Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘Australian Football League

They All Played Their Part

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Jack Hamilton

Debut – 1948
Retired – 1957
Games – 154
Goals – 16
Missed 1953 Grand Final due to injury

Jack was one of the best full-backs that Collingwood has had since World War II, he unluckily missed the 1953 Grand Final after breaking his scaphoid bone in the round 14 clash against Geelong, four weeks before the start of the finals.

Hamilton was a tough and ruthless fitness fanatic who was one of the first players of his era to lift weights as a way of improving strength.

He later went on to a career in football administration, becoming chief commissioner of the VFL in 1984. He was killed in a car accident in May 1990, the year in which Collingwood would finally break their 32 year premiership drought.

Maurice Dunstan

Debut – 1949
Retired – 1954
Games – 72
Goals – 118

‘Mocha’ played in the forward line for most of the 1953 season, although he was said to be quite an unreliable shot for goal. He scored 22 goals for the season out missed the finals due to an injury sustained in the final home & away match against Footscray. He also missed rounds 2- 5 with injury that season.

Maurice Dunstan is perhaps best known for having a son, Ian, who played 172 games for Footscray.

Jack Hickey

Debut – 1951
Retired – 1956
Games – 72
Goals – 15

Jack Hickey was dropped from the side after the semi-final win over Geelong after playing 17 games for the 53 season.

Frank Tuck

Debut – 1950
Retired – 1959
Games – 131
Goals – 34
Captain – 1958-59

Dave Little

Debut – 1953
Retired – 1955
Games – 10
Goals – 1

Dave Little came to Collingwood from Korrumburra at the beginning of the 1953 season with lots of hype that he never lived up to. He played only 3 games in 1953.

Peter Lucas

Debut – 1949
Retired – 1959
Games – 177
Goals – 1

Peter Lucas missed both the 1952 & 53 Grand Finals through injury. He was a fine half-back-flanker who could block the most talented forwards in the VFL. He was not very flamboyant but he was consistent. He played in the 1958 premiership team.

Kevin Clarke

Debut – 1953
Retired – 1954
Games – 18
Goals – 7

Bill Tebble

Debut – 1950
Retired – 1953
Games – 57
Goals – 8

Was a defender who played either back-pocket or centre-half-back. Kicked all his career goals in 1953 when he was shifted to the forward line in Bill Twomey’s absence early in the season.

Kevin Flint

Debut – 1952
Retired – 1953
Games – 4
Goals – 3

Tom Tarrant

Debut – 1953
Retired – 1954
Games – 7
Goals – 1

Pat Milburn

Debut – 1953
Games – 6
Goals – 3

Fred West

Debut – 1950
Retired – 1953
Games – 17
Goals – 4

Keith Bromage

Debut – 1953
Retired – 1961
Games With Collingwood (1953-56) – 28
Games With Fitzroy (1958-61) – 41
Total Games – 69
Goals for Collingwood – 30
Goals for Fitzroy – 48

The youngest player to ever play league football when he debuted in round 17 against Richmond. He was just 15 years of age.

Barry Taylor

Only game was the 1953 ANZAC Exhibition Match against Fitzroy. There is no evidence of him ever playing a senior match.

The 1953 Brownlow Medal

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Essendon skipper and 1952 & 1953 Brownlow Medalist Bill Hutchinson

September 3, 1953…

A Collingwood player did not win the Brownlow Medal in 1953, that award went to Essendon skipper Bill Hutchinson, but two of the Magpies’ greats filled the second and third placings. Bob Rose capped off a brilliant season by taking second place in the award on 22 votes, just four votes behind Hutchinson, whilst Neil Mann finished third on 17 votes. The Argus summarised that Hutchinson was aided by the fact that Collingwood players polled so heavily and took votes off each other. (1) Both Rose and Mann were judged best on ground five times apiece, whilst the Magpies’ took the umpire’s three votes in 16 of the 17 matches where votes were awarded. (2) Sadly skipper Lou Richards polled no votes at all and was the only one of the VFL‘s skippers to not score a single vote on the night. (3) Overall it was still a great result for the Magpies.

In other news

3AW recorded the count and rebroadcast parts of it on their radio station to their listeners, which was a first.(4)

Results

  1. W. Hutchinson (Essendon) – 26 votes
  2. R. Rose (Collingwood) – 22 votes
  3. N. Mann (Collingwood – 17 votes
  4. B. Smith (Geelong) – 16 votes
  5. R. Clegg (South Melbourne) – 14 votes (5)

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1 – The Argus – Thursday September 3, 1953 – page 32

2 – The Argus – Thursday September 3, 1953 – page 32

3 – The Age – Thursday September 3, 1953 – page 9

5 – The Argus – Thursday September 3, 1953 – page 1

Round 10 – Essendon Vs Collingwood

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The headline at the Argus summed up the result of this clash very nicely: “Don ‘Tornado’ Hits Collingwood”, as Essendon defeated the Magpies by 28 points, thanks to a 6 goal haul by John Coleman.

Bob Rose

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As A Player

Debut – 1946
Retired – 1955
Games – 152
Goals – 214
Copeland Trophy – 1949, 1951, 1952, 1952
Brownlow Medal – Runner Up 1953
All Australian -1953

As A Coach

Coach Collingwood – 1964-1971, 1985-1986
Coach Footscray – 1972-1975
Member of Collingwood’s Hall of Fame
Member of Collingwood Team of the Century

According to Gordon Carlyon many observers thought that Bob Rose was ranked as the best footballer to have ever played with Collingwood, while many others consider him to be the best footballer of his time, an era that included all-time greats such as Alan Aylett, Bill Hutchison, John Coleman, Roy Wright, Alan Ruthven and John Kennedy Sr. After the 1953 premiership victory Jock McHale was moved to announce that, “Bob Rose must be acclaimed as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, player to ever wear the black and white uniform.” whilst Hec de Lacy wrote in the Sporting Globe that “… the greatest team builder in Australian football is – Bobby Rose… he vitalises defences, rucks or attacks as the occasion demands.”He was without doubt Collingwood’s most inspirational player and is still the most revered figure at our Club. Bob Rose is probably one of the greatest players to never win a Brownlow Medal, although Bob had won four Copeland trophies by the age of 27 before leaving Collingwood for the country.

On the field Bob was one of the toughest and most courageous players of his day, with lots of speed and superb ball handling skills. He was a magnificent long kick but even better short passer. Bob would not tolerate any rival player winning possession of the ball ahead of him, although some followers of the game thought his tough approach trod the fine line between football and thuggery. Bob often sustained needless injuries by preferring to crash through packs rather than dodge his way out of trouble.

At the end of the 1955 season Bob decided to leave Collingwood to captain and coach Wangaratta Rovers in the Ovens and Murray Football League. Sadly back then country clubs could offer players greater incentives than Collingwood were willing to. Bob was offered £35 a week and accommodation by Wangaratta Rovers and they would also assist him in establishing a sports store. He led the Wangaratta Rovers to premierships in 1958 and 1960. Rose was the League’s leading goalkicker in 1960. Rose was also the Morris Medal winner in 1958 and 1960 for best player in the Ovens and Murray Football League.

In 1964 Bob returned to Collingwood after the ousting of Phonse Kyne as coach. He is often remembered as perhaps the unluckiest coach in VFL/AFL history, taking Collingwood to within 10 points of victory in each of the Grand Finals of 1964, 1966 and 1970. In 1972 he took over as coach of Footscray,while in 1985 he briefly returned to coach the Magpies before handing the reigns over to Leigh Matthews.

At the end of  a torrid 1975 season Bob stood down as coach of Footscray to look after his son Robert, who had become a paraplegic after a car accident earlier that year. Bob also had to contend with one of his Footscray players, Neil Sachse, becoming a quadriplegic after damaging his spinal cord in a sickening on field collision with Fitzroy’s Kevin O’Keefe.

In 2003 Bob passed away from cancer and several people from within the football community paid tribute to him. Ron Barassi, who coached against Bob in the infamous 1970 grand final, was devastated when told that he man he idolised as child had died. “Footy just lost one of its greatest people. He was a dashing player, the most unlucky coach and a superb human being,” he said. “I’ve never spoken to him about it,” Barassi said… “He was very gracious. He was a very good loser and honourable. ” The AFL’s chairman Ron Evans simply said  “Bob Rose was Collingwood, and Collingwood was Bob Rose.”

As a player and a coach Bob Rose set the example for how Collingwood would like its footballers to play on the field, and conduct themselves off it. No one has been more loved and respected at Victoria Park – not only for the way he played and what he achieved, but for the man he was and the way he carried himself.  Bob Rose epitomised all that is good about Collingwood, and about football. The legacy he has left will be a lasting one.

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Acknowledgements

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

The Opposition – St Kilda

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1953 can be considered a reasonable season for the perennial cellar dweller when compared to their usual St Kilda standards, when they finished in 9th position with just five wins. St Kilda did have some great players in their team in the early 50s but unfortunately those who were running the club were small businessmen who seemed to have little idea of what they were doing. Things would eventually get better for St Kilda, with three of their players winning the Brownlow Medal by decade’s end, although they would not reach the finals until 1961. In 1965 the Saints would dominate the home & away season before going down to Essendon in the Grand Final, while we all know about what happened 12 months later.

In 1953 St Kilda was coached by Col Williamson. He had played with St Kilda between 1937 and 1946 and was a tall, strong ruckman and utility player who was safe and trusty and never let the side down. It was not his fault that the Saints did not succeed in his two seasons as coach. In 1954 he was replaced as coach by ex-North Melbourne champion Les Foote.

Keith Drinan

The Saints’ captain for 1953 was Keith Drinan, who had developed into one of the Saints’ best ever full-backs, he also won St Kilda’s best & fairest award in 1953, as well as in 1956. A player with a big heart but little flair, his effectiveness was undoubted. When he was appointed captain of St Kilda in 1951 he was just 26 years old and the youngest captain in the VFL. He played 134 games fo St Kilda between 1944 and 1957. In 1954 he was controversially replaced as captain by ex-North Melbourne champion Les Foote, who had returned to Melbourne after a stint playing in country New South Wales. After Foote departed at the end of the 1955 season Drinan was reappointed captain. He a did apply for the Saints’ vacant coaching position but this went to Allan Killigrew. Drinan was the last returned serviceman to play VFL football.

Neil ‘Coco’ Roberts was in his second season with St Kilda in 1953 and had not yet developed into the superstar footballer he was to become. After his first two seasons it seemed that he was going nowhere as a footballer until he was switch from the forward line o centre-half-back. In 1955 he established himself as a star by winning the St Kilda best and fairest and winning a spot in the state team. He also finished third in the Brownlow. In 1958 while deputising for injured skipper Brian Gleeson Roberts proved to be an inspiring leader and won the Brownlow Medal by 2 votes. He was appointed full-time captain in 1959 and in 1962 he led St Kilda into the finals for the first time in 22 years. He represented Victoria 11 times during his career.

Brian Gleeson would have to be considered one of the unluckiest players to play VFL football. He played just 71 games between 1953 and 1957. He won the Brownlow Medal in 1957 and was appointed captain of St Kilda for 1958 but he injured a knee in a practice game and never played again. Gleeson had a great high marking ability and developed into a fine ruckman with the knack of directing hit-outs unerringly.

Jim Ross

Jim Ross is one of the best players to have played for the Saints. A St Kilda stalwart, he played 139 between 1946 and 1954 and won the best and fairest award three times, in 1949, 1951 and 1952, a feat that has been bettered only by Nick Riewoldt and Robert Harvey and equalled by Nathan Burke and Darrell Baldock. He is also member of St Kilda’s Team of the Century and in 1954 he topped the Saints goalkicking. Ross was a classy footballer and one of the few quality players that St Kilda had in the 1940s and early 50s. He played at either centre half forward or in the ruck and could intelligently palm the ball to his rovers. He was a grand mark with great dash and anticipation. He should have won his fourth best and fairest award in 1954 but for the pettiness of the St Kilda committee. Despite having a fine season the award went to newly appointed captain-coach Les Foote, with few people doubting that Ross’ request for financial assistance at the start of the season angering chairman of selectors Bert Day, who told him he could have a clearance on the spot if that was what he wanted. Ross quit the Saints at the end of the 54 season at the age of 26 to captain-coach a Tasmanian side. In 1958 he won All-Australian selection.

Bruce Phillips

Bruce Phillips won St Kilda’s best and fairest award in 1950 playing at full-back. In that stand out season he also won the Herald’s best player award and came equal third in the Brownlow Medal. In 115 games between 1947 and 1955 Phillips proved to have uncanny anticipation and liked to charged out in front of the opposing full-forwards and send a long kick downfield. He represented Victoria in 1950 and 1953, he was forced to retire at 26 after he injured a knee in a practice match in 1956.

Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald was a left footer with great pace who played in the forward line for the Saints between 1948 and 1956, who had the ability to kick the ball long. He could devastate opposition defences but was also very moody In his 113 games he led St Kilda’s goalkicking three times.

Peter Bennett was an accurate full-forward who played 103 games in two stints in 1944 and between 1947 and 1953, his football career interrupted by war service. He led St Kilda’s goalkicking in 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1953, but is best remembered as the captain of Australia’s water polo team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He retired from football in 1954 to concentrate on his Olympic career.

The Opposition – Footscray

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Footscray in 1953 were on the cusp of premiership success. This was the year they won their first ever final, when they defeated Essendon in the semi-final by 8 points. They reached the preliminary final which they lost to Geelong by 26 points. It would be another year before the Bulldogs would finally taste premiership glory by winning their only Grand Final.

Footscray were captained and coached by Charlie Sutton. He debuted with the club in 1942 and played 173 games in a career that lasted 12 years. (He did not play between 1943-1945) He became captain/coach of the Bulldogs in 1951, a year after he won the best & fairest award which would subsequently be named after him. He would remain captain until his retirement as a player in 1955 and stay as coach until he was unceremoniously dumped midway through the 1957 season, when Ted Whitten took over. He is also a member of Footscray’s team of the century. He is a legend of the Footscray Football Club.

Ruckman Harvey Stevens won Footscrays’ best & fairest award in 1953. Two weeks prior to the start of the 1953 season Stevens was dumped by Collingwood and was fortunately picked up by the Bulldogs just prior to round 3. Stevens played VFL footy for 10 years, with 5 seasons at Collingwood where he played 55 games, and 5 at Footscray where he played 72 games. He played in Collingwood’s losing 1952 Grand Final side, where he was tried without success at full-forward, even though he had never played in that position before. Many feel that he was made the scapegoat for that loss and despite performing well in the 1953 preseason he was dumped from the team before the start of the new season. Stevens became a  member of the Bulldogs’ 1954 premiership side and captained Footscray in 1957.

The most famous Bulldog of all was a member of the 1953 side. 1953 was the 3rd VFL season for the legendary Ted Whitten. ‘E.J’ had played just 29 games prior to 1953. To many people he was the embodiment of everything Footscray, he captained the club from 1957 until his retirement as a player in 1970. Teddy also coached the club from July 1957 until 1966, when his predecessor Charlie Sutton took over the helm, and again from 1969 until 1972, when Collingwood’s greatest ever player Bob Rose took over the coaching role. Whitten won the Bulldogs’ best and fairest in 1954, 57, 58, 59 and 61 and was their leading goal kicker in 1961, 62, 64 and 68. He is the captain of both the Western Bulldogs‘ team of the century and AFL team of the century. Like Sutton he is a legend of the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

In 1953 the leading goal kicker for Footscray was Jack Collins who kicked 50 goals for the season. Collins won the best & fairest award for the Bulldogs in 1951 and 52. His 1953 season is perhaps remembered mostly for the controversy that occurred in the final round of the home & away season when he and Collingwood’s Frank Tuck clashed which caused both players to be suspended for the finals series. Collins played 154 games for Footscray over 9 seasons and kicked 385 career goals.

Peter Box was another of Footscray’s top players of the 1950s. He debuted in 1951 but missed the entire 1952 season through injury. In 1956 he won the Brownlow Medal after winning Footscray’s best & fairest in 1955. Don Ross the 1956 Footscray best & fairest was playing his second season in 1953.

The Footscray backline of 1953 also featured some of their all-time great players including Wally Donald and Herb Henderson. The Bulldogs conceded only 959 points for the season, the lowest in the VFL history to that date.