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Gerry Green Reserve: Parkdale Recreation Reserve

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Parkdale football team versus Mentone at Parkdale, 1976. Courtesy Leader Collection, City of Kingston.

In October 1922 it was announced in the Moorabbin News that the Mordialloc Council had almost completed the purchase of land covered in scrub to be set aside for a reserve in Parkdale. But there was some delay in setting out the playing area and as a result the various sports clubs hoping to make use of it were unable to clear and level the ground for recreational purposes. They wanted action. Mr J Smith, the president of the Parkdale Junior Football Club, remarked in March 1923 that the club would clear the scrub once the oval had been marked out. He urged the council to make decisions before the club found it necessary to disband owning to having no reserve on which to play. It seemed that the question of management was the ‘sticking point’.

By the end of March through the energetic actions of the supporters of the junior football club working under the supervision of J Smith and R Marriott the scrub had been cleared to form an oval. Mr Smith pointed out that the work had been done by volunteers but expressed his disappointment about the lack of practical assistance from the two cricket clubs who had previously been enthusiastic about the creation of a reserve. The Parkdale Progress Association was also identified as being absent from the working parties. Smith believed this was not the right spirit to adopt if Parkdale was to develop, and called upon all local bodies to give assistance in improving the recreation reserve.

Frederick Herbert challenged the view that the Progress Association had not assisted by naming three men who were members of the Association who were active participants in the reserve’s development. He went on to point out that pin pricking through the press achieved nothing and the association had the same problem in getting help from volunteers. [1]

Initially there was some concern amongst those interested in the reserve about who was going to manage and maintain it There was the example of the Mentone Reserve managed by a committee of residents appointed by the Council but in this new instance the thought amongst some individuals was that the Council should take over the responsibility of management and be responsible for the reserve’s total upkeep as well as auditing the expenditure of any money raised by the community towards its development. [2] Finally, a committee was created consisting of six representatives of the ratepayers and two delegates from senior sporting bodies, together with the ward councillors. But this composition later changed. [3]

Not long after its formation the reserve committee wrote to the Council suggesting consideration be given to purchasing extra land in Keith Street. With this purchase the committee said the reserve would gain a 500 foot frontage to the street. Mr R Marriott the owner of the land offered to give one block of land free of cost if the council purchased the remaining set. Cr James Blanche speaking in Council, explained that purchasing the land would provide the reserve with a frontage to four streets – Point Nepean Road, Keith Street, Chandler Street and Imes Street - while adding two acres with the new purchase. Although he did warn the purchase would probably mean a special rate would have to be imposed upon the rate-payers to fund the gain. [4]

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Cr James Blanche. Courtesy Mordialloc and District Historical Society.

The new reserve was officially opened for sport in October 1925 by Mayor Blanche. In doing so he commented he was one of the founders of the Parkdale Cricket Team and was captain of its first cricket team. Blanche, after the preliminaries, went on to bowl the first ball to the Parkdale captain, Fred Lowe, in a match between Parkdale and Ormond. [5]

In July of the following year the committee approached the Council with two requests. One was to approve a tender to erect a pavilion and the other was for the Council to inform the English Scottish & Australian Bank (ES&A) at Cheltenham that it approved the committee creating an overdraft of £300. Both these requests were granted by the Council. The plans and specifications prepared by L C Wells, the successful tenderer were agreed to on the understanding that the City Engineer and Building Surveyor gave their approval. With these approvals the committee had accepted the responsibility of finding at least £21 in interest payments each year as well as reducing the principal in a situation where the unfenced reserve severely limited their ability to raise revenue. [6]

While the reserve committee was ambitious in its objective of making improvements to the ground they were strapped for cash. Although acknowledging the council’s achievement in preserving eight acres of elevated land the committee pleaded with the council to give them more financial support and assist them reduce their debit balance with the bank. [7] Early in 1930 the committee conceived the idea of holding a gigantic gymkhana and sports gathering on the Eight Hours Day holiday. To promote the idea a public meeting was called and chaired by the chairman of the reserve committee, J Gray.

Those present at this public meeting were Crs Blanche and Herbert, Mr Jenkins and Mr Gray all from the Parkdale Reserve Committee; Mr Newman of the Central Life Saving Club; Mr Pearson of the Parkdale Life Saving Club; Messrs W Marshall, K Glendenning and A Miller representing the Parkdale Junior Football Club while Messrs Voigt, McMinn, Clarke and Mrs Harrison were from the Parkdale Progress Association. Other people present were Messrs Greenwell and Colville of amateur athletics with; Messrs H Winter and G Le Fevre from Mordialloc Amateur Cycle Club; Mr Petersen from the Sea Scouts; Mr A Bryce representing the Runners and the large team from the Parkdale Cricket Club, Messrs B V Mulvogue, B Bismire, L Cox, H Nightingale, M Coutts, E Merrington, J Raphael, C Mulvogue, C Howell, J Wilson , A Pallant and L Welsh. They decided to form themselves into an organising committee for the monster gymkhana and sports gathering with Cr Herbert being appointed as organising secretary. After his appointment Cr Herbert pointed out that it was vital that the event raised the ambitious total of £300. [8]

At the meeting ideas flowed as to what should be included in the program. Hurdle races were not advised because of the difficulty of setting handicaps but hop, step and jump or long jump events were approved. Relay races between different clubs in the district were advocated because parents liked to see their sons competing. Cr Blanche suggested a tug-of - war between teams made up of employees from the various local councils while Mr Gray thought a Parkdale Cup should be offered for competition for horses aged between 5 and 9 years. Mr Peterson, said the sea scouts would join in any procession, conduct displays, form a camp fire at night and give a program of songs. Mr Bismire from the Cricket Club proposed that two thousand buttons be purchased to be sold at one shilling each. They, he suggested, would give entrance to the ground together with a chance to win a prize of £2 2 0. Children under fourteen years were to be admitted on one purchased button. [9]

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Finish of the Rix Memorial Sprint at Parkdale Reserve, 1963. Courtesy Leader Collection, City of Kingston.

The Gymkhana and Sports Day of 1930 was considered a success so it was repeated the next year and again in 1932. So packed was the programme of ’32 that the children’s programme commenced at 10.00 a.m. and did not finish until well after 5.00 p.m. Sporting events were conducted continuously throughout the day. According to a newspaper report, a feature of the carnival was ‘the running of the Parkdale Cup with entrants consisting of local draught horses galloping heavily around the track to the accompaniment of continuous applause’, an event claimed to be world famous. The takings for the day amounted to more than £50 which the committee planned to devote to improving the recreation reserve utilizing the unemployed members of the community. [10]. The gymkhana continued on Eight Hours Day for several years. In 1936 the Governor of Victoria, Lord Huntingfield, was invited to officially open that year’s event.

Despite the successes of the Parkdale gymkhana the actions of the organising committees were not welcomed by all. At a Mordialloc Council meeting in April 1932 the mayor expressed his view that the committee was not functioning as Council required. He pointed to the facts that working bees had been held on three Sundays prior to the gymkhana and horses had been worked dragging rollers to prepare the ground. The reserve was Council’s property and any work there should have been done under the engineer’s supervision. It was irresponsible, he said, of those people in taking possession of the reserve. Not all councillors agreed with the mayor’s beliefs regarding the sanctity of Sunday and his conclusion.

In 1935 the reserve committee offered the Mordialloc Cycle Club the use of the cycle track during the cricket season, an offer that became subject to much criticism from the cricket body. To resolve the issue, Mr Patterson, the president of the Reserve Committee, referred the matter to the Council. There it was explained the cricket club paid £3-3-0 for the use of the reserve and the Mordialloc Cycle Club offered much more if they could use the cycle track that ran around the boundary of the oval for fifteen minutes on a Saturday at four o’clock during the cricket season. Cr Blanche said the situation was absurd. The batsmen might have successfully ‘dug themselves in’ against good bowling when they had to leave the pitch whilst the cycle club staged a race. Finally, the council resolved that the reserve could be made available to the cycle club on a Saturday but it must be between innings. Cr Blanche commented that he was sorry that they had ever put the track around the oval because it required continual expenditure to maintain. [11]

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Clough Memorial Cycling Event at Parkdale Reserve, 1960. Photographer John Beesley, Courtesy Kingston Collection, City of Kingston.

From the 30s to the 50s the recreation reserve was used for events that raised money for various charitable initiatives including – the infantile paralysis after-care fund in 1938, providing improvements to the reserve as a soldiers’ memorial in 1946, and an appeal by the Parkdale Yacht Club to replace a rescue boat destroyed by a storm in 1950.

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Children riding miniature train at Parkdale Reserve on Mayor’s Day, 1985. Courtesy Leader Collection, City of Kingston.

Later in that year the Council decided to disband the Parkdale Recreation Reserve Committee and take over the administration of the reserve. This followed an ultimatum delivered by the committee that unless they were given more administrative authority over the management of the reserve they would resign as a committee. The committee at the time consisted of a representative member of each club using the reserve, a member of Keith Street and the Area Progress Association together with two or three other citizens. While the committee acknowledged the reserve had deteriorated over the year they claimed they were hampered by bureaucratic demands and red tape. They were required to gain the approval of the City Engineer for the most minor of tasks. They saw their role as caretakers with no power to implement necessary actions if the reserve was to be improved. Consequently, the committee delivered the ultimatum to the Council that unless they had more administrative authority they would be forced to resign as a committee and place the responsibility of the recreation reserve back with the council. [12] Their arguments for maintaining their existence failed to gain the support of the Council.

For some time the issue of fencing the reserve had been discussed by many local organisations. Some were in favour while others argued strongly against it. The Reserve Committee, prior to their demise, were not in favour of such action nor were the Keith Street and Area Progress Association. The arguments put forward to justify their anti-position included the inconvenience a fence would place on individuals who normally walked through the reserve to the station and shops. Moreover, a cyclone wire fence, they believed would become wild with seeds and weeds in summer. They also thought the £1000+ needed to finance the construction could be better used elsewhere.

The Parkdale Football Club thought otherwise. They had become a member of the Federal Football League and they believed their home games would attract a lot of supporters who would be a source of financial support. The collection of entrance fees would be more efficiently and effectively collected with a fenced reserve in contrast to volunteers moving amongst the spectators during the pauses in play with a bed sheet calling for contributions. The plan for the future development of the reserve included tennis courts and bowling greens which they believed would need to be fenced so that they were protected from vandals. [13] This concern was reinforced when under the cover of darkness individuals described as ‘vandals and larrikins with communistic tendencies’ plastered the newly painted pavilion with the logo ‘No Troops for Malaya’. The reporter wrote ‘it is a pity these paint brush politicians are nocturnal in their habits, because some of the ruckmen would love to meet them,’ reflecting the thoughts of members of the community. [14]

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Members and players of Parkdale Football Club gather around to fly the pennant won by the Club’s Seconds the previous year, 1966. Courtesy Leader Collection, City of Kingston.

In 1960 Bob Mason, a candidate for election to the Mordialloc Council, proposed that the Parkdale Reserve be made available for local go-cart enthusiasts as a venue for their racing program. Mr G Clough writing to the Mordialloc News opposed this idea pointing to the nuisance of noise, the destruction of the oval surface and the unsuitability of the existing cycle track for the proposed purpose. Additional costs he suggested would be required to erect a safety fence. There were also concerns about the effect this proposal would have on property values in the area. Mr Clough suggested land away from the built up area should be acquired to allow this activity to proceed. Mr Mason withdrew his proposal agreeing another site should be found. [15]

Cr Shirley Burke resigned from the Mordialloc Council in March 1964 , five months before the conclusion of her three year term of office as a representative of Parkdale ward. As required by Council regulations an election was held to find his replacement. Gerry (Goodall) Green and Stan Kelly were candidates for the five months vacancy. Gerry Green, forty four years old, was successful over his opponent by 68 votes. [16] In 1966/67 he was Mayor of Mordialloc. He was again elected in 1970 but on this occasion was unopposed. Gerry Green was heavily involved in community activities over several years. He was president of the Parkdale Pre-school Association, Parkdale Football Club, Parkdale Athletic Club, Parkdale-Mentone LCP, secretary Parkdale State School and vice president of Parkdale Cricket Club. He was also elected as a trustee of the newly created Mordialloc Youth Club in Warren Road but had to relinquish this position because of his appointment as a councillor. [17] Later, in 1972, he resigned from his positions associated with local community groups, including his position as councillor to follow business interests in another part of Victoria. However, his colleagues as councillors in the City of Mordialloc recognized his contribution and named the Parkdale Recreation Reserve as the Gerry Green Reserve in his honour.

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Cr G Green, Councillor and Mayor of Mordialloc, 1966/67. Courtesy Mordialloc and District Historical Society.

Author

Graham J Whitehead

Footnotes

  1. Moorabbin News, 7 April 1923.
  2. Moorabbin News, 19 October 1922.
  3. Mordialloc News, 20 January 1955.
  4. Moorabbin News, 29 September 1923.
  5. Carrum Borough Gazette, 24 October 1925.
  6. Carrum Borough Gazette, 31 July 1926.
  7. Carrum Borough Gazette, 28 September 1929.
  8. Moorabbin News, 25 January 1930.
  9. Moorabbin News, 25 January 1930.
  10. The Argus, 15 March 1932.
  11. Chelsea News, 28 September 1935.
  12. Mordialloc News, 20 January 1955.
  13. Mordialloc News, 10 March, 1955.
  14. City of Mordialloc News, April 14, 1955
  15. Mordialloc City News, 4 August 1960.
  16. Mordialloc City News, 19 March 1964.
  17. Mordialloc City News, 12 March 1964.

Category: Land and Environment
Reference Number: 626
Date Created: 10/12/2015
Date Revised:

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