Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘Best and Fairest

1953 Copeland Trophy

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Australian rules footballer Bob Rose

Magpie legend Bob Rose

September 30, 1953

In 1953 Bob Rose won his fourth and final Copeland Trophy as Collingwood’s best & fairest player, a feat only surpassed by Nathan Buckley who has won the award six times, and Len Thompson who has won the award five times. In fact 1953 was the third time in a row that Rose had won the Copeland, something that only he, Phonse Kyne , Buckley and Dane Swan have achieved for Collingwood.

Another member of the Magpies Hall of Fame, Neil Mann finished second in the award on 35 1/2 votes to Rose’s 41, following up on his great third placing in the Brownlow Medal of that year. Des Healey finished third on 19 1/2 votes to cap off a brilliant season by him where he was judged by many observers to have been best on ground in Collingwood’s Grand Final victory.

Copeland Trophy – Bob Rose

R. T. Rush Trophy –  Neil Mann

J. J. Joyce Trophy – Des Healey

After winning the award Bob was kept busy in his sports store by lots of congratulatory visits and phone calls from members of the Magpie Army. (1) He said that he was very proud to win the Copeland Trophy and graciously thanked his team mates for helping him to win it. He also thanked Collingwood’s supporters for their generosity and the club for their liberal treatment of the players. (2)

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1 – The Argus – October 1, 1953 – page 3

2 – The Argus – October 1, 1953 – page 3

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 – 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.

The Opposition – South Melbourne

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Ron Clegg

1953 was an OK year for South Melbourne with the Swans finishing the season in 8th place on the VFL ladder. They would have 9 wins and 9 loses for the season, with their biggest scalp being a 43 point victory over Geelong in round 17 at the Lake Oval. They also defeated Footscray in round 9 at the Western Oval by 29 points and Essendon by 10 points at the Lake Oval in round 2. The only finalist that they did not beat in 1953 was Collingwood who easily defeated South both times that they met.

in 1953 South were coached by Laurie Nash. Nash who was a member of the Swans’ 1933 premiership team and captained the club in 1937, was appointed coach for the 1953 season. Nash also played test cricket matches for Australia in the 1930s. In 1954 he would be replaced by former team-mate and captain Herbie Matthews.

The Swans best player of the early 1950s was Ron ‘Smokey’ Clegg. He was a brilliant key position player at either centre half-forward or centre half-back who won the Brownlow Medal in 1949. He also won South Melbourne’s best and fairest award three times in 1948, 49 & 51. Clegg played 231 games for the Swans between 1945 & 1960 and was considered one of the greatest players to put on a Swans guernsey. He was a superb mark and a driving kick.

In 1953 the Swans’ best and fairest award went to Jim Taylor. Taylor played for South between 1949 and 1954, before going to South Australia to play with Norwood. He returned to the Lake Oval in 1956 and again won the Swans’ best and fairest award. He was also fourth in the Brownlow Medal count of that year. He was a very versatile footballer who play as a dashing ruckman or centre-half-back. He won a second best & fairest award in 1957. He also worked part-time as a male model who helped promote cigarettes.

Stringly built ruckman Ian Gillett was South Melbourne’s leading goalkicker in 1953, scoring 34 goals for the season. He played 135 games for South between 1951 & 58 and won their best and fairest award in 1955. His best haul of goals was 5 in a losing side against Collingwood at the Lake Oval. He was a great protector of South’s rovers and captained the team in 1956.

Fred Goldsmith played his third VFL season in 1953. He only played 8 matches for the 53 season and could not really cement his spot in the team. In 1954 South moved him from the half-forward-flank to full-back which turned his career around. In 1955 he won the Brownlow Medal by 1 vote to Essendon’s Bill Hutchison. He was a spectacular mark and a long drop kick, in 1956 he won the Simpson Medal as Victoria’s best player.

Bill Gunn was a brilliant forward who played 104 games for South Melbourne between 1952 and 1959. He was a fast and clever footballer with good instincts who represented Victoria in 1952, 1954, 1956 and 1959. He was selected to play in the 1953 ANFC carnival in Adelaide but had to withdraw due to work commitments. Gunn was a quick and active centre-half-forward who kicked 101 goals in his career; he captained the Swans in 1955.

Keith Schaefer was a consistent centreman who played 102 games for the Swans between 1947 and 1953. He had a fine turn of speed, was an excellent mark and an accurate stab pass. He won South’s best and fairest award in 1953.

Mick Sibum who kicked 4 goals in the opening round against Collingwood ended up kicking 20 goals for the season, with those 4 goals being his best haul for the year. He played 111 games for South in 6 seasons from 1950, kicking 88 goals throughout his career. He was a dashing rover who was appointed vice captain in 1955.