The Importance of Street Names

An Irish friend once told me he had refused to rent a house in one of Melbourne's Cromwell Streets because its namesake ‘Oliver Cromwell’ was so reviled in Ireland. This was something I had not thought of before. It was the first time I had really noticed the power of names in the streets. Since then I have taken extra notice of the history of the street names around me.

Some street names are commemorative of people and events. Victoria developed quickly in the 1850’s, at around the same time as the Crimean War was raging. Many streets in the newly-formed Victorian towns of that era were named after Crimean locations: Balaclava, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Alma, Redan. Personalities from the war were also commemorated:Raglan, Nightingale and Cardigan for example.

This tradition of naming streets after people and events has continued. The names physically link Australian suburbs to the history of the country.

In recent decades, housing estates have sprouted on the periphery of Australian towns and cities. Rather than growing gradually, these estates are planned. It is often the case therefore that many of their streets are named at the same time, often by the same person. This has led to 'clusters' of names featuring similar themes. A recent exhibition in Melbourne entitled ‘Clusters’ celebrated this concept and provided maps of various clusters of street names.1

I live in one of Melbourne's newer suburbs. I am surrounded by clusters of street names. There are clusters named after scientists, poets, categories of wine, even Beatles music. Street names add to the marketing of an estate. Prestigious street names or symbols are used in the hope of gaining an edge.

Street names also provide local pride and identity for residents. This realisation often only happens when someone wants to rename a street. Streets in Paris were renamed after the French Revolution of 1789. Streets in Berlin have been renamed by various German regimes.2

What is the relationship of Australian football to this galaxy of street names?

Geelong retaliates: 'We don't care for Richmond Street!'

Geelong finished on top of the VFL ladder at the end of the 1980 home-and-away season. Hopes of a premiership were high. In the Second Semi-final, however, the Cats (11.5) were convincingly defeated by Richmond (14.11). Geelong subsequently narrowly succumbed to Collingwood in the Preliminary Final. Richmond went on to easily win the Premiership.

The Cats' semi-final defeat by Richmond prompted an extraordinary retaliatory move by the Geelong Council. The Council moved to rename all of Geelong's 'Richmond' streets. Geelong had an abundance of 'Richmond' place names - Richmond Reserve (just down the road from Kardinia Park), Richmond Street, Richmond Place, Richmond Court, Little Richmond Street and Richmond Crescent.

The Council set out to rename Richmond Place and Richmond Court. The intended alternative names were Holt Court, after John Holt (former Geelong Mayor, and Geelong Football Club President), and Goggin Court, after Geelong coach Billy Goggin.3

The idea was obviously eventually dropped as the 'Richmond' street names still exist today, and there is no Goggin Court. Maybe it is not yet Billy's time.

I don't know of any other case of a metropolitan Council moving to get rid of street names because of the result of a football match.

Football Clusters

Clusters of street names inspired by footballers can be spotted in a number of places in and around Melbourne.

Essendon Cluster in Berwick

In the mid-1980's, a land developer in Berwick, east of Melbourne, named a cluster of streets after Essendon players of the time. Presumably he (or she) was a fanatical Dons supporter inspired by either (or both) the 1984 or 1985 premierships. The Berwick streets in question are:

Daniher Cl (Terry/Neale) Daniher
Duckworth Ct (Billy) Duckworth
Dunell Rise (Frank) Dunell
Ezard Cl (Alan) Ezard
Foulds Ct (Garry) Foulds
Hawker Garden (Glenn) Hawker
Heard Cl (Shane) Heard
Maddon Retreat (Simon) Madden
Neagle Mews (Merv) Neagle
Van De Haar Ave (Paul) Van Der Haar
Walsh Retreat (Kevin) Walsh
Watson Garden (Tim) Watson

Essendon at Hastings

The township of Hastings south of Melbourne has a street dubbed 'James Hird Drive'. A street coming off James Hird Drive is called 'The Sheedy Way'. Both streets are in a new Estate.

Richmond Cluster in Hoppers Crossing

A large number of street names within the Mossfiel Estate at Hoppers Crossing (a south-western suburb of Melbourne) were named after former Richmond Football Club players, as land owner and former shearer H.L.Baden Powell was an avid Richmond fan.4

The Mossfiel Estate has over seventy streets named after Richmond footballers! Much of the Tigers' history is represented, with commemoration of early legends such as Frank 'Checker' Hughes through to 1970's champions such as Kevin Bartlett. (Laws on street names have since changed. Streets can no longer be named after living people).

Driving through the Mossfiel Estate is a strange experience. In this flat land, close to the Werribee Plaza shopping complex, one encounters the usual mix of pretty gardens and winding streets. One is immediately struck by the clustered street names. For me, each name conjured the faces of footballers, and the football headlines from newspapers. Dyer Street is long and has pretty houses. The street is well kept;people seem proud to live there. Other former Richmond stars have been given only short streets, prompting one to mentally measure whether the street is worthy of the player.

I felt there ought to be a plaque erected in the vicinity, with information about the history of these Richmond players....and what about supporters of other clubs who live in the cluster?...are there Collingwood supporters living on Dyer Street?

I must have looked a funny sight to the residents, driving around taking photos of street signs..but I enjoyed myself, lost in history. Anyway...A few photos to help:

Bartlett Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley
Bartlett Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley

Kevin Bartlett, 1965-83
Bayliss Av - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley
Bayliss Av - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley

George Bayliss, 1914, 1916-23
Bentley Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley
Bentley Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley

Percy Bentley, 1925-40
Bolger Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley
Bolger Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley

Martin Bolger, 1930-39
Bourke Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley
Bourke Cr - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley

Francis Bourke, 1967-81
Branton Rd - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley
Branton Rd - Hoppers Crossing - Photo:MRiley

Ron Branton, 1953-62

24 More Photos


Canberra Street Names

Canberra is a planned city. Virtually all its street names and place names commemorate persons held to have made an important contribution to the nation. Using a search tool at the ACT Planning and Land Authority5, one can find numerous Canberra locations and streets named after Australian Rules football identities. The suburb of Nicholls, for example, is named after aboriginal footballer and activist Doug Nicholls. VFL administrator Ken Luke, Roy Cazaly, Albert Thurgood, Jack Titus, Jock McHale, and Dan Moriarty (who won the Magarey Medal on three occasions) are some of those commemorated in street names. The list of celebrated names is wonderfully disorganised. One wonders how the names were picked.

Feature NameSuburbGazettal DateCommemorated NameGiven NamesBirth YearDeath YearSex

Crows Cluster at Paralowie (South Australia)

A small cluster of streets named after 1990's Adelaide Crows players, including:

Hodges CrtScott Hodges
Jarman Way Andrew Jarman
Maynard CresRod Maynard
Tregenza CrtSimon Tregenza

Outside the Clusters

Not all football-related street names are found in clusters.


I found an odd little group of street names in Werribee.
Bunton Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Bunton Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Murray Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Murray Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Quinlan Crt - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Quinlan Crt - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Reynolds Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Reynolds Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Templeton Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley
Templeton Ct - Werribee - Photo:MRiley

Point Cook

A few interesting football names here too - between streets named after cricketers and scientists.
Brownlow Dr - Point Cook - Photo:MRiley
Brownlow Dr - Point Cook - Photo:MRiley
Cordner Way - Point Cook - Photo:MRiley
Cordner Way - Point Cook - Photo:MRiley
Truscott Gr - Point Cook - Photo:MRiley
Truscott Gr - Point Cook - Photo:MRiley

There is also a Point Cook street named after Warwick Armstrong, the very successful Australian cricket captain of the early 1920's. Armstrong also played senior VFL football for South Melbourne. He was a member of South's 1899 VFL Grand Final team.

Street Names at Stadiums

In 2013 an unnamed street leading into the car park at Whitten Oval (West Footscray) was officially named 'Sutton Way' - after the late Charlie Sutton, captain-coach of the 1954 Footscray VFL premiership team. This is certainly an appropriate name and a fitting reminder of a Bulldog great.6

The former VFL stadium at Waverley was eventually converted into a housing development. Many of the new streets within the development were named after other famous stadiums, such as Lords, Notre Dame and Edgbaston. The main entry to the stadium and estate is Sir Kenneth Luke Boulevard, after the Carlton and VFL administrator.

Haydn Bunton junior, the son of the famous 1930's Brownlow (and Sandover) medallist is commemorated in the name - Haydn Bunton Drive - given to a street beside Subiaco Oval in Perth. Haydn junior captained Subiaco from 1968-1970 and coached the club from 1968-1982. He also played for and coached four other WAFL clubs, and is a worthy member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame. The suburb of Subiaco also has a few other street names named after footballers - Carter Lane named after Don Carter, Eakins Lane named after Peter Eakins, and Outridge Crescent named after Tom Outridge. 7


The Graham Farmer Freeway

The Graham Farmer Freeway in Perth was constructed between 1996 and 2000. It is six kilometres long.8. The Freeway, of course, is named after Graham 'Polly' Farmer. Farmer played for East Perth, Geelong and West Perth. He was chosen as a ruckman in the AFL Team of the Century, and as captain of the Indigenous Team of the Century.

Cazaly Drive

Cazaly Drive in the Hobart suburb of Chigwell is named after the famous Roy Cazaly. Cazaly commenced his football career in Victoria, but also played and coached in Tasmania. He is a member of the Tasmanian Team of the Century.

No doubt many other football-related street names can be found. If so, please let us know.

Thanks to Robert Allen, Bill Liddy, and those on the board of Bigfooty who have added to the original list.

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End Notes

3. GEELONG NO 'PLACE' FOR RICHMOND. (1980, September 18). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 37. Retrieved January 6, 2014, from
7. (Source City-of-Subiaco-street-names-report 2008)