Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘Essendon Football Club

The Opposition – Essendon

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Essendon finished 4th in 1953, losing their semi-final to Footscray by 8 points.The Bombers had many champions in their side, the two most known being Bill Hutchinson and John Coleman. They won the VFL Premiership in 1950 and were runner-up to Geelong in 1951.

Essendon were coached by the legendary Dick Reynolds. He debuted in 1933 and did not retire until the 1951 Grand Final after 320 games. King Richard captained the club between 1939 and 1950 and coached the team between 1940 and 1960. He won their best & fairest award seven times and the Brownlow Medal three times and was brave and brilliant, with tremendous ball skills. He captained/coached the Bombers to 4 premierships and is ranked as the greatest player to pull on the black and red. Off the field, he was a shy and private man, noted for his humility about his footballing achievements.

Bill Hutchison

Bill Hutchison captained Essendon in 1953. He also won the Brownlow Medal and Creighton Medal as Essendon’s best & fairest. His coach Dick Reynolds said that Hutchinson was the best player he ever saw play, while many other observers believe he was one of the greatest rovers to play the game. In 2002 he was voted the 4th greatest Essendon player behind Reynolds, Coleman and James Hird. Hutchison won back to back Brownlow Medals in 1952 & 53, was runner-up in 1955 and third in 1948 and 51. He won the Bombers best & fairest 7 times.He was a tireless player with dazzling pace and a fine stab kick. He was an accurate shot for goal. He played in 10 grand finals. He captained Victoria in 1953 and 1956. He was a fair player who was deadly accurate around goals, Hutchison had great anticipation and tremendous pace.

John Coleman
John Coleman

Many people judge John Coleman as the greatest full-forward of all-time. In just 98 games he kicked 537 goals, averaging over 5 goals a game. In 1953 he kicked 97 goals but started the season brilliantly, scoring 31 goals in the first 3 games of the season. His best haul of the year was 11 in round 2 against South Melbourne, a game that the Bombers lost. He is considered the 2nd greatest player to play at Windy Hill. Injury forced him to retire in 1954. He was a freakish high mark and excellent ground player. He was a deadly accurate shot for goal. He was best & fairest in 1949 and topped the VFL goal kicking in 1949, 50, 52 and 53. He went on to coach Essendon and guided them to the 1962 & 65 premierships.

Norm McDonald

Norm McDonald spent 7 years playing on Essendon’s half-back flank and was the first indigenous player to make it big in the VFL. He was an excellent mark and kick and was known as a big occasion player. He won the 1951 Creighton Medal as Essendon’s best player and was also brilliant in the 1949 & 50 premiership teams. He was also the Bombers’ best player during their 1948 finals series and judged by many as best afield in the 1950 Grand Final. Ben Kerville wrote in the Sporting Globe that…

“…McDonald……is league football’s best half back flanker; a veritable Mandrake at the business of befuddling and bewitching rival half forwards.  Football becomes ballet when interpreted by this fleet-footed will-o’-the-wisp.  There’s the rhythm and grace of the ballerina in his weaving evasive manoeuvres.”

He played 128 games and kicked 3 goals in his distinguished career.

Hugh Mitchell played 224 games between 1953 and 1961 and kicked 301 goals in his career. He was a versatile playing who had few equals as a ruck-rover. Mitchell won Essendon’s
best and fairest award in 1959, a season in which he also finished 3rd in the Brownlow Medal. Mitchell was a prolific kick-winner who headed Essendon’s goal kicking tally three times, he also was chosen to play with Victoria on 6 occasions.

John Gill was an Essendon ruckman between 1951 and 1957 who could dominate with his marking. He was a reasonable kick who finished 3rd in the 1954 Brownlow Medal but won Essendon’s best and fairest.In his 107 games for the Bombers he was known for his fairness. He represented Victoria in 1955 and 1957.

Geoff Leek was one of the VFL’s top ruckmen who played with Essendon between 1951 and 1962. Early in his career he was an atrocious left-footed kick and there were attempts made to change him to a right-footer, which were met with even more disastrous results. Leek worked hard on his game and eventually became a regular player. He was a clever palmer of the ball who was made vice-captain in his final season 1962.

Bob Syme

Jack Clarke played 263 games for the red and black between 1951 and 1967 and was one of the most brilliant footballers to ever pull on an Essendon guernsey. He was named Bomber’s captain in 1958 and remained in that position until 1964, and was captain of the 1962 premiership team. He also coached the team between 1968 and 1970. A superbly balanced and courageous player, he also captained Victoria on 6 occasions and was named in the All-Australian team 3 times.

Jack Jones

Bob Syme was a ruckman with Essendon who played 116 games in two stints from 1944-1945 and 1947-1953. He was a tough and fearless follower with a good leap and plenty of fire. He was one of the Bomber’s best in the 1949 and 1950 premiership sides.

Jack Jones was a fine contributor to the black and red during their glory years of the late 40s. He was fast for a big man who was equally at home in the ruck as he was on a half-forward-flank. He was a fine mark and a long kick and played 133 consecutive games for the Bombers, which is a record for Essendon. He never played in the reserves throughout his 175 game career that began in 1946 and ended in 1954.

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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.

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.

1953 Lightning Premiership

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Tuesday June 2 1953

The 1953 Lightning Premiership was an odd and meaningless diversion played in the middle of the premiership season. It was a knockout competition featuring the 12 VFL teams, played at the MCG on Tuesday June 2. Each match consisted of a two quarters, with the winner progressing to the next round. The only teams who fielded their almost full-squads seemed to be those dwelling on the bottom half of the VFL ladder, with cellar dwellers Richmond defeating St Kilda in the final.

In their match the Magpies played Footscray. Neither team was at full strength but the Bulldogs advanced to the quarter-finals by beating Collingwood easily. The Magpies did not score a goal for the game. Thorold Merrett was Collingwood’s best player on the wing, but his good work was brought undone due to the Magpies’ poor forward work. (1)

Teams

Score

Footscray

3.2.20
Collingwood

0.2.2

In another first round match Essendon defeated Geelong.

Footscray encountered eventual Lightning Premiership winner Richmond in the next round, which they lost by five points, while Essendon would lose to St Kilda in a semi-final.

The Magpies and the Bulldogs would encounter each other again in four days time in what would be a classic match at the Western Oval. That match would be for premiership points and show that both of these teams would almost be ready for the monumental challenge that was Geelong.

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Footnote

  1. The Herald – Tuesday June 2 1953 – page 16

Round 5 – Collingwood Vs Hawthorn

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Saturday May 23 1953

Collingwood were expected to dominate their Round 5 encounter with Hawthorn at Victoria Park and ended up winning by 70 points. In front of just 9,627 people (1) in atrocious conditions both teams struggled with their being just 12 points separating the two teams at three quarter time. The Magpies finally broke the shackles with a devastating 9 goal final quarter.

The Hawks were tenacious for the first three quarters (2) and held a ruck advantage (3), with John Kennedy’s ruckwork being a highlight of the match. (3) Hawthorn also proved to be more adept at handling the greasy ball. (4) Unfortunately for the Hawks Kennedy’s efforts were often nullified by the roving of the Richards brothers Lou and Ron. (5)

The Magpie ‘Machine’ could not slip into gear until the final quarter when every player started producing his best. (6) Hawthorn were swept off their feet as Collingwood took control (7), the Hawks being unable to halt the sudden, systematic brilliance of the Magpies. (8) This final 9 goal burst boosted Collingwood’s percentage enough to put them into the four for the first time since Round 1. (8)

Bob Rose playing on the half-forward-flank proved to be the moving force behind the majority of Collingwood’s attacks with great ball-handling and kicking despite the conditions. (9)

Scores

Teams

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Collingwood 3.3.21 3.10.28 4.13.37 13.18.96
Hawthorn 3.3.21 3.3.21 3.7.25 3.8.26

Goals

Collingwood – Tebble 2, B Rose 2, Hickey 2, R Richards 2, Kingston, Merrett, Finck, Clarke, Healey

Hawthorn – McCann, Coghlan, Collins

Best

Collingwood – B Rose, L Richards, Healey, Merrett, Tebble, R Richards, Mann, Waller, Kingston

Hawthorn – Kennedy, Simmonds, Crane, O’Mahoney, Philp, Robison, Coghlan, Pearson

In Other Games

Footscray went to second place on the ladder with a 60 point victory over Fitzroy at the Western Oval that the Argus’ Hugh Buggy said resembled a swamp. (10) If it was not for a goal from Alan Ruthven late in the last quarter the Maroons would have had the dubious distinction of being the first team in VFL history to have gone through a match scoreless. (11)

Geelong beat Richmond by 54 points with Goninon kicking 11 goals. John Coleman could only manage 2 goals in Essendon’s 11 point loss to Melbourne.

In Financial News

Alf Brown reported in the Herald that whilst it costs Collingwood £250 to field a side each week, Collingwood lost £240 on this game. (12) The gate for the match in which less than 10,000 fans attended due to inclement weather and Hawthorn’s poor form, was just £212. (13)

In Injury News

Jock McHale was injured during the week when a log fell on his left foot and badly bruised his big toe. The former coach received treatment for this injury at half-time. (14)

VFL Ladder after round 5

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong 5 0 0 20
Footscray 4 0 1 16
North Melbourne 4 0 1 16
Collingwood 3 0 2 12
Carlton 3 0 2 12
Fitzroy 3 0 2 12
Essendon 2 0 3 8
South Melbourne 

 

2 0 3 8
St Kilda 

 

2 0 3 8
Richmond 1 0 4 4
Melbourne 1 0 4 4
Hawthorn 0 0 5 0

Leading Goalkickers

Player

Team

Goals in Round

Goals For Season

J. Coleman Essendon 2 37
G. Goninon Geelong 11 28
J. Hickey Fitzroy 0 22
N. Trezise Geelong 0 17
J. Collins Footscray 3 16
P. Bennett St Kilda 3 11
G. Marchesi North Melbourne 2 15
A. Aylett North Melbourne 2 14
A. Walsh Carlton 2 13

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Footnotes

  1. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  2. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  3. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  4. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  5. The Age, Monday May 25 1953 – page 7
  6. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  7. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  8. The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  9. The Age, Monday May 25 1953 – page 7
  10. The Age, Monday May 25 1953 – page 7
  11. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday May 25 1953 – page 12
  12. Brown. A – The Herald, Monday June 1 1953 – page 12
  13. Brown. A – The Herald, Monday June 1 1953 – page 12
  14. The Sun, Monday May 25 1953 – page 25