Going over old ground (HLD 118)

18 July 2020

On our way back from a trip to a different hardware store this morning, we deliberately deviated past the old Subiaco football ground.

This stadium was the home of a lot of memories for us over the years. Lots and lots of football games, both with our state teams and our preferred national team, but also the venue for amazing concerts and games featuring other sporting codes.

My state football league team  – Subiaco – featured in the very last WAFL grand final at Subiaco Oval. We lost, but let’s not focus on the unimportant matters to this conversation. 

My AFL team (Fremantle) have had many wonderfully memorable and many “dear God let us forget that one” moments at Subi oval. As members we had a couple of different seat allocations, neither of them overly comfortable. Our worst seating memory was sitting high up in the old three tier stand for one game, in horribly uncomfortable seats that anyone taller than 1.6m would have struggled to find space for their legs in the cramped seating. It was so dreadfully uncomfortable, and our team was losing with spectacular efficiency. But as it started raining bucketloads and we realised that we were well under cover, they suddenly became very good seats. 

Horrible losses, amazing wins, incredible marks and goals, brilliant WAFL finals games… it all happened at Subi. We had a set routine on getting there – where to park, where to find the toilets with the shortest queues (I could have sworn to you there were only half a dozen female toilets in the whole stadium, so lengthy were the queues!!), and where you could find a half decent coffee.

In 2017 the ground closed and we moved to the brand new and very swish Optus Stadium by the river. It’s big, it’s shiny and modern, has brilliant lights, and I have never – not once – had to queue for a toilet. Magic.

So – poor old Subi oval. As we drove past the ground, we could still see goal posts on the ground. We could still see the heritage listed main gates. But the stands? Gone. The old Subi club rooms, home of many WAFL functions over the years? Gone. The six female toilets? Gone.

Does the spirit of the game remain? Or has it gone? 

Or does the spirit of the game follow the game to wherever it happens? Is this site of many battles and much rivalry over the years now just like any other vacant block? What was the essence of Subi? The turf? The stands?

Maybe those incredibly uncomfortable seats up top of the three tier stand are what Subi was all about. Uncomfortable but wonderfully functional when it mattered. It was footy’s home, until a newer fancier home with more toilets was built.

And just so you know, that last WAFL grand final was an unfair matchup against a side loaded with AFL players.  We won the next two 🙂

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