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Fitzroy finds a home in Docklands

28 Feb 2012

Fitzroy finds a home in Docklands Image

The ‘ghost’ of the old Fitzroy Football Club has been wandering the wilderness for the past 16 years but has now found a home here in Docklands.

Etihad Stadium has provided a prominent location for the former club’s impressive collection of memorabilia – which tells the proud story of a club which won nine premierships before it merged with the Brisbane Bears in 1996.

Collection custodian Arthur Wilson said retiring stadium CEO Ian Collins initiated the museum after coming across some of Fitzroy’s material which had been in storage at the ground.

“We’d been searching for a home for many years so when ‘Collo’ said he thought the stuff should be on show it was just fabulous,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr Wilson said the collection was potentially the most travelled ever – having moved from the old Fitzroy ground in Brunswick St, to the Junction Oval, the Lakeside Oval, to offices in St Georges Rd, Fitzroy and to a club hotel in Northcote before the merger in 1996.

He said 40 per cent of the collection was “lost” following the merger but much of it had now been returned.

The club's material was most recently on display at the Manningham Club in Bulleen.

“It’s amazing how much material has surfaced since the word has got out that we now have a permanent home,” he said.

Arthur was on the Fitzroy Football Club committee between 1968 and 1979 and was club secretary/manager between 1980 and 1985.  He was the club’s football manager between 1985 and 1991.

One of Fitzroy’s favourite sons, Docklander Garry Wilson (no relation to Arthur) has also offered some of his personal material for the collection.

Garry, now 58, won the club’s best and fairest five times over a 268-game career which spanned 14 years.

Garry and his wife have had an apartment at Yarra’s Edge for six years, but use it as a holiday house.  They are currently in Docklands full-time, but only while their new home is being constructed.

“We love it in Docklands,” he said.  “It’s great to be able to walk into the city or to games at the MCG.”

“It’s a lovely, quiet residential area.”

Garry is vice-captain of Fitzroy’s “team of the century” and in 1984 captained Victoria in interstate football.  He was runner up in the Brownlow Medal in 1979 (by just one vote) and was third in the VFL/AFL’s premier award in 1978.

“I played for Victoria 14 times for 14 wins,” he said.

During the last four years of his career Garry played in a helmet on medical advice due to the number of times he had suffered concussion.

Garry couldn't make the launch of the musuem late last year to illness and saw the collection for the first time on February 28.

He was quick to point out to Arthur that there was an error in the section highlighting the club's best and fairest players.

"Here Arthur, you'd better fix this," he laughed. "It says here I only won it four times!"

According to Arthur, Garry was one of the best players to ever pull on a Fitzroy jumper.

Garry grew up in Middle Park as a South Melbourne fan before his family bought a newagency and moved to West Preston.  That put him in Fitzroy’s recruiting zone.

The rest is history.

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