W. (BILL) VANINA
Story About Who And Why This Pavilion Was Named
Bill Vanina was one of 4 children, who grew up with his parents in 308 Bellair St Kensington. His father, a World War 1 veteran, lived a long life in Bellair St, and was cared for his entire life by Bill as he aged. Bill never married, never drove a car, and worked in engineering factories in Melbourne’s North until he retired in the late 1970’s.
Bill attended primary/early secondary school in Kensington, until he went to work. As he grew up he played football and cricket for the Flemington CYMS and also assisted, even back then, in the operational running of the club. Bill was not a star player, but this began a life of involvement in Junior and Senior sports which would last his lifetime.
Kensington in the 1920’s until early 1960’s usually had their sporting and social lives build around their faith and parish communities. As society changed, sports began to become non-sectarian based and opened to all. This was a welcomed development although Bill had allowed the boundaries to be crossed many times prior.
Kensington did not have the area, we now call Holland Park, to use and enjoy. This area was a swamp/rubbish heap. Flemington/Kensington only had two recreation areas until the 1970’s. Those were the Bowling Green Oval next door to the Bowling Club in Smithfield Rd, and a rough surfaced sports ground where the Henry St extension of houses across Derby St now stands.
With the demise of CYMS football and cricket club, Bill became involved in the North Colts Football Club which was derived from the North Melbourne U17 team and established the Kensington United Cricket Club. Bill attended all training sessions, every game/match, he attended the League/Association meetings of both codes, as well as being on the Executive of both clubs, whilst still working full time.
As well as all that, he financed the clubs to cover shortfalls, floating funds to it at start of seasons, as well as undertaking all ground and training wicket preparations. He also dried out all matting as required, and even made the flags on boundaries used in cricket. Prior to the 1970’s Council never provided ground maintenance other than mowing at Holland Park, nor were there any change areas, toilets or storage areas available until late 1970’s. On match days Bill bought down and erected a tent, provided a gas burner, bottled gas, sandwiches and drinks, to enable the club(s) an area to meet the League / Association requirements. He also sourced an early model of a portable toilet and maintained this unconnected toilet system.
Finally, as there was storage, Bill used his home in Bellair St to store all off-season sporting gear, and current season gear & jumpers etc. He also made the equipment last longer using skills developed over the depression and war years. Without Bill, generations would not have had any sporting activity in the Kensington area.
The sporting pavilion was named by Council in the early 1990’s after Bill’s sudden death in the late 1980’s to recognise his over 50 years of service to Junior and Senior sport. The original pavilion, built with State Government support, was never intended to be the final solution. It was added to in the late 1980’s to enable some social area and umpire rooms to meet local needs.
This refurbished and rebuilt building better meets the current needs of local sports and is a fitting tribute to the father of sport in Kensington- Bill Vanina.