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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Des Healey

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Debut – 1948
Retired – 1955
Games – 149
Goals – 27
1955 Copeland Trophy
1951 & 1954 R. T. Rush Trophy
1953 J. J. Joyce Trophy
Seconds Best and Fairest: 1947
Interstate Representative: 1949, 1953 (carnival)
All-Australian – 1953
Coach under 19s – 1972-77
Member of Collingwood’s Hall of Fame (Inducted 2006)

Des Healey was a brilliant and attacking wingman whom both Phonse Kyne and Lou Richards regarded as the best winger Collingwood had ever produced, whilst Essendon legend John Coleman described Healey as the best wingman he had ever seen in the game. Coleman praised him by saying, “He is clever, has that wonderful tenacity of all good Collingwood players, and is tireless.” His teammate Bill Twomey Jr. said that Healey was the cleverest player he had ever seen in one on one duels, whilst Bob Rose said that Healey was a top class player who had everything. Richmond’s duel Brownlow Medalist Roy Wright called Des the gamest player he had ever seen and that he had a lot of courage for someone who was just 5’6″. “If he were a big man he would kill someone the way he tears through packs” Wright said. Along with fellow left-footers Bill Twomey and Thorold Merrett Healey was a part of one of the best centrelines of the era.

The tenacious Healey was small and fast and a great stab-kick off his left boot. He also possessed a safe pair of hands as he was a great mark. He showed dazzling speed in the way he cashed the ball and could keep control of it with uncanny ability.  His evasive skills were superb. Healey worked long and hard perfecting his talent. He often spent extra nights alone on the training track twisting and turning around imaginary opponents at top pace. His unrivalled commitment was inspiration for all.

1953 was a stand out year for Healey, as he won All-Australian selection and was judged by many observers to be best on ground in Collingwood’s premiership win. He was third in the Copeland Trophy behind Bob Rose and Neil Mann.

Unfortunately today Healey is most well-known for the last game in which he played, the 1955 Grand Final loss to Melbourne. In one of the most talked about incidents in Grand Final history and with three minutes to go in the match, Healey collided with Melbourne’s Frank ‘Bluey’ Adams who had just run onto the ground from the bench. Healey, who had been the Magpie’s best player to that point, had his nose broken, skull fractured and was severely concussed. Despite winning the Copeland Trophy that year he never played another game saying ‘I could not stand another blow like that. He was just 27.

Healey was also an outstanding cricketer who in the 1953-54 season was a part of Collingwood’s first grade district cricket team. In the 1952-53 season he was a part of the Magpies’ second XI team where he topped the batting averages and won the club championship. He top scored in the final match of the season with 92 runs against South Melbourne. Two years earlier both Healey and Merrett were team-mates in Collingwood’s 1951 Third XI team that won the cricket final against Prahran. They put on a 151 run partnership to set up their victory, with Healey scoring a century and Merrett making 51.

In the late 70s Des spent six years as coach of Collingwood’s under 19 team, nuturing young talent such as Peter Daicos. Healey passed away in 2009 aged 81.

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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. Main. J – When It Matters Most – 2006 Bas Publishing
  4. Collingwood Football Club Website – http://www.afl.com.au/Season2007/News/NewsArticle/tabid/5586/Default.aspx?newsId=7022
  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

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

Round 6 – Collingwood Vs Richmond

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May 30 1953

Jack Dyer in the Sun predicted that Collingwood would easily account for the young Tigers  in their round 6 clash at Victoria Park, which they did  by 23 points.The Magpie’s stocks were buoyed by the returns of Mocha Dunstan and Bill Twomey from injury. However vice-captain Neil Mann, a star in recent weeks, was out of the team to injury sustained in the match against Hawthorn.

Former Collingwood captain Dan Minogue wrote in the Sun that the Magpie’s strong back line, greater anticipation and intelligent handball were the main factors in Collingwood’s success. (1) The strong wind blowing across Victoria Park caused some congestion but the Maggies use of the whole ground was excellent. (2) The highlight of the match was the battle between Mick Twomey and Roy Wright in the ruck, with each player rising to great heights in ruck play and marking around the ground. (3) Wright in particular had no peer in the air but was forced to play defensively. (4) Minogue noted that despite the great ruck work of Twomey and Wright, the  rovers failed to capitalise by breaking free of the packs. (5)

Despite showing fighting spirit (6) and some fine defensive work (7) Richmond’s forward work was lamentable (8) and what Minogue called below League standard (9). The Tigers attacked the goals without purpose or plan and the Magpies were easily able to counter them. (10)

Scores

Teams

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Collingwood 2.1 5.1.31 7.7.49 9.8.62
Richmond 1.2 2.5.17 3.7.25 5.9.39

Goals

Collingwood – B Twomey 4, B Rose 3, M Twomey 2

Richmond – Branton 2, Wright, Ritchie, Hafey

Best

Collingwood – Merrett, B Rose, Dunstan, Finck, Lucas, Healey, Kingston, Hamilton

Richmond – Wright, Oppy, D Rowe, Wright, H Rowe, Patterson, Collins, D Rose

In Other News

Geelong remained at the top of the ladder with a 53 point thrashing of South Melbourne at Kardinia Park. Footscray cemented second spot by beating St Kilda, while North Melbourne dropped to fourth after being defeated by Essendon by 17, with Coleman kicking 3 goals for the victors and Marchesi 4 for the losers. Hawthorn recorded their first win of the season over a hapless Carlton by 20 points, with former Collingwood player Kevin ‘Skeeter’ Coghlan and Pat Cash kicking 3 goals each.

VFL Ladder after round 6

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong 6 0 0 24
Footscray 5 0 1 20
Collingwood 4 0 1 16
North Melbourne 4 0 2 16
Fitzroy 4 0 2 16
Essendon 3 0 3 12
Carlton 3 0 3 12
South Melbourne 2 0 4 8
St Kilda 2 0 4 8
Melbourne 1 0 5 4
Richmond 1 0 5 4
Hawthorn 1 0 5 0

Leading Goalkickers

Player Team Goals In Round Goals For Season
J. Coleman Essendon 3 40
G. Goninon Geelong 2 30
J. Hickey Fitzroy 0 22
G. Marchesi North Melbourne 4 19
J. Collins Footscray 3 19
P. Bennett St Kilda 3 18
N. Trezise Geelong 0 17
B. Rose Collingwood 3 15
R. McKenzie Melbourne 4 15

In Royal News

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II occurred at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. The entire ceremony was broadcast on television in the around the world and was the first major international event to be broadcast on the new medium. We Australians missed out, as TV would not arrive down under for another 3 years.

In World News

On May 29 Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, the news of this remarkable event reaching the world’s media on June 2, with Queen Elizabeth knighting the New Zealander as a thankyou for this Coronation gift. The Herald headline to mark this event was “British Claim Everest”. I know that things were different then and that the British Empire was still shining, yet it is difficult to think of a New Zealand beekeeper and a Nepalese sherpa as being British.

The Potts went to London for the Coronation and got to watch it on television, something that their friends back home in Melbourne could not do!

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Footnotes

  1. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  2. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  3. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  4. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  5. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  6. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19
  7. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19
  8. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19
  9. Minogue. D – The Sun – Monday June 1 1953 – page 32
  10. The Herald – Saturday May 30 1953 – page 19

Round 4 – Carlton Vs Collingwood

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May 16, 1953

Collingwood ventured to Princes Park in May to meet their oldest foe Carlton. The Magpies‘s stocks were still depleted with injury, while Carlton were just outside the four after defeating Melbourne and Richmond and suffering a narrow loss to Footscray in round 1.

37,500 crammed into the Blues’ home ground to see the Magpies prevail by just 8 points in a fiery clash in which Collingwood was in charge for the whole game despite the closeness of the scoreline. Carlton’s Jack Howell had a great ruck duel with Neil Mann, with the Blues’ big-man just prevailing in this evenly fought battle, showing a brilliant display of marking power. (1) In the end however, Collingwood simply played smarter, faster and more expert football in snatching the win from their rivals. (2)

The Magpies showed great fighting spirit and in the last desperate few minutes they overcame a 4 point deficit to ultimately win by 8 points. (3) Jack Finck was a success at full-forward in Bill Twomey’s absence, kicking 4 goals including the match-winner after Carlton’s George Stafford kicked into the man on the mark. (4) Even when the pressure was great in the last few minutes the Magpies’ players kept their cool heads to hold on. (5)

Throughout the match the Magpies used handball to devastating effect, although this was occasionally overdone. (6) For much of the game Collingwood showed superior pace and a slight superiority in the air and across the centre, while Mann was slightly more effective in the ruck for much of the match. (7)

Scores

Team

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Carlton

2.1.13 6.5.41 9.5.59 14.11.95

Collingwood

5.5.35 7.10.53 11.17.83 14.19.103

Best

Collingwood – Mann, Healey, Parker, R Richards, B Rose, Kingston, Tuck, Clarke

Carlton – Hands, Howell, Beasy, Dern, Spencer, Ferry, Malony

Goal Kickers

Collingwood – Finck 4, B Rose 3, R Richards 2, Kingston 2, Tebble 2, Clarke

Carlton – Spencer 5, Beasy 3, Warburton 2, Mills, Walsh, Milroy, Kerr

In Other Football News

Geelong kept up their unbeaten run with a 14 point victory over Essendon. Goninon kicked 6 goals and Trezise 3 while the Bombers’ Coleman had an off day by his standards and could only manage 4 majors, in what was the battle of the VFL’s best goal-scorers. North Melbourne suffered their first defeat of the season to Fitzroy who had crept into fourth place on the ladder, while Footscray was now placed second with a 45 point win over lowly Melbourne, with Ted Whitten being amongst the best on the ground.

Hawthorn and Melbourne were languishing on the bottom of the ladder winless while Richmond were 10th with just one win.

VFL Ladder after round 4

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Premiership Points

Geelong 4 0 0 16
Footscray 3 0 1 12
North Melbourne 3 0 1 12
Fitzroy 3 0 1 12
Essendon 2 0 2 8
Carlton 2 0 2 8
Collingwood 2 0 2 8
South Melbourne 2 0 2 8
St Kilda 2 0 2 8
Richmond 1 0 3 4
Melbourne 0 0 4 0
Hawthorn 0 0 4 0

Goalkickers

Player

Team

Goals in Round

Goals For Season

J. Coleman Essendon 4 35
J. Hickey Fitzroy 8 22
N. Trezise Geelong 3 17
G. Goninon Geelong 6 17
J. Collins Footscray 5 13
G. Marchesi North Melbourne 3 13
A. Aylett North Melbourne 1 12

Oddities

In his preview of the match the Sporting Globe’s H.A. de Lacy referred to Collingwood’s Mick Twomey as Mike Twomey. I’m not sure if this is his fault or that of his editor/subeditor though.

Mick Twomey did not play the match due to a torn ‘monkey’ muscle according to Percy Taylor in the Argus. Google told me that a ‘monkey muscle’ is a calf muscle.

Jack Finck only kicked 8 goals in his entire career at Collingwood, with half that tally coming in this match.

In Other Sports News

Rocky Marciano retained the World Heavyweight Boxing Title with a knockout victory over Jersey Joe Walcott in the first round of their highly anticipated bout in Chicago.

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Footnotes

  1. The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  2. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  3. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  4. The Age Monday May 18, 1953 – page 7
  5. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  6. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10
  7. Taylor. P – The Argus – Monday May 18, 1953 – page 10