Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

The Opposition – Richmond

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Richmond finished the 1953 season in 10th place on the VFL ladder with 3 wins and a draw with 11th placed Melbourne in round 12 at the MCG. Their wins came over Melbourne in round 1, Hawthorn in round 11 and St Kilda in round 15. Despite what looks like a dismal season on paper the Tigers did suffer many narrow defeats, losing five games by 10 points or less.

In 1953 Richmond were coached by Alby Pannam of the famous Pannam/Richards clan, and uncle to Collingwood’s Lou and Ron Richards. Between 1933 – 1943 and 1945 Alby played 181 games for the Magpies before playing 2 for Richmond in 1947. He skippered the Magpies in the 1945 season. From 1946 he coached Richmond’s reserves team before taking over from ‘Captain Blood’ Jack Dyer in 1953 as coach of the senior team. . After the Tigers lost the four of the first five games of they 53 season there were calls from fans for Jack Dyer to be reinstated as coach, but Alby managed to hold onto the position for three seasons taking the Tigers to 5th in 1954 and 6th in 1955

Des Rowe

Richmond was captained by Des Rowe. A member of the Tiger’s Hall of Fame he played 175 games between 1946 and 1957, winning the best & fairest in 1951 and 1955. In 1956, a year in which he was named as an All-Australian, he captained Victoria. He was a safe, tenacious half-back with plenty of pace. He was also a good kick with great judgement and anticipation. He coached the Tigers between 1961 & 1963. Under his coaching Richmond won the Night Premiership (played by teams who did not make the finals) in 1961. His father was Percy Rowe, a member of Collingwood’s ‘Machine Team’ of the 1920s.

Havel Rowe

Havel Rowe won Richmond’s best & fairest award in 1953. He was not in any way related to his skipper, but was a fast, clever player who was very versatile. He was a good mark and kick who played 124 games for the Tigers between 1948 and 1957.

Ron Branton was Richmond’s highest goal scorer in 1953 with 22 in what was his debut season. Branton was a brilliant rover who captained the club between 1960 and 1962, winning the best & fairest award in each of these seasons. He played 170 games for Richmond between 1953 and 1962, kicking 171 goals in total.

Roy Wright

The best known player for Richmond in 1953 would have been the gentle giant Roy Wright. In a career that spanned from 1946 – 1959  Wright won Richmond’s best & fairest award four times in 1950, 52, 54 and 57. He also won two Brownlow Medals in 1952 and 1954 and was runner-up in 1957. Wright captained the Tigers in 1958 and 59. A member of Richmond’s Team of the Century and Hall of Fame and the AFL’s Hall of Fame, Wright was a late developing ruckman who suffered a broken nose, thumb, and split the webbing in his hand in 1953 as well as having concussion three times in the season.

Max Oppy was one of the toughest players to have ever played VFL/AFL football, with Jack Dyer claiming he was a man who could not be hurt. Between 1942 and 1954 played 185 games for the Tigers and took over from Pannam as coach for a season in 1956. He was a cousin of Essendon legend Dick Reynolds.

Jack O' Rourke

Another famous Tiger name in Tom Hafey was also a member of Richmond’s 1953 side. Hafey only played 67 games in five seasons from 1953 but is best known for taking Richmond to premiership wins as coach in 1967, 1969, 1973 and 1974. He also was coach of Collingwood when lost (and drew) Grand Finals in 1977, 79, 80 and 81.

Bill Wilson played for the Tigers between 1944 and 1954. He was a cheeky rover who played 185 games for Richmond and kicked 225 goals. He was a clever and reliable player who was also very courageous and a fast mover of the ball. It was said that he relished games against the Magpies and usually had the edge over Lou Richards. He was a great team man who was a regular member of the Victorian squad, he won the Tigers’ best and fairest in 1947.

Alby Pannam and team inspect the portrait they won as Lightning Championship winners

Jack O’Rourke was the Tiger’s high leaping full-forward who had headed Richmond’s goalkicking in 1951 and 1952. He was a spectacular player whose career was cut short by injury he played just 44 games between 1949 and 1953. He left the Tigers at the end of the 1953 season after only managing five games for the year, unhappy with Jack Dyer’s sacking at the end of 1952.

There was one consolation for the Tigers in 53. They won the Lightning Premiership on Coronation Day at the MCG in June. For their efforts they were presented with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth at the June 11th premier of Elizabeth the Queen, the official film of the Coronation, at the State Theatre.


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