With 2016 now consigned to football history as the “Year of the Dog”, Old Paradian Jack Moore (1947) thought the timing right to share this Footscray team photograph of 1934.
Featured in the photo are Brownlow Medallists Allan Hopkins and Norman Ware, together with the resident rover Bernie O’Brien nursing the unnamed mascot in the front row.
Eighty-two years later, the name of that mascot can now be revealed. Why it’s Jack Moore of course, and the man himself suspects he’s the first mascot for the red, white and blue.
“I was two and a half years old when that photo was taken,” said Jack, who turned 85 this week.
“My connection with Footscray was through my grandfather Christopher Moore, who was a blacksmith with the Victoria Railways down at Spotswood. Chris lived with me in my later years and it was he who taught me how to box. In fact, I fought as a flyweight at Victoria Stadium the night Old Paradian Kevin ‘Skeeter’ Coghlan won the Golden Gloves as a bantamweight in 1948.
“The role of mascot came about through another Footscray footballer, Alby Morrison. Alby was apprenticed to Chris at the time and even though he wasn’t a blood relative I used to call him ‘Uncle Alby’. I can only presume that I got to be mascot through Alby.
“Alby and the players must have had a pretty good relationship with Chris, because on a Friday night, a few of them used to lob at my grandfather’s and grandmother’s place, have a few beers and play cards. Could you imagine it happening now?
While Jack concedes he was too young to remember the photo shoot in any detail, he’s instead drawn Jack instead draws on the folklore. “I was told that the team photograph was taken before a match at the old Footscray Oval, now Whitten Oval, and I was to be photographed with the team,” Jack said.
“Anyway my mother Ethel (known as ‘Ginger’ because she was a redhead) and my grandmother took me to the ground - but we got there late and I was virtually chucked over the fence and told to run out as fast as I could to be with the team.
“As I started running, a cop on a horse bolted out and directed me back to the fence – and naturally the crowd went ‘boo’. Thankfully sanity prevailed and I ended up back with the players, but I was photographed bawling my eyes out. In saying that, this moment was what triggered my enthusiasm for football.”
A child of the Great Depression, Jack was only too familiar of the horror stories of the period – and he has an interesting personal take on it all. “People complain about the Depression years but my memories of it are great,” Jack said.
“In the old days in Port Melbourne, me and the local kids used to hook onto the back of the cable trams – pinching a ride until the conductor came down to tell you to knick off. The same with a horse and dray from the wharves. I used to get a lift down Bay Street on the back of a dray when school finished at St Joseph’s. Those were the days.”