Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘Ted Whitten

The Opposition – Footscray

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Footscray in 1953 were on the cusp of premiership success. This was the year they won their first ever final, when they defeated Essendon in the semi-final by 8 points. They reached the preliminary final which they lost to Geelong by 26 points. It would be another year before the Bulldogs would finally taste premiership glory by winning their only Grand Final.

Footscray were captained and coached by Charlie Sutton. He debuted with the club in 1942 and played 173 games in a career that lasted 12 years. (He did not play between 1943-1945) He became captain/coach of the Bulldogs in 1951, a year after he won the best & fairest award which would subsequently be named after him. He would remain captain until his retirement as a player in 1955 and stay as coach until he was unceremoniously dumped midway through the 1957 season, when Ted Whitten took over. He is also a member of Footscray’s team of the century. He is a legend of the Footscray Football Club.

Ruckman Harvey Stevens won Footscrays’ best & fairest award in 1953. Two weeks prior to the start of the 1953 season Stevens was dumped by Collingwood and was fortunately picked up by the Bulldogs just prior to round 3. Stevens played VFL footy for 10 years, with 5 seasons at Collingwood where he played 55 games, and 5 at Footscray where he played 72 games. He played in Collingwood’s losing 1952 Grand Final side, where he was tried without success at full-forward, even though he had never played in that position before. Many feel that he was made the scapegoat for that loss and despite performing well in the 1953 preseason he was dumped from the team before the start of the new season. Stevens became a  member of the Bulldogs’ 1954 premiership side and captained Footscray in 1957.

The most famous Bulldog of all was a member of the 1953 side. 1953 was the 3rd VFL season for the legendary Ted Whitten. ‘E.J’ had played just 29 games prior to 1953. To many people he was the embodiment of everything Footscray, he captained the club from 1957 until his retirement as a player in 1970. Teddy also coached the club from July 1957 until 1966, when his predecessor Charlie Sutton took over the helm, and again from 1969 until 1972, when Collingwood’s greatest ever player Bob Rose took over the coaching role. Whitten won the Bulldogs’ best and fairest in 1954, 57, 58, 59 and 61 and was their leading goal kicker in 1961, 62, 64 and 68. He is the captain of both the Western Bulldogs‘ team of the century and AFL team of the century. Like Sutton he is a legend of the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

In 1953 the leading goal kicker for Footscray was Jack Collins who kicked 50 goals for the season. Collins won the best & fairest award for the Bulldogs in 1951 and 52. His 1953 season is perhaps remembered mostly for the controversy that occurred in the final round of the home & away season when he and Collingwood’s Frank Tuck clashed which caused both players to be suspended for the finals series. Collins played 154 games for Footscray over 9 seasons and kicked 385 career goals.

Peter Box was another of Footscray’s top players of the 1950s. He debuted in 1951 but missed the entire 1952 season through injury. In 1956 he won the Brownlow Medal after winning Footscray’s best & fairest in 1955. Don Ross the 1956 Footscray best & fairest was playing his second season in 1953.

The Footscray backline of 1953 also featured some of their all-time great players including Wally Donald and Herb Henderson. The Bulldogs conceded only 959 points for the season, the lowest in the VFL history to that date.


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)



1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

Final Score


2.1.13 6.5.41 9.5.59 14.11.95


5.5.35 7.10.53 11.17.83 14.19.103


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





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




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


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.



  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