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When time stood still on Garton Street

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  January 23, 2018 4:57 PM

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IT'S thought that the expression “Time and tide wait for no man” has existed at least since the 1200s.

And yet, if a tale recently told on the Ghosts of Princes Park Tour is to be believed, then time stopped for an all-too-fleeting moment at the Carlton ground on matchday, just a tick over 25 years ago.

Owen Abrahams, whose father the late Owen sen. was an accomplished Fitzroy half-forward in 132 senior appearances through the 1950s and ’60s, shared his eyewitness account last Thursday night, after the touring party neared the site of what was once the Olympic Tyres scoreboard at the Garton Street end of the ground.

According to Abrahams, the incident happened when the Lions (then a Princes Park co-tenant) met North Melbourne in the final home and away round of the 1992 season. 

On a day in which the Kangaroos emerged 34-point victors and Wayne Carey booted a lazy seven, only 8830 spectators fronted up - amongst them Owen, his older brother John, a fellow Fitzroy fan and mate Paul Nailer, and another Lions devotee who, for the purposes of this article, shall be referred to as ‘Frosty’.

Abrahams revealed that on the day in question – Saturday, August 29 – he bumped into a fellow he knew from Victorian Amateur Club North Old Boys.

“The guy used to operate the scoreboard at the North Old Boys ground in Pearson Street, Brunswick where I used to play,” Abrahams said.

“He was helping out the guys operating the Garton Street scoreboard, and I happened to cross paths with him at half-time. He said to me and ‘Frosty’ ‘Do you want to come up and have a look?’, and up we went. If memory serves we had to scale a ladder out the back to get into the scoreboard. 

Abrahams remembered “having a bit of a look around” the scoreboard before making a hasty retreat. Alone.

“The third quarter was about to start and I had to get out of there, but as someone had asked ‘Frosty’ to put up the latest leg of the quadrella I lost him in the process,” Abrahams recalled. 

“By the time I got down the ladder and took my place with my brother on the terraces in front of the old scoreboard the third quarter had started,” Abrahams recalled.

“I can’t remember whether a goal had been kicked, but I remember that my brother and I turned to look up at the board – just in time to see ‘Frosty’s head sticking out of a peephole in the middle of the nearby timeclock.”

GartonStPic
The Olympic Tyres scoreboard (note the Omega timeclock peephole) stands resolute as Carlton and Collingwood players go hammer and tongs, Round 1, 1976. (Photo: Herald Sun)

But there was a problem. According to Abrahams, the clock’s giant minute hand had jammed his head in the peephole, and a few other mates took advantage of the situation by trying to hit him with Sherrins they were carrying.

And as he said: “It was a pretty sparse crowd too, so there was plenty of room to have a kick”.

Abrahams can’t recall whether time-on was added once Frosty’s noodle was extracted from the aforementioned peephole, but as he readily admitted “I don’t think the attendant was overly impressed”.