A Submission by the Essendon Football Club Past Players and Officials Association, to the “Imagine Windy Hill” project proposed by the City of Moonee Valley.
Background on Windy Hill:
Essendon Football Club (EFC) has been dedicated to playing an integral role in the community and with the EFC’s underlying philosophy focusing on strengthening communities through sport and fitness facilities. Thence, there is no doubting the EFC’s enthusiasm for being able to provide, not only its mainstream AFL activities, but also ongoing support for its affiliated sporting organisations and retired participants.
The EFC is now one of Australia’s largest affiliated sporting bodies and works in conjunction with eleven (11) other sporting clubs throughout Melbourne’s north-western suburbs. The associations include Essendon Netball Club Inc., Essendon Cricket Club, Essendon Bowls Club, Essendon Athletics, Essendon Tennis Club, Essendon Hockey Club, Essendon Ladies Hockey Club, Essendon Baseball Club, Essendon Croquet Club, Essendon Water Polo Club, and Essendon Rowing Club.
In addition to providing ongoing maintenance of the Essendon Recreation Reserve (Windy Hill) facilities and those affiliated sporting clubs based there, EFC also distributes significant funding to these clubs on an annual basis; e.g. has won community services awards for doing so.
Because of pressures on the increasing use of Windy Hill, since 2013 the EFC has had its training and administrative houses set up at the Hangar in Tullamarine. As was committed to in the Windy Hill Master Plan (WHMP) of 2012, this has enabled greater use by locals of Windy Hill; e.g. for major local games and the HQ’s of the Essendon Football League.
An interim casualty of these changes resulted in 2011 when additional room was required for football and meant the EFC Hall of Fame (HoF), telling the story of the EFC from 1873 using a large collection of artefacts, images, video and audio) was closed (as part of the WHMP). With this was the undertaking by the EFC to set the HoF up at Tullamarine; stage two of that development is now being finalised. In this meantime of 8 years, the memorabilia (now approaching 10,000 recorded items) has been stored, with an occasional display for specific locations or major events.
The Windy Hill site-precinct (SUZ3 -3040D) uniquely remains a classified area for restrictive sporting activities and heritage, the only one in Essendon. For example, most grand stands remain in the name of past EFC Legends, extensive tiling around the ground footpath containing many names associated with supporting Essendon, etc.
Current Situation of the Essendon Football Club Past Players & Officials Association Inc. (EFCPP&OA):
The Moonee Valley City Council (MVCC) is now undertaking a review “Imagine Windy Hill”, a decade down the track from previous assessments; e.g. as part of their strategic planning.
As the EFCPP&OA provides the history and memorabilia of the club and independently runs the support of past players and officials, the EFC has requested the EFCPP&OA take an active interest in the MVCC’s “Imagine Windy Hill” project.
Call by MVCC for Submission(s):
This paper, submitted by the EFCPP&OA, therefore shall respond to the calling by the MVCC for submissions and comments on the probable need to make provision for refurbishments and/or recasting future use(s) over the last four years of the current lease to the EFC, and more particularly beyond 2030.
It is likely that matters shall be raised that include:- Ageing and Future Facilities for User Groups, Multipurpose community/public Facilities, Car Parking, Opening up the Reserve, connections with Services, Redevelopment/Improvements/Changes to Social Club(s) with/without poker machines, etc.
Survey of EFCPP&OA Members:
Because of the particular interest of the EFCPP&OA membership of some 630, each played an integral part in its use over many decades, a survey of members was initiated to establish views for not only the future recreation needs and sporting demands but to also gain recognition of the involvement of the EFCPP&OA members and extent Windy Hill has and will continue to have in the history of Essendon. The following questions were put to EFCPP&OA membership to seek the collective view.
- The Essendon Recreation Reserve (Windy Hill,) should be retained and into longer term with its existing space plan, hierarchy and collective Primary character, as restricted Sport and Recreation and Secondary character Heritage.
- Windy Hill should retain those sporting bodies currently associated and supported by Essendon FC; cricket, bowls, croquet, etc.
- In short and longer term, the Essendon VFLW and thence AFLW teams should take up playing at Windy Hill; i.e. to take advantage of the space left by the Essendon U19s and Reserves being recast by the AFL, and moves with the AFL to have Essendon train and play at arenas with larger capacities.
- The Essendon VFL team and EDFL key matches (men or women) should continue to play home games on the arena (other than during summer) at Windy Hill.
These arrangements (under para’s 3 and 4) would not exceed the noise footprint or car parking demands of the past on the locality, and provide continuing use of the reserve and the supporting facilities, now or as may be refurbished.
- The Windy Hill precinct should be restored (as Essendon(s) spiritual home) and redeveloped rather than demolished; e.g. not lose the 90 to 100 years of history and acknowledgement of Essendon legends.
- An on-site Windy Hill Museum should be created to record, hold and display historical material and artefacts of sporting activities of Essendon and its associated eleven Essendon sporting bodies.
- If not already planned, the Essendon Historical Society (EHS) be asked to allocate a sports area for Essendon (generally) and/or Windy Hill (particularly) in the refurbishment of their home in the old Court House in Moonee Ponds.
- After regularly applying a heritage cycle of understanding, valuing, caring and enjoying the materiel, the EFC keep all its memorabilia and artefacts (above a material value) into perpetuity. Such should be allowed to be loaned under a MoU with the EFC, EFCPP&OA and EHS between the Tullamarine, Windy Hill and EHS sites.
- EFCPP&OA is open to other ideas and opportunities that the current tenant (EFC) or future tenants for the Windy Hill precinct may desire, that continue to provide effective restricted recreation uses by the local community at large, yet retain its rich heritage, both now and into the future.
Result of Survey of EFCPP&OA members:
Almost totally, Essendon past players and officials have used, and many continue to use, the Essendon Recreation Reserve.
Not surprisingly, feedback from members has been significantly consistent.
With respect to the survey results, they showed a positive answer to all questions 1 through to 8 above
The surveyed views of the members also reflected the general view of the committee and were statistically sound and (very) consistent;
The following are some outstanding comments from those added in the member responses under the last question 9.
- MVCC to contribute to upgrade of function centre
- Equitable backing from all users with requirements
- Retain history of ground and precincts
- Should be restored not demolished
- Keep EFC and MVCC accountable for upkeep
- Spiritual home should be protected & preserved
- It is part of Australia’s history
- Essentially a big part of Essendon’s history
- History should not be lost
- Recreation reserve and gardens to be well maintained
- Refurbish EFC’s spiritual home
- Retain existing sports at WH including expanding woman’s football
- Redevelop with enhanced connection to sporting community
- Use for local activities during week
Recommendations from the EFCPP&OA.
- This submission of the results of consultation by the EFCPP&OA of its members, and those directly interested in Windy Hill and its future uses, indicates that the Windy Hill precinct be retained and upgraded to reflect the history and culture that the EFC has imbued on the City of Essendon and surrounding suburbs.
- We believe that the EFC will undertake to support the substantial heritage collection of Essendon and from time to time provide heritage for display; e.g. at Windy Hill.
- This submission may assist the MVCC in their further considerations under the “Imagine Windy Hill” project.
A copy of this submission has also been provided to Jess Newman, of the EFC, and a member of the Windy Hill Neighbourhood Advisory Group set up by the MVCC.
If there are any comments or requests for clarification or further submission(s), please contact The President, Barry Capuano, of the EFCPP&OA. Barry can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] or on mobile 0407592979.