The first stage of the Whitten Oval redevelopment has taken place on Thursday, with the scoreboard being pulled down and demolished, marking an historic day for the club and the western region.
The redevelopment of the Whitten Oval is pivotal towards the ongoing future of the Western Bulldogs and the community of the western suburbs of Melbourne. It is set to become a key centerpiece for the western community.
The E.J.Smith Stand will be the next part of the Whitten Oval to be demolished, with the redevelopment set to be completed by early 2007.
Western Bulldogs chief executive Campbell Rose was delighted that it redevelopment was set to become a reality and he suggested that the knockers said "it was a dream that was never, ever going to come true".
Rose said it would be transformed from "a dilapidated, rundown, unused facility" and into "a community-based hub".
"(It will serve) the western region, the members of our club and more importantly provide the very needed facilities, not only for football players…but also serve the wider western community in ways they desperately need new facilities and upgraded facilities, which they have never seen before," Rose said.
"That is a significant and historic occasion in itself."
Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said the redevelopment was a terrific initiative for all concerned.
"I think the supporters shouldn't see it as the past going, I think it should see it as an opportunity and a real fresh start at this club," Eade said.
"The redevelopment over the next two years…2006 it's going to be exciting on field, but certainly on field, the players see the facilities being built and it's going to be fantastic.
"It's great for the club, it's great for supporters and it's great for the people of the west - it's going to be terrific."
Bulldogs player Rohan Smith, the last person to kick a goal at the Whitten Oval in 1997 in an AFL match, said it was a significant day.
"The scoreboard really is an icon of Whitten Oval. Having grown up just around the corner in Kingsville I have some great memories of the ground, not only as a player but also as a young kid coming to watch the games," Smith said.
Key moments in the Whitten Oval's history have included:
- E.J Whitten's last game in 1970
- The oval used for soldiers on the way to the battles of World War II in 1941
- The flooding of the ground in 1953
- Glen Coleman knocking the point post out of the ground in 1991
- Doug Hawkins breaking E.J Whitten’s Club games record of 321 games in 1994.