Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Archive for the ‘Preseason’ Category

1953 Preseason

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Jack Hamilton (wearing Richmond colours) and 'Mocha' Dunstan compete during the Magpies' final practice game

The big news of Collingwood’s 1953 preseason was the unexpected dropping of Harvey Stevens from the Magpies’ list. Stevens played 54 games with Collingwood, including their 1952 Grand Final defeat.

Stevens was omitted from the Collingwood list despite good form in practice games (1) and was expected to be a vital part of the Magpie’s machine in 1953. (2) He was dropped to Collingwood’s supplementary list in 1952 due to being overweight, but fought his way back into the senior side and was playing well at the end of the season. (3)

Fortunately for Stevens he was picked up by Footscray where he had a stellar season, winning the Bulldogs best and fairest. In 1954 he would play a vital role in Footscray’s successful premiership campaign.

Rover Kevin Coghlan was also dropped and subsequently recruited by Hawthorn, while Ken Aitken was also dropped a week out from round 1. (4)

Going into the 1953 season some Magpies were under an injury cloud. Maurice ‘Mocha’ Dunstan had an injured ankle as did Pat Twomey.(5) George Hams had a knee injury while Keith Batchelor suffered from fibrosis. (6) Peter Lucas had a split eardrum (7), Thorold Merrett a bruised thigh (8) and Arthur Gooch a strained leg. (9) Brian Turner was also under treatment for neuritis in the hip. (10)

Ron & Lou Richards and Ron's new bride Gladys. Ron & Gladys married in March.

Prior to the match Collingwood coach Phonse Kyne wrote an article for the Argus stating his expectations for the 1953 season. He rued the amount of injuries that the club had suffered during the previous season and thought that a fully fit Magpie unit were not that far behind the Geelong side. (11) Kyne stated that Collingwood’s forward line was much improved over the one they had in 1952 with Bob Rose, Lou and Ron Richards, Maurice Dunstan and the Twomeys all being able to play in attack. (12) Kyne also expected a lot of Collingwood’s new recruit Dave Little, a mobile ruckman from Korrumburra, as a back-up for Neil Mann. (13) Jack Finck‘s return to the team would also mean that he could play at centre-half-back, allowing Mann to spend more time in the ruck. (14) Phonse considered the Magpie wings in Thorold Merrett and Des Healey and their half-back line of Fincke, Peter Lucas and Ron Kingston to be the finest in the league. (15)

Because of all this Jack Dyer thought that both Collingwood and Geelong were the teams to beat in season 1953. Dyer was particularly looking forward to seeing Jack Hamilton, George Hams and Neil Mann in action. (16)

As an aside at least one of the Collingwood players indulged in playing district cricket over the off-season. Des Healey played in Collingwood’s second XI in 1953 and won the team’s batting average and club championship. He top scored in the final match of the season with 92 runs against South Melbourne. (17) Thorold Merrett was another Collingwood player who played district cricket in 1953, donning the whites for the Magpie’s Third XI. Two years earlier both Healey and Merrett were team-mates in Collingwood’s 1951 Third XI team that won the cricket final against Prahran. They put on a 151 run partnership to set up their victory, with Healey scoring a century and Merrett making 51. (18)

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Footnotes

  1. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  2. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  3. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  4. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  5. The Sun – Wednesday April 1, 1953 – page 26
  6. The Sun – Wednesday April 1, 1953 – page 26
  7. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  8. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  9. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  10. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  11. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  12. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  13. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  14. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  15. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  16. The Sun – Saturday April 18, 1953 – page 32
  17. The Argus – Friday 16 October, 1953 – page 12
  18. The Argus – Monday April 2, 1951 – page 9