10 things you might not know about Gordon Coventry
A left-field look at our greatest goalkicker
- Gordon’s widely used nickname, ‘Nuts’, came about because he apparently had a disproportionately large head as a child.
- He was the youngest of seven brothers, his siblings including the legendary Magpie leader Syd (two years older). Gordon played with Diamond Creek at 13, and on several occasions as many as six Coventry brothers took the field in the same team.
- He always believed that the best of the Coventry clan was neither him nor Syd but another brother, Norman, who was killed in the First World War,
- Gordon hated wearing footwear and would remove his school shoes as soon as he left the school grounds before walking home. His parents lived on an orchard, and he loved to run across the often rugged and prickly terrain in his bare feet. The soles of his feet, he later said, were like leather. He initially hated wearing footy boots and could kick long distances – 45m-plus – without them.
- Despite Diamond Creek being located right in the heart of Magpie territory, Gordon actually barracked for Fitzroy as a kid. His heroes were centreline players George Holden and Lal McLennan.
- Gordon wore only THREE pairs of boots in his entire 18-year career at Collingwood. For his first two seasons he wore street boots into which stops had been placed. His second pair lasted until 1927, when he had to change after a bout of influenza swelled his ankles. He wore the replacements for the next 10 years until he retired – despite constant pleas from teammates, the club bootstudder and his wife to upgrade his dilapidated old footwear.
- Coventry was a large man with strong, square features. So stern was his countenance that once, while on interstate duty, he was taken in by police in Sydney, who thought he was a wanted criminal!
- After he kicked 16 goals (then a VFL record) against Hawthorn in 1929, John Wren wanted to give him 50 pounds. When Wren learned that he was forbidden from doing so by League laws, he gave the money to Coventry’s wife to buy a suite of lounge furniture.
- Gordon wore no fewer than nine different guernsey numbers during his long career – a reflection of the fact that Collingwood issued its player numbers alphabetically in those days. The number he wore in his first game was 29, and the one he wore most often was seven.
- He actually retired after his controversial suspension in 1936, apologising to Magpie fans for “forgetting my good manners” in belting Richmond’s Joe Murdoch after the Tiger backman had spent half a game hitting painful boils on the back of Coventry’s neck. But he decided he did not want to leave the game on such a sour note, so returned for the 1937 season — when he kicked 72 goals to win the League’s goalkicking title for a sixth and final time.