Wellesley Park, Tasmania
Story and photos by Chris Rees
Wellesley Park is a large area in South Hobart formerly occupied by the Hobart Tip; after the 1967 bushfire the council opened a new tip in nearby McRobies Gully.
Since 2000 I have lived on the edge of the park and can wander into it through my back gate. My usual dog-walk takes me up through it and across the soccer ground which is the only manicured part of the generally scruffy park.
Like many sports venues in Hobart, the soccer pitch has a terrific view. The first time I played there I was stunned by the location, sitting in a bowl of small hills and overlooked by Mt Wellington, with glimpses of the Derwent.
Two years ago the council started major work to level the area, which had formerly had a serious slope to the river side. The new surface is outstanding but underused. It cries out for cricket but for some reason has not yet been adopted by a club.
There were previously two scoreboards; a small one (rarely-used) attached to the change sheds, and a bigger one outside the fence. During the works the large scoreboard was dumped on its face in the mud, where it remains. I have always been fond of the small one for it’s boldly unskilled hand-painted S’HOB and VIS contrasted with the very nice cursive rendering of “Wellesley Park.”
Back in 2012 the clubhouse was subject to attention from vandals one night. They were either from cross-town rivals New Town Eagles or were attempting to frame them. Across the windows in white paint they scrawled (as well as ‘insults and expletives’) ‘CSE forever’ and ‘Eagles 4 lyf’. The Eagles’ home ground is in Clare Street and they are self-styled as the Clare Street Elite.
The little scoreboard suffered collateral damage, and while the windows were cleaned fairly promptly (after plod had taken photos for graphology experts) the scoreboard bore the scars for years.
On my dog walks I often considered quietly visiting with a pot of black paint one evening to fix it up; but never got around to it.
As part of the major redevelopment the council have built a new function room and redeveloped the old clubhouse. Two weeks ago I noticed that the old scoreboard had vanished; and I thought I would investigate. Winston and I sniffed around and found it leaned against the back of the building amongst what looked to the untrained eye like junk.
Rather than just walk off with it, I emailed the council to ask if it was actually being turfed and if there was any objection to me adopting it. They checked with th club and I got the all-clear, so I fetched it.
On Saturday I finally did the fix-up with some blackboard paint to match the weathered super-matt finish of the old board. It has single hooks for numbers, but I don’t have any large enough to fit, so I went with chalk as a temporary solution.
While I am a proud resident of South Hobart I have never been a fan of South Hobart FC who are Tasmania’s dominant club, with something of a Real Madrid ‘born to rule’ mentality. My son’s team Olympia have regular derbies with the Red and Blue of SHFC, and my first impulse was to display a resounding win to VIS.
However I was brought up with better manners than that – so in recognition of their kindly giving me the board I have grudgingly chalked up a win to them. (I imagine they scragged a winner from a goalmouth scramble in the 93rd minute with suspicions of offside).