|THE YARRA HOTEL
BACK IN BUSINESS!
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The Yarra Hotel, 295 Johnston Street, Abbotsford, will be opening Wednesday March 20th, 2013.
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The Yarra Hotel is situated approximately 4km from the Melbourne CBD.
It was built in 1855 and from 1855-1864 known as Mackay's Hotel or Mackay's Family Hotel or Mackay's Inn. The first proprietor was Mrs Margaret Mackay. From 1864 it was renamed The Yarra Hotel. The Mahon family owned the Yarra in the 1960s (John Mahon played for Collingwood), John's father Jack Mahon was behind the bar. In the 1970s the family of another Collingwood player, John Dellamarta, took over the pub. Marion & Con Trovato ran the Yarra from 1991-2012. Before Collingwood's first ever game in May 1892, players changed at the back of the hotel before jogging across Johnston Street to Victoria Park (built in 1879). This continued for a month while the grandstand was being built.
...with great live music
Photo: Mark Hopper
Painting underway to refresh the Yarra Hotel
The Yarra Hotel from the early 1800's
1855 - 2012
LAST ORDERS PLEASE!
CLOSED - MAY 5th 2012
On Saturday May 5TH, 2012, the Yarra Hotel closed itís doors for the last time.
The history that is shared between Victoria Park, the Collingwood Football Club and The Yarra Hotel is well known by all the residents in and around Abbotsford and Collingwood (particularly the older ones). The current licensees of the Hotel, Con and Marion Travato were presented with a small token of appreciation for the 18 years of service and support that they have given to their patrons and the community of Abbotsford and Collingwood.
The Yarra Hotel has seen some pretty busy days since opening it's doors to the new Victorians travelling to and from the gold diggings way back in 1855. The paddocks and agistments around the pub would soon grow to become the Collingwood Flat or Lower Collingwood and then later Abbotsford. Aside from the land's traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people, everyone that has lived, worked or travelled along Johnston Street would have known of, and probably been to, the only pub in Collingwood that is not on a corner.
In 1892 the newly formed Collingwood Football Club, representing the people of Collingwood in the VFA, called upon the Yarra Hotel for the players to make use of the facilities for changing as Victoria Park's new £300 grandstand had yet to be completed. The Yarra Hotel's new neighbour would become it's best customer for the next 50 years until the Collingwood Football Club Social Club opened its doors with a freshly acquired liquor licence in 1942. Even with a new rival in the area the two would compliment each other as the Collingwood Football Club would always provide an abundance of patrons. Especially after a grand final that hadn't quite gone to plan and there have been plenty of those.
Along with Victoria Park, The Yarra Hotel would find itself awash with dilerious Collingwood fans for 15 of Collingwood's premiership celebrations from the 1896 VFA premiership through to the 1990 drought breaker. Perhaps more importantly The Yarra Hotel was also the place were the very same Magpie faithful drowned their sorrows after the aforementioned 26 grand final losses. Even in 2002 and 2003 The Yarra Hotel was a place were Collingwood people would want to be to lament what might have been.
Things changed in 2005 when the football club that the Yarra Hotel had supported so well decided to pack up and leave. The new century has seen football evolve into a corporate brand and 'Clubs' are now vendors of tightly wrapped entertainment packages. The old concept of a club has been eroded away in the slick new professional age of elite sport and with it has gone the old pubs that once serviced the members of those clubs. From 2005, the clock was ticking against the Yarra Hotel unless it could find a new reason to exist.
In 2010 The Yarra was looking resplendant in black and white, yet the numbers were nothing like past grand finals and it was abundantly clear that the old pub that was once owned but John Wren and for so long the Collingwood Football Club's number one watering hole had been all but forgotten now.
Word spread slowly in April of 2012 that Con and Marion had not taken up a new lease and that the owners were looking for a buyer. No acceptible offers have been made and The Yarra's future hangs in the balance. Even in the final days few came to visit The Yarra Hotel and see the old place off. There was once 92 pubs in Collingwood and famously when Collingwood became a city in 1876 it had over forty pubs, including The Yarra, just one school and no Police Station.
Times have changed and The Yarra Hotel has failed to change with them. The pub that was always there for the community has been abandoned by the people and like many similar large prime real estate opportunities will eventually become apartments for the modern chic city dwellers that prefer their Brazilian latte and pilates over a pot of the local Abbotsford brew and a game of pool.
For the few locals that kept the taps flowing to now, they must find a new place to call home.
Built in 1855, The YARRA HOTEL, on Johnston Street in Abbotsford, has been a popular watering hole for Flatites for over 150 years.
The hotel is unique as it is not situated on a corner, but there is plenty of street parking and Victoria Park Football Ground and Victoria Park Station are less than a five minute walk away.
On February 12 of 1892 the Collingwood Football Club was founded by popular uprising of the citizens of Collingwood at the Collingwood Town Hall and it was proclaimed that Victoria Park on the Collingwood Flat, would be their home.
The first game was schedlued at Princes Park on May 7th against Carlton. However, in a gesture of goodwill to a fellow working class club, Carlton offered Collingwood the game at Victoria Park and all the gate takings to give Collingwood a quick cash injection. The game was only three months away and there was not enough time to complete the proposed grand stand and player's rooms at the ground so the players got changed at The Yarra Hotel and ran up Rich Street to the ground.
First grand stand
The Yarra Hotel was the Collingwood Football Club's first change rooms and for over 100 years would be the place of much celebration and the occassional drowning of sorrows.
So pop in and see Con and the girls at
The Yarra Hotel for a drink and a chat.
During the week they serve a ripper counter meal too.
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The Yarra Hotel - 295 Johnston St, Abbotsford VIC 3067
(03) 9417 3502
Pie fans' No. 1 draught pick
The Age - September 27th 2003
One pub embodies the community pride
of the black and white army, reports Paul Daffey.
The Yarra Hotel in Johnston Street, Abbotsford, is one of several pubs to be linked with the history of the Collingwood Football Club. Others include the Retreat Hotel, the Yorkshire Stingo and the Friendly Societies Hotel, now known as the Carringbush. Only the Yarra Hotel, however, served as the Magpies' change rooms.
Before the club's first match, in May, 1892, players changed at the back of the Yarra Hotel before jogging across Johnston Street and making their way on to the field at Victoria Park. This practice continued for a month, after which a timber grandstand was completed at the ground. Players then changed in the training room beneath the grandstand.
While the drinkers in the public bar of the Yarra Hotel no doubt missed the sight of footballers jogging out the door, the pub remained a Magpie stronghold. In the years leading up to the new century, when the football club tried to make money by leasing liquor booths around the ground. The plan failed when supporters preferred to drink at the pub, ducking off to Johnston Street at half-time. For decades, the Yarra Hotel was a social hub for supporters and players, most of whom lived in the Collingwood area. In the 1960s, when the Mahon family owned the Yarra Hotel, the presence of John Mahon in the Collingwood line-up ensured that players drank there.
Mahon was a robust key defender, playing 60 games from 1961 to '65, while his father Jack was a robust publican. With Jack Mahon behind the bar, no one would be served without a singlet on his back and no food was allowed in the bar, not even a sandwich.
Danny Slattery, the son of a local publican, who ingested the folklore surrounding Collingwood and Fitzroy pubs from an early age, said Jack Mahon's insistence on a few rules was unusual.
"Some of the pubs were pretty rough," he said, remembering occasions when he crossed the street to avoid going too close to the Retreat Hotel.
In the 1970s, the family of another Collingwood player, in this case John Dellamarta, took over the Yarra Hotel. By then, the abandonment of early closing stemmed the brawls that erupted when drinkers were kicked into the street on the stroke of six o'clock, but a fight could still be found if you wanted one.
Robin Grow, a retired public servant and a respected authority on the history of Australian football, spent more than 30 years going to Collingwood matches at Victoria Park. He said it was not unknown for the fans of opposition clubs to be challenged along Johnston Street.
"To leave Victoria Park after a game could be reasonably dangerous," he said.
In the late 19th century, the area around Victoria Park was home to boot factories, breweries and tanneries.
"There was very much a district pride," Grow said.
The fans at Victoria Park looked after each other. In the event of an altercation, though, tempers were quick to rise. Grow remembered occasions in the outer in the 1960s and '70s when a space would suddenly clear to reveal knots of men belting into each other.
The mood occasionally continued in the pubs around Victoria Park after the siren. Marion Trovato, who with her husband Con has run the Yarra Hotel since 1991, said there was a sense of danger in the bar after Collingwood games. "You were always on edge," she said, adding that St Kilda supporters were the wildest opposition fans.
Trovato said she was slightly relieved when the club moved its home games to the MCG after receiving a drubbing from the Brisbane Lions in the final round in 1999.
Since then, Magpie fans have had no occasion to goad opposition supporters on Johnston Street or walk on bonnets of cars that stop at traffic lights.
But if Collingwood wins today, expect to see a little history revisited. The streets around Victoria Park, which was renamed Jock McHale Stadium during the 2000 season, are sure to thrum with the passion that terrified opposition fans and fired the souls of the black and white army.