’ (now Pratt) Stand. It is hard to see this battle as a class struggle, as most residents protesting the redevelopments were from Garton Street, Carlton (across the road from the ground), which is by no means a poor area. Nor could the residents’ groups of that area be classified as being made up of the ‘downtrodden and oppressed’. It is interesting to note that when this issue was at its peak, an advertising article appeared in The Age about a house for sale in Garton Street. The proximity to Optus Oval was used as a key-selling feature.

Perhaps a more important issue (which was not covered by media reports of the Princes Park redevelopment) was the class struggle that was developing over the replacement of the outer with expensive reserved seats – the club argued it was moving with the times, in accordance with other venues. Although the ground now undeniably has better facilities, the walk-up spectator has been disadvantaged by these changes, as the entire ground has almost become exclusive to those who can afford reserved seats or corporate boxes, or with CFC, AFL or MCC memberships.

Football, arguably above all other pursuits in this city, has been one of inclusion regardless of class, race or sex, rather than exclusion. Football seems to be becoming less and less accessible to the average football fan. There is a limited amount of general admission tickets available at Princes Park, compared to other venues. Because of this, although Princes Park is the last ground, with the feel of an old suburban ground, it no longer upholds the ideals of old suburban grounds for which people feel nostalgic, because of how it now appeals – in both senses of the word – to the high end of town.

Media perceptions on the redevelopment of the ground changed in mid-1996, halfway through construction, when the State Government announced it was considering upgrading Olympic Park or building a new complex at Docklands. Sports journalists immediately realised the benefits of another large multi-purpose stadium (with state-of-the-art facilities) close to the city. Even with the inevitable Waverley demolition, Princes Park would be relegated to number three again – “just as Carlton prepares for a reconstructed Optus Oval to be crowned as prince to the MCG’s king, a new contender has emerged”. The media also began to question the “wisdom of borrowing so much money for a stand that boosts capacity to only 35,000”.

As the ‘new stadium’ issue progressed, and once the Legends Stand opened in 1997, the CFC blamed the AFL for undertaking a “destructive anti-Optus campaign, which had damaged the reputation of the club”. A poll, taken during the construction year to examine the popularity of different football grounds in Melbourne, reported less than glowing results for Princes Park. The club maintained that it was merely due to the inconveniences caused by construction, however in similar surveys conducted since, Princes Park has continued to poll poorly. Other problems that compounded the bad press were the pricing of Legends Stand tickets, and that in many of the ground’s early 1997 games, the Stand was only half-full. It was clear that apart from Carlton supporters, the ground was (and remains) not well-liked. It was an astonishing fall from grace in a very short space of time, for the would-be number two Melbourne venue.

The CFC hired a public relations firm to combat the negative press. The four-page PR campaign (which appeared in The Age), noted that the new stand was built because “consumers have shown that they now want seats – and they want them under cover”, and highlighted the advantages of buying a reserved seat. Another article described Princes Park as being “ideal for the corporate day out”. Carlton’s attempts to improve perceptions of the ground by focusing on economic issues did not help the situation.

In 2000, the AFL responded by reducing Princes Park’s games to Carlton home games only, preferring to pay out its contract rather than force other teams to play ‘home’ games there. The ground’s future has continually been questioned since Docklands’ opening, and it appears that in 2006, when the ground’s contract with the AFL expires, Carlton may well be wooed (with significant economic benefits) by either the then-newly completed MCG or Docklands.

Also at play in the recent history of Princes Park has been the arrogance and attitude displayed on this issue by CFC. It is not surprising that the media relied on CFC quotes by John Elliot (always depicted in the media as a male chauvinist) and that the leading spokesperson for the residents was a woman (Save Princes Parks’ Sandra Hart). Perhaps it can simply be put down to men (economics), versus women (environmental issues). Despite well-documented debts of over $10 million, the CFC last year (edit: 2002) submitted plans to redevelop the Gardiner Stand – a further $5 million. This male egotism was not confined to Elliot; in 1995 (when residents were heavily opposing redevelopment to extend capacity to 42,000), board member and prominent Melbourne businessman Richard Pratt outlined his vision of upgrading Optus Oval to 70,000. Furthermore, until last year, no woman had ever served on the Carlton board.


The CFC have maintained that Princes Park has not been given a ‘fair go’ by the media in recent years. In no way should the ground be immune from criticism, but as the last suburban Melbourne ground, it will be sad, from an historical point of view, when the ground inevitably suffers the same fate as other suburban grounds. The media’s sudden change of tune in the mid-to-late 90s will have aided the forces behind Princes Park’s ultimate demise.

Although many fans would like to keep the ground for traditional reasons, as explored in this essay, these reasons alone cannot ensure the ground’s future. As with many other facets of today’s society, even history and tradition can be sold for the right price.

Contributed by Lygon Legends (Stephen Walsh)


The Melbourne City Council on June 9, 1878 granted 11 acres of Princes Park to the Carlton club. After 16 years of improvisation Carlton Football Club in 1879 at last found a home ground. This ground was located at the southern end of Princes Park (not the current location) and named Princes Oval; it had a movable picket fence around it, goal posts 40 feet high, and other equipment. Although it was held by the club solely at the pleasure of Melbourne City Council, it was felt generally in Carlton that the Council would not seek repossession of the ground for many years.
The 1878 proposed diagram see below, differs from the Allen & Tuxen map of 1888 see Pre VFL Venues. The 1888 map has the ground running east -west and is further north towards the Melbourne General Cemetery. It would seem that this Allen & Tuxen map is correct, as football reports of the era mention the cemetery end of the ground, as well of complaints from the Cemetery Trust of noise and people accessing the ground through the cemetery.
Note, that the playing area is a rectangle, this ground shape would soon change to an oval once football was allowed to be played on cricket grounds.

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne formally opened it on May 03, 1879 and Carlton (with 20 players) defeated a combined team of 25 (made up of 10 players each from Lincoln, Victory and 5 from Carlton Imperials) Carlton won seven goals to nil – Extracts from the Carlton Story written by Harry Bell and Hugh Buggy (published in 1958). For many seasons Carlton were not allowed to charge admission and even ‘passed the hat around’. But it wasn’t until joining the newly formed league in 1897 that the Club, as one of the conditions was allowed to move to the current location and erected a permanent fence.

The Blues were hampered by the inability of not being allowed (by the Melbourne City Council) to charge for admission, unlike all the other teams whose local councils promoted their club. Carlton used the Princes Oval on and off through this period till 1897. However, the M.C.G. was Carlton's home ground from 1885 to 1890. Then the Melbourne Cricket Club took over the Melbourne Football Club and that ended the Blues' tenure. East Melbourne Cricket Ground, the University ground, the Warehouseman's ground, the M.C.G., and even Victoria Park were used as home grounds as a charge for admission could be made.
There is a thought that the powerful Melbourne Cricket Club influenced the City Council to stymie Carlton's attempts, as the Blues were such a crowd puller and that the cricket club's coffers would be unduly affected.

See Pre VFL Venues

An enlarged extract of the Allen & Tuxen 1888 map. 'C' indicates the Princes Park football ground.

1878 The petition's diagram of the proposed Carlton Football Ground signed by Ben James.
The playing surface is a massive 860x590 feet or 262x180 metres! (although the goal posts are marked a little further inside the arena.)
Compare this with M.C.G.'s 'puny' 171x146 metres.
The playing arena is surrounded by a 100 foot (30 metre) 'Promenade' for spectators.

To read club historian Tony De Bolfo's article on the found petition click here> www.carltonfc.com.au/news/2015-12-15/historic-princes-park-petition-found



Melbourne University and its oval in the foreground, Carlton Cricket Club rooms on The Triangle.
Carlton Football Club's ground in the southern end of Princes Park (runs East - West) would be around where the University building tower is.
Royal Parade/Sydney Road extends to the North towards the present ground.
Image size, colour, and focus adjusted.
Image; courtesy hiddenmelbourne.com.au


Weekly Times August 04 article on the Carlton Cricket Club, formation, early players including many Carlton footballers, and The Triangle ground.



Two years after the opening of the North Carlton railway station on the Inner Circle railway line, the St.Kilda to North Carlton cable tram service ran along Rathdowne Street terminating at Park Street. At the same time a cable tram service was introduced along Royal Parade (Sydney Road) from the city to Brunswick.

"Traffic" - Cable Trams

"At an early hour in the afternoon, almost every available vehicle, crowded with supporters and enthusiasts, started off from South Melbourne to witness the big game, and cheer their team to victory.
As already known, there was an enormous crowd estimated as from 30,000 to 35,000, at the match. The Brunswick trams pass within a stone's throw of the ground, and anticipating a great rush, the Tramway Company had made elaborate preparations to accommodate the traffic.
Over forty dummies, with their long bogie cars attached, were put on the road, and at the busiest periods of the afternoons these were despatched at minute intervals, with no timetables for the conductors, but instructions to get through as quickly as possible compatible with safety.
The traffic to the match was handled quite satisfactorily, as it extended over a considerable time, many going very early to take up good positions on the ground. At the conclusion of the game, however, the conditions were very different. Everybody wanted to get home at once. The precaution had been taken to "hold up" the cars travelling city-wards at the entrance to Prince's Park. By 5 o'clock there was a string of them extending northwards nearly to the Sarah Sands Hotel.
Then the rush commenced. Every car near the entrance was almost instantly overloaded, and the people commenced to rush up the line to get on those behind. The cars and dummies were despatched with tremendous loads of humanity. Every inch of standingroom was occupied, and dozens clambered onto the roofs or gained a precarious foothold on the sides of the cars even. The rolling stock and cables must have undergone a severe test, but they stood it well. The wonder it that there were not some severe accidents to those who, to use the fanciful phrase of Mr. Melville, M.L.C., were "holding on by their eyebrows."
Meanwhile, impatient thousands, unable to get on the cars for the city, took those bound for Moreland, and travelling up the line until they met empty cars coming from the sheds. These were quickly filled, and had to run past the crowd lower down. It is safe to say that some thousands paid double fares in order to obtain standing room. Thousands of others walked northwards for as much as a mile, and for a time Sydney-road - the main street of Brunswick - was crowded with pedestrians walking away from the direction of their homes to obtain conveyances. Many others others walked easterly through North Carlton, and took tram from the north end of Rathdown-street.
It was quite a unique experience for the company, and the takings must have been very heavy, though the conductors must surely have missed collecting some fares."
(Trove; Record Emerald Hill, June 09 1906 p3)

Cable Cars/Trams

"Between 1.45pm and 3pm about 17,000 passengers were carried to the football match between Essendon and Carlton on Saturday at Carlton Oval. Cars ran at varying intervals to suit the traffic, sometimes 100yd., sometimes 200, and thereabout to 500 yards apart. Between the ground and Flinders-street nearly 3,000 passengers would be hauled at one time, and allowing about a quarter of an hour for the journey, this would work out roughly at about 15,000 passengers carried in a little over an hour. The big cars will take about 70, seated and standing inside and on platforms. Dummy will take 30 easily. The cars are rushed before and after a match, and there is no way of preventing more than a certain number from riding. Cars and dummy will carry more than twice their licensed capacity without fear of breaking down."
(Punch May 21 (p18) 1908)
In 2017 according to the Yarra Trams' timetable says it would now take 19 minutes by tram to travel from Princes Park to Flinders Street!


Image: Courtesy Bylands Tram Museum


The Leader January 17 (p15) writes about the state of the park.


Carlton historian Tony De Bolfo's two part article on the long time curator.
Firstly Tommy was the curator of 'The Triangle' in 1892 and then the new Princes Park Oval from 1897 until his retirement in 1942. His son Bert Warne then took over the curator's duties from 1943 until 1968.
Part 2 contains a short colourised film taken in 1942 with shots of Princes Park including the old score board and the outer shelter shed.
Part 1: http://www.carltonfc.com.au/news/2014-04-10/tribute-to-tom-conjures-images-of-old-carlton
Part 2: http://www.carltonfc.com.au/news/2014-08-05/tribute-to-tom-in-film


From The Age September 24;


Carlton moved to and played their first league match at Princes Park in Round 7, 1897

On Tuesday June 22, 1897 Carlton played their first match at Princes Park and was defeated by Collingwood by 4 points. The final scores were Carlton 5.6.36 to 6.4.40 and the field umpire was Keenan. Carlton player Oscar Manchester made his league debut in this game and Arthur Cummins who had been recruited from Castlemaine played his 7th and last league game. When he left he was one of only five Carlton players that had played every Carlton league game. Arthur Cummins holds the astonishing record for any league player to have played his whole career in seven consecutive matches at seven different venues against seven different sides.


This is a reproduction of an article in the weekly newspaper "Table Talk" Friday June 25 1897 p15.
The author is former foundation member of the Carlton Football Club - George F. Bowen writing under his alias, "Nunquam Dormio."
The digital reproduction in Trove in the beginning of the article is difficult to read, so without seeing the original there may some inaccuracies.

'Carlton boys (Young Ones and Old ones) were in strong force in Princes Park on Tuesday afternoon to witness the opening of the new Princes Oval - held in joint possession by the Carlton Cricket Club and the Carlton Football Club. ...? to quote the words of friend "Observer" in Monday's Argus, it was opened "in a manner of the best traditions of the old club" Aye! that it was.

True, there were no substantial buildings to foregather in, but there were spacious marquees and the marquee always presents itself to me as being so specially pertinent to a cricket ground that I hope to see one in evidence there for many a long day to come. It does look like Old Times.

Not but what the Carlton fellows will have the other necessary eceterae/etcetera? in due time. You had better believe it! President George Robertson, and Fred Bennett, Joe Harrington, Wally Donaldson, Cunningham, McFarlane, A. H. Shaw, M. B. Hearne, Jack Donovan, Jack Gardiner, Jack Melville, and goodness knows how many more, have all got their ears well thrown back, and Mean Business, I can assure you. And when the crowd I have mentioned "mean business," something is certain to come of it, which something is equally as certain to be considerably augumented when Lieut. Colonel "Bob" Robertson, Alderman "Jim" Moloney, and Messers. George H. Ievers, Alex Gillespie and others of the rank-and-file chip in.

You should have witnessed the "rale ould punt" with which Alderman "Jim" duly opened the football ground. It was worthy of the best days of dear old Lanty O'Brien (whose magnificent "shadow," I am pleased to be able to state, shows no signs of growing any less; rather t'other way about, in point of fact).

To revert back to the Moloney kick-off. I had the extreme felicity in taking part in the opening match of the Carlton Football Club in 1864, when sides were chosen by the President and Vice President, the first President being none other than Mr. G. S. Coppin. And George Sands Coppin kicked-off too! That he did! In the Princes Oval, three-and-thirty years ago!

And the "Arful Dodger" didn't make half a bad kick either. But he took a "place," not being as well inculcated then in the art and mystery of football as the worthy Alderman of today.

Pleasant indeed it was on Tuesday to witness the gathering of old mates and old friends. In the true Fellowship of Sport the executive of the Collingwood Football Club had donated their share of the "gate" towards the improvement of the reserve; whilst good and trusty friends from South and North Melbourne put in an appearance to add eclat to the occasion and wish the Dark Blues every success. The City Council was also well represented, those of the "city fathers" being lavish in their acknowledgments of the splendid improvements already made in no short space of time and with such limited capital.

By granting permissive occupancy of Princes Oval to the Carlton Cricket club and Carlton Football Club the members of the City Council have Conferred an Obligation on the Whole of the British Nation. Now that is a very sweeping assertion to make, but it is an Incontrovertible Fact nevertheless. As how? Thuswise: Johnny Crapaud and the rest of the foreigners have always maintained that Britishers take their pleasures sadly. And up to Tuesday last no part of the British Dominions had made an effort to disprove this disparaging statement. But you didn't require to be two minutes in the convincing ground on Tuesday, to be aware of the fact that there wasn't a Tinge of Sadness there. No! Although some thousands of Britishers were gathered - on pleasure bent - in the Very Shadow of the Graveyard.

One way, it was just as well that Collingwood defeated Carlton on Tuesday. Collingwood - last year's premiers - still have a chance of annexing the premiership again this season, whilst Carlton Haven't an Earthly. Therefore it wouldn't have done Carlton any good - except Morally. And morally - as any disinterested spectator who was there will tell you - Carlton had the best of the game - and the worst of the umpiring.

There wasn't much "sentiment" between the players though throughout the transaction; the little "boys in blue" trying their level best to down their opponents. That episode between Peter Williams and Pannam was an object lesson in that connection.'


Carlton won their first game at Princes Park on July 31, Round 13, 1897 against St. Kilda by 33 points, the final score was 8.11.59 to 3.8.26 and the field umpire was Kendall. Jim Goonan made his debut (in his two game league career) and became the first Carlton player to make his debut in a winning Carlton side at Princes Park in this historic win. He is the father of Jimmy Goonan, (born on February 9, 1897) who would later play 22 games for Carlton between 1922 and 1927 and be their captain coach of the Carlton’s second 18 for three premiership between 1926 and 1928 and became the first Carlton League father and son combination. (Note Jack Gardiner and Vin Gardiner are the sons of Carlton’s VFA 1877 Premiership Captain and later president in Alderman Jack Gardiner and the Gardiner Stand at Princes Park is named in his honour.)


"A BAZAAR and fancy fete In connection with the Carlton Football and Cricket Clubs was opened in the Carlton Orderly Rooms on Friday afternoon in the presence of a large number of spectators. The object of the fete was to raise funds for the improvement of the Carlton Recreation Reserve in Prince's Oval, which had been ceded to the clubs mentioned. The wide floor space of the Orderly Room permitted the erection of many stalls without interfering with the comfort of the promenaders or the efforts of the eager young lady sellers. Each stall has been tastefully built up as a kiosk or other suitable structure, and the general spectacular effect was picturesque and highly pleasing.
By way of opening ceremony, His Worship the Mayor of Melbourne and several gentlemen identified with the district and with the clubs were accompanied by the Mayoress and a number of ladies to the platform. Mrs. Strong on her arrival was presented with a handsome bouquet by Miss May Donovan. Mr. John A. Donovan (hon. director of the fete), Mr. Shaw (president of the football club), Mr. Bromley M.L.A., Cr. Ievers (in the unavoidable absence of Alderman Moloney M.L.A.) and Mr. George Robertson addressed a few very appropriate remarks to those present, due prominence being given to the persistent efforts which enthusiastic residents had to use before the district had obtained the boon of a recreation reserve under their own control.
Mr. Edmund Finn, as the ancient poet laureate of the clubs, delivered an address, and His Worship the Mayor, after briefly outlining the difficulties with which the clubs had had to contend, congratulated Carlton upon having at last obtained that for which she had long struggled, and declared the bazaar duly opened.
Miss Vern Goad and a gentleman vocalist sang, following this a tour of ther hall was made, and the prettily furnished stalls were duly visited. The fete will continue open until the 5th. of November, during which time several entertainments will be given." (Trove: Punch November 04 p25)


An article in Table Talk about the Carlton Cricket Club moving from the Triangle to Princes Oval after nearly 53 years.
Parts of this article are difficult to read as the micro film image is next to the far right and much of the article is unreadable.
One would have to view the original newspaper at the SLV.
Table Talk 29 April p16


"Felix" of The Australasian November 18, writes about the Carlton Cricket Club and it's formation, the old "Triangle" ground, the then new Princes Park ground, various committee men of both the Cricket and Football clubs, the ground staff, cycling track, and future plans for the arena.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138610943
Tom Horan who wrote under the name of Felix for the Australasian newspaper was a former Carltron Football Culb player and later Australian Test cricketer.
In 1905 he is again talking about the "Triangle" and early days of the 1897 Carlton ground.


Round 6, June 07 Carlton vs South Melbourne, a new embankment was opened for the crowd to obtain a better view on this day.

1904: AWNING

"An awning has been erected for the especial benefit of ladies" (Herald May 06 p4)
This image is from Round 1, 1905 v Essendon and this is possibly the ladies' awning mentioned above.
The covered area in this photo is on the northern side, half-back flank Lygon St. end.
Image: SLV, Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, May 11 1905


These two blurry photos are enlargements from the Round 16, 1904 match against Melbourne. Note the top score has been altered between the two photos.
Carlton scored it's only goal during the second quarter. The numbers may have been painted on white panels as in the 1910 photo below.
This may be the same 1910 scoreboard, but painted black. The top photo seems to have a pediment on top as the 1910 pic.

This match is also famous for the "Carlton Sash," this is the first time the clash/sash guernsey has been captured in a photograph. Click link> Round 16, 1904 for more photos from this game.
Image Image


Below: This is the earliest clear image found of a scoreboard at Princes Park. The photo is from the Round 7, 1910 match against Essendon, showing the half time scores.
This scoreboard was located on the northern side on the wing - half back, towards the Lygon Street or outer end of the ground.
This was replaced by a new basic scoreboard in 1913. (see 1920 photo below)
Around 1934 this was replaced by a larger scoreboard which was located in the northern side back pocket of the outer end - see the 1939 practice match, the US Army baseballers & the Ken Hands photos below, and it can just be made out in the 1932-1934 aerial photo below.
So far, no information is available when either scoreboards were erected.
In the mid 1960's a brick & steel scoreboard was built by former player John Benetti in the southern side outer end back pocket.
This was the iconic Princes Park scoreboard, famous for the operators' abilities to change the score within seconds of a score being kicked.
The brick score board was demolished to make way for the Legends Stand in the late 1990's, and was replaced with electronic scoreboards on the so called "Elliot Stand" on the northern wing and one on the southern side near the Hawthorn/Pratt Stand.


This photo shows the location of the Princes Park scoreboard. This team photo is believed to be from 1908, but we do not know which match.
The mystery surrounding this image continues, the club adopted white shorts and discarded it's blue and white socks for all navy from April 1905.
Also, the old press box had the old cricket club's buildings on it's left. This image does not show the club rooms. Was the press box originally to the left (our right) of the cricket club rooms?
Press box mystery solved, it stood next the scoreboard and was relocated to the northern wing next to the club rooms for season 1908. (See below.)

1909 Rnd 9 vs Essendon. Has the scoreboard has been moved closer to the back pocket? Image: Trove; Punch June 24


Carlton erected a new scoreboard for the start of the 1913 season.
"The subway for visiting players and umpires at the Carlton Oval has been completed.
Other improvements effected are the erection of a new scoring board, and the enlargement of the bank in the reserve, affording a fine view-point for another 1,000 people.
The improvements cost about 200 pounds." (Herald May 02 p3)


Above: 1920 Rnd 6 v Melbourne at Princes Park: What looks like a basic scoreboard in back ground. This is most likely the "new" scoreboard that was built for the 1913 season.
This is the only photo of this scoreboard that has been found.


1937 Rnd 1 v South Melbourne. 1st. quarter, Carlton's Keith Shea, Harry Vallence and Bert Butler
New scoreboard that replaced the 1913 one around 1934 when the Heatley Stand was built.
An innovation was the progess scores for other League matches were shown to corresponding letters in the Football Record.
Note: Quarter clock, when was that installed?


1939 Carlton practice match, quarter clock? advertising B.D.V. 'everfresh' cigarettes.
Can anyone name the players?

Trove; Age March 27

1942 US Army baseballers playing Victoria - Princes Park scoreboard, with quarter clock? advertising Grey's cigarettes.

Image: Trove, Australasian July 18

Ken Hands in front of the scoreboard which stood until the mid 1960's

The "new" mid 60's scoreboard in 1976 Rnd 1 v Collingwood. First quarter brawl. Image: Herald-Sun
The letters on the scoreboard relate to a page in the Football Record where the quarter by quarter scores of the other five VFL games being played can be checked.
Also on the scoreboard are the officiating field umpire's numbers in this case Nos.4 and 8.
The metropolitan race horse meeting placegetters, TAB Quadrella, and Little League Blues-Visitors scores were also displayed.
The Carlton scoreboard operators were noted for being extremely quick in changing the scores. Most times the scores had been altered before the goal umpire had finished waving his flags

The iconic 1960's scoreboard with the remaining outer shelter shed in 1995.
They would soon be demolished to make way for the Legends Stand.
The scoreboard's lower section had been bricked in, see B&W photo above.


110 year old views of Princes Park.
Baseball was the curtain raiser to V.F.A. and then V.F.L. matches from the 1880's until 1947. Most of the inner suburban football clubs had a baseball team.
Image Image
Images: Trove, Australasian Saturday July 22 (p27) 1905
The previous Saturday 21st. July, Carlton played South Melbourne Round 10, 1905 at Princes Park.
Note; the catcher's gloves - hand does not fit inside the glove.
Above: Deravin, centre field of the Carlton team showing the uniform.
This baseball match would have been the curtain raiser.
Although the crowd in these photos is sparse, 20,000 people attended the football match.

The Carlton Baseball Club was based in the Gardiner Stand for many years, an excellent history of the club can be seen in the videos below.


This location is possibly where the Gardiner Stand was later built. Looks like the old press box & club room buildings on the far right.
Image: Courtesy mossgreen coll.


Trove; Argus March 12 1909


1913: Looking past the old club rooms towards the Gardiner Stand. The small structure on the verandah (foreground) roof housed the clock.
There looks like a stage and flag pole has been set up on the ground facing the grandstand, perhaps this is for a general meeting?


Carlton historian Tony De Bolfo's article about the architect who designed the grandstand.


"Carlton ground management has decided to construct a subway such as that at Victoria Park, so that players will be able to enter and leave the ground without having to battle their way through crowds of barrackers, it is up to other clubs to likewise." (Herald July 08 p2}
Also refreshment area serving afternoon tea in the new rooms under the Gardiner Stand


"The subway for visiting players and umpires at the Carlton Oval has been completed.
Other improvements effected are the erection of a new scoring board and the enlargement of the bank in the reserve, affording a fine view point for another 1,000 people.
The improvements cost 200 pounds." ($400) (Herald May 02 p3)


The Leader May 09 commented that the old fence at Carlton had been replaced.
".....beyond erecting a new fence in place of the old rickety structure that used to do duty over 40 years ago in a different part of Princes Park."
"At an outlay of something like £150, a new fence is in course of erection around the playing space at Carlton. Another necessary convenience in hand, and one that will afford pleasure to visitors, is the paving of the members' reserve." (Sporting Judge April 25 p1)
This writer as a young child in the late 1950's remembers red brick paving in the area near the Gardiner Stand.
"Old Melbourne is giving place to the new. At Carlton part of the fence around the green was 35 years years old. It has been removed, and a new one built. Visitors tomorrow will appreciate the many improvements that have been made by the Recreation Committee, of which Mr. Tom Skehan is hon. secretary." (Herald May 01 p4)
35 years of age in 1914 dates back to around 1879 when this fence was constructed at Carlton's home ground in the southern end on Princes Park. It was moved to the present ground around 1897.


This article is a recreation from The Leader newspaper March 02 1918 (p21) which was under the heading Cricket Gossip.

"I thought as I looked at the Carlton cricket ground the other day that it is a wise decision to save our grounds for happier times. The Oval is magnificently situated in Princes Park, and it looked a thing of beauty and a joy forever. If the grounds had been abandoned, as some fanatics advocated, then it would have been years, if ever, before they could have been restored to their pristine excellence. Thousands of pounds have been spent and much loving labor lavished to bring the ovals to their present state of excellence. Surely it is a duty to posterity to preserve our organisations as far as possible and to hand down the grounds to future generations as perfect as they are at the present day.
The Carlton ground is of greater area than any other metropolitan ground, not even excepting the M.C.C. enclosure, and therefore it's potentialities are vaster in proportion. Only a score of years have passed since the first cricket match was played on it, and the surrounding then were primitive. The old fence that did duty on the days of George Coulthard has disappeared, and a neat white and substantial picket fence now surrounds the enclosure. The lofty, graceful and commodious stand which was designed by the present Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and is capable of indefinate extension on the same plan, was not there in the old days, and the spacious and commanding embankment, the spoil of sewerage operations, with a capacity for 50,000 people, was also non-existent. It would be a crime indeed if the ground were let go back if it were any way possible to save it, as I said above, for happier times.
The Carlton people were many years endeavoring to get a suitable oval, and the earlier history of the playing grounds of both the Carlton cricket and football clubs is unique in that neither had a settled abode. The Royal Park, Madeline-street reserve, Princes Park, and the old cricket ground ("Triangle"), opposite Ormond College, all these localities have played their part in having been the resting places of one or both clubs. The Triangle is more particularly associated with the cricket club's past and popular career, and was the scene of many exciting contests, indentified with many veterans whose names are now almost forgotton with the arising of a new generation. I myself played in the last game on the old Triangle, and the first game on the new oval.
After repeated ineffectual attempts to get a permanent and suitable abode extending over many years, the present site of 10 acres in Princes Park was granted by the Board of Land and Works and City Council on the 17th April, 1896, and the existence of the Carlton Recreation Ground was an accomplished fact, and the nomadic wanderings of the Carlton clubs terminated.
The cricket club surrendered the old Triangle for the present site, and moved it's goods and chattels where the old pavilion with it's clock and motto - "Mens sana in corpore sano" still stands, an insignificant but sacred relic of a momentous past. The new site was practically a wilderness. In fact it had long been a rubbish tip, and in one corner, where Tom Warne's cottage stands, there was a water-hole in which the local dogs were trained in aquatic exercises.
The prodigious task of reclaiming the wilderness and erecting suitable buildings and fences now faced the committee, but the burden was shouldered with resolution and vigor. Carlton has always been noted for it's sturdy supporters, and free labor was in great demand, and many an afternoon was spent with pick and shovel by men whose daily avocations were far removed from the exercise in levelling and otherwise improving the site. Fortunately the big sewers for Carlton and Brunswick were then being laid, and advantage was taken of the these operations to get filling material, to which the splendid and unrivalled embankments round the ground are a testimony.
As time went on improvements came, turnstiles, buildings of one sort and another, culminating in the erection of a grandstand, which alone absorbed £5,246. A new fence round the playing area was erected in place of the old shaky fence, which had done its on the old as well as the new oval for nigh on half a century. In the old nomadic days the fences and goal posts had to be dismantled at the close of each football season. Everything connected with the old ground in the park had to be of a movable character. Even the dressing-room was on wheels.
Space forbids further references to the career of the ground, but on 22nd June, 1907* 1897 - Queen Victoria Jubilee Day - the first football match, Carlton vs Collingwood was played. In referring to the game an old football critic wrote: - "Everything went off with a rattle from the first kicking of the ball by Alderman Jim Moloney, the formal baptism of the ground, as it were."
A host of names occur to me of those great hearted pioneers who worked for the good of the ground from the inception to the present. Some have passed the Great Divide, but where all did so well it would perhaps be invidious to mention one more than another. George Robertson, Billy Donaldson, Jack Donovan, Adam Kemp, Jack Gardiner, Tom Pigdon, Bob Heatley, Mat Hearne, Arthur Shaw are amongst them, with others who labored just as hard and faithfully. The club has been particularly fortunate in the possession of it's little cricket curator, Tom Warne. Since 1892 he has been the mainstay of Carlton in the cricket, and as curator he is, in my opinion at least, unrivalled in the cricket world. His manly attributes are in accordance with his other qualities, and I have never heard an unpleasant word said of him, except by hard tried opposing bowlers, in a friendship extending over a quarter of a century. The genial Tommy is a good citizen in another respect. He has thirteen children, and rumor has it that he is after a football eighteen. Surely he is a living exemplification of multum in parvo."
.* printing error - should have been 1897
multum in parvo (Latin) - A great deal in a small place.


Warne born January 13 1870, played cricket with Carlton for 28 years with an average of 57, and scored more than 10,000 runs with the bat. He averaged 31 in State games amassing 2,000 runs. His great batting partner at the Blues was Jack Worrall.
"Tom Warne's standing in Victorian Cricket was recognised by the awarding of a benefit match at the M.C.G. in 1910/11 - the only non-Test representative to be accorded such distinction in Australia." (Cricket Victoria)
In 1940 Tommy had spent 47 years as a player and curator at Carlton, he passed away at his home "The Lodge" Carlton Cricket Ground, July 07 1944, aged 74 years.
The curator's house "The Lodge" was in the "back pocket" at the bottom of this aerial photo. show_image.php?id=11115&scalesize=o

Carlton's Treasure Trove

Sporting Globe March 14 (p2) 1942 article on Tommy Warne and Princes Park.


"This season the club has spent £1,000 in building a new fence, 12 feet high, for three parts of the way around the ground, and next year a brick wall be erected along the remaining part. This wall will run along the Sydney road side of the present grand-stand, and will form the background for a new stand, the plans of which have already been approved, and which will be built next year. The second stand will be similar in design to the existing one, and will seat 4,000 people.
Eventually the brick wall will be carried around the full circumference, set back sufficiently to permit a considerable extension of the present banks, and then it is expected 100,000 wil be accomodated on the ground.
If the intention of the present officials is fully carried out the Carlton oval will second to none in Melbourne." (Herald April 16 p5)


"The Carlton ground will be a hive of industry next week. The concrete wall is to be extended, and other improvements will cover the removal of the old wooden buildings which have outlived their usefulness. Stands and seats will give accommodation for an additional 10,000 people next season." (Herald September 30 p3)

1922: 50,000 CAPACITY

Trove: Herald May 12 (p3)


The Herald February 24 (p2) writing about next week's Carlton annual meeting mentions a proposal to build a 14 ft (4.26 metres) brick wall along the southern (city) side of the ground at a cost of £3,500.
"It is said that this wall will eventually form part of a building on the lines of the Harrison Stand of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Another new stand is to be built - but not immediately - at an estimated cost of £5,000 between the present stand and the goal posts on the western side of the ground."
The Heatley Stand was built on the Western end (Royal Parade) but not for another ten years. The southern brick wall and Harrison style grand stand were never built.


Not Princes Park related, but not such a "modern" innovation.
August this year (1924) a veteran's football match was played on the MCG.
Carlton's Jack Gardiner then aged 75 took part. On his death in 1929 the Sun News Pictorial (October 29 p7) ran his obit. and mentioned that in this game, younger on-lookers were amazed,
"One was a side pass made by kicking the ball in punt fashion off the side of the boot."

1924: 80,000 - 90,000!

At the Carlton AGM in February 1924, it was said that ground could accommodate between 80,000 - 90,000 people.
(Herald Feb 12 p5)
The Age April 07 (p6) said that the ground can now hold 90,000.


"In order to prevent swaying crowds from crushing those persons near the fence at the foot of the huge mounds at the Carlton ground, supports have been placed at intervals up the slope, and these take the weight of hundreds of persons who fill the spaces every Saturday the home side plays on its own ground." (The Age May 23 p7)


"Sir - Now that the 1924 football season is over, supporters are looking forward to the improvements to be made to the ground this summer. Nobody in South Melbourne who has seen the other other league grounds denies that our local ground is in a shocking state of neglect; not the members stand but the ground as well.
When one comes to look at the heights of the Carlton Oval, he is at once struck with the low banks at South Melbourne. Even as it was before the recent improvements at Carlton, that ground was one of the best in the league to see from. The action of the Carlton club in making their banks still higher, ought to be a lesson to other clubs, that, no matter how good a ground is, there is always room for improvement. When the Carlton club saw the Brunswick Council woodblocking Sydney Road, they threw open the gates of the ground and offered it for a "tip."
(Trove Record, Emerald Hill November 08 1924 p8)


Nothing to do with Princes Park as such, but the Carlton Football Club held meetings in the old pub (built 1842?) as far back as September 1865.
This historic hotel on the corner of Lygon and Elgin streets was purchased in 1925 by Carlton president David Young and was later demolished.
Young built the Astor Hotel on the site some time around 1927 and sold it in 1937 for nearly £15,000. (Herald 19 January p8 1937)
Horrie Clover was the licensee for two years from 1932. (Age 15 January p3 1934)
Many decades later, The Astor would become Percy's Bar and Grill (1985 - 2014) run by former four time Carlton premiership player Peter Jones.
The Herald 14 August p17 1925 article link is below


Sporting Globe December 22


Carlton time keeper John Keating writes in the Sporting Globe September 28 p5 about the problems between the Carlton football and cricket clubs.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article182531004


The tensions between football and cricket clubs are flaring. Carlton's time keeper John Keating replies to an article in the Sporting Globe by cricket administrator Mr. W. S. Stott. While the relations between the two bodies at Princes Park are cordial, Keating points out the financial reliance cricket has on football, and that the football clubs are not being treated as equals. It costs £1,600 per year to maintain Princes Park. In 1929 the revenue generated by the Carlton Football Club was £1,853 while the Carlton Cricket Club contributed the grand sum of £21. In 1930 the football revenue jumped by nearly 33% to £2,400, while cricket contributed a paltry £7. The article tackles this and other issues which affected all the League clubs and still has some ramifications the best part of a century on in 2015.
W. S. Sottt's article, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1830066759
The VFL response, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183006726
John Keating's reply, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183007607


1945 GF newsreel

For many years one of the few advertising signs seen on the picket fence at Princes Park was the Mountford Hats sign, which was on the half back flank southern side of the ground. This can be clearly see in the film of the 1945 Grand Final. Businessman George Mountford was an avid Carlton supporter for more than 50 years.
Herald Dec 07 p1 1931


Trove; Sun News Pictorial May 09 p16

1932 - 1934: AERIAL VIEW


Princes Park sometime between 1932-34. The Robert Heatley stand opened in 1932 and the new press box opened in 1934.
The "new" scoreboard can just be seen in the outer back pocket at the rear of the embankment, to the left of the goals. The curator's residence can be seen on the outer northern side halfback flank, Garton Street / Lygon Street end.


1932 Old press-box, club rooms, and the Gardiner Stand. Note : "ARGUS" newspaper advertising on the fence in front of the Gardiner Stand.
This photo was most likely taken from the new scoreboard in the back pocket, Lygon Street end.


(Sun News Pic. Feb 16 p6)


The ground management committee is made up of 50/50 football and cricket club representatives. It is very difficult to get a vote passed when the cricket club stands in the way of a proposal from the football club.
The decision is to remove the dilapidated structures of the old press box, time keepers box, broadcasting cabinet, and bar/refreshment area from the northern side of the ground. The sticking point was that the Carlton Cricket Club wanted to have a special reserve for cricket club members. W. J. Northey broke the impasse, and the old structures will be removed in a few days. (Herald Oct 31 1933)
The large shelter shed that was built on the southern wing and completed after WW2 carried the name of W. J. Northey probably because he broke the deadlock.


This renowned school band played on the football ground on Saturdays at half time and on Sundays played at the Zoo.
They took part in the ANZAC Day march through the City, played at theaters, and various functions in Melbourne.
This band had 75 members in 1933 and there were 43 State School bands in Victoria that year.
The Carlton Football Club gave a small donation to the band at the end of the football season.

1934 : ROUND 14

Looking north across to the Gardiner Stand.
Interstate school boys teams representing Victoria, South Australia and Queensland,
with entertainment provided by the Princes Hill State School Band, parade around Princes Park at half time.
Looks like the players' race in the foreground going into the newly completed Heatley Stand.
There appears to be sign with 3 words on the fence in front of the grandstand. ("and" seems to be the middle word) If some one can decipher what it says please contact us.
Image: SLV, Leader August 25


Round 11, 1934 Maurie Johnson received a severe cut to the side of his shin. The cut was nearly to the bone and occurred during the latter stages of the third quarter against Essendon. Maurie received 6 stitches and the leg was strapped. Despite being urged not to go back on he resumed playing in the final quarter.
The Age said;
"After the game he was treated with anti tetanus serum, as the soil of the Carlton oval is particularly dangerous as regards tetanus".


Image: SLV, Illustrated Sporting and dramatic news (Melb) May 30 p12

The above image is from Rnd 5, 1907 The old Carlton club rooms were on the northern wing. They were moved from the C.C.C.'s ground "The Triangle" in Royal Parade sometime around 1897. To the right of the white canvas covered area was the newly built press--box which was near the scoreboard. Because of journalists' complaints the press-box was moved to the left hand side of these club rooms for season 1908.
The press-box in Round 16,1907 before it was relocated. (*See paragraph below)
Cropped Image: SLV, Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (Melb) August 29 (p14)


"As the second quarter started rain came on, and when rain falls on the Carlton ground there is an end to seeing anything from the ill- positioned hutch that does duty as a press-box, as umbrellas fly up in front of it. The club suffers considerably through this, and the executive has been ill advised in not remedying it long ago, but repeatedly attention has been called to the inconvenience and lack of accommodation without result.
The press-box at Carlton is certainly a disgrace to both cricket and football clubs, and is naturally only patronised on complusion. It is easily a "bad worst," though by the way its one redeeming point is that it is too small to accommodate the blatant and one-sided barrackers who have up to the present been permitted to annoy the pressmen on other grounds, where there is no supervision over the press-box. Fellows stream in and yell out their stupid comments and it may be as well to notify secretaries of clubs that the nuisance will have to be stopped-that is if they be wise-as the clubs must suffer.
It is only at Fitzroy that any attempt seems to be able to exclude from the press-box all people who have no business there, and it would be well for the other clubs to follow Fitzroy's example. As I have said, it matters very little at Carlton because there is not the room for interlopers to sqeeze in."
Follower, The Age July 19 (p9)


"Last year I had the occasion to severly condemn the carelessness which prompted the Carlton ground authorities to build the press-box on the eastern side of the ground. I am gald to be able to state that the criticism has been accepted in the proper spirit, and that they have removed the box to a spot near the pavilion, where it is far more convenient. Blame must now give place to praise, and I readily extend to the authorities the thanks of the hardworking pressmen.
The public, I must not forget to remark, by the way, is beginning to grow impatient at the delay in building a grandstand. In the matter of accomodation for the people who support sport and sports grounds, the Carlton enclosure is ridiculously ill equipped. Even the little Brunswick Park has a grandstand. Carlton should have one right away."
'Rambler,' Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (Melb) May 07 (p11) SLV/CFC

So it seems from Rambler's article that this press-box was possibly built for the previous season, 1907.
.*In January 2019 a team photo from Round 16, 1907 was found which shows the press-box next to the old white scoreboard. This scoreboard was on the northern side but closer to the outer goals, in the half back to back pocket position. You can see the behind post to the far right in the photo below.
Perhaps this what "Rambler" means by being shifted from the eastern end to near the pavilion, ie: northern wing.

Photo believed to be from circa 1913. On the left, the old press box which was replaced in 1934.
Note: The old club rooms with the clock (which was originally at 'The Triangle', CCC's old ground) which was incorporated into the facade of the new 1934 press box.
Also, the two differing font styles for the 1910-1922 monogram and the old 1890-1907 lace-up canvas jacket. The lace-up continued to be worn by some players up until the end of the 1918 season.
Viv Valentine was possibly the last Carlton player to don the canvas jacket. He wore it in his last game the Semi Final, 1918
Image: CFC web site


"No ground in Victoria is so well patronised throughout the season as the Carlton oval. On no other ground is there nearly as much money taken, but, notwithstanding this, the accomodation provided for the press is disgraceful.
Not only is the press-box too small, but it is uncomfortable, and it is so situated that it is impossible to see any of the play along the grandstand wing. Spectators crowd in front of the box and obscure the view.
Repeated applications have been made for some relief, but the primitive accomodation which has done duty for more than 20 years still remains.
The president of the Carlton Football Club is endeavouring to arrange for a reunion of old players, and it is suggested that one of the sights he will able to show them to remind them of last century is the old press-box. In every other respect the Carlton oval has been brought up to date, and the accommodation asked could be provided at a comparatively small cost.
Some years ago the St.Kilda press-box was unworthy of the ground. The president (Dr. Morton) and the secretary (Mr. G. H. Inskip) were approached and in one week the improvements were made."
(The Argus May 27 p10)



" The cramped old Carlton press box, immortallised by Sam. Wells, when cartoonist for The Herald, is not to die!
The shadow of death crept over it as a palatial new press box arose alongside. But the gallant old shanty that has withstood the ravages of time - and the execrations of suffering pressmen - has been reprevied.
It will be shifted a few yards, to become a fruit and confectionary kiosk."
(Herald March 09 p13)



Image: Herald Feb 26 p3

The "famous" Carlton press box on the northern wing was first used for the Round 2, 1934 against the reining premiers South Melbourne.
It stood for approx. 50 years until it was demolished for the building of the Elliott Stand in 1986.

This 'new' 1934 press box was preceded by another press box, and it too was on the northern wing near the end of the Gardiner Stand. Adjacent to it was a weather-board building with a verandah, above which was housed the Carlton Cricket Club's clock around which was the motto; Mens Sana In Corpore Sano. This clock had for many years been housed at the cricket club's former ground "The Triangle."
See Round 2, 1928 for a photo which shows the original press box.

1952: Press Box

Looking north across from the Heatley Stand.
In between the Gardiner Stand and the Press box, to the rear, is the original press box.
This building had been relocated on completion of the new press box and reused as a refreshment booth.
This image is a screenshot from the Cinesound newsreel on the forthcoming 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Originally the main Olympic Stadium was to be at Princes Park.
The fence to the right of the press box was the division between the Inner (members) and the Outer area for walk-up spectators.
Further shots of the ground from this newsreel can be seen on the 1952 image page, or see the Pathe newsreel llink below.

1953: 3AW 's Norman Banks and Ian Johnston calling the game from the Carlton press-box.
Note; Radio game sponsor Heinz Soups' thermos is placed prominently.
Image, museumsvictoria


The 1934 built Press Box with TV camera scaffolding to the left, AVCO was the club sponsor 1976 - 1988. The windows had been enlarged

Image 1986 Cheer Squad members. Soon to be demolished Press box /TV scaffolding. Image: Courtesy K.McNair

Believed to be taken after Rnd 6 1986 or Rnd 5 1987. Fitzroy played Richmond (see boundary scoreboard) at the ground in both of those years and Avco was the sponsor until the end of 1988. Advertising for Olympic Tyres on the fence and AVCO and Bristol Paints on the Gardiner Stand roof.
Image: Northern Star/google/pininterest




Trove; Age April 24 1939 p14

Trove; Age August 11 1939 p11 When completed sometime after WW2 this structure extended along most of the southern side of the ground. It carried the name W. J. Northey, a committee man who broke the deadlock between the football and cricket clubs over it's construction.

"The compact shelter, painted in bright green, that now breaks the monotonous sweep of the outer ground at Carlton, is partly the result of the extra twopences collected from admission charges this year for ground improvement purposes.
If somewhat small, it is at least the first tangible result of the increased payments by football patrons." (Sun News-Pic. Aug 22 p36 1939)


"One of Melbourne's most enthusiastic and vociferous league football's barrackers, "Cocky" St. Marr, passed away peacefully at the age of 43. Forty three is not an old age for a human being, even if he he has from early boyhood strained his vocal chords roaring for his side and abusing the umpire.
But "Cocky" is, or was, a large white sulphur-crested cockatoo. For more than 30 years he rarely missed a match in which Carlton was engaged, and he was in no need of no prompting to scream his delight when the "Blues" scored a goal. By some instinct he knew when Harry Vallence was near the ball, and he would scream, "Up there, Soapy." It is said and really believed that when a free kick was given against Carlton he invariably shouted, "Who told you you could umpire?"
He went to matches with his owner, Mr. Robert St. Marr, who had no need to worry when the tram would arrive at Princes Park. "Cocky" knew that stop well, and would yell, "Here we are, Bob." At the match between Carlton and Richmond "Cocky's" enthusiasm attracted the attention of the State Governor (Lord Huntingfield), who expressed a desire that he should be presented to him. "Cocky" was willing, and kissed His Excellency and the Lord Mayor and other members of the official party, and then having done his duty he returned his attention to the game with "Give them a fair go, umpy." "Cocky" had breakfast every morning with his owner, both ate the same food. "Cocky" was particularly fond of steak and eggs, bacon, and custard pudding. Unlike many football barrackers, he was never known to swear. The old fellow died with head on Mr. St. Marr's shoulder."
(The Mercury, Hobart November 29)
Image Image
Argus August 31 (p25) 1955

Image of Bob St.Marr and "Cocky" Round 9, 1936 Herald June 27 p20 1936


The Sporting Globe's Hec de Lacy writes about Tommy Warne's 50 years as curator of Princes Park Oval.

1943: AUSTUS

Austus was a hybrid game of Australian and American Football. It was devised by former Carlton player Ern Cowley with the help of US serviceman Pvt. William Jost.
Australian football field placings were used, but utilizing a US football. The ball could be kicked or thrown and a goal scored by either method. Players wore no protection and there was a 20 yard penalty area near the goals.The first game was played at Punt Road. Other games were played at Geelong, North Melbourne and Princes Park.

There is an AUSTUS youtube clip of the game and one of the handbook.
The venue has now been identified as the Punt Road Oval (thanks to Ron Reiffel and Rhett Bartlett), so this film clip could be of the very first match which was against the Australian Explosive team. In those days the railway was at ground level. Where the players run out is where the umpires used to enter field and St.Ignatius Church spire on Richmond Hill can be seen.
Click here> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL-qqLUO28I

AUSTUS hand book of rules.



1945 Princes Park & surrounds. The railway and the North Carlton station can be seen in the top right of the photo.
Note: No further work on the southern shelter shed due WW2 shortages.


Note: No outer terracing, and curator's house that was demolished for the so called Elliot, later Heroes Stand.
SLV Image H2016.33/85


From 1885 until 1948 daily suburban passenger rail services operated on the Inner Circle railway line. Originally a steam era railway it was electrified in 1921. There had been many requests for platforms to be constructed at Princes Park, mainly from Brunswick residents, which would have been closer to the oval. North Carlton on Lang Street was the nearest station to Princes Park, which was a 600 meter walk from the ground.
The station briefly reopened during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games for events held nearby.
The Inner Circle line was then used for freight only until 1981 when it was closed.
This writer remembers VR diesel locos, travelling very slowly, hauling briquette trucks from the Fitzroy depot heading west towards Royal Park at the Bowen Crescent railway crossing on some match days.
Any ladder safety courses in 1924?
Flinders Street, Sun News Pic. May 02 p14 1924


Railways advert. for the Round 13, 1911 University match


Destination North Carlton!
Image: Courtesy VRfan Train videos


Image: Carlton F.C.

The bell was orginally located at the Carlton Cricket Club's ground "The Triangle" in Royal Parade. The club rooms along with the clock and the bell from that ground were relocated to the recently opened Princes Park ground around 1898. We know that the bell was installed on the side of the new 1934 press box and acted as an emergency to the electric siren when that was introduced. From 1898 to 1934 it is not clear where the bell was located. Perhaps it was on the side of the 1907 - 1933 press box. Also, where was it located prior to 1907?
There is a team photo from 1896 and a hand bell is seen at the bottom of the picture. Was the hand bell superceded by the large fixed bell in 1898?
"Since Carlton (Vic) Football Club replaced the oval bell with a siren, many people have asked to buy the bell. but it is not for sale. Carlton wants it in case the siren breaks down."
(News (Adelaide) 18 June 1949 p9). The first use of the electric siren or horn at Princes Park was in Round 8, 1949
In 1933 there were calls for the bells to be replaced after an incident in the South Melbourne - Collingwood game when the bell rang and the scores were tied. The umpire did not hear the bell due to the crowd noise and South scored before the umpire signalled full time.
The Coburg Football Club installed a siren for the 1939 season. (Argus May 01 p17)
An initiative by the club for a former footballer to ring the old bell prior to the start of a Carlton home game was started for the 2016 season.

1952: SEPTEMBER 13


Image: SLV Charles Daniel Pratt Collection. Restored Vintage Images

1957 Circa: AERIAL VIEW

1950 (?), possibly late morning before the start of the curtain raiser - Note: the completion of the long shelter shed on southern wing which was begun in 1939.
This shed was reduced in size to make way for the construction of the Hawthorn/Pratt Stand, leaving about the outer one third standing until the development of the Legends Stand. (See 1994 aerial below)
Does anyone know the purpose of the rectangular shaped object to the left of the Heatley Stand, is it an entry/exit point from the ground? (There is another view of this building in 1946 aerial photo)
There is now some doubt as to this date. The 1952 newsreel shows only the small shelter shed only on the southern side, with no extensions. Also the extensive terracing in front of the press box cannot be seen.
Further information has been found (Feb 2020) via an Argus article in its December 19 1956 (p22) edition. It says;
"Carlton hope to have the extensions to the existing outer ground shelter ready by next season. There will be also new terracing in the outer."
So this aerial photo would be from 1957 at its earliest.

Sporting Globe March 29 1952
This may be an older photo as the terracing shown in the preceding image does not appear to have been completed, or is it over grown with weeds?


Watch a brief British Pathe newsreel of the ground and the winning design on youtube.
Click here> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIW94s8J35A


Harry Seidler's losing design

Image Herald Jan 26 p31953


In a series of articles, The Argus, January 25, examines the football grounds with 82 days before the football season commences.
First up is a damning report on Princes Park.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71691481


This writer as a young child in the mid to late 1950's, has vague memories of hot-air balloons dropping small parachutes carrying tickets & advertising pamphlets onto the crowd. I had asked older relatives who are Blues' barrackers, but they could not recall them.
Then along came Trove and with the release of digitalized editions of The Argus the story was revealed. These hot-air balloons were launched from the parkland adjacent to the Princes Park ground.
The Argus September 10 1955 wrote about inventor Andy Anderson who made and launched these balloons.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71694563
The movie Andy is advertising is the 1950 film "Destination Moon," it was one of Hollywood's first Sci Fi feature films. This movie can be viewed on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsXVfddSF_A

This was not a new phenomenom.
Back in 1935 Rnd 18 Essendon v Geelong at Windy Hill, play was halted while a hundreds of local youths ran onto the arena as a balloon dropped minature parachutes and papers onto the outer wing.
(Sporting Globe Sept 07 p3 and Geelong Advertiser/Col Hutchinson)


" Most League football grounds contained too much cricket pitch black clay Carlton delegate (Mr. H. R. Clover) told the Victorian Football League last night.
Mr. Clover, chairman of the League's Match Arrangement Committee, said club match arrangement committees, as controllers of the grounds, should be asked to take out excess clay.
His own ground, Carlton, has 16 widths of cricket pitch - "too much" Mr. Clover said.
"We owe it to the game not to make the centre field players trudge around in muck," he added." (Age June 09)

1950's - 1970's: "PEANUTS, PEANUTS, - SHILLING A BAG"

Carlton historian Tony De Bolfo wrote a fascinating article about John Boyd "The Peanut Man," who used to sell his wares from inside the boundary line and who threw accurately a brown paper bag of unshelled peanuts back to his customers in the crowd.
This writer remembers the price of a bag of peanuts was one shilling or 10c post decimalization on 14th. February 1966.
To read Tony's article click the link The Peanut Man at the bottom of this page.


During the 1969 season the Asdagi family would gather to watch Carlton games in front of the Channel 7 TV scaffolding, between the the Gardiner Stand and the Press Box. (demolished in 1986) A young John Asdagi would let out a piercing whistle whenever the Blues scored a goal. This whistling would be captured by the effects mic on the TV replay. The Asdagi family and their friends stood watching matches in this area throughout the 1970's and 1980's.
In 2019 Carlton club historian Tony De Bolfo tracked down John and revealed the family story in this article.


In the days before the now extinct VHS home video recorder, DVD players and youtube, watching a football replay was solely in the hands of the television network screening the game.
Football replays or highlights of a selected few of the day's games were shown on Saturday nights. (All VFL matches were played on Saturday afternoons)
Channels, 2, 7 and 9 would have football replays on Saturday night in the 1960's. These were preceded by a "Football Inquest" type show of 30 minutes..
On Grand Final Day a full replay was shown later in the evening and extended highlights the next day on Seven's World of Sport.
Channel 7 later, would have their Football Marathon showing previous Finals games from about 11pm on Grand Final eve running through to 7am when they would cross the the annual North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast.
After this event Channel 7 would then cross to the MCG for a full broadcast of the U19 Grand Final followed by the Reserves and the VFL Grand Finals. A big day for the technicians and camera operators. The channel would devote almost 24 hours to screening Australian Football. ABC-TV also showed a full replay and/or highlights.
So in those days to be able watch a specific match again, was very limited, if not impossible.

Shortly after the 1970 Grand Final, on a warm spring evening the Club organised a replay which was screened at Princes Park. A large movie sized screen was set up on the oval close to the fence. The entire Channel 7 black and white video was screened much to the delight of the many Blues barrackers who were cheering on their heroes from a packed Heatley Stand.
The video probably had been converted to film and run through a movie projector.
A similar arrangement was made after the 1972 victory.

1972: BOB'S RAMP

Former Prime Minister and Carlton's No.1 ticket holder Sir Robert Menzies watching the football from a specially built vehicle ramp.
The Club had the ramp built next to the Heatley Stand for the ailing Menzies who was a life long Carlton supporter.
(There was a space between the Heatley and the Harris stands which was removed when the Harris Social Club Stand was extended.)
Menzies in his chauffeured Bentley at Princes Park.
1972 Rnd 22 Carlton vs Footscray. The Blues won by 3 points.
CFC photo

1994: (Circa) AERIAL VIEW

The remaining part of the outer shelter shed still standing which had begun in 1939.
The social club has been extended to abutt the Heatley Stand, where "Bob's Ramp" was located.
The Carlton Heroes Stand built where the old press box stood.
Note the swimming pool at the rear of the Gardiner Stand.
Cricket pitches are still in the centre of the ground.
The pitches will be removed to the Carlton Cricket Club 's new ground on the southern or city side at top of this picture. Image: pinterest.com


Late in the '95 season the Garton Street outer end of Princes Park. Note: the "modern" public conveniences and the Cheer Squad's van
Image: blueycarlton


Completion of the Legends Stand which was started in late 1995 and opened on April 25 1997
Optus had the naming rights from 1993 until the end of the 2005 season.
The final AFL home and away game was played between Carlton and Melbourne May 21 2005


The Robert Heatley Stand & the Carlton Social Club were demolished and replaced by a state of the art training centre.
Practice and some pre season matches are played there.
The ground as a venue was resurrected for the AFLW initial season of 2017.
google image


A proud Carlton captain Lauren Arnell leads the team onto a packed Princes Park for the historic opening match of the AFLW competition February 03 2017.
In 2019 Lauren would leave Carlton and play for Brisbane. She would finish her career on a high in 2021 with a Brisbane premiership.

On a warm February evening 24,500 spectators packed the ground, with many thousands locked out, to watch the competition's first women's match.
This was between Carlton and Collingwood with the Blues winning 7.4.46 - 1.5.11
The Magpies' training ground of Olympic Park Oval is too small to accommodate such a crowd, so their bigger drawing matches are played at Princes Park.
This is an interesting turn of events as a once 'stateless' Carlton Football Club played a few of its home games at Collingwood's former ground of Victoria Park nearly 130 years ago in 1892
In 2019 Carlton would play Adelaide in the AFLW Grand Final in front of 53,034 at the Adelaide Oval.


After the completion of the 2017 home and way season the resurfacing of Princes Park oval began. All the top soil was removed and a new drainage system was installed. Work was still in progress in December, but it was well underway and expected to be ready for the commencement of the AFLW 2018 competition beginning in February.. Meanwhile Carlton's pre season training was carried out on the outside oval adjacent to Princes Park oval on the southern or city side.


The last Carlton AFLW match for 2020 was played on Princes Park on Sunday March 22, it was the Semi Final Carlton v Brisbane.
A unique Carlton match for Princes Park as by Government decree, no spectators were allowed to attend. The Blues won the match in convincing style (6.8.44 - 2.3.15), in which inaugral Carlton captain Lauren Arnell played for the Lions.
That evening the AFLW season was suddenly terminated and the AFL men's already shortened 17 round season was postponed and will be reviewed on May 31.
This disruption to is due to the devastating coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) sweeping Australia and the globe.
All other football codes and sports in general have been halted throughout the world. This year's Tokyo Olympic Games has been postponed to 2021.


Early in the year it was announced that the area occupied by the Hawthorn or Pratt Stand on the City side would be turned into an elite training facility.
Changing rooms, gym equipment, lap pool. and a large enclosed area where the football can be kicked will benefit both the AFLW and AFL teams.
Seating will also be provided in front of the development for spectators. Redevelopment had begun in May 2021.


Redevelopment was completed during 2022. (Image; Instagram - see description of original photo in Browsing Gallery: Princes Park)

Articles: Landmark: The Alderman Gardiner Stand, Princes Park | The Peanut Man

Blueseum: Heatley Stand | Gardiner Stand | Emblems and Tradition | The Last Game at Princes Park | Ground Sponsors

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Page last modified on Wednesday 10 of April, 2024 13:13:00 AEST by blueycarlton.

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