Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

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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

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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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