Sport Trugo club in Footscray hopes for revival of uniquely Melbourne game with new grounds

10:07  11 january  2018
10:07  11 january  2018 Source:   MSN

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Part croquet, part lawn bowls, trugo is a uniquely local sport.

The game was invented in the 1920s by railway workers in Newport.

It is still played in parts Melbourne and one of the earliest clubs, Footscray Trugo Club, hopes it is on the cusp of a revival.

The club was abandoned in 2009 due to a lack of players, but the grounds have recently been renovated by Maribyrnong City Council.

Justin Mansfield, the club's co-president, said he hoped to attract enough players for a team next year.

"What we found in revitalising the club is that people have been very enthusiastic about it as a way to connect to that history of the west," he said.

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"It's something that has been lost a little bit as parts of this area have become more gentrified."

Mr Mansfield said the game was truly a local one.

Footscray was the second trugo club to form, officially opening in 1937, after one in Yarraville.

"It is a little bit anachronistic, it's something which has come about from the working class history of the inner west of Melbourne," Mr Mansfield said.

"It's really been a game that hasn't spread far beyond Melbourne."

Mr Mansfield said the game had not changed much since it was invented using objects found in the railway workshops.

"The idea when the game first evolved was to use a rubber ring which was part of a buffer stop on a train, and workers would hit that with one of their work mallets, down the length of a train carriage."

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He said at its height there were several men's and women's trugo teams in Footscray in the 1950s and '60s.

But when the league was set up, players had to be over the age of 60.

"Trugo is in danger of becoming a lost art, it's in danger of decreasing in popularity and gradually dwindling," Mr Mansfield said.

He said thankfully the age rule had changed.

"What we need to thrive as a club are people who are interested in playing the game who want to get involved with the club and who would like to come along on either a social basis or a regular basis and play the game," Mr Mansfield said.

"From there we hope to establish a regular weekly game at the site and then go on next year and be able to draw upon our own players to put a team into the Victorian association."

The Victorian Trugo Association runs an annual competition which runs for six months from October.

There are eight clubs in the competition from Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Yarraville, Ascot Vale and Brunswick.

Local bar owner and resident Liana Lucca-Pope said she "fell in love" with trugo when she took her staff for a Christmas party to the Yarraville club for a "uniquely western suburbs thing".

She and her partner Stuart have since joined the committee to keep the club alive.

"It's quirky but it's really easy to play," she said.

"I think it's really nice to have a connection to where you've come from, a close connection to the culture of the space you're living in."

"Footscray's changing so much so fast that it seemed important to us that this humble, unique game that was part of the history wasn't just lost."

Footscray Trugo Club will host an open day to the public on January 28.

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