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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9249


Mr MARLES (Corio) (21:10): It is September. The AFL finals are here. Geelong is playing in them and we have secured the double chance. I can report to you, Madam Speaker, that the earth is rotating on its correct axis and all is right with the universe. Indeed, in 10 of the last 11 years Geelong has played in the AFL finals. For eight of them, we have been in the top four. This year we completed a feat whereby Geelong has played the most successful succession of 200 games since the inception of the Victorian Football League in 1897, as measured by a win-loss ratio. This means a lot to those in my electorate. If we make it to the last Saturday of this month, I can assure you that most houses in the electorate of Corio will have some adornment on them which will acknowledge the Geelong Football Club. There is no more socially unifying phenomenon in the city of Geelong than the Geelong Football Club. It houses our identity; it is the repository of our passion. And this year, more than any other year, given the difficulties that we have faced with decisions by Ford and Alcoa, wouldn't it be a grand thing if the Geelong Football Club were able to take away the AFL premiership?

But in this week I want to talk about a piece of lost football history in Geelong and that is the old Corio Oval. The Corio Oval was the home of the Geelong Football Club, from 1878 to 1940. Seven Victorian Football Association premierships were won by the Geelong Football Club when they played at the Corio Oval, seven of them in a space of nine years, from 1878 through to 1886. Three VFL premierships were also won at this ground: in 1925, 1931 and 1937 when Reg Hickey captained and coached that famous team. This is the ground where Edward 'Cargi' Greeves played his football, the first winner of the Brownlow Medal. This is the ground where Reg Hickey, the most celebrated person in the history of the Geelong Football Club played his games, from 1926 to 1940. It must have been a majestic moment on 29 August 1925, the year when Geelong won its first VFL premiership, when 26,025 people crowded into watch Geelong beat Collingwood, something that has been a sweetness in the following of football ever since.

But there is one person I particularly want to mention in this context and that is Dave Hickinbotham. He was the captain of the famous Geelong team in 1886, which went through that season completely undefeated. Indeed, the final between Geelong and South Melbourne, the predecessor of the Sydney Swans, was regarded as the game of the century. Dave Hickinbotham was regarded as one of the great players of the 1880s. He was a centreman. He was aggressive but fair, he had skill and he had pace. He was one of the few people ever to have recorded a place kick which went further than 100 yards, which he did in 1888 at the Brunswick Oval in a match against Fitzroy.

In 1910 he arguably became Geelong's first coach. Coaching was a slightly less-defined function back then than it is now. But, arguably, Dave Hickinbotham was our first coach, coaching the VFL team in the years 1910 and 1911. Come the war, the ground went out of use as the home of the Geelong Football Club. It became a place where greyhound racing occurred. Its last stand was finally demolished in the 1980s. There is now a conference centre in its place and just a single plaque. Next to it, in Eastern Park, there are a number of nondescript ovals called Eastern Park ovals 1, 2 and 3. One of these, next to Holt Road, is not exactly on the site of the old Corio Oval, but it is right next to it. Rather than being simply named with a number, I am calling on the City of Greater Geelong tonight to rename that specific oval the Dave Hickinbotham Oval in remembrance of a man who would have, just a few metres from that place, run down the centre of the old Corio Oval, creating so much joy for the people of Geelong, just as the Cats are going to do this month.