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The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

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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

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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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Acknowledgements

Phonse Kyne

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Australian rules footballer Phonse Kyne (b.1915)

Image via Wikipedia

As A Player

Played – 1934-1944 1946-1950
Games- 245
Goals – 237
Captain- 1942, 1946-1949
Copeland Trophy – 1946, 1947, 1948
Runner Up Copeland Trophy – 1938, 1939, 1949
3rd Copeland Trophy – 1936
Victorian Representative – 11 times
Captain Victoria – 1947

As Coach

1950-1963
Premiers – 1953, 1958

Member of Collingwood‘s Hall of Fame
Member of Collingwood Team of the Century

Phonse Kyne is one of Collingwood’s all-time greatest players  but it is as the coach of the 1953 and ’58 premierships that he is most fondly remembered. He is one of only four players to have won the Copeland Trophy three times in a row and was runner-up on another three occasions. He played as centre-half forward in the 1935 & 36 premiership sides but is most remembered as one of the best ruckmen of his era. He was a clever palmer of the ball who used his body well to achieve front position, Lou Richards once said that all the rover had to do was to give Kyne a call and the ball would be waiting for him.

It is also worth noting that his coaching career started in controversial circumstances. He was seen as the logical successor to the legendary Jock McHale but the club appointed Bervyn Woods instead. This move caused an uproar at Collingwood, with the club going to war over the issue. It seems that the appointment of Woods was political, with president Harry Curtis having long promised the senior coaching position to the long time seconds coach. A special squad of police had to be called in to control a rowdy mob of supporters at a meeting by the committee to resolve the issue at the Collingwood Town Hall. Woods, seeing the damage that his appointment had caused the famous club graciously offered his resignation.

Phonse Kyne was a favourite of Age cartoonist Sam Wells. This is from June 1950

As a coach he was very much in the mould of his mentor, the great Jock McHale, and openly based his coaching methods and approach to the game on those of the his predecessor. Kyne’s first match as coach was on April 22nd 1950. His 272 games as coach is the second most by a Collingwood player with the Magpies winning 161 of those games, including premierships in 1953 and 1958. According to Collingwood folklore Phonse was so nervous before the ’53 Grand Final that he made use of a kangaroo paw lucky charm that one of his friends had given him. Lou Richards, who was the captain of the 1953 Premiership team said that one of Kyne’s great traits was that he would never publicly berate his players but “If Phonse had something to say – and he had plenty to say on occasions – he drew the player aside and gave it to him man to man.”

Away from the football field has was also a gentle man who was respected by everyone who knew him. Lou Richards said that Kyne was… “a loyal and lasting friend who would never have a word against any of his teammates or players.” whilst Richmond’s Jack Dyer, one of Kyne’s fiercest opponents from his playing days, paid his respect to Phonse when he said “He was Collingwood first, second, third and forever. But you could always shake his hand and have a beer with him after the game.” The only flaw may have been his tendency to deal with the disappointment of defeat by coming home from the game and then refusing dinner, going straight to bed and pulling the sheets over his head! However Phonse never lost his temper even in these difficult circumstances.

Phonse’s coaching career ended as it began, in controversy due to the political turmoil within the Club. In 1963 Tom Sherrin and Jack Galbally were at war over the presidency of the Club, with Sherrin saying that if he won the vote he would endorse Bob Rose as the next Collingwood coach. Phonse claimed that he had the full-support of the entire board with the exception of Sherrin, and said that the players were supportive of him and of Galbally. This move infuriated Collingwood captain Murray Weideman who had been trying to keep the players out of the bitter political turmoil. As a result Weideman organised a team meeting to debate Phonse’s statement, and to guage the feeling amongst the rest of the playing group. The general consensus Weideman said, was that whilst Phonse Kyne may have been the current coach, the players wanted him replaced by Bob Rose. The team struggled through 1963, finishing eighth, failing to make the finals for the third successive year. The players, who had thrown their weight behind the successful Sherrin bid for the presidency, got their wish as Phonse was sacked as coach at the end of the season and Bob Rose was appointed for 1964. It was a sad end to the coaching career of one of the most highly regarded men in Australian football and one of the great servants of the Collingwood Football Club.

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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. Roberts. M – A Century Of The Best – The Stories of Collingwood’s Favourite Sons – 1991 Collingwood Football Club
  4. Phonse Kyne’s Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phonse-Kyne/112924315384332