Geelong West (Bakers Oval), Victoria
The Geelong West Sporting Club, formerly known as the Geelong West Cricket and Football Club, are colloquially known as ‘Blue West’. This is to distinguish the club from the old VFA Geelong West team (whom the locals called ‘Red West’).
To possibly confuse the issue even more, Blue West train at Bakers Oval in Shannon Avenue but play their home games at Red West’s ground in Church Street. Red West merged with St Peters back in 1989 to form West Saints.
Got all that?
Blue West, a blue collar club,was formed in 1926 . It plays in the Geelong and District Football League, a league that has suburban clubs from Geelong and country clubs from surrounding districts.
I picked the wrong time to visit Bakers Oval: midweek, midday.Three blokes were just locking up the clubrooms. One had a folded blue and gold cloth under his arm.
“Why are you taking photos of the old scoreboard?” he asked.
Struck down by shyness I blurted out something like, “Um, oh, I like taking photos of scoreboards.” The three blokes looked blankly at me.
“Well, scoreboards are different from ground to ground,” I offered.
“I suppose, ” one of the blokes said. They each had their car keys in their hands, ready to go.
“The old scoreboard’s only used for cricket nowadays,” said one.
The bloke with the blue and gold cloth paused at his car door. He looked out across the paddock that is Bakers Oval and said, “Don’t know why they put a footy and cricket ground here in the first place, all those years ago. It’s too close to houses. Whenever I played cricket I just tried to hit balls over backyard fences.”
He did tell me, though, that the blue and gold cloth under his arm was the 1971 premiership flag and that there was a shindig coming up soon.
I asked the forthcoming trio who I could call for more details about the club. They pointed to a number on the back wall of the changerooms. Then, one by one, they drove away.
I have a distant connection to Blue West. The widow of former player Bill Mulcahy gave her husband’s old jumper to my father some years ago. After my Dad died a decade ago I found a lovely blue and yellow woolen footy jumper in Dad’s wardrobe. It took me a while to figure it all out but I was delighted when Rita, Bill Mulcahy’s widow, said she was happy for me to look after and wear the old jumper. Keeps me warm in winter.