“The revolution is in full swing.” So wrote commenter “Matt” in October 2013 underneath an online report that the State Liberal government was considering proposals to alter the form and use of the Port Melbourne Football Ground. “Matt’s” point was primarily that Port Melbourne was changing irrevocably, and that both adult residents and their children had interests less clearly focused firstly, on localism (Port Melbourne football team is an old VFL, rather than nationally-focused AFL, team) and on Australian Rules football itself: “Matt” was of the opinion that soccer was becoming more popular in the area. For him, sad as it was, “Port” locals could not be “stuck in some 1950s time warp dream world”.
This paper uses personal reminiscences, social media and local history to examine the changing conception of what it might mean to “belong” to the increasingly gentrified suburb of Port Melbourne in the second decade of the 20th century. In doing so it examines the putative legends of Port Melbourne football and, specifically, the Port Melbourne football ground itself. How might an ardently pro-development planning minister tackle the public relations quandary of adding urban housing and infrastructure for 80 000 residents to a well-known and well-loved inner-city environment? The paper examines Port Melbourne’s past, present and future through the lens of this icon of local sporting and social infrastructure: the ground’s, the players’, and the supporters’ legends.