Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Lou Richards

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Lou's caricature by Jim Edema appeared in the Sun before the semi-final clash with Geelong

Debut – 1941
Retired – 1955
Games – 250
Goals – 423
Captain – 1952-1955
Collingwood’s Leading Goalkicker – 1944, 1948, 1950
R.T. Rush Trophy – 1947, 1950 (Runner Up Best & Fairest)
J.J. Joyce Trophy – 1951 (3rd Best & Fairest)
Member of Collingwood’s Hall of Fame (Inducted 2004)

Out of all the champions who have donned the famous black & white jumper Lewis Thomas Charles Richards is perhaps the most famous of all. Unfortunately it is for his deeds off the ground, as football’s first multi-media star that Lou is remembered rather than his great contributions to the Magpies as a player and premiership captain. While Lou never won a Copeland Trophy he was placed three times, coming runner-up in 1947 and 1950 and third in 1951. He also led Collingwood’s goalkicking on three occasions in 1944, 48 and 50. In 1947 he was named the Herald’s Player of the Year. In that year he also polled the most Brownlow Medal votes of all the Magpies (10) to finish 14th. Phonse Kyne who won that year’s Copeland Trophy finished a further three votes behind Lou, as did teammates Ray Horwood and Ray Stokes. With the exception of the 1953 premiership year in which he did not poll a single vote, Lou was usually one of Collingwood’s best polling players on Brownlow night.

Lou as pictured in The Argus, September 1951

While Lou was an immensely courageous rover with a ton of cheek, who was rugged, tough and determined. He also was ferociously competitive and had a fierce will to win. In 1951 on Phonse Kynes’s retirement as a player he forced his brother Ron to nominate him for the captaincy of the Magpies, but was overwhelmingly rejected in favour of Gordon Hocking. Neil Mann was appointed vice-captain to Hocking, something which really annoyed Lou as he did not have the experience of Richards. However rather than dwell on this misfortune he decided to reflect on what he perceived as his biggest flaw, his open criticism of his teammates, both on and off the field. Lou decided to change his style and became encouraging rather than critical and by 1952 he was appointed captain after filling in for Hocking and Mann on occasion in 1951. Des Healey claimed Lou was the best captain he had played under saying that “He was a magnificent team man and a real great Collingwood player – he culd almost win matches for Collingwood on his own by getting the other players in. Thorold Merrett claimed, “He was always firing you up, telling you to get up if you were hurt and urging you from start to finish.” whilst his deputy Neil Mann said “Louie was a terrific captain, always giving you lots of encouragement.” Bob Rose rated Lou as the best rover of his era, alongside Essendon’s Bill Hutchison and Fitzroy’s Alan Ruthven. Lou’s greatest triumph was leading the team to premiership glory in 1953.

After retiring from the game in 1955 Lou was given two options. The first was to coach Collingwood’s seconds with a view to becoming senior coach some time in the future, while the second was to join the media and to write articles for the Argus. Deferring the decision to his beloved wife Edna, Lou decided to set himself on the road to multi-media mega-stardom by refusing the coaching job and writing for the Argus. Despite his reservations Lou proved a natural, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone since during his playing career he was a media darling, giving extensive interviews for all of Melbourne’s daily newspapers on occasions. He was also a favourite of newspaper cartoonists such as The Age’s Sam Wells and The Herald’s WEG, who often depict him as a loud-mouthed chimpanzee. He would go onto being the game’s greatest media personality on radio, television and the newspapers.

In Collingwood’s 2010 premiership year Lou was once again in the headlines over the AFL’s refusal to elevate him to Legend status in the AFL’s Hall of Fame. The AFL argued that due to their rules which states Legends must be players and coaches at the “very pinnacle” of the game onfield, despite being one of the few to have captained Collingwood to a premiership and despite being the most-loved and greatest character that the game has produced.

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Acknowledgements

  1. Roberts. M & McFarlane. G -The Official Collingwood Illustrated Encyclopedia – Updated Edition – 2010 The Slattery Media Group
  2. Holmesby R & Main J. – The Encyclopedia Of AFL Footballers – Seventh Edition – 2007 Bas Publishing
  3. Richards L. & Phillips S.- The Kiss Of Death – 1989
  4. Stevens M. – Lou Richards rejects AFL Hall of Fame offer – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/its-all-or-nothing/story-0-1225713271416
  5. Carlyon. G – Gordon Carlyon’s Scrapbook Number 2 – 2002 Gordon Carlyon
  6. Roberts. M – A Century Of The Best – The Stories of Collingwood’s Favourite Sons – 1991 Collingwood Football Club
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