Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘St Kilda Football Club

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.

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

The Opposition – St Kilda

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1953 can be considered a reasonable season for the perennial cellar dweller when compared to their usual St Kilda standards, when they finished in 9th position with just five wins. St Kilda did have some great players in their team in the early 50s but unfortunately those who were running the club were small businessmen who seemed to have little idea of what they were doing. Things would eventually get better for St Kilda, with three of their players winning the Brownlow Medal by decade’s end, although they would not reach the finals until 1961. In 1965 the Saints would dominate the home & away season before going down to Essendon in the Grand Final, while we all know about what happened 12 months later.

In 1953 St Kilda was coached by Col Williamson. He had played with St Kilda between 1937 and 1946 and was a tall, strong ruckman and utility player who was safe and trusty and never let the side down. It was not his fault that the Saints did not succeed in his two seasons as coach. In 1954 he was replaced as coach by ex-North Melbourne champion Les Foote.

Keith Drinan

The Saints’ captain for 1953 was Keith Drinan, who had developed into one of the Saints’ best ever full-backs, he also won St Kilda’s best & fairest award in 1953, as well as in 1956. A player with a big heart but little flair, his effectiveness was undoubted. When he was appointed captain of St Kilda in 1951 he was just 26 years old and the youngest captain in the VFL. He played 134 games fo St Kilda between 1944 and 1957. In 1954 he was controversially replaced as captain by ex-North Melbourne champion Les Foote, who had returned to Melbourne after a stint playing in country New South Wales. After Foote departed at the end of the 1955 season Drinan was reappointed captain. He a did apply for the Saints’ vacant coaching position but this went to Allan Killigrew. Drinan was the last returned serviceman to play VFL football.

Neil ‘Coco’ Roberts was in his second season with St Kilda in 1953 and had not yet developed into the superstar footballer he was to become. After his first two seasons it seemed that he was going nowhere as a footballer until he was switch from the forward line o centre-half-back. In 1955 he established himself as a star by winning the St Kilda best and fairest and winning a spot in the state team. He also finished third in the Brownlow. In 1958 while deputising for injured skipper Brian Gleeson Roberts proved to be an inspiring leader and won the Brownlow Medal by 2 votes. He was appointed full-time captain in 1959 and in 1962 he led St Kilda into the finals for the first time in 22 years. He represented Victoria 11 times during his career.

Brian Gleeson would have to be considered one of the unluckiest players to play VFL football. He played just 71 games between 1953 and 1957. He won the Brownlow Medal in 1957 and was appointed captain of St Kilda for 1958 but he injured a knee in a practice game and never played again. Gleeson had a great high marking ability and developed into a fine ruckman with the knack of directing hit-outs unerringly.

Jim Ross

Jim Ross is one of the best players to have played for the Saints. A St Kilda stalwart, he played 139 between 1946 and 1954 and won the best and fairest award three times, in 1949, 1951 and 1952, a feat that has been bettered only by Nick Riewoldt and Robert Harvey and equalled by Nathan Burke and Darrell Baldock. He is also member of St Kilda’s Team of the Century and in 1954 he topped the Saints goalkicking. Ross was a classy footballer and one of the few quality players that St Kilda had in the 1940s and early 50s. He played at either centre half forward or in the ruck and could intelligently palm the ball to his rovers. He was a grand mark with great dash and anticipation. He should have won his fourth best and fairest award in 1954 but for the pettiness of the St Kilda committee. Despite having a fine season the award went to newly appointed captain-coach Les Foote, with few people doubting that Ross’ request for financial assistance at the start of the season angering chairman of selectors Bert Day, who told him he could have a clearance on the spot if that was what he wanted. Ross quit the Saints at the end of the 54 season at the age of 26 to captain-coach a Tasmanian side. In 1958 he won All-Australian selection.

Bruce Phillips

Bruce Phillips won St Kilda’s best and fairest award in 1950 playing at full-back. In that stand out season he also won the Herald’s best player award and came equal third in the Brownlow Medal. In 115 games between 1947 and 1955 Phillips proved to have uncanny anticipation and liked to charged out in front of the opposing full-forwards and send a long kick downfield. He represented Victoria in 1950 and 1953, he was forced to retire at 26 after he injured a knee in a practice match in 1956.

Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald was a left footer with great pace who played in the forward line for the Saints between 1948 and 1956, who had the ability to kick the ball long. He could devastate opposition defences but was also very moody In his 113 games he led St Kilda’s goalkicking three times.

Peter Bennett was an accurate full-forward who played 103 games in two stints in 1944 and between 1947 and 1953, his football career interrupted by war service. He led St Kilda’s goalkicking in 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1953, but is best remembered as the captain of Australia’s water polo team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He retired from football in 1954 to concentrate on his Olympic career.

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 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

The ANZAC Exhibition Match – Collingwood Vs Fitzroy

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Wells pays tribute to the ANZACS

On Friday April 24th 1953 Collingwood and Fitzroy played an ANZAC eve exhibition match under lights at the  Melbourne Showgrounds. The Magpies easily prevailed by 24 points before a crowd of 22,000 mildly enthusiastic spectators. (1)

In what the Age football writer Percy Bentley described as a hotly contested match in which the Magpies eclipsed Fitzroy in almost every part of the field, (2) Bill Twomey kicked six goals and proved to be the Maggies match winner. The Gorillas’ full-back Norm Johnstone was no match for Twomey who outwitted his opponent with fast leads and safe marking. (3) Unfortunately for Collingwood the big Magpie went off in the last quarter with what appeared to be an injured shoulder. (4)

Fitzroy's McGregor and Collingwood's Jack Hamilton contest for the ball

Fitzroy’s greatest weakness was their attack, where the Maroons’ full-forward Magee was outclassed by Collingwood’s Jack Hamilton who was simply too physically strong. (5) The Maroons battled on by playing hard ‘crash through’ football (6) but had too many errors in their game as opposed to the slick Magpies. (7)

The charity game raised almost £3,000 for the St. Vincent’s Hospital building appeal (8) and despite the quality of the game the lighting left a lot to be desired. Bentley stated that he thought that the lighting did not come up to daylight standard (9) whilst The Argus found that it was not all that easy to follow the play. (10) The Sun’s Kevin Hogan said that the game, the first night match played for over 20 years, was full of movement and heavy clashes and the standard of the spectacle was not much below that of a Saturday afternoon game. (11) Hogan also said that the crowd was quieter than that at a Saturday game, probably because they found that the players numbers did not show up well under the lights and they did not always know who had the ball. (12)

Magpie’s skipper Lou Richards did not play as he was recovering from a thigh injury. (13) He was replaced by Barry Taylor, who was best and fairest for Collingwood’s reserves team in 1952. (14)

Score

Team

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final

Collingwood

1.3.9

3.6.24

8.9.57

8.13.67

Fitzroy

1.4.10

3.7.25

3.11.30

4.19.43

Goal Kickers

Bill Twomey

Collingwood – W. Twomey 6, L. Richards, B. Rose, Tebble

Fitzroy – Streader, Gervasoni, Ruthven, Simpson

Best

Collingwood – B. Twomey, Hamilton, Tuck, Tebble, Mann, Parker

Fitzroy – Furness, Stevens, Coates, MacGregor, Ruthven, Williams

In Other News

Magpies’ patron John Wren put up a £100 purse to whoever won the match. (14) As a result both teams played most of their best players (15) which would have consequences for Collingwood as their full-forward Bill Twomey would miss the next few matches with an injury sustained in this match.

A goal-kicking contest was staged at three-quarter time between Essendon’s John Coleman and Williamstown’s Johnny Walker, to determine whether the VFL or VFA’s leading goal kicker was the best. (16) Coleman proved to be the most accurate. (17)

There was also an athletics relay event that pitted the VFL’s fastest players against those from the VFA. (18)

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Footnotes

  1. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  2. Bentley, P – The Age – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 7
  3. Bentley, P – The Age – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 7
  4. The Argus – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 30
  5. Bentley, P – The Age – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 7
  6. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  7. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  8. The Argus – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 30
  9. Bentley, P – The Age – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 7
  10. The Argus – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 30
  11. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  12. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  13. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  14. Hogan, K – The Sun, Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 24
  15. Hesse. F – The Sporting Globe – Wednesday April 22, 1953 – page 12
  16. Hesse. F – The Sporting Globe – Wednesday April 22, 1953 – page 12
  17. Hesse. F – The Sporting Globe – Wednesday April 22, 1953 – page 12
  18. Bentley, P – The Age – Saturday April 25, 1953 – page 7
  19. Hesse. F – The Sporting Globe – Wednesday April 22, 1953 – page 12

Looking back at the 1952 Grand Final & its aftermath

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Sam Wells' preview of the 1952 Grand Final

To really grasp the significance of Collingwood’s 1953 season and their historic, drought breaking Grand Final victory of that year, one has to look back twelve months earlier, when Geelong comfortably defeated the Magpies by 46 points in the 1952 Grand Final. The strength and overall dominance of the Cats’ team of the early 1950s cannot be overemphasised. As they entered the 1952 Grand Final Geelong were not just the reigning premier but were also in the middle of what is still the longest unbeaten streak in VFL/AFL history and had easily defeated Collingwood by 54 points in the Second Semi-Final two weeks prior. The Cats were the undeniable favourites.

Most football observers predicted that the Cats would easily defeat the Magpies in the 1952 decider and whilst the final score of the Grand Final seems to indicate this, what it does not show is that Collingwood did not give up the match without a fight. In the end the courage and determination of the Magpies was simply not enough to even get close to the brilliant Geelong juggernaut, although the Cats clearly did not impress everyone. Writing in the Argus Essendon’s legendary coach Dick Reynolds was clearly underwhelmed by the Geelong effort. He thought that the Cats failed to live up to their stellar reputation and that they failed to turn on the fireworks that everyone had been expecting.(1) Reynolds praised the Magpies whose side was seriously depleted by  injuries, and thought that if they were at full strength they would probably be more than a match for the mighty Geelong team.(2) Reynolds concluded that their performance in the Grand Final proved that the Geelong team, who were starting to be dubbed the ‘Invincibles’ (3) were far from unbeatable.(4) This would perhaps prove to be prophetic twelve months later.

WEG's take on the '52 Grand Final

The Age ‘s Percy Beams said that although “…it was apparent from the start that the Magpies lacked the team balance and skill of their opponents, their sheer determination and concentration worried Geelong into mediocrity…”(5) and that there was a belief among the other sides “…that many Geelong players could be robbed of their confidence to do their best under pressure.”(6) Again these words would prove to be prophetic in 1953 and one wonders whether the Cats’ became too complacent during this time and started to believe that even if they did not play at their best they could still easily beat their nearest opposition.

Collingwood’s biggest problem on the day of the 1952 Grand Final was their inability to kick goals as they were handicapped by what Beams called an inadequate forward division due mainly to the strength of the Cat’s defenders. (7) Collingwood used Harvey Stevens as a makeshift full-forward and whilst he had several opportunities to goal there were many occasions where he dropped marks inside the goal square, with the Argus reckoning he could have kicked six goals if he had been able to hold onto his marks.(8) By the start of the ’53 season Stevens would no longer be a Magpie, having been let go, but he did end up at Footscray and would win their best and fairest award in 1953 and become a member of their only premiership team in 1954.

Cats' skipper Fred Flanagan is chaired from the ground

Collingwood only had two goal scorers for the day in wingman Thorold Merrett and forward pocket Jack Parker, whilst Geelong’s George Goninon kicked five and Neil Trezise kicked four. Things would again be very different in a years time, as prior to the ’53 Grand Final Geelong would drop Goninon for an off-field indiscretion, a move that many Cats’ fans and Goninon believe cost them the 1953 premiership.

Collingwood simply ran out of legs at the end of the match, although Bob Rose always battled tirelessly. (9) Collingwood’s skipper Lou Richards also ended up injured in the trainers hands with an injured head and bleeding arm (10). Geelong were simply the quicker team and player with much greater teamwork than the Magpies (11), although Collingwood’s bustling had the Cats worried on occasions. (12) The Magpies also suffered from great inaccuracy in front of goal kicking seven behinds in the final quarter, showing their generally haphazard approach to goal. (13)

Scores

Team

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

4th Quarter

Geelong

4.2.26

5.3.33

11.6.72

13.8.86

Collingwood

1.1.7

3.3.21

5.3.33

5.10.40

Attendance – 82,890

 

Goalkickers

Geelong – Goninon 6, Trezise 4, Davis 1, Flanagan 1, McMaster 1, Worner 1

Collingwood – Parker 3, Merrett 2

Best

Geelong – Williams, Trezise, Morrison, Goninon, Davis, B. Smith, Flanagan

Collingwood – B. Rose, Merrett, Dunstan, W. Twomey, Parker, M. Twomey, Mann

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WEG shows the extent of Collingwood's injuries prior to the '52 Grand Final

AFTERMATH

Was the reason Geelong lost the 1953 Grand Final because they became too arrogant? Did they believe that they were so far ahead of their nearest rivals that they could beat anyone even when they were not playing to the best of their considerable ability? There is one story that I think sums up the arrogance of the Geelong team of the early 1950s which I thought was apocryphal when I first heard it but as all the major Melbourne newspapers reported it I guess that it is in fact true. According to the Sun the evening after the ’52 Grand Final the president of Geelong, Cr. J. Jennings, accompanied by players and officials, tried to bury a dead (or as the Age put it, stuffed) magpie, in front of the celebratory crowd at Kardinia Park. (14) The players carried the magpie in a coffin but the ceremony had to be cut short as the crowd surged forward and women and children were in danger of being trampled. (15) Nowadays football teams control to an extent what they say and do off the field in relations to other teams so as not to give the opposition ammunition to use in future matches, but this did not seem to worry the Cats in 1952. I could not imagine what they would have done if they had beaten Richmond or Fitzroy in the Grand Final. Also could it have been this arrogance as well as morality that led them to drop their leading goal kicker twelve months later? Did Geelong really think they could beat Collingwood without one of the best players in the side? I guess that we will never know.

As for Collingwood they put up a gallant effort but just were not good enough on the day. They did have a lot of injuries during the 1952 season and their stocks were depleted going into the 1952 decider, missing Peter Lucas and Pat Twomey, but they battled hard and exposed a few chinks in the Cats’ armour.  Nobody expected Collingwood to win going into the big match with even two of the Magpie’s former heroes in Dan Minogue and Harold Rumney tipping against their old club. (16) Rarely do players ever make their AFL/VFL debuts in a Grand Final but 22-year-old Magpie Keith Batchelor did in 1952, named as full-back on Geelong’s champion forward George Goninon. The game looked lost before the teams took the field. Surely things would go better for the Magpies in 1953?

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Footnotes

  1. Reynolds, R & Dunn, J – The Argus newspaper, Monday September 29, 1952, page 9
  2. Reynolds, R & Dunn, J – The Argus newspaper, Monday September 29, 1952, page 9
  3. Ryan. P – The Unbeatables – from We Are Geelong, The Story of the Geelong Football Club – John Murray – The Slattery Media Group, page 74
  4. Reynolds, R & Dunn, J – The Argus newspaper, Monday September 29, 1952, page 9
  5. Beams, P – The Age – Monday September 29, 1952, page 14
  6. Beams, P – The Age – Monday September 29, 1952, page 14
  7. Beams, P – The Age – Monday September 29, 1952, page 14
  8. Dunn, J & Johnson, I – The Argus – Monday September 29, 1952, page 10
  9. Brown, A – The Herald – Saturday September 27, 1952, page 19
  10. Brown, A – The Herald – Saturday September 27, 1952, page 19
  11. Brown, A – The Herald – Saturday September 27, 1952, page 19
  12. Brown, A – The Herald – Saturday September 27, 1952, page 19
  13. Brown, A – The Herald – Saturday September 27, 1952, page 19
  14. The Sun – Monday September 29, 1952 – page 1
  15. The Sun – Monday September 29, 1952 – page 1
  16. The Sun – Saturday September 27, 1952