The history of Trugo dates back to the 1920s when railyard workers in Newport began using mallets to hit rubber train buffers between carriages. Legend has it that one chap put up a couple of posts for goals, hit a buffer through and proclaimed “that’s a true-go”.
Although another story is told of Tom Grieves, a railyard worker at Newport, who took some rubber washers home and him and his kids began hitting the washers about the street. As it became a bit of a neighbourhood hit, Tom took the game back to work and it became a popular lunchtime pursuit. In this story, Trugo is derived from his initials.
No matter which version you hear, however, the origin is always in Newport. Making Trugo definitely a sport unique to Melbourne.
Footscray was the second club to form in 1937 only a few weeks after the Yarraville club was formed and granted permission to play in Yarraville Gardens. From the Footscray Advertiser at the time:
Footscray is joining with Yarraville to learn the game and then intend to form a club of their own. It is hoped that other suburbs will follow suit, as the game is a great one for old retired men and keeps them in good fettle.
Good fettle indeed! The only condition at the time was the club members be over 60.
Soon after the formation the club had their official launch at the Western Oval (what we know now as Whitten Oval), and in June of that year the first ever inter-club match between Yarraville and Footscray was held.
While the Footscray team unfortunately lost, it signaled a long era of Trugo in Footscray.
Part 2 will look at how the club found a home.