|Image courtesy of John Carr|
So, today, we look back at what was once football's 'new home' in Victoria, VFL Park.
Envisaged by the 12 clubs and the management of the VFL to be its own home ground, as well as a bulwark against the power of the MCC, VFL Park was carved out of meadows and market gardens in Melbourne's South East.
The logic at the time was that the population of Melbourne was spreading steadily in that direction, and with a freeway running right by, it was the perfect place to capture and focus the footballing public's attentions.
|VFL Park under construction. Image|
... Or maybe not.
While it eventually was only partially completed to plan and accomodated about 100,000 fans, the original plans were much grander (see below*) and were to cater for 166,000 fans. You could image the hellish traffic around the stadium with that sort of loading!
It was, for almost 30 years, known as 'League Headquarters', home of the VFL (and later AFL), but home to no team (until in its latter years, St. Kilda and Hawthorn moved there).
And it is that 'home to no team' period that we will focus on in this blog post... when VFL Park (later known as Waverley Park) was Australian Football's equivalent of 'Switzerland'**... neutral territory.
So we have extracted all the games played at VFL/Waverley Park and worked up a table on who was the best team to have graced that grounds wide open spaces.
The table below ranks the teams to have won the most games, with a Match Ratio factor applied to allow for variances.
|Table composed of all games played# -less those where St Kilda and|
Hawthorn played regular 'home' games there
It would be more prudent of us to instead declare Hawthorn as the best team to have played at 'wide open Waverley', winning 70% of their games there.
They are then followed by Carlton, Richmond, West Coast and Collingwood to round out a nominal 'best 6'.
You could also argue that this mirrors the best teams of the 70's and 80's as well, with strugglers in that period (St. Kilda, Footscray, Fitzroy and South Melbourne / Sydney) all sitting near the foot of the table.
The best and worst teams for those decades are tabled below*** for reference.
It is also home to:
The largest winnig margin in VFL/AFL football:
28-Jul-1979 Fitzroy 36.22.238 def Melbourne 6.12.48 (190pts)
The equal second most goals kicked by a player in a game:
02-May-1992 Jason Dunstall Hawthorn 17 goals 5 behinds vs Richmond
* corrected after error highlighted in the comments (see below)... thanks John
And the famous / infamous 'lights out - riot' night game that caused a re-write of the rules relating to night football.
08-Jun-1996 St Kilda 9.13.67 def by Essendon 13.11.89
And in non-football related Waverley action, it was also home to:
-The 1980 KISS concert in Melbourne.
-The first few years of World Series Cricket. (and weren't the West Indies well catered for in the players box).
-The pinnacle of all things VFL/AFL entertainment... Angry and the Batmobile! (Oh, the glory days of the AFL... only recently revived with Meatloaf!).
* Some grand ideas were the order of the day for VFL Park. 166,000 people indeed!
|Image via bomberblitz.com|
|Image via bomberblitz.com|
** And as anyone who ever attended a game out Waverley way, it was just as cold as Switzerland too.
*** Rankings of teams through the 70's and 80's here.
# Full list of matches here