Collingwood Football Club

From Academic Kids

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Collingwood Football Club logo

The Collingwood Football Club, nicknamed The Magpies after the black and white striped jerseys worn by the players, is an Australian rules football club, playing in the elite Australian Football League.

The Magpies are known for their passionate supporting base, and have traditionally been the team other fans "love to hate", due perhaps to their on-field successes combined with a "rough and ready" attitude in line with the club's working-class roots. The national league may have diluted this feeling somewhat, but rivalries with fellow Victorian clubs Carlton, Essendon and Richmond remain fierce. They club was traditionally known in Melbourne as the "Catholic" club, possibly due to support in the 1920s from the wealthy businessman John Wren, and also due to the support of Irish descendants living in the Collingwood slums in the early years of the 20th century. Collingwood was one of the last clubs to abandon its traditional stadium, the famous inner-city Victoria Park. Collingwood is now based at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and The Telstra Dome. Collingwood was traditionally the greatest crowd puller in the Australian Football, which is to say among the greatest crowd pullers in world sport. In 1970, 120,000 spectators watched Carlton defeat Collingwood in the grand final, and several times during the "home and away" phase of the season Collingwood games will feature crowds close to the current MCG capacity of around 90,000. Collingwood's long era as the club with the highest member base has ended with the arrival of the national competition.

The Club was formed from scratch by local residents in 1889 as the Collingwood Football Club, apparently with the sole intention of joining the best competition. There were some links to an established junior club, the Britannia Football Club. In 1891 the new Club, yet to play serious competitive football, was admitted to the Victorian Football Association, then the leading Australian Football organisation (formed in 1877). The first Collingwood match was attended by 16 000 people, a high figure at that time. Improvement came, and Collingwood won its first and only VFA premiership in 1896, defeating South Melbourne. Collingwood was one of the leading group of wealthy, popular and powerful clubs that was moving away from the lower VFA clubs, so Collingwood was a founding member of the breakaway Victorian Football League, founded in 1897. Collingwood won the its first VFL title in 1902. The club was professional from the beginning.

Collingwood is notable for holding the greatest run of successive premierships - four in a row from 1927-1930. But equally renowned has been their tendency to lose grand finals in recent times. Their 1958 victory was to be their last for 32 years. The 1958 victory was an underdog victory, with Collingwood motivated to prevent their opponent Melbourne winning its fourth successive Grand Final. In 1959 and 1960 Melbourne won again, so Collingwood's 1958 victory was essential to protect the club's greatest claim to fame. During this drought, fans remarkably had to endure no less than nine fruitless grand finals (1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977 (draw, then loss), 1979, 1980, 1981), inspiring the term "Colliwobbles" to signify a choking phenomenon (as opposed to "collywobbles", an English word meaning an upset stomach). The 1990 team coached by Leigh Matthews brought relief in a one-way affair against Essendon. The 1990 Grand Final was the first Australian Football League Grand Final; before then the league was the Victorian Football League.

The team then fell into a state of decline, before being rejuvenated by its new president, Eddie McGuire, who led an on-field and off-field modernisation mission which helped the team to reach the grand final in 2002 and 2003. Ironically, it was Leigh Matthews who coached the Brisbane Lions to victory on both occasions. Brisbane won again in 2004, threatening to equal Collingwood's four-in-a-row record; Brisbane failed to win the fourth successive premiership. Collingwood failed to make the finals in 2004 and the 2005 season began badly.

The most notable Collingwood player of the modern era is Nathan Buckley, named on the Half-Back line in Collingwood's team of the century. Traded to Collingwood from the Brisbane Lions before the 1994 season, Buckley quickly became one of the most dominant midfielders in the AFL, winning a place in the All-Australian team seven times: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 (vice-captain), 2000 (vice-captain), 2001, and 2003 (vice-captain). Along with Brisbane's Michael Voss, North Melbourne's Wayne Carey, and Essendon's James Hird, Buckley is regarded as one of the great AFL players of the last twenty-five years. Many rate his Norm Smith Medal winning (best on ground) performance in the losing 2002 Grand Final as his greatest achievement. That day, Collingwood fell nine points short of beating the highly-fancied Brisbane Lions. Famously, Buckley removed the Norm Smith Medal from around his neck shortly after it was presented to him, a symbol of his extreme disappointment and overriding dedication to the team effort.

AFL/VFL Premierships:

1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990.

Collingwood has won the wooden spoon (finished last) in 1976, a year of enormous turmoil and a player strike. The true quality of the team was revealed in 1977 when Collingwood rebounded to play in the Grand Final, although the team lost.

The well known Australian playwright David Williamson wrote a play, "The Club", inspired by the internal politics of Collingwood. A film version is available, featuring some Collingwood players. In the play, Collingwood is disguised as the fictional "Carringbush Football Club".

Brownlow Medal winners:


Records set by Collingwood Players:

  • Most Goals kicked in a match: Gordon Coventry-17.4 (R12, 1930, VP)
  • Most Best & Fairests: Nathan Buckley (1994,1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003)
  • Most Matches as Coach: Jock McHale-714(1912-1949)
  • Most Matches as Captain/Acting Captain: Syd Coventry-153(1925-1934)
  • Most Goals in a Season: Peter McKenna-143(1970)
  • Most Goals by a Single Person: Gordon Coventry-1299(1920-1937)
  • Greatest Winning Margin: 178 points R4, 1979(VP)-Collingwood 31.21(207) v St Kilda 3.11(29)

Last/Next Match

  • Last Match:

(June 13, 2005): Melbourne 17.15 (117) v Collingwood 10.12 (72), Round 12

  • Next Match:

(June 25, 2005): Sydney Swans v Collingwood, Round 13

Team of the Century

Collingwood announced its team of the century on June 14 1997, celebrating 100 years since the beginning of the VFL.

Backs: Harold Rumney Jack Regan Syd Coventry (captain)
Half Backs: Billy Picken Albert Collier Nathan Buckley
Centres: Thorold Merrett Bob Rose Darren Millane
Half Forwards: Des Fothergill Murray Weiderman Dick Lee
Forwards: Phonse Kyne Gordon Coventry Peter Daicos
Followers: Les Thompson Des Tuddenham Harry Collier (vice captain)
Interchange: Tony Shaw Wayne Richardson Marcus Whelan
Gavin Brown
Coach: Jock McHale

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