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A day out at North Port Oval

A Day Out at North Port oval.

Saturday was again upon us, and it was time to head out to see some Peter Jackson VFL action. As we descend into the winter chill, I was prepared with my coat, beanie, scarf... although I decided against the thermals! The funny thing was, none of the above was totally necessary!

Round 7 saw me head down to North Port Oval to see the contest between Port Melbourne and Coburg. Peter Jackson VFL fans of many backgrounds will be familiar with the venue, as the ground usually hosts 6 of the 9 finals matches each season.

Port Melbourne is a proud club with a long history. Founded in 1874, they eventually joined the then-VFA in 1886. When the breakaway league was formed in 1897, the Boroughs were in line to join, only to be pipped at the post by St Kilda. As such, Port has played in the competition for the duration, with only two breaks during the wars. With 16 Premierships, success is not something that Port has shied away from!

An interesting footnote was that serving police were banned from playing for the club from 1928 until the 1980’s, due to an incident in the waterfront dispute back in the day. This ban was removed when the club recruited Emmett Dunne from Richmond.
North Port Oval needs no introduction.
It is one of most, if not the most, well-known grounds in the competition. It had a record attendance of 36,289 when it hosted traditional rival Coburg in Port’s sixth Premiership year of 1941. The venue has seen names like Fred Cook, Peter Bedford, Gary Brice, John Baird and Norm Goss all grace its turf, making it one of the most hostile venues for visiting teams throughout time.

When you enter North Port Oval, you get a certain feeling. This is an old-school venue, and makes no apologies for that. The new electronic scoreboard looks out of place. The majority of the crowd congregates in and around the historic Norm Goss Stand, and the atmosphere is incredible.
The crowd is passionate, spirited, and good natured. Early in the game there’s the odd niggle between opposing fans, but all in good fun. On Saturday, we were fortunate to have superb weather, which enabled us to drop the jackets and collect some well-earned Vitamin D.

One very special aspect about a visit to the home of the Boroughs is the kitchen underneath the grandstand. It is the home of the mighty, the infamous, the sensational Burra Burger! No visit to North Port Oval is complete without it. It has everything you could ever want in a burger: a high quality meat patty atop lettuce and tomato, with egg, cheese, and caramelised onion. Beetroot is optional. To say the burger is good is an understatement. It is simply an icon of the Peter Jackson VFL. Saturday was no exception, and my entire travelling party agreed it was excellent.

Post-match we ventured to the Social Club to finish off the day with the Port Melbourne faithful, as they celebrated their big win. As a stand-alone Peter Jackson VFL club, the spirit we saw in the Burra Bar was incredible. These people love their club, and they are what make the club a viable success story of the modern era. It’s no wonder they consider it a Grand Old Flag!

By Kent Winzer
Twitter: @Kentessential