76CFC Games Played
Ron Todd’s League career was over by his 23rd birthday, but he made a huge impact in a very short space of time and is rightly remembered as one of the all-time great forwards.
He was also part of one of the game’s most sensational transfer deals which saw him cross to Williamstown and his name become taboo in the corridors of Victoria Park.
Todd’s mother was great friends of Dick Lee’s wife, and although there was no blood relationship, Todd called Lee uncle and wore the champion’s famous number 13 guernsey as a youngster.
Late in 1935 the 18 year-old made his debut for Collingwood’s senior team, but he spent the afternoon sitting on the reserve bench.
Opportunities were limited by the presence of Gordon Coventry, but Coventry’s shock suspension late in 1936 gave Todd an unexpected opening.
Todd booted four goals from 13 shots in Collingwood’s Grand Final win. It was sufficient to ensure he was given a regular place in the attack even when Coventry returned and he booted 62 goals as a half-forward in 1937.
With Coventry’s retirement Todd assumed the mantle of chief goalkicker.
Known for his great leap, Todd was also blessed with tremendous pace and as a professional runner had many successes at country meetings.
He was unstoppable in 1938 and booted 120 goals to head the goalkicking list. That tally included a stunning 11 goals against Geelong in the Preliminary Final to equal Carlton’s Harry Vallence’s record.
The goal avalanche continued unabated in 1939 with another 11 goal Preliminary Final performance and a total of 121 for the year.
His finals tally of 23 stood as a record until broken by Gary Ablett Senior 50 years later.
By the end of 1939 Todd was on top of the world. He had the capacity to draw crowds and he knew it. He was strongly resentful of the small pickings that came to players from the huge gate takings and said in later years that he had kicked 120 goals in a season for the equivalent of only $130.
Bookmaker Bill Dooley offered Todd 500 pounds to join Williamstown and wealthy Collingwood club backer John Wren was willing to write an open cheque to better Dooley’s offer, but Collingwood refused to let him.
The VFA club had sold membership tickets on the basis of having Todd and “Soapy” Vallence in its team and threatened legal action if Todd backed out of the contract.
He made a serious attempt to return to Collingwood in 1945 only to see the Collingwood committee dithering again.
Still only 28, Todd was an awesome force in the VFA and kicked an Australian record 188 goals in 1945 including a 20 goal bag against Oakleigh. Williamstown won the flag that year and again in 1949 when Todd was captain-coach.
Prematurely silver-haired, he booted 95 goals in his last season for a VFA career record of 672 goals in 141 games to take his overall tally to 999.
In 1997 he selected in the Collingwood Team of the Century, but was soon removed when one of the selectors, John McHale, the son of legendary Collingwood coach Jock McHale, objected to his inclusion.
Todd was inducted into the Collingwood Hall of Fame in 2011.
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