Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

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Round 7 – Footscray Vs Collingwood

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June 6, 1953

Wells looks at the game at the Western Oval

Collingwood tired badly in the last quarter after dominating their match early against Footscray at the Western Oval, but held on to win by a single point.

Early on the Magpies pace and system, and their dominance on the wings and in the air, gave them many chances, but their shocking forward play was costly. Despite only kicking four points after half-time the Magpies held on as the Bulldog’s inaccuracy at the finish cost them chances.

It was a scrambling game with the defences on top and early on Collingwood were faster and much more systematic. Luckily for Footscray the Magpies kicked badly. Collingwood outmarked and outpaced the Bulldogs, while Thorold Merrett’s roving was upsetting the Footscray defence. Footscray had no counter for Collingwood’s dominance to half-time, of the wings or in the air.

Footscray were always a step behind with the Magpies pace leaving them at times flat-footed, whilst the Bulldogs gave away several free kicks with unnecessary scragging. The Magpie Machine displayed the art of handball and shepherding to perfection. Merrett and Mann provided much of the drive, with the hornet-like Merrett daintily pirouetting around the packs and scampering off with glorious stab-passes proving to be a menace to the Dogs’ defence.

Footscray’s tactics were very poor and they kept kicking the ball high even though they were constantly being outmarked. Herb Henderson at full-back was one of the main offenders, with Neil Mann goaling in the first quarter after marking an errant Henderson kick-in.

Harvey Stevens in his first game against his old club rucked tirelessly and battled gamely for Footscray. He sent the Dogs forward several times but the Footscray forwards were never in front of their men. Stevens was playing so well that Alf Brown of the Herald wondered if the Collingwood selectors had been too hasty when they dropped him from their list earlier in the season.

Collingwood’s forward line broke down after half time, with their inaccuracy being inexcusable. In the third quarter alone they had at least ten direct shots at goal but could only manage four behinds. It was not Footscray’s much heralded backline holding Collingwood but the Magpies lack of forwards. In fact the Footscray backs at time were too man-conscious and tried to overmind their men.

In the hectic final quarter the Dogs finally started to show some dash and spirit, whilst Collingwood had tired badly. The Magpies never looked like scoring while Footscray were continually in attack and had whittled the Magpies lead to 8 points with just three minutes to go. Charlie Sutton inspired his men with clever roving and robust bustling whilst Stevens started to outmark Mann. When Jack Hickey goaled in time-on, there was just a single point the difference between the two teams. Collingwood had run themselves into the ground while Footscray did everything in their power to get the two extra points needed for a win. When the siren sounded the ball was in the Bulldog’s half-forward line, robbing them of what would likely have been a great fighting victory.

Collingwood vice-captain Neil Mann played a dominating game. He kicked an excellent goal from 65 yards out and his great marking saved the Magpies day.

Scores

Teams 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter Final Score
Footscray 0.0.1 4.1.25 4.3.27 7.9.51
Collingwood 5.4.34 7.6.48 7.10.52 7.10.52

Goalkickers

Collingwood – M Twomey (3), Hickey, Clarke, Mann, R Richards

Footscray – Duffy (3), Kerr (2), Collins (2)

Best

Collingwood – Mann, Healey, Lucas, Merrett, Finck, Hickey, M Twomey, Parker

Footscray – Stevens, Sutton, Ross, Donald, Collins, Henderson, Martin, Warren, Henderson, Box, Gallagher, Whitten

In Other Magpie News

Jack Hamilton was sensationally dropped from the Collingwood team for this game. It was the first time he had been out of the side, except because of injury, since the start of the 1949 season. Jack Finck replaced Hamilton at full-back.

19-year-old Terry Waites played his first senior game, as did Footscray’s John Kerr. Kerr would go on to be best on field for the Bulldogs in the 1954 premiership match.

Before the match Mrs Twomey, husband of former Collingwood captain Bill Twomey Sr and proud mother of Magpie stars Pat, Mick and Bill Jr, was presented by the Club with a framed photograph of her boys in their football uniform.

The Sporting Globe called for umpires to try to curb Collingwood’s exasperating habit of refusing to give the ball to their opponent after a free kick has been called. The Magpies are notorious at holding and fooling with the ball until every opponent is covered and only then giving up the ball. While the Sporting Globe called for offending players to be reported, the Australian National Football Council has made a recommendation for a rule change that will give a 15 yard penalty against any offending side.

In Other Footscray News

Only 28 goals have been kicked against Footscray’s frugal defence in the last 5 games, an average of just 51/2 goals per match.  Two weeks ago they kept Fitzroy to just one goal for the whole match, while today Collingwood kicked just four behinds after half time.

In Other Games

South Melbourne thrashed the hapless Saints by 71 points and Geelong defeated Melbourne by 24 points. North Melbourne came crashing out of the four after being thumped by Carlton by 52 points. Other winners included Essendon and Fitzroy. John Coleman kicked 6 goals to take his tally to 46 for the season. Comparisons have been made between Coleman and South Melbourne’s past goalkicking legend Bob Pratt, who kicked a record 150 goals in the 1934 season. In that stellar season by round 7 Pratt had kicked 56 goals, leaving Coleman just 10 goals off this margin.

VFL Ladder After Round 7

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong

7

0

0

28

Footscray

5

0

2

20

Collingwood

5

0

2

20

Fitzroy

5

0

2

20

Essendon

4

0

3

16

Carlton

4

0

3

16

North Melbourne

4

0

3

16

South Melbourne

3

0

4

12

St Kilda

2

0

5

8

Melbourne

1

0

6

4

Richmond

1

0

6

4

Hawthorn

1

0

6

4

 

Leading Goalkickers

Player

Team

Goals In Round

Goals For Season

J Coleman

Essendon

6

46

G Goninon

Geelong

3

33

J Hickey

Footscray

0

22

J Collins

Footscray

2

21

G Marchesi

North Melbourne

0

19

P Bennett

St Kilda

0

19

N Trezise

Geelong

0

17

R McKenzie

Melbourne

2

17

A Aylett

North Melbourne

3

17

A Walsh

Carlton

4

17

J Spencer

North Melbourne

2

16

B Rose

Collingwood

0

15

__________________________________

Acknowledgements

  • Brown A – The Herald – June 6 1953 – page 22
  • Baggot J – The Sun – June 8 1953 – page 24
  • Buggy H – The Argus – June 8 1953 – page 10
  • The Age – June 8 1953 – page 7
  • Reynolds D  – The Argus – June 8 1953 – page 9
  • The Argus – June 8 1953 – page 9
  • The Sporting Globe – June 10 1953 – page 4
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Written by Millsie

January 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Home & Away Season

1953 Lightning Premiership

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Tuesday June 2 1953

The 1953 Lightning Premiership was an odd and meaningless diversion played in the middle of the premiership season. It was a knockout competition featuring the 12 VFL teams, played at the MCG on Tuesday June 2. Each match consisted of a two quarters, with the winner progressing to the next round. The only teams who fielded their almost full-squads seemed to be those dwelling on the bottom half of the VFL ladder, with cellar dwellers Richmond defeating St Kilda in the final.

In their match the Magpies played Footscray. Neither team was at full strength but the Bulldogs advanced to the quarter-finals by beating Collingwood easily. The Magpies did not score a goal for the game. Thorold Merrett was Collingwood’s best player on the wing, but his good work was brought undone due to the Magpies’ poor forward work. (1)

Teams

Score

Footscray

3.2.20
Collingwood

0.2.2

In another first round match Essendon defeated Geelong.

Footscray encountered eventual Lightning Premiership winner Richmond in the next round, which they lost by five points, while Essendon would lose to St Kilda in a semi-final.

The Magpies and the Bulldogs would encounter each other again in four days time in what would be a classic match at the Western Oval. That match would be for premiership points and show that both of these teams would almost be ready for the monumental challenge that was Geelong.

___________________________________________________

Footnote

  1. The Herald – Tuesday June 2 1953 – page 16

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.

Round 6 – Collingwood Vs Richmond

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May 30 1953

Jack Dyer in the Sun predicted that Collingwood would easily account for the young Tigers  in their round 6 clash at Victoria Park, which they did  by 23 points.The Magpie’s stocks were buoyed by the returns of Mocha Dunstan and Bill Twomey from injury. However vice-captain Neil Mann, a star in recent weeks, was out of the team to injury sustained in the match against Hawthorn.

Former Collingwood captain Dan Minogue wrote in the Sun that the Magpie’s strong back line, greater anticipation and intelligent handball were the main factors in Collingwood’s success. (1) The strong wind blowing across Victoria Park caused some congestion but the Maggies use of the whole ground was excellent. (2) The highlight of the match was the battle between Mick Twomey and Roy Wright in the ruck, with each player rising to great heights in ruck play and marking around the ground. (3) Wright in particular had no peer in the air but was forced to play defensively. (4) Minogue noted that despite the great ruck work of Twomey and Wright, the  rovers failed to capitalise by breaking free of the packs. (5)

Despite showing fighting spirit (6) and some fine defensive work (7) Richmond’s forward work was lamentable (8) and what Minogue called below League standard (9). The Tigers attacked the goals without purpose or plan and the Magpies were easily able to counter them. (10)

Scores

Teams

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Collingwood 2.1 5.1.31 7.7.49 9.8.62
Richmond 1.2 2.5.17 3.7.25 5.9.39

Goals

Collingwood – B Twomey 4, B Rose 3, M Twomey 2

Richmond – Branton 2, Wright, Ritchie, Hafey

Best

Collingwood – Merrett, B Rose, Dunstan, Finck, Lucas, Healey, Kingston, Hamilton

Richmond – Wright, Oppy, D Rowe, Wright, H Rowe, Patterson, Collins, D Rose

In Other News

Geelong remained at the top of the ladder with a 53 point thrashing of South Melbourne at Kardinia Park. Footscray cemented second spot by beating St Kilda, while North Melbourne dropped to fourth after being defeated by Essendon by 17, with Coleman kicking 3 goals for the victors and Marchesi 4 for the losers. Hawthorn recorded their first win of the season over a hapless Carlton by 20 points, with former Collingwood player Kevin ‘Skeeter’ Coghlan and Pat Cash kicking 3 goals each.

VFL Ladder after round 6

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong 6 0 0 24
Footscray 5 0 1 20
Collingwood 4 0 1 16
North Melbourne 4 0 2 16
Fitzroy 4 0 2 16
Essendon 3 0 3 12
Carlton 3 0 3 12
South Melbourne 2 0 4 8
St Kilda 2 0 4 8
Melbourne 1 0 5 4
Richmond 1 0 5 4
Hawthorn 1 0 5 0

Leading Goalkickers

Player Team Goals In Round Goals For Season
J. Coleman Essendon 3 40
G. Goninon Geelong 2 30
J. Hickey Fitzroy 0 22
G. Marchesi North Melbourne 4 19
J. Collins Footscray 3 19
P. Bennett St Kilda 3 18
N. Trezise Geelong 0 17
B. Rose Collingwood 3 15
R. McKenzie Melbourne 4 15

In Royal News

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II occurred at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. The entire ceremony was broadcast on television in the around the world and was the first major international event to be broadcast on the new medium. We Australians missed out, as TV would not arrive down under for another 3 years.

In World News

On May 29 Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, the news of this remarkable event reaching the world’s media on June 2, with Queen Elizabeth knighting the New Zealander as a thankyou for this Coronation gift. The Herald headline to mark this event was “British Claim Everest”. I know that things were different then and that the British Empire was still shining, yet it is difficult to think of a New Zealand beekeeper and a Nepalese sherpa as being British.

The Potts went to London for the Coronation and got to watch it on television, something that their friends back home in Melbourne could not do!

_________________________________________

Footnotes

  1. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  2. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  3. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  4. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  5. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  6. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19
  7. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19
  8. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19
  9. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  10. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19