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Fitzroy Football Club

Latest news and results

This page was last updated on Saturday 5th October 2002


For more information on the current activities of Fitzroy, click on the images below.

Fitzroy Football Club Official Site

Fitzroy Reds Previews and Match Results 2003

Royboys find way home - Saturday October 5th

Memorabilia from Fitzroy's goldern years, taken by supporters when the club merged with Brisbane, has been returned.

More than 100 items remain in private hands and police know the identity of many of the "owners".

A photograph of the 1944 premiership team, the 1922 premiership pennant, the ball used in the 1916 Grand Final and 1905 premiership cap will go on public display after being handed in.

A photo of 1944 captain-coach Fred Hughson and oil painting of 1970's and 1980's star Garry Wilson have also been returned.

They will join a display at the Lions' Melbourne base, the Manningham Club in Bulleen.

The Herald Sun in August reported a combined Brisbane Football Club/police campaign to recover items missing after the club merger in 1996.

Fitzroy-Brisbane Historical Society chairman Arthur Wilson said 40 percent of the club's memorabilia was walked out the door.

Items still hanging on garage walls included original photographs of Brownlow Medallists Bernie Quinlan and Haydn Bunton.

Mr. Wilson said police had been inundated with calls after the plea for public help. "There were a lot of people who dobbed other people in," he said

"There was a big response and I think people reaalise now that the meorabilia will stay in Victoria and won't be lost up north."

The Royboy relics legally belong to the Brisbane club and police are writing to people suspected of holding memorabilia asking them to do the right thing.

Brisbane's Victorian manager Brad Fox said the club did not want to see people charged.

"We're just following a careful process of having these items returned," Mr. Fox said.


Fitzroy set for one-off comeback - Tuesday October 1st

Fitzroy seems likely to make a comeback to AFL competition next season, if only for one game.

AFL operations manager, Andrew Demetriou said the strip worn by the Lions when they entered the VFL would be revived for Brisbane’s game during a special commemorative round – the Federation Round – in 2003. (Round 19 vs. Collingwood)

“In that particular round, we may be asking all our clubs to wear their original guernseys and strips as was done in the 1997 Centenary Year. If that was the case, you might see Brisbane wearing the Fitzroy jumper in that round,” Demetriou told 3AW

“In some ways, these strips were even better than what we see today from time to time.”


RECOVERED! Roys Lost Art Gem. - Sunday 25th August

By Scot Palmer

Here is the 'missing' portrait of Fitzroy champion Garry Wilson, part of a priceless haul of memorabilia being sought by Brisbane Lions historians and the police.

The oil painting considered a masterpiece of the wispy five time club champion and one of Fitzroy's most courageous players, is safely in the hands of Fitzroy Football Club secretary, accountant Bill Atherton.

"It came to me from an anonymous person who has held it in trust for an appropriate day to be handed over.", Atherton said.

There remains out there in a still grieving community a wonderful swag of old Fitzroy collectibles. Die hard Lions have safeguarded what they regard as precious memorabilia since those days dramtic day before Brisbane merged with Fitzroy in 1996.

Other items believed to be closeted away and gathering dust are premiership caps dating from 1895-1922, pennants, photographs, Brownlow certificates for triple medal winner Haydn Bunton and Wilfred "Chicken' Smallhorn.

Atherton was surprised to receive the painting, which he will hand over next month to the Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions historical committee for display at the Manningham Club, Bulleen. Atherton remembers the smiling Wilson occupying pride of place as the nomadic club moved about trying to find a permanent home.

Chairmanof the historical committee and former Fitzroy secretary Arthur Wilson said his group had been able to honour all of Fitzroy's 100 game players, best-and-fairest winners and Brownlow Medallists, but was anxious to obtain relics of old Fitzroy.

Wilson said it was a shame many items were kept hidden away when they could be on display for all Lions fans. He has yet to hear of any items handed in to police, who have also been on the lookout.


Fitzroy Booty Missing - Saturday 17th August

Rebel Fans may be hoarding mementoes

Rebel supporters are suspected of involvement in the theft of a century of priceless Fitzroy Football Club memories.

Fans fearful the treasure would go to Queensland when the club merged with the Brisbane Lions are believed to be hoarding some of the items.

The plundered memorabilia commemmorates the deeds of the some of the greatest players to don the red, blue and gold.

It has been pilfered from the clubs' former headquarters over the years follwing the acrimonious union between the old Fitzroy and Brisbane in 1996 - a merger viewed by some disgruntled fans as a takeover.

Memories of champions such as Haydn Bunton, Bernie Quinlan, Kevin Murray and Garry Wilson are among hundreds of items lost.

The missing Fitzroy booty includes:

Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions Historical Society committee member George Coates yesterday urged whoever had the items to return them.

Mr. Coates, a former Fitzroy player, said they would not be destined for Queensland and would be housed with other club memorabilia at the Manningham Club in Bulleen.

"It is important. It continues the club story. We're trying to preserve the Fitzroy history," he said. Fitzroy Team of the Century member Norm Brown said he hoped the booty would be returned.

"You need the really old stuff. The club's been around for a long time. If you haven't got it, it makes you a bit shallow", Mr. Brown said.

Brisbane Lions Victorian manager, Brad Fox offered an assurance the property would stay in Victoria. "Our interest is in housing and protecting and preserving the history of Fitzroy," he said.

Sen-Det Wayne Dean of the Carlton CIU said anyone able to help with returning the memorabilia could contact him on 9347 3611 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000


Fitzroy's first function since 1996 is on 15th June

The Fitzroy Football Club is holding the Haydn Bunton Ball on Saturday evening , June 15, 2002, to raise money for the erection of the Haydn Bunton statue at Brunswick St, which is estimated to cost about $60,000, and to celebrate the contribution to football by the game's and Fitzroy's greatest ever player, Haydn Bunton.

The function is a traditional Dinner Dance with a three course meal, drinks served from 7pm to midnight and a great dance band. Cost per head is $80.00 Tables of ten can be made up, as members require.

Club director John Pettinella has worked very hard to contact our former champions. Thus far Bernie Quinlan, Micky Conlan, David McMahon, 'Doc' Wheildon, Richard Osborne, Ross Thornton, Michael Gale, David Strooper, Jason Baldwin, and Jamie Cooper have given their support to the night.

Venue: ALBERT BY THE LAKE

Don't miss out this exciting night where you can dance the night away with your partner and fellow Fitzroy supporters.

It will be a fabulous night, hosted by Sam Kekovich.

For bookings, contact Bill Atherton - 03 9580 9389 or fax on 03 9587 0730, or email bill@fitzroyfc.com.au


Blakey, an old-fashioned hero - May 5th 2002

By Caroline Wilson (re-produced from the Sunday Age)

John Blakey symbolises so much that has changed about football. He began his VFL career with Fitzroy in 1985, and has never chased the bright lights and big money off-field that could have been made available to a player with a remarkable story such as his.

With his lean body and 1940s Australian face, he even looks like a player from another era. He will probably hate the fact that the publicity surrounding his 350th match coincided with a towelling, but this old-fashioned footballer with the everyman appearance is worth another look today.

Because there are several lessons to be learnt from the John Blakey story. His work ethic is one and his loyalty another. Glenn Archer stuck to Anthony Stevens like glue in the dark days and weeks that followed the Wayne Carey scandal, but Blakey was always there, too, quietly but fiercely in the background.

There were raised eyebrows at the start of 1999 when he failed to show up personally to receive his AFL life membership because the ceremony clashed with training. The Kangaroos hierarchy was criticised, but in truth, Blakey would never have considered requesting the leave pass.

He appears to have relished his lack of visibility. Most fans would be able to recite Craig Bradley's age but how many were aware that Blakey turned 36 in July?

However, it was Blakey's former Fitzroy teammate and fellow member of the exclusive 350 club, Paul Roos (Bernie Quinlan, who played alongside Blakey for two seasons, is another), who pointed to the most important lesson while paying tribute to him yesterday.

If only, said Roos on ABC radio, the group of young Lions who showed so much promise in 1986 had achieved the wish of the majority and headed to Brisbane. The club struggled on for another decade in Melbourne, but never again reached the heights of '86 under coach David Parkin and captain Roos, in the year so many football experts believed they had a limited future in this town.

Had the Lions moved to Brisbane with Roos, Blakey, Gary Pert and Mick Conlan to name a few, the former Fitzroy skipper believes the strength and tightness of the on-field group and its youth would have rewritten history. Roos said that Victoria would have lost a football team but that the Fitzroy supporters would have had a far stronger grip on their relocated team than they do now.

Instead, both Roos and Blakey, who left before the bitter end - with Blakey achieving two premierships at the Kangaroos - achieved their milestones elsewhere. For Roos, now assisting Rodney Eade at the Swans, it remains one of his great regrets.

And there is no doubt there is more that is South Melbourne about Sydney than there is Fitzroy about Brisbane, however hard the Lions up north are working to retain their Melbourne base.

Media money, the terms of the new television contract and the sale of Waverley Park have played a big part in assuring the future of other struggling Victorian clubs, and Fitzroy supporters remain bitter about that.

But perhaps they should be equally bitter that they did not push harder for a relocation compromise far more attractive than the one they eventually received.


Anzac War Memorial at Brunswick Street Oval - 27th April 2002

On Saturday 27th April, before the start of the Fitzroy reds Parkside game the Fitzroy Football Club laid a wreath at the War Memorial, built in 1919 by the Fitzroy Cricket, Football, Bowling, Baseball and Tennis Clubs. This long forgotten War Memorial was once a beautiful archway situated at what was once the entrance from Brunswick Street behind the original Football Club grandstand and the Bowling Club. It is possibly the only VFL ground where a war memorial was built.

Fitzroy Football Club players remembered were:

World War I (1914-1918)

World War II (1939-1945)

The full account of these brave Fitzroy players can be read in the newly published book "Fallen" written by Jim Main and David Allen.


Message from the Fitzroy Reds President - April 26th 2002

Well, after months of hard work on and off the track the 2002 footy season is finally underway. It's particularly satisfying to see our new third senior side participating in the northern section VAFA Club 18 competition. Well done to Boxy, Mick James, Plugger & Melissa Evans who have worked tirelessly to ensure that more people can get a game of footy at the Reds - we all really appreciate it! It was also great to witness the unfurling of the 2001 Premiership flag in front of our historic grandstand at Brunswick St Oval during Round 1. While the senior results to date haven't mirrored last year's exceptional performances, I'm confident that the players and coaching staff will regroup and start performing at a level which reflects their talent.

The committee has set in place a number of initiatives to increase the professionalism of the Fitzroy Reds and raise our profile in the community. The development of our guiding mission statement "Celebrating Community Football in the Heart of Fitzroy" and accompanying strategic plan earlier this year is a significant step towards implementing an infrastructure which will support the Fitzroy Reds' push towards 'A' Section of the VAFA. Of course, it will take a lot of hard work from members, supporters, players and the committee over a number of years to achieve this. However long term results are almost guaranteed considering the strong relationships evolving with the Fitzroy Junior FC,the Fitzroy FC and the Old Redders Association.

Signs of strengthening relationships were most evident at the 2002 Fitzroy Reds Season Launch, where supporters of Fitzroy Community Football gathered to listen to prominent keynote speakers (including Dyson Hore-Lacy SC) and the launch of our strategic plan and mission statement at the Brunswick St Oval Community Rooms.

A number of patrons for the Fitzroy Reds Football Club were announced, including Bill Stephen, Ross Stevenson (3AW), Dyson Hore-Lacy, Elaine Findlay, Paul Daffey, Mac Tolliday and Dr. June Senyard.

Other committee initiatives implemented include the practice match vs Seven Network's Reality Football Team "The Club" (Raoul), Sponsorship Portfolio (Tim Madden), Tram Party & Toga Party (Lu Petersen & Jughead), Fitzroy Reds & Juniors Community Notice Board (Adam Grant), $1200 Anti-Cancer Council Fundraiser - Relay for Life (Team effort), 2002 Membership Cards & Brochures (Scott Fletcher) and Yarra Community Day Handball Competition (Adam Grant, Steve Turner - FJFC, Joan Eddy - FJFC).

A player and member handbook outlining all you need to know about the Fitzroy Reds will be released soon - a big thanks to Kate Graham for compiling this very important document. Kate Longton must also be congratulated on the PR work she has done for the club over the last few months getting stories on the Fitzroy Reds in the Yarra Leader, MX Newspaper, The Herald Sun and Gameplan (City of Yarra publication).

I look forward to your continued support of the Fitzroy Reds FC during the 2002 season and beyond, whether you're playing, watching or following our results in the Sunday Herald Sun. Go Redders!
Benjy Lee
President


VLSG Post-Script

Dyson Hore-Lacy spoke for about 15 minutes at the Fitzroy Reds Season Launch and took the opportunity to make a number of interesting observations about the future direction of the Fitzroy Football Club and where the club was heading in the future, especially in relation to the Brisbane Lions.

The Fitzroy Football Club is determined to keep going. While the preferred choice for a merger was with the North Melbourne Football Club, the loose ends of which were fixed up on the very day the merger with Brisbane was announced, the FFC has a duty to do the best we can to represent the interests of our members in relation to the Brisbane Lions football club and also in other ventures.

After 1996, the club board adopted a "wait and see" profile for a while. The board remained united and were determined to salvage what they could. They sold the Fitzroy Club Hotel and were involved in a venture with the Coburg Football Club, until due to financial pressure, Coburg had to enter an alignment with Richmond Football Club, to field Richmond's reserves.

The Fitzroy Football Club board felt it was duty bound to do the best they could for all factions of the Fitzroy supporter base. It was felt that this was not inconsistent with the "so-called merger". The Fitzroy Football Club made a submission to the Brisbane Lions asking for the following

Of the four suggestions the Brisbane Lions

Dyson concluded by commenting that there was no reason why the Reds couldn't get to VAFA A Grade in a very short time. He commented on the return of a Fitzroy team to Brunswick Street and stated that when Fitzroy was in the AFL, the board decided to make a return to Brunswick Street as their training venue. They received Council approval to build a gym but couldn't afford the $220,000 needed to build it.


Allan Ruthven turns 80. - 17th April 2002

As a 20-year-old Allan Ruthven was told he would not only never play football again, but also would struggle to live a normal life if he did.

Twelve years later he retired after having won a Brownlow, five club best and fairests, three leading club goalkicking awards, a premiership and having both captained and coached Fitzroy.

Yesterday he finished eighteen holes of golf and today he turns 80.

But then, that’s Ruthven for you – he’s continually defied the odds during what has been an amazing life.

Indeed, the story of Allan Ruthven is the story of a local Fitzroy boy who went on to become one of that club’s greatest players.

Ruthven was, and still is, a Lions man through and through. As a five year-old young Allan would dress up in his Fitzroy gear and toddle off with his family to matches to watch his beloved Lions.

Later, as a 15-year-old, he would finish school at Falconer St School in North Fitzroy before wandering down to the old Brunswick St Oval and watch his heroes like Haydn Bunton Snr train. In those days, he would spend endless nights collecting the balls for his heroes after they kicked them through the goals.

It wouldn’t be long before he showed enough promise as a schoolboy to win selection in the Victorian underage team and, soon after, he graduated from the Victorian Brewery team to the Fitzroy seconds.

As a 25-year-old, Ruthven, by then known as the ‘Baron’ and the aristocrat of Fitzroy, had played in a premiership (1944), won three best and fairest awards, vice-captained the team and been unofficial favourite for the Brownlow Medal twice.

Ruthven, who is celebrating his birthday from his home in Yarrawonga where he has lived with wife Shirley for 10 of their 54 years of married life, understands what a meteoric rise to the top it was for him, but also knows it didn’t come about easily and without undertaking a lot of risks.

“I was out for nearly two seasons from 1942, I actually had blood in the urine and they couldn’t get it out. They told me never to play again, but I did and it worked out alright,” the defiant Ruthven said.

Still as alert as he was when marshalling the Lion troops as the epicentre of the team in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Ruthven said the illness continually re-occurred throughout his career, but strangely never re-appeared after his career finished.

“Since my career ended I’ve been fine. I’ve made it to 80 and I’m still playing a bit of golf, so that must show something,” he said.

‘A bit of golf’ included winning the local senior Southern Riverina Competition at Barooga the day before I spoke to him, but the always modest Ruthven says that was just a matter of “all us geriatrics having a game together”.

Despite his modesty the facts are clear, when Allan Ruthven does something, he inevitably does it well.

And when he joins fellow member of the 1944 premiership team, Clen Denning, to unfurl the ’44 and 2001 Brisbane flag this Saturday night when the Lions play the Western Bulldogs, he will no doubt do that in style as well.

Style, in fact, is something he’s always had plenty of. From when he used to arrive at Fitzroy training with flamboyant suits to now, he has always showed class and poise in everything he does.

But the tale of where the nickname ‘Baron’ came from appears to have been misreported over the years.

“They said it came from Baron Rothschild but that’s not true, it actually came after the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Hore Ruthven. One of the boys heard that he was the Governor-Gen and said, ‘That has to be Allan’s uncle, we better call him the Baron and his wife the Baroness’.”

And what does the ‘Baron’ think of the present-day Lions?

“I still barrack for the Lions and I think it’s terrific they’re doing so well. They’ve looked after us with the Hall of Fame and our names are on the lockers, so I’m pleased about that.”

So should they be.


Fitzroy Reds Jumper Presentation Night - Thursday 4th April 7.15 pm

The Official 2002 Season Launch for the Fitzroy Reds will be held on Thursday April 4th at 7:15 pm in the Brunswick Street Oval Community Rooms. The season launch will feature several prominent keynote speakers, including the Chairman of ex-AFL/VFL Club Fitzroy, Mr Dyson Hore-Lacy SC, who will deliver his first public keynote address on the Fitzroy Football Club since they were retired from league football in 1996.

The Fitzroy Reds newly developed mission statement "Celebrating Community Football in the Heart of Fitzroy" and accompanying strategic plan will also be launched at the function, as well as showcasing posterboard presentations of planned and implemented 2002 initiatives. Adding to the highlights of the night will be the announcement of the Reds' inaugural club patrons. The Fitzroy Reds also hope the launch can be used as a forum to further promote discussion on the state of grass roots football and community sport in Victoria and show the positive measures the Fitzroy Reds is taking help address these issues.

The format of the Fitzroy Reds 2002 Season Launch is as follows:

7:15pm - Fingerfood and Pre-Launch Drinks
8:00pm - Welcome by MC - Adam Grant (Fitzroy Reds Communication Mgr)
8:05pm - 1st Keynote Address - A History of Sport in Fitzroy,
Dr June Senyard (expert in Sporting History & Culture)
8:15pm - 2nd Keynote Address - Passion and the People,
Dyson Hore-Lacy SC (Fitzroy FC Chairman)
8:30pm - Announcement of the Inaugural Patrons of the Fitzroy Reds FC
8:40pm - Interlude
9:00pm - 3rd Keynote Address - Grass Roots Football- The Struggle,
Paul Daffey (Journalist and Author)
9:10pm - Presentation - "Celebrating Community Football in the Heart of Fitzroy",
Benjy Lee (Fitzroy Reds FC President)
9:20pm - Post Launch drinks


117th Annual General Meeting - 26th March 2002

The Fitzroy Football Club's Annual General Meeting was held in the Community Room at the Brunswick t Ground on Tuesday 26th March, with nearly eighty members in attendance. Elain Findlay and Bill Atherton were re-elected and Dean McVeigh and David Lauritz were appointed to the Board. Director Kevin Ryan retired after twelve years as a director of the Fitzroy Football Club including a term as the Club's Chief Executive officer in the early nineties.


Fitzroy to appear in Kylie Minogue documentary - Scott Palmer - Sunday 24th March

Australian pop-diva Kylie Minogue who helped save Fitzroy (if only temporarily) in 1986 is about to thrust the famous old club back onto the world's centre-stage.

For all those who think the Lions are dead and buried, don't believe it.

On Tuesday night, the die-hards will hold the club's 117th annual general meeting at the historic Brunswick St ground.

When chairman Dyson Hore-Lacy raises Kylie's latest connection with the club, it is certain that the roar among members will be as loud as a locomotive.

Fitzroy has been contacted by the BBC, which wants to include Kylie's debut singing appearance at the "Save the Lions" benefit 16 years ago - in a documentary that will be partly filmed in Melbourne during her concert tour in May.

The Lions honorary secretary, Bill Atherton contacted the international broadcaster after receiving a letter which read: "The BBC is making a prime time documentary called There's Only One Kylie, due to transmit at the end of the current tour in May. The documentary will focus on the defining momemnts in her career over the years in Neighbours, the song Locomotion, her involvement with Nick Cave....up to the present day phenomenon that is Kylie Minogue Queen of Pop."

The documentary is a fun and indulgent look at all things Kylie and will concentrate on what she means to us in the UK and abroad.

"One of the key defining moments was the transition from acting to music which reputedly took place at the Fitzroy Football Club benefit do."

The broadcaster is asking for any film or photographs that might have been taken that night at a packed Festival Hall.

The then Fitzroy President, Leon Wiegard recalled yesterday more than 2000 people heard Kylie sing 'Locomotion'.

She was wonderful and co-operative," Wiegard said.


Fitzroy Supporters Group disbands -28th February 2002

John Kotsopoulos, the Convenor of the Fitzroy Supporters Group has informed the club that the group has disbanded. The group who have been vocal critics of the Brisbane Lions over the last five years and who favored a merger of Fitzroy with a Melbourne-based club, and agitated for the entry of the Fitzroy Football Club into the VFL, has cited the inactivity of the Fitzroy Football Club for its' disbanding.


Don Furness dies - Tuesday 26th February 2002

The Fitzroy Football Club is mourning the loss of one of their own. Stalwart Don Furness has sadly passed away, after a couple of years of ill-health. Don Furness made his debut with Fitzroy in 1949 and retired in 1959 as a player, playing mainly in the centre and occasionally as a defender, winning Fitzroy's Best and Fairest in 1955. After his retirement Don Furness served as Fitzroy's chairman of selectors and later as coach of Port Melbourne and state selector.


Haydn Bunton Statue to be erected at Brunswick Street Oval? -Wednesday 23rd January 2002

The greater recognition of Brisbane's Fitzroy past may soon include the construction of a monument to Haydn Bunton, the only Lion to have won three Brownlow Medals.

While the idea of the Lions wearing a Fitzroy jumper in Melbourne has been refused by Brisbane, the AFL is considering support for the erection of a statue of Bunton at Brunswick Street Oval. The oval was where the Lions, old and new, celebrated the 2001 team's premiership victory in Melbourne.

Bill Atherton, secretary of the surviving Fitzroy Football Club, which supports Brisbane and fields teams in the Victorian Amateur Football Association said yesterday he had received encouragement late last year for the project from AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson.

"We wrote to the league in December and Wayne quickly replied. There is no definite commitment from the AFL because the costings are yet to be completed, but from the tone of the reply there is encouragement," Atherton said.

Bunton won his Brownlows in 1931, 1932, and 1935.


2001 Fitzroy Foundation Dinner - Wednesday 25th September 2001

The Annual Fitzroy Foundation Dinner for 2001 was held on Tuesday 25th September at the Jika International Convention Centre, 551 Heidelberg Road, Fairfield. Brisbane Lions members and supporters were present in significant numbers.

This was the fifth annual dinner which is held each year to commemorate the founding of the Fitzroy Football Club on Wednesday the 26th September 1883.

The Fitzroy Foundation was established in 1994, to help preserve Fitzroy history during the last few years of Fitzroy in the AFL. Even though Fitzroy is no longer in the AFL, the Foundation still exists to help northern suburbs grass-roots football, as well as the Fitzroy Football Club itself, which also still exists.


In 2000 the dinner paid tribute to Fitzroy great, John Blakey. The tribute included a video from John's playing days and from fellow players who were at the dinner.

The Foundation Dinner is essentially "neutral ground" for all aspects of today's Fitzroy - the Brisbane Lions, Fitzroy Reds and the Fitzroy Juniors.

Jason Baldwin and Simon Hawking past Fitzroy players attended the dinner and spoke to many of the guests present during the night.