1956

VictoriaPark1


 

Security of tenure

The Collingwood Football Club was frustrated time and time again at Town Hall with constant changing of councillors and their self serving attitude.  Club secretary Gordon Carlyon was on a mission to try and gain some form of control and long certainty with respect to Victoria Park.  The council had the club on the standard seven year revolving lease and on several occassions the Club entertained the prospect of moving to a facility were it could control its own destiny.  However, Victoria Park is the only football ground anywhere near the Collingwood precinct and Gordon was determinded to find a way to take some control away from a council that was neglecting the facilities while enjoying the benefits of having the most popular sporting club in Australia within its business district.

The Members Stand, built in 1909 was still the main facility for players and spectators and after nearly 50 seasons of football was in a terrible state of disrepair.  The council would not budge and it wasn't until Collingwood coach Alphonse Kyne complained that he feared the ground was so hard that one of the players was destined to get injured and the finals were looming for the Magpies who were in with a good chance too.  Gordon made the usual trip down Hoddle Street and recieved the usual cold and disinterested response from town clerks.  Jock McHale was particularly incensed at the lack of council interest in what was legal their responibility and he took the matter to club long term benfactor John Wren.  Suffice to say that John Wren carried enormous influence as upon Carlyon's and McHale's return to Victoria Park from John Wren's office awaiting them was the Town Clerk, the engineer, the curator and the Mayor himself.  The ground was watered heavely for the next two days and nights.

Gordon approached the council in 1954 with a view to breaking the stalemate that had existed on the upgrading of facilities at the ground.  The club was regaining a sense a vigor in the 50s and rapid expansion was required.  The Club needed to take control of the ground and illiminate the need to constantly call on the council that would turn a blind eye anyway.  After the creation of the Collingwood Social Club in 1942 upon acquiring the only VFL liquor licence in 1940, the club had a surge of support but the old Members Stand was not up to it and the added administrative staff had no were to work.  The Collingwood City Council were only permitted to grant a maximium of seven years lease for council properties.  Gordon knew this, but was curious to know what the actual law was in relation to council lands.  So he bought himself a copy of the Local Governments Act for '22 and sixpence and studied it thoroughly.  In the early hours one morning in '54, Gordon struck gold.  Clause 237 allowed a council to grant a 'major improvements lease' for a maximum of 40 years.  The Collingwood City Council could grant the Collingwood Football Club an exclusive 40 year lease in return for the Club making major improvements to the site.  However, this was just the beginning for Gordon and he now had to approach the council and convince them to go ahead with the long term lease.

GordonCarlyonSeeing as Collingwood were the reigning premiers, Gordon moved with haste to secure the new agreement, but he was not properly prepared and the council rejected it overwhelmingly by foruteen votes to one.  The following year Gordon was back at the Town Hall with a slightly different tact and while he had made valuable ground the vote was narrowly against eight to seven.  Frustrated with the councils response, Gordon suspected fowl play and confronted one of the councillors opposing the new agreement and simply wanted to know, why?  Gordon's suspicions were confirmed as the decenting councilors were worried that they would lose their privileges free footy at Victoria Park.  30 tickets were immediately dispatched to the Town Hall and all councillors were invited to become Social Club members.  Needless to say when Gordon approached the council with same request shortly after the vote was overwhelming in favour (14 to 1) and a new 40 lease was struck with the provision that the Collingwood Football Club spend at least £250,000 on improvemnets to the site within that 40 years.

The Syd Coventry Pavilion (Social Club building) was completed three years later at a cost of over £200,000 and the clubs committment to the council was almost acheived within no time at all.  Once again the Collingwood Football Club and Victoria Park were at the forefront of the ever increasing popularity of Suatralian Rules Football.

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