Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Archive for December 2010

The Opposition – Hawthorn

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John Kennedy

Hawthorn had a dismal season in 1953. They finished last and won only 3 games. The 1950s were a bleak time for the team from Glenferrie spending much of the first half of the decade in the bottom 2 positions on the ladder. However by the end of the decade they started to taste success, reaching the finals in 1957 for the first time. In 1961 they would finally win their first premiership.

The Hawks’ coach for the 1953 season was Jack Hale. Hale made his name as a Carlton premiership player in the 1930s, and took over as coach of Hawthorn midway through the 1952 season after coaching South Melbourne in 1948 & 49. He remained at Hawthorn until 1960 when John Kennedy, took over. Kennedy often credited Hale as being the one who laid the foundations of the 61 premiership side.

Ted Fletcher

Ted Fletcher was the Hawks’ captain in 1953. A policeman from Dandenong Fletcher was a ruckman/defender who was a very good mark. In 1952 he represented Victoria and won the best & fairest award in 1953.

The most recognisable name on Hawthorn’s list in 1953 would be John ‘Kanga’ Kennedy. He started in 1950 and won the Hawks’ best & fairest award in his first season. He was not the most stylish football but he was extremely clever, and a fine team player who brought others into the game. He captained the club from 1955 until his retirement as a player in 1959, and won the best and fairest award four times. In 1960 he took over from Hale as the Hawks’ coach and lead them to the premiership in 1961 and a Grand Final in 1963. In 1964 he stood down from coaching due to work commitments but returned in 1967. He then coached Hawthorn to premierships in 1971 and 76, as well as runners up in the 1975 Grand Final. His son John Jr. went on to play in four premierships for Hawthorn in the 1980s, while his grandson Josh currently plays for the Sydney Swans.

John O' Mahoney

John ‘Bones’ O’Mahoney played with the Hawks from 1952 to 1960, amassing 112 games and kicking 28 goals. He was a clever centreman who both marked and kicked well. He was an unselfish footballer and creative team man.

Kevin ‘Skeeter’ Coghlan was the Hawks’ biggest goal scorer in 1953. He was dumped by Collingwood with Harvey Stevens a before the start of the season and picked up by Hawthorn where he kicked 19 goals. He topped the Hawks’ goal kicking in 1954 & 55 also. He was a classy rover who was the smallest player of his era.

Pat Cash Sr. played as a forward for the Hawks. He only played 8 games in 1953 due to injury, kicking 9 goals, but he did top the Hawks’ goalkicking list in 1951 with 26. He is the father of 1987 Wimbledon tennis champion Pat Cash Jr.

Round 5 – Collingwood Vs Hawthorn

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Saturday May 23 1953

Collingwood were expected to dominate their Round 5 encounter with Hawthorn at Victoria Park and ended up winning by 70 points. In front of just 9,627 people (1) in atrocious conditions both teams struggled with their being just 12 points separating the two teams at three quarter time. The Magpies finally broke the shackles with a devastating 9 goal final quarter.

The Hawks were tenacious for the first three quarters (2) and held a ruck advantage (3), with John Kennedy’s ruckwork being a highlight of the match. (3) Hawthorn also proved to be more adept at handling the greasy ball. (4) Unfortunately for the Hawks Kennedy’s efforts were often nullified by the roving of the Richards brothers Lou and Ron. (5)

The Magpie ‘Machine’ could not slip into gear until the final quarter when every player started producing his best. (6) Hawthorn were swept off their feet as Collingwood took control (7), the Hawks being unable to halt the sudden, systematic brilliance of the Magpies. (8) This final 9 goal burst boosted Collingwood’s percentage enough to put them into the four for the first time since Round 1. (8)

Bob Rose playing on the half-forward-flank proved to be the moving force behind the majority of Collingwood’s attacks with great ball-handling and kicking despite the conditions. (9)

Scores

Teams

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Collingwood 3.3.21 3.10.28 4.13.37 13.18.96
Hawthorn 3.3.21 3.3.21 3.7.25 3.8.26

Goals

Collingwood – Tebble 2, B Rose 2, Hickey 2, R Richards 2, Kingston, Merrett, Finck, Clarke, Healey

Hawthorn – McCann, Coghlan, Collins

Best

Collingwood – B Rose, L Richards, Healey, Merrett, Tebble, R Richards, Mann, Waller, Kingston

Hawthorn – Kennedy, Simmonds, Crane, O’Mahoney, Philp, Robison, Coghlan, Pearson

In Other Games

Footscray went to second place on the ladder with a 60 point victory over Fitzroy at the Western Oval that the Argus’ Hugh Buggy said resembled a swamp. (10) If it was not for a goal from Alan Ruthven late in the last quarter the Maroons would have had the dubious distinction of being the first team in VFL history to have gone through a match scoreless. (11)

Geelong beat Richmond by 54 points with Goninon kicking 11 goals. John Coleman could only manage 2 goals in Essendon’s 11 point loss to Melbourne.

In Financial News

Alf Brown reported in the Herald that whilst it costs Collingwood £250 to field a side each week, Collingwood lost £240 on this game. (12) The gate for the match in which less than 10,000 fans attended due to inclement weather and Hawthorn’s poor form, was just £212. (13)

In Injury News

Jock McHale was injured during the week when a log fell on his left foot and badly bruised his big toe. The former coach received treatment for this injury at half-time. (14)

VFL Ladder after round 5

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong 5 0 0 20
Footscray 4 0 1 16
North Melbourne 4 0 1 16
Collingwood 3 0 2 12
Carlton 3 0 2 12
Fitzroy 3 0 2 12
Essendon 2 0 3 8
South Melbourne 

 

2 0 3 8
St Kilda 

 

2 0 3 8
Richmond 1 0 4 4
Melbourne 1 0 4 4
Hawthorn 0 0 5 0

Leading Goalkickers

Player

Team

Goals in Round

Goals For Season

J. Coleman Essendon 2 37
G. Goninon Geelong 11 28
J. Hickey Fitzroy 0 22
N. Trezise Geelong 0 17
J. Collins Footscray 3 16
P. Bennett St Kilda 3 11
G. Marchesi North Melbourne 2 15
A. Aylett North Melbourne 2 14
A. Walsh Carlton 2 13

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Footnotes

  1. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  2. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  3. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  4. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  5. The Age, Monday May 25 1953 – page 7
  6. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  7. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  8. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  9. The Age, Monday May 25 1953 – page 7
  10. The Age, Monday May 25 1953 – page 7
  11. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  12. Brown. A – The Herald, Monday June 1 1953 – page 12
  13. Brown. A – The Herald, Monday June 1 1953 – page 12
  14. The Sun, Monday May 25 1953 – page 25

The Opposition – Carlton

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In 1953 Carlton would miss out on playing finals football, finishing 5th, 3 wins less than 4th placed Essendon. In 1952 they finished fourth but lost their semi-final against Fitzroy by a single point. The 1950s were a dark period of time for Carlton as they only reached the finals three times and lost all of their finals matches.

The Blues were coached by Percy Bentley, who is Carlton’s second longest-serving coach after David Parkin. He was a star player with Richmond in their champion sides of the 1920s and 30s, and coached the Tigers from 1934, the year they beat South Melbourne in the VFL Grand Final. He was one of the greatest players of his era. In 1941 he was lured to Carlton as a coach, bringing the Navy Blues premiership glory in 1945 & 47. He would coach the Blues until he retired in 1955. He then served on the Carlton committee for many years.

Ken Hands

Carlton was captained in 1953 by Ken Hands, a member of their team of the century and one of their greatest ever players. He was a complete footballer who was tough and an inspirational leader of the Blues who was willing to protect the Carlton small men.  He played 211 games with the Blues and kicked 188 goals and was a member of their ’45 & ’47 premiership sides. In 1953 Hands won the Blues’ best & fairest award. Hands would go onto captain and coach Victoria in 1954 & 1957 and represented his state on 12 occasions. Hands would also coach Carlton between 1959 and 1964. He was a great ball handler with excellent balance who possessed one of the best drop kicks in football.

Carlton’s leading goal-kicker in 1953 was John ‘Jack’ Spencer. He kicked 32 goals for the season. He only played VFL football for three seasons and in his 44 game career kicked a total of 67 goals but had a great career in the VFA before he joined the Blues.

Carlton’s second highest goal-kicker in 1953 was their vice-captain Jack Howell. Chooka, as he was known, kicked 28 goals for the season. He played 137 games for the Blues in a career that spanned from 1942-1954. He was a member of the 1947 premiership team and represented Victoria. He is another of Carlton’s greats.

John James, one of Carlton’s all-time greats debuted in 1953. He would go one to win the Blues best & fairest 3 times as well as the Brownlow Medal in 1961. In 1953 he played in 16 of the 18 home & away matches and kicked 8 goals for the season, although he did also manage to kick 43 behinds. He is another member of Carlton’s team of the century.

Laurie Kerr

Laurie Kerr was a speedy and courageous player who played for Carlton between 1950 and 59. The versatile Kerr could play as a winger, half forward flanker or centreman and his electrifying speed made him a potent force. What Kerr lacked in marking and kicking he made up for with sheer courage and pace, he was the Blues’ vice-captain from 1956-58.

In 1953 Keith Warburton kicked 26 goals for the Blues and was their third highest goal-kicker, while Jack Mills was another one of Carlton’s better players in the early 50s.

Bruce Comben played for the Old Dark Navy Blues between 1950 and 1961. In his 188 games he kicked 36 goals despite playing mostly as a tough and relentless back-pocket. He had a glorious running drop-kick and was totally fearless in his quest for the ball, often running staright at the ball and copping a lot of knocks around the head. He was Carlton’s captain and coach between 1958 and 1960 and won their best & fairest award in 1957 and 58. He represented Victoria 9 times.

Round 4 – Carlton Vs Collingwood

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May 16, 1953

Collingwood ventured to Princes Park in May to meet their oldest foe Carlton. The Magpies‘s stocks were still depleted with injury, while Carlton were just outside the four after defeating Melbourne and Richmond and suffering a narrow loss to Footscray in round 1.

37,500 crammed into the Blues’ home ground to see the Magpies prevail by just 8 points in a fiery clash in which Collingwood was in charge for the whole game despite the closeness of the scoreline. Carlton’s Jack Howell had a great ruck duel with Neil Mann, with the Blues’ big-man just prevailing in this evenly fought battle, showing a brilliant display of marking power. (1) In the end however, Collingwood simply played smarter, faster and more expert football in snatching the win from their rivals. (2)

The Magpies showed great fighting spirit and in the last desperate few minutes they overcame a 4 point deficit to ultimately win by 8 points. (3) Jack Finck was a success at full-forward in Bill Twomey’s absence, kicking 4 goals including the match-winner after Carlton’s George Stafford kicked into the man on the mark. (4) Even when the pressure was great in the last few minutes the Magpies’ players kept their cool heads to hold on. (5)

Throughout the match the Magpies used handball to devastating effect, although this was occasionally overdone. (6) For much of the game Collingwood showed superior pace and a slight superiority in the air and across the centre, while Mann was slightly more effective in the ruck for much of the match. (7)

Scores

Team

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Carlton

2.1.13 6.5.41 9.5.59 14.11.95

Collingwood

5.5.35 7.10.53 11.17.83 14.19.103

Best

Collingwood – Mann, Healey, Parker, R Richards, B Rose, Kingston, Tuck, Clarke

Carlton – Hands, Howell, Beasy, Dern, Spencer, Ferry, Malony

Goal Kickers

Collingwood – Finck 4, B Rose 3, R Richards 2, Kingston 2, Tebble 2, Clarke

Carlton – Spencer 5, Beasy 3, Warburton 2, Mills, Walsh, Milroy, Kerr

In Other Football News

Geelong kept up their unbeaten run with a 14 point victory over Essendon. Goninon kicked 6 goals and Trezise 3 while the Bombers’ Coleman had an off day by his standards and could only manage 4 majors, in what was the battle of the VFL’s best goal-scorers. North Melbourne suffered their first defeat of the season to Fitzroy who had crept into fourth place on the ladder, while Footscray was now placed second with a 45 point win over lowly Melbourne, with Ted Whitten being amongst the best on the ground.

Hawthorn and Melbourne were languishing on the bottom of the ladder winless while Richmond were 10th with just one win.

VFL Ladder after round 4

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong 4 0 0 16
Footscray 3 0 1 12
North Melbourne 3 0 1 12
Fitzroy 3 0 1 12
Essendon 2 0 2 8
Carlton 2 0 2 8
Collingwood 2 0 2 8
South Melbourne 2 0 2 8
St Kilda 2 0 2 8
Richmond 1 0 3 4
Melbourne 0 0 4 0
Hawthorn 0 0 4 0

Goalkickers

Player

Team

Goals in Round

Goals For Season

J. Coleman Essendon 4 35
J. Hickey Fitzroy 8 22
N. Trezise Geelong 3 17
G. Goninon Geelong 6 17
J. Collins Footscray 5 13
G. Marchesi North Melbourne 3 13
A. Aylett North Melbourne 1 12

Oddities

In his preview of the match the Sporting Globe’s H.A. de Lacy referred to Collingwood’s Mick Twomey as Mike Twomey. I’m not sure if this is his fault or that of his editor/subeditor though.

Mick Twomey did not play the match due to a torn ‘monkey’ muscle according to Percy Taylor in the Argus. Google told me that a ‘monkey muscle’ is a calf muscle.

Jack Finck only kicked 8 goals in his entire career at Collingwood, with half that tally coming in this match.

In Other Sports News

Rocky Marciano retained the World Heavyweight Boxing Title with a knockout victory over Jersey Joe Walcott in the first round of their highly anticipated bout in Chicago.

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Footnotes

  1. The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  2. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  3. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  4. The Age Monday May 18, 1953 – page 7
  5. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  6. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  7. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10