Footscray Club, 43 Paisley St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 2059
The Footscray Club started life in 1894, dedicated to cycling, making it one of Footscray’s oldest institutions and quite possibly its oldest “business”.
The club’s first 10 years saw it based in Nicholson St, before moving to its current premises in Paisley St.
A few years ago, the club sold the building … to the bloke who runs the bread shop on the ground floor.
As one member quipped to me: “He used to pay us rent, now we pay him rent!”
I am told the club’s future is assured for many years to come through a lease on favourable terms – and no doubt the Bread Shop Bloke is happy to have the space tenanted by some very nice folk.
I’d passed the Footcray Club many times, always found the street-level door closed, assumed the club was a private affair and moved on.
A few weeks back, however, I found the door unlocked, so up the stairs I went, eventually to be greeted by the week-day manager, Gary, a man whose moustache is even more preposterous than that of yours truly.
After getting the lowdown on how the club operates, and ascertaining positively that I’m very welcome, I vowed to return on another day.
Sadly, income requirements mean the lunches on Thursday and Fridays will have to wait.
On those days, the club serves a range of up to 10 different meals – $7, or $10 with a pot of beer.
Read about them here.
I am however, able to visit one of the Sunday Sipper sessions, run and catered for by the members themselves, with a more concise choice of fodder.
Finding the door locked, I press the intercom button, hear some muffled words and then a series of clicks as I continue to wiggle and waggle the door handle.
Eventually, I am let in by Lance, the club member who seems to be presiding over this particular Sunday Sipper outing.
Turns out, I should be pulling the door open …
I find a nice room done out in typical club style, with about a dozen members relaxing and enjoying, some of them, the flat-screen horse racing action or the flat-screen Bathurst action.
Meal of the day is roast beef with onion gravy and vegies – $5 for members, $7 for non-members but everyone pays the member price. Well, I did!
It’s a fine meal – and a ridiculous bargain for $5.
The spuds, carrots and gravy are tops, the beef is nicely chewy and flavoursome.
The club’s standard price for a pot is a remarkable-for-these-days $3 – $2.20 on Sundays!
The club also runs a Christmas in July bash for $15.
And a Christmas at Christmas bash – also for $15.
Club membership costs $22 a year – bargain!
As I depart a happy man, a bunch of recently arrived members are merrily setting up for that afternoon’s presentation function to wrap up another year of footy tipping.
You won’t get a bowl of pho or a cafe latte at the Footscray, but you will get a heaping serve of Footscray soul.