Champion of the Colony
The history of the Champion of the Colony award is shrouded in mystery.
Respected football historian C. C. Mullen highlighted the award in his 1958 publication, History of Australian Rules Football 1858-1958 (the list below is taken from that publication).
As a result of Mullen’s work, it has long been believed that the Champion of the Colony was awarded annually in the latter part of the 19th century and early 1900s, for the best player of the season. The various club captains were believed to have made the decision in the award’s early years, with later winners being decided by journalists.
However, research in recent years has not produced any evidence that captains ever met to decide on a winner. There is also precious little evidence to suggest that the Champion of the Colony existed as an annual award at all. Instead, it seems to have been a term sometimes employed by journalists of the day to describe the player they believe to have been the best of the season. As such, there was no ‘Champion of the Colony’ to be awarded each year.
Instead, various journalists would sum up the season in their respective newspapers, and often make decisions about who had been the best player of the year, or sometimes the best in different positions. Sometimes, those journalists would use the term ‘Champion of the Colony’, sometimes not.
The AFL still acknowledges the existence of Mullen’s list of award-winners, and although it seems increasingly unlikely that the Champion of the Colony ever existed as an award, the names on Mullen’s list still provide a handy guide to Collingwood players who were among the outstanding performers of particular seasons.
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