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50th Anniversary 2012

Hi Everybody. I have been asked to speak tonight on the history and the origins of the Club. So Here Goes .....

In 1961 I played for Salisbury North, and not having a vehicle at the time it meant training two nights a week, then jogging home to my parents house at Halsey Rd Elizabeth East During this time I became quite friendly with our next door neighbour Brian Hogben and when we got together the subject always got around to football, so that after the 1961 season had ended Brian and Myself were sitting on our front verandah sharing a long neck Southwark, when we got to talking about the season just ended and bemoaning the fact that I was sick of training at Bagsters Rd and having to walk home after training, it would be good to have a club closer to home especially on the eastern side of the Main North Rd. Brian thought this was a good idea we should start a new club on the unused Spruance Rd Oval that was just down the Road.

Well we didn't have a clue about starting a new club so we started mooting the idea with people we knew in the football scene and we soon generated some interest. The fIrst thing that had to be done was call a public meeting to be held in the Elizabeth East Primary School in early December 1961 where it was determined that we would start a new club with pledges from people who were prepared to administer the new Club.

The inaugural AGM was set for early February 1962 and we only had one hiccup, that was the teacher Mr Stevens who had agreed to be our first President/Chairman had been posted to a country school so the following people became our first Office bearers
President/Chairman ..... George Gosling Position held from 1962 to 1966
Secretary ..... Peter Longhurst
Treasurer ….Keith Digance
Committee…. John Martin, Bill Beckman and others (can't remember all the names)
Social Committee Secretary…..Barry Warren
Senior Coach ..... Don Jensen

Next came the naming of the Club, and it was agreed that the name should include "The East and The Park" and when these two were put together and said quickly it soon became Eastern Park. It was decided that we would adopt the Norwood colours of navy blue and red with black shorts and red socks with a view to being called Redlegs, but when approached to give some sponsorship or merchandise to help out in our fIrst year, Norwood didn't want to know, however Melbourne Football Club were only too pleased to help and forwarded a cheque to cover the cost of one set of Senior Jumpers plus a heap of Merchandise, so we promptly became Eastern Park Football Club "The Demons"

We then had to apply to the CDFA who were the local controlling body, who accepted our nomination but recommended that we have two Junior Teams, so we had to advertise and letter box drop the local area and came up with an Under 14 and Under 16 team.
Under 14' s Coached by Barry Warren
Under 16' s Coached by Brian Hogben
These were pretty keen kids who played the first few games in Singlets until some of the Committee wives bought rolls of material and made their first set of lace up jumpers. After all the work involved in getting a Club up and running (purchasing all the gear required, footballs Goal Umpires coats etc) the season was finally underway. Our Change rooms consisted of two army ridgepole tents with a small tourer tent as a canteen, on Friday some of the wives got together at my parents place to make pasties for our home games, this meant taking a tray of hot pasties down to the canteen and when they were almost sold, race back to get another tray and put another tray in the oven, tedious but it worked.

We managed to get through that first season without winning a game in any grade, the two standout players from our juniors were David Saywell who went on to play many games for CDFC, and Michael Hick who played all his football at Eastern Park and went on to win our A grade best and fairest in 1968 and 1969

Towards the end of the 1962 season a gentleman wandered down to have a look at the activity on the oval and was asked if he would like to be a goal umpire, he was recovering from a serious illness that prevented him from returning to his chosen sport of cycling so Bill McPherson became our permanent goal umpire and in 1963 he joined the committee as treasurer, a position he held from 1963 to 1968.

During that time Bill and his family moved to the new suburb of Elizabeth West where his next door neighbour was Jeff White who soon got roped in to the position of Goal Umpire, and when Bill took on the role of Secretary in 1969 Geoff became the new Treasurer from 1969 to 1972. Bill only held the secretary position for one year and from 1970 to 1973 became the Club chairman.

I mention these two specifically because Bill is no longer with us but his wife Carene, son Kym and Daughter Narelle and their neighbour Geoff White are with us tonight. During the 1962 season both Brian and I had tremendous help with Juniors from Bert Eyres and Mal Smith, two people who continued on with the Juniors for a number of years. The 1963 season saw us upgrade our facilities, we managed to borrow a very large marquee that had a divider down the middle, one side for us the other for the opposition, however there was no improvement to the canteen facilities.

The first time we met Elizabeth during this season our B grade had its first win, but the second time we played them we had our first ever A grade win The Sunday Mail record of this win was framed and given to the Club. (Don't know where it is now).
Season 1964 was upon us, by this time plans were in the pipeline to build new Clubrooms by the Salisbury-Elizabeth Council, but when they held a referendum to decide on a go it alone Elizabeth Council we were advised that the Clubrooms would not be leased to us as the new council saw this as a money making community facility, but they did us a favour by putting a single car garage near the southern car park, this was used for the visitors change rooms and a good neighbour across the road (Joe Saunders) allowed us to use his car shed as our change rooms.
This was a memorable year for the Club as it saw us under the leadership of Arthur Trevena make the finals for the first time.
One round to go and we were fifth behind Elizabeth, but in the final round Elizabeth had to play the undefeated Salisbury North and we had to play third placed Salisbury, we knew Salisbury North would be too strong for Elizabeth so it was up to us to beat Salisbury to make the finals. So we beat Salisbury for the first time and Elizabeth lost, that put us in to fourth spot and had to play Salisbury again in the knock out semi final which we managed to win by four goals, but Elizabeth North done the unthinkable and beat Salisbury North in the second semi final so we had to do the impossible, but we beat Salisbury North for the first time ever by nine points and got to the Grand Final but the game was not to be ours, in the first couple of minutes Elizabeth North Coach Mick Kerley landed a haymaker on Arthur's chin and he was carted from the ground out like a light.

Canteen facilities had changed also, now that the clubrooms had been started the ladies used the shelter of the clubroom walls and we also graduated to Saveloys in bread as our main food item. Sunday mornings in the SHED gave us an opportunity to lick the wounds of the day before and an opportunity to raise a few bob and have a quiet beer or two !!!!! 1965 season saw us able to use the change rooms for the first time, it was great to be able to train and play at the oval and have a hot shower after, but the council would not let us use the Kitchen or hall facilities as part of our hire arrangement, we had to hire them separately which generally cost us more than the money we could make having a barbecue tea. And the canteen staff still toiled out in the weather. The one positive during this period was that our junior numbers continued to steadily grow and we were fortunate gain the coaching skills of Bruce and Bill Champion who had a way of getting the best out of their young charges.

From 1966 to 1969 we tried a series of coaches but seemed unable to attract many outside players to the club and while we remained competitive we were unable to repeat the 1964 success and play in any senior finals but we always enjoyed a very active social life, we may not have been able to use the clubrooms as often as we liked but we had made it this far by hiring other clubs facilities or back yard barbecues.

During this period we managed to pick up some best player incentives one of which was a drive in pass at the Shandon drive in for a car load of patrons, Geoff Green who drove a corner panel van at the time managed to win one of these passes and rocked up to the drive in with him in the drivers seat, his brother in the passenger seat and 17 others in the back of the van.

We also had during this period a real cold weather saviour by the name of Norm Sissons, he would rock up to a game with a bottle, we think it was mainly port but it was labelled Norms Moose Juice, one sip and you could feel it warm from your toe nails up very quickly, Norm is here tonight, do you think it would be okay to let us know now what was in it.

Graham Johnson joined the club in 1966 or 68 as a convert from rugby and took on the Secretary job in 1970 a position he held for about four years but while our juniors were going okay our senior sides were struggling, the lack of a suitable venue was the main problem, we even got the use of the Elizabeth East Scout hall on Thursday nights where for a few bob the players could get a mug of home made soup and some bread and butter and have a game of Kelly pool to try and raise some money and keep the players together until the weeks teams were announced.

In 1973 or 74 we had our first player picked up by the big V, it was grand final day under 17's at Centrals and we had in our team Brenton and Phillip Graham and their cousin Colin Graham, well three reps from the Melbourne football club had flown over to watch this game and at the end of it had signed Colin Graham, from Eastern Park Under 17' s to Melbourne next season.

Our Senior sides were not functioning all that well and by 1974 we had only a B grade team competing and the following year no Seniors at all, the name was in fact kept going by the juniors until we moved up to Dwight Reserve in 1978 and seniors re-commenced in an A2 grade competition.

To the best of my knowledge there are only five families who have had three generations play for the club ..... Myself, two sons Stephen and Barry Jnr and Grandson Nathan
Graham Johnson, his two sons Steven & Paul and Steven's boys Sam and Kane.
Bill McPherson, his son Kym, and Daughter Narelle Burgess (nee McPherson) two boys Nathan and Brayden currently playing.
Don Chamings, His two sons Brett and Andrew and Andrew's sons Callum and Dillan.
Bill Wells, his sons Bill Jnr (BJ), Matthew, Joshua and Michael and Matthews sons Isaiah and Samuel.

I am proud to have been involved with Eastern Park football club for many years and wish the club every success in the future. A word to the current and future committees ... when planning the road ahead always take a look over your shoulder and see where the Club has come from.

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