As published by The Footy Almanac, 13 August 2015
From the deepest recesses of my mind I can extract fleeting memories of football as a small child. By football I mean Collingwood. These memories hark back to the t-shirt Tommy (Hafey) era, when a mixed bag of young guns combined with recycled has-beens and never-wases to routinely make grand finals, only to lose them out of habit.
Please forgive me for I was brain-washed. I knew every player and their number on the list from 1-60 and would be regularly tested by my older brothers. Football also meant Scanlens cards, being glued to the Captain and the Major on the wireless, Seven’s Big League replays, the occasional excursion to VFL Park, not speaking during the World of Sport panel and Coach’s Corner and Sunday afternoon kick-to-kick at the local oval where my brother pretended he was Ricky Barham and took great delight in hitting me on my puny chest with searing stab passes.
The first plastic number on my woollen, collared guernsey was Ronnie Wearmouth’s #5, closely followed by Stan Magro’s #3. Before too long it was #35 when Peter Daicos burst on the scene and captivated the Pie brethren as if he was the Second Coming, or better. Other personal faves included Craig Davis, Billy Picken, Allan Edwards, Ricky Barham, Peter Moore and Ross Brewer (dunno why).
As Collingwood historian Richard Stremski labelled the John Hickey administration of the day, ‘for a few dollars more’ these heroes of mine would have had their names etched in gold. Any one of the bumbled recruiting attempts to nab Quinlan, Ashman or Conlan might have averted the life informing pain of 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981. Fortunately, I only vaguely remember watching the last two.
Alas, I’d rather find it within myself to let nostalgia take hold and look back with some degree of fondness on those wonder years. And thanks to a small but growing band of Youtube heroes, rekindling memories from a hazy past is now possible.
So, for the benefit of black and white desperadoes like me, here’s a collection of golden nuggets that have lost nothing, if not gained meterage with the passage of time. You’re welcome.
1977, Round 5
A nice selection of highlights includes a young Ricky Barham initiating a length of the field goal in the blink of an eye against Geelong. Vic Park looks naked without the Sherrin Stand behind the goals.
1977, Rounds 9-15
Collingwood’s rise from wooden spooner to the top of the table in Hafey’s first year was unprecedented and unexpected. These highlights cover the heavy going part of one of the wettest seasons on record. Check out the game against the Bulldogs at the Western Oval/Waterworld at 4.05. Undeterred, Ronnie Wearmouth skips across the surface like a Jesus Christ lizard.
1977, Second Semi Final
The footage quality is ordinary but this is a long lost gem where the previous year’s wooden spooners held off the previous year’s premiers to earn a place in the 1977 Grand Final. As mentioned, 1977 saw one of the muddiest seasons on record and the MCG is still very heavy in early September. In a couple weeks time Spring had its effect and the same ground was like concrete.
1978, Round 6
What is going on here? Reckless abandon is what I love about the VFL in the Seventies. So besides the crowd prematurely invading the field, Ronnie Wearmouth decides to hoof the ball away as far as he can (probably not that far). For the record Collingwood won the game by 52 points.
1978, Round 20
Almost 60,000 witnessed one of the greatest comebacks of all time against Richmond when the Pies ran down a deficit that blew out to 55 points (10 minutes into the 2nd quarter). Also notable was the comeback of ‘Twiggy’ Dunne, coming out of retirement to boot four goals.
1979 Night Grand Final
Going by the post match celebrations, it would appear the players certainly appreciated the significance of Collingwood’s first silverware since 1958, and all the heartbreak in between. And against the reigning premiers Hawthorn it was no mean feat. If you make it through the dozen uploads you’ll notice the conditions progressively deteriorate as Waverley’s winter weather takes hold.
1979 First Semi Final
How quick was Ricky Barham? Indeed, Ray Shaw and Leigh Carlson also had plenty of toe. The fast, open play puts today’s spectacle to shame. Collingwood killed the game in this third quarter with seven goals scored in electrifying style. Those who’ve seen The Club will recognise this game as the one cut to depict the big grand finale. You won’t see any 80 metre Geoff Haywood miracles here, though you might enjoy some typical Billy Picken arm flapping near the end. And unlike the ’79 Grand Final Derek Shaw actually gets a kick.
1979 Preliminary Final
This is an underrated gem. Collingwood had to fight for their lives to avenge the previous year’s loss to North in the same game. On the big expanses of VFL Park the action is fast and furious and fortunes see-saw. The Pies carry on their form from the First Semi to deservedly win their way to the big dance.
1980, Round 2
In fine conditions, albeit with a fluky wind at Arden St, heavyweights Collingwood and North Melbourne tallied 14.33 between them. ‘Butch’ Edwards proved the hero at the end. As he controversially did some weeks later, Kerry Good kicks a goal after the siren amid a crowd invasion, however the result this time is more palatable. Watch for Malcolm Blight’s shot at goal missing everything by a huge margin at 24.00.
1980 Elimination Final
Highlights like these make you wonder why Leigh Carlson was traded to Fitzroy. Carlson tore North to shreds, along with Ray Shaw and Peter Moore. It was sweet revenge for the night grand final the Roos claimed on the back of a deaf umpire.
1980 First Semi Final
This would surely be one of the most enjoyable finals of my lifetime; the Magpies belting the Blues in front of a packed MCG in a game that mattered. The same scenario being repeated now seems unlikely in my lifetime. Pour yourself a few Collingwood Draughts and you might even be able to suspend your disbelief sufficiently to pretend this was a grand final!
1980 Preliminary Final
Hafey’s Magpies notched many a big home and away victory but as then PM Malcolm Fraser might have said, ‘finals were never meant to be easy’. And again the Pies did it the hard way, its Cinderella story run from fifth enduring for one more fateful week.
1981, Round 9
I never saw a game at Arden Street. Instead I would have been listening to the radio this day, keeping score with my lego scoreboard with numbers made from blocks and drawing pictures of Billy Picken taking screamers. Highlights include David Twomey kicking a famous Phil Manassa-esque goal and other rippers booted by Mark Hannebery (from a mile out), Barham, Davis and of course Daics.
Check out the size of the Collingwood cheer squad. Also note the ‘Mark Dreher’ and ‘Des (Herbert) 47’ signs on the fence. LOL. North left their kicking boots behind, however this was still a top win by the Woods in testing conditions.
1981, Round 21
Vic Park turned into a bog in 1981 yet it did nothing to detract from the spectacle when the ‘Pies recorded big wins over reigning premier Richmond, and in this case, nemesis Hawthorn. Watch for ‘Goal of the Day’ by Mark Weideman (a ripper) and ‘Mark of the Day’ by Daicos who pulled in the kind of one hander that would become one of his specialties in 1990. I remember Andrew Smith (#50) bursting on the scene but unfortunately he didn’t continue on playing games like these. Plenty of excellent goals (and some big torps) in this 13 minute package of a game where Collingwood rained goals in the second half.
1981 First Semi Final
After fluffing a golden opportunity to clinch top spot in the final round (losing to the Lions at home), the ‘Roys also threatened to put the ‘Pies out in straight sets in this cut throat final. Daicos was Daicos, and dead-eye Craig Davis also rose to the occasion. An electric atmosphere, a terrific high scoring match and a heart-in-mouth finish…
1981 Preliminary Final
I love this game for it was the first final I ever attended, and doubly so because Daics kicked an audacious pearler to help win a nail biter. Hafey’s teams had a will to win, more often than not finding a way. On this particular day Rene Kink was ‘on’ – I sat in the pocket just in front of his left foot goal that was admittedly from out of bounds. But the ultimate hero was oft-injured backman Ian Cooper who played the game of his life.