Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘Sydney Swans

The Opposition – Hawthorn

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John Kennedy

Hawthorn had a dismal season in 1953. They finished last and won only 3 games. The 1950s were a bleak time for the team from Glenferrie spending much of the first half of the decade in the bottom 2 positions on the ladder. However by the end of the decade they started to taste success, reaching the finals in 1957 for the first time. In 1961 they would finally win their first premiership.

The Hawks’ coach for the 1953 season was Jack Hale. Hale made his name as a Carlton premiership player in the 1930s, and took over as coach of Hawthorn midway through the 1952 season after coaching South Melbourne in 1948 & 49. He remained at Hawthorn until 1960 when John Kennedy, took over. Kennedy often credited Hale as being the one who laid the foundations of the 61 premiership side.

Ted Fletcher

Ted Fletcher was the Hawks’ captain in 1953. A policeman from Dandenong Fletcher was a ruckman/defender who was a very good mark. In 1952 he represented Victoria and won the best & fairest award in 1953.

The most recognisable name on Hawthorn’s list in 1953 would be John ‘Kanga’ Kennedy. He started in 1950 and won the Hawks’ best & fairest award in his first season. He was not the most stylish football but he was extremely clever, and a fine team player who brought others into the game. He captained the club from 1955 until his retirement as a player in 1959, and won the best and fairest award four times. In 1960 he took over from Hale as the Hawks’ coach and lead them to the premiership in 1961 and a Grand Final in 1963. In 1964 he stood down from coaching due to work commitments but returned in 1967. He then coached Hawthorn to premierships in 1971 and 76, as well as runners up in the 1975 Grand Final. His son John Jr. went on to play in four premierships for Hawthorn in the 1980s, while his grandson Josh currently plays for the Sydney Swans.

John O' Mahoney

John ‘Bones’ O’Mahoney played with the Hawks from 1952 to 1960, amassing 112 games and kicking 28 goals. He was a clever centreman who both marked and kicked well. He was an unselfish footballer and creative team man.

Kevin ‘Skeeter’ Coghlan was the Hawks’ biggest goal scorer in 1953. He was dumped by Collingwood with Harvey Stevens a before the start of the season and picked up by Hawthorn where he kicked 19 goals. He topped the Hawks’ goal kicking in 1954 & 55 also. He was a classy rover who was the smallest player of his era.

Pat Cash Sr. played as a forward for the Hawks. He only played 8 games in 1953 due to injury, kicking 9 goals, but he did top the Hawks’ goalkicking list in 1951 with 26. He is the father of 1987 Wimbledon tennis champion Pat Cash Jr.

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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.

The Opposition – South Melbourne

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Ron Clegg

1953 was an OK year for South Melbourne with the Swans finishing the season in 8th place on the VFL ladder. They would have 9 wins and 9 loses for the season, with their biggest scalp being a 43 point victory over Geelong in round 17 at the Lake Oval. They also defeated Footscray in round 9 at the Western Oval by 29 points and Essendon by 10 points at the Lake Oval in round 2. The only finalist that they did not beat in 1953 was Collingwood who easily defeated South both times that they met.

in 1953 South were coached by Laurie Nash. Nash who was a member of the Swans’ 1933 premiership team and captained the club in 1937, was appointed coach for the 1953 season. Nash also played test cricket matches for Australia in the 1930s. In 1954 he would be replaced by former team-mate and captain Herbie Matthews.

The Swans best player of the early 1950s was Ron ‘Smokey’ Clegg. He was a brilliant key position player at either centre half-forward or centre half-back who won the Brownlow Medal in 1949. He also won South Melbourne’s best and fairest award three times in 1948, 49 & 51. Clegg played 231 games for the Swans between 1945 & 1960 and was considered one of the greatest players to put on a Swans guernsey. He was a superb mark and a driving kick.

In 1953 the Swans’ best and fairest award went to Jim Taylor. Taylor played for South between 1949 and 1954, before going to South Australia to play with Norwood. He returned to the Lake Oval in 1956 and again won the Swans’ best and fairest award. He was also fourth in the Brownlow Medal count of that year. He was a very versatile footballer who play as a dashing ruckman or centre-half-back. He won a second best & fairest award in 1957. He also worked part-time as a male model who helped promote cigarettes.

Stringly built ruckman Ian Gillett was South Melbourne’s leading goalkicker in 1953, scoring 34 goals for the season. He played 135 games for South between 1951 & 58 and won their best and fairest award in 1955. His best haul of goals was 5 in a losing side against Collingwood at the Lake Oval. He was a great protector of South’s rovers and captained the team in 1956.

Fred Goldsmith played his third VFL season in 1953. He only played 8 matches for the 53 season and could not really cement his spot in the team. In 1954 South moved him from the half-forward-flank to full-back which turned his career around. In 1955 he won the Brownlow Medal by 1 vote to Essendon’s Bill Hutchison. He was a spectacular mark and a long drop kick, in 1956 he won the Simpson Medal as Victoria’s best player.

Bill Gunn was a brilliant forward who played 104 games for South Melbourne between 1952 and 1959. He was a fast and clever footballer with good instincts who represented Victoria in 1952, 1954, 1956 and 1959. He was selected to play in the 1953 ANFC carnival in Adelaide but had to withdraw due to work commitments. Gunn was a quick and active centre-half-forward who kicked 101 goals in his career; he captained the Swans in 1955.

Keith Schaefer was a consistent centreman who played 102 games for the Swans between 1947 and 1953. He had a fine turn of speed, was an excellent mark and an accurate stab pass. He won South’s best and fairest award in 1953.

Mick Sibum who kicked 4 goals in the opening round against Collingwood ended up kicking 20 goals for the season, with those 4 goals being his best haul for the year. He played 111 games for South in 6 seasons from 1950, kicking 88 goals throughout his career. He was a dashing rover who was appointed vice captain in 1955.

Round 1 – Collingwood Vs South Melbourne

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Bill Twomey kicked nine goals against the Swans

April 18, 1953

Collingwood played South Melbourne in the opening round of the 1953 VFL season at Victoria Park, and won convincingly by 41 points, with Bill Twomey kicking 9 of the teams’ 17 goals.

Former Magpie great Harold Rumney summed up the game for the Sun by saying the Magpie’s won through an aggressive ‘battering-ram‘ attack, supported by a tough and resilient defence. (1) He went on to say that Collingwood had splendid teamwork and outstanding defence with the teams’ fleet of rucks and rovers in command throughout the day. (2) Ron Richards caught Rumney’s eye as he singled captain Lou Richards‘ brother out as being particularly impressive with his crumbing of the ball and breaking the packs which kept the South Melbourne forwards starved of opportunities. (3) In the Argus Hugh Buggy said that Collingwood’s smooth, calculated, and relentless football totally bewildered the hapless Swans. (4)

Rumney thought that Collingwood had improved in its’ overall strength since 1952. (5) He was impressed by Bill Twomey’s tenacious and clever ball-handling in front of goal and even apologised for his previous criticism of Twomey’s perceived lack of efficiency. (6) Hugh Buggy called Twomey the ‘dashing D’Artagnan’ of league football, who could enable the Magpies to be a shattering force in 1953. (7) In fact Buggy said that everything that Twomey did was touched by an elegance and artistry that made the game a delight to watch. (8) Buggy was also impressed with Twomey’s ‘panther-like’ leads and classic marking. (9)

Collingwood’s small men were confident and aggressive (10) and baffled the opposition with their uncanny handball which continually disorganised the South defence. (11)

Buggy also praised Collingwood’s tactics, saying they were the masters of cool, high quality, ‘chessboard’ football (12) and played with a common purpose and determination that would have worn any opposition down. (13

) The Magpie ‘machine’ was fully geared up and in devastating form. (14)

 

Teams

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score

Collingwood

5.5.35

10.8.68

16.14.110

17.16.118

South Melbourne

1.1.7

5.4.34

8.6.54

11.11.77

The Magpies outnumber the Swans here 5-1

Goals

Collingwood – B. Twomey 9, L. Richards 3, R. Richards 2, B. Rose 2, Batchelor

South Melbourne – Sibun 4, McPherson 3, Lane, Gunn, Deagan, Gillett

Best

Collingwood – Hams, Mann, Hamilton, Fincke, Lucas, B Twomey, Tuck, R. Richards, Healey, P Twomey

South Melbourne – Dorgan, Clegg

In Other Magpie News

Collingwood sold 3300 memberships at the game on Saturday and is confident that they will break the 10,000 member mark for the first time in their history. (15)

In Other Games

Geelong defeated Hawthorn by 49 points, Essendon beat Fitzroy by 23 points with Coleman kicking 10 goals. Footscray scraped home over Carlton by just 5 points.

Ladder after round 1

Team

Win

Draw

Lose

Points For

Points Against

Percentage

Premiership Points

Geelong

1

0

0

87

38

228.9

4

North Melbourne

1

0

0 105

57

184.1

4

Collingwood

1

0

0 118

77

153.2

4

Essendon

1

0

0

111

88 126.1

4

Richmond

1

0

0 73 67 108.9 4

Footscray

1

0

0 65

60

108.3 4

Carlton

0

0

1

60

65

92.3 0

Melbourne

0

0

1

67

73

91.7

0

Fitzroy

0

0

1

88

111

79.2

0

South Melbourne

0

0

1

77

118

65.2

0

St Kilda

0

0

1

57

105

54.2

0

Hawthorn

0

0

1

38

87

43.6

0

1953 Leading Goal Kickers

J. Coleman (Essendon) – 10
B. Twomey (Collingwood) – 9
G. Sibun (South Melbourne) – 4
G. Goninon (Geelong) – 4
N. Trezise (Geelong) – 4
A. Aylett (North Melbourne) – 4

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Footnotes

  1. Rumney. H – The Sun, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 28
  2. Rumney. H – The Sun, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 28
  3. Rumney. H – The Sun, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 28
  4. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  5. Rumney, H – The Sun, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 28
  6. Rumney, H – The Sun, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 28
  7. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  8. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  9. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  10. The Age – Monday April 20, 1953 – page 8
  11. The Age – Monday April 20, 1953 – page 8
  12. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  13. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  14. Buggy. H – The Argus, Monday April 20, 1953 – page 10
  15. The Sun – Monday April 20, 1953 – page 29