ON THE eve of Naughton’s Parkville Hotel’s 150th anniversary celebrations, a select number of its loyal former patrons – Carlton’s revered premiership players of the 1980s – have reunited over lunch at the famous watering hole.
Carlton’s dual premiership captain and former AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick was in the room, as was the three-time premiership coach David Parkin. So too were Rod Ashman, Rod Austin, Jim Buckley, Des English, David Glascott, Ken Hunter, Warren ‘Wow’ Jones, Alex Marcou, Peter McConville and Val Perovic, along with Norm Smith Medallists Wayne Harmes and David Rhys-Jones.
Absent at the time the team photo was taken were Glascott and Parkin, in what was perhaps his first foray into the Royal Parade public house.
Rhys-Jones said that the function was organised by the Sydney-based Jones, who was on the wrong end of a breakdown in communication when the previous catch-up was abandoned at the last minute.
“A little while back some of the boys organised a catch-up, then cancelled it – and they forgot to tell ‘Wow’,” Rhys-Jones said.
“‘Wow’ lobbed from Sydney but didn’t realise it was cancelled, so he sent out 20 invitations to this one – and although five were away, 15 turned up.”
The salubrious surrounds of Naughton’s bear little resemblance to those Rhys-Jones remembered in his eight seasons as a Carlton senior footballer. As he said: “It’s a bit different now than when it was . . . . only drunken footballers and uni students back then”.
“In the old days most of the blokes who lived down south used to go there on Monday nights after training – blokes like ‘Sellers’ (Mark Maclure), Tom Alvin and ‘Deany’ (Peter Dean) - and Jimmy (Buckley) and ‘The Dominator’ (Wayne Johnston) went there too,” Rhys-Jones said.
“We’d knock down half a dozen pots then go home.”
Naughton’s Parkville Hotel has been recognised as one of Melbourne’s oldest, continuously licensed hotels. Until 2006, only two families had ever owned the pub.
The hotel’s fascinating story was recently documented by Charles Reis, the grandson of JB Naughton, who graciously availed the following details.
Naughton’s was established as the Port Phillip Agricultural Hotel and commenced trading in 1873 at a time when Parkville was still rural in character and is built on the site of Melbourne’s early Hay, Corn and Horse Market. The first application for a licence in 1872 was rejected on account of the proposed hotel’s proximity to Melbourne University, but this was overturned on appeal 12 months later allowing trade to commence. As Parkville’s population grew and the area become increasingly urbanised, a tram line was laid along Royal Parade. It was about this time that the hotel was renamed the Parkville Hotel.
History records that John Bernard Naughton purchased the hotel in 1916, a week after his marriage. His new wife, Mary Elizabeth Hickey, was herself born in a hotel - the Edinburgh Castle in North Melbourne.
Through the 1920s, JB Naughton acquired the adjoining properties in Royal Parade and in 1924 extended the hotel to its present size (with the bottle shop added in 1941). For nearly 20 years covering the period from the Depression through to Melbourne’s Olympic Games, JB Naughton also served as a councillor representing the people of Parkville at the City of Melbourne.
JB’s civic involvement became so synonymous with the hotel, that it became locally known as Naughton’s Parkville Hotel, or as recalled by one prominent CEO, simply ‘Johnny Naughton’s Hotel’. The present name was formally adopted for the business by his daughter Nancy and her husband Kevin Reis following JB Naughton’s death in 1963.
The rich history of Naughton’s has been largely shaped by its colourful patrons. Prior to the gentrification of Parkville, customers in the corner bar comprised an eclectic mix of the inner-city working class juxtaposed against aspiring university students from Melbourne’s leafier suburbs. Future barristers, surgeons and scoundrels stood shoulder to shoulder with battlers and workers. Legend has it that Sir Robert Menzies, for years the Carlton Football Club’s No.1 ticketholder, enjoyed a quite ale in the corner bar while studying law at Melbourne University.
His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, was a patron at Naughton’s Parkville Hotel on a previous visit to Melbourne, while Australia’s first satellite, ‘Australis’, was designed on the back of a beer coaster there.
One of the nation’s most accomplished writers, philosophers and social commentators, Cyril Pearl, requested that the ABC record its television tribute to him at the hotel – and ‘Aunty’ obliged.
The pub even became the subject of a book penned by Jim Young entitled 'Any Old Eleven' about the Naughton’s Old Boys Cricket Team of the 1980s.
In the 1970s a series of rolling strikes by bar staff saw virtually every hotel in Melbourne forced to close its doors – except Naughton’s. Nancy Naughton and her husband Kevin Reis were able to continue trading with the help of their nine children (who lived in the residence above the hotel). Even Kevin’s brother, a Catholic Priest, swapped his religious collar for a barman’s apron to help keep the doors open.
On the footpath flanking the noted establishment on Royal Parade stands a steel bench seat at which Stephen Kernahan belted out an extraordinary version of the Tammy Wynette classic Stand By Your Man on the Monday after the Blues' meritorious 1987 Grand Final victory.
The hotel’s structure is still largely original, with its bluestone cellars and a flat roof that commands a panoramic view across Parkville to Royal Park. The corner entrance is consistent with early Victorian hotels, and the general character of Naughton’s is largely unchanged to that of a century ago.
More than a million students have passed through the university since the hotel was built, many of them simultaneously earning a diploma in the school of life from their time in the ladies lounge or saloon bar of Naughton’s Hotel – and just as many football devotees who have saluted the latest victory at JB’s old haunt.
In celebration of its sesquicentenary, Naughton’s Parkville Hotel, together with the Parkville Association (whose President is the former Carltonians coterie President Robert Moore) convened an evening in which the Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp and members of the Reiss family (the original owners of Naughtons Hotel) addressed invitees.