Good Old Collingwood Forever

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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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

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

1953 Preseason

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Jack Hamilton (wearing Richmond colours) and 'Mocha' Dunstan compete during the Magpies' final practice game

The big news of Collingwood’s 1953 preseason was the unexpected dropping of Harvey Stevens from the Magpies’ list. Stevens played 54 games with Collingwood, including their 1952 Grand Final defeat.

Stevens was omitted from the Collingwood list despite good form in practice games (1) and was expected to be a vital part of the Magpie’s machine in 1953. (2) He was dropped to Collingwood’s supplementary list in 1952 due to being overweight, but fought his way back into the senior side and was playing well at the end of the season. (3)

Fortunately for Stevens he was picked up by Footscray where he had a stellar season, winning the Bulldogs best and fairest. In 1954 he would play a vital role in Footscray’s successful premiership campaign.

Rover Kevin Coghlan was also dropped and subsequently recruited by Hawthorn, while Ken Aitken was also dropped a week out from round 1. (4)

Going into the 1953 season some Magpies were under an injury cloud. Maurice ‘Mocha’ Dunstan had an injured ankle as did Pat Twomey.(5) George Hams had a knee injury while Keith Batchelor suffered from fibrosis. (6) Peter Lucas had a split eardrum (7), Thorold Merrett a bruised thigh (8) and Arthur Gooch a strained leg. (9) Brian Turner was also under treatment for neuritis in the hip. (10)

Ron & Lou Richards and Ron's new bride Gladys. Ron & Gladys married in March.

Prior to the match Collingwood coach Phonse Kyne wrote an article for the Argus stating his expectations for the 1953 season. He rued the amount of injuries that the club had suffered during the previous season and thought that a fully fit Magpie unit were not that far behind the Geelong side. (11) Kyne stated that Collingwood’s forward line was much improved over the one they had in 1952 with Bob Rose, Lou and Ron Richards, Maurice Dunstan and the Twomeys all being able to play in attack. (12) Kyne also expected a lot of Collingwood’s new recruit Dave Little, a mobile ruckman from Korrumburra, as a back-up for Neil Mann. (13) Jack Finck‘s return to the team would also mean that he could play at centre-half-back, allowing Mann to spend more time in the ruck. (14) Phonse considered the Magpie wings in Thorold Merrett and Des Healey and their half-back line of Fincke, Peter Lucas and Ron Kingston to be the finest in the league. (15)

Because of all this Jack Dyer thought that both Collingwood and Geelong were the teams to beat in season 1953. Dyer was particularly looking forward to seeing Jack Hamilton, George Hams and Neil Mann in action. (16)

As an aside at least one of the Collingwood players indulged in playing district cricket over the off-season. Des Healey played in Collingwood’s second XI in 1953 and won the team’s batting average and club championship. He top scored in the final match of the season with 92 runs against South Melbourne. (17) Thorold Merrett was another Collingwood player who played district cricket in 1953, donning the whites for the Magpie’s Third XI. 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. (18)

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Footnotes

  1. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  2. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  3. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  4. Hogan. K – The Sun – Monday April 13, 1953 – page 28
  5. The Sun – Wednesday April 1, 1953 – page 26
  6. The Sun – Wednesday April 1, 1953 – page 26
  7. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  8. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  9. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  10. The Sun – Friday April 10, 1953 – page 25
  11. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  12. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  13. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  14. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  15. Kyne. P – The Argus – Friday April 17, 1953 – page 18
  16. The Sun – Saturday April 18, 1953 – page 32
  17. The Argus – Friday 16 October, 1953 – page 12
  18. The Argus – Monday April 2, 1951 – page 9