Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘James Hird

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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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 – Carlton

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In 1953 Carlton would miss out on playing finals football, finishing 5th, 3 wins less than 4th placed Essendon. In 1952 they finished fourth but lost their semi-final against Fitzroy by a single point. The 1950s were a dark period of time for Carlton as they only reached the finals three times and lost all of their finals matches.

The Blues were coached by Percy Bentley, who is Carlton’s second longest-serving coach after David Parkin. He was a star player with Richmond in their champion sides of the 1920s and 30s, and coached the Tigers from 1934, the year they beat South Melbourne in the VFL Grand Final. He was one of the greatest players of his era. In 1941 he was lured to Carlton as a coach, bringing the Navy Blues premiership glory in 1945 & 47. He would coach the Blues until he retired in 1955. He then served on the Carlton committee for many years.

Ken Hands

Carlton was captained in 1953 by Ken Hands, a member of their team of the century and one of their greatest ever players. He was a complete footballer who was tough and an inspirational leader of the Blues who was willing to protect the Carlton small men.  He played 211 games with the Blues and kicked 188 goals and was a member of their ’45 & ’47 premiership sides. In 1953 Hands won the Blues’ best & fairest award. Hands would go onto captain and coach Victoria in 1954 & 1957 and represented his state on 12 occasions. Hands would also coach Carlton between 1959 and 1964. He was a great ball handler with excellent balance who possessed one of the best drop kicks in football.

Carlton’s leading goal-kicker in 1953 was John ‘Jack’ Spencer. He kicked 32 goals for the season. He only played VFL football for three seasons and in his 44 game career kicked a total of 67 goals but had a great career in the VFA before he joined the Blues.

Carlton’s second highest goal-kicker in 1953 was their vice-captain Jack Howell. Chooka, as he was known, kicked 28 goals for the season. He played 137 games for the Blues in a career that spanned from 1942-1954. He was a member of the 1947 premiership team and represented Victoria. He is another of Carlton’s greats.

John James, one of Carlton’s all-time greats debuted in 1953. He would go one to win the Blues best & fairest 3 times as well as the Brownlow Medal in 1961. In 1953 he played in 16 of the 18 home & away matches and kicked 8 goals for the season, although he did also manage to kick 43 behinds. He is another member of Carlton’s team of the century.

Laurie Kerr

Laurie Kerr was a speedy and courageous player who played for Carlton between 1950 and 59. The versatile Kerr could play as a winger, half forward flanker or centreman and his electrifying speed made him a potent force. What Kerr lacked in marking and kicking he made up for with sheer courage and pace, he was the Blues’ vice-captain from 1956-58.

In 1953 Keith Warburton kicked 26 goals for the Blues and was their third highest goal-kicker, while Jack Mills was another one of Carlton’s better players in the early 50s.

Bruce Comben played for the Old Dark Navy Blues between 1950 and 1961. In his 188 games he kicked 36 goals despite playing mostly as a tough and relentless back-pocket. He had a glorious running drop-kick and was totally fearless in his quest for the ball, often running staright at the ball and copping a lot of knocks around the head. He was Carlton’s captain and coach between 1958 and 1960 and won their best & fairest award in 1957 and 58. He represented Victoria 9 times.