Collingwood District Football Club
The Collingwood District Football Club, also known as Colingwood Districts, was formed in 1906, soon after the disbandment of the Collingwood Juniors Football Club.
In May of 1906, the Herald reported that the club had been formed when the Fitzroy District Football Club changed its ground to Victoria Park and also decided to rename itself as Collingwood Districts. Collingwood’s annual report for that year said the club had considered applications from both Collingwood Districts and the Spensley Street Methodists “for the privilege of using the Park and practising with the Seniors”. “After carefully weighing the claims of both clubs, (we) selected the former as being the more likely to prove of benefit to ourselves as a nursery for aspirants to senior honors.”
From this point on, Collingwood Districts acted as Collingwood’s unofficial ‘feeder’ club, just as the Juniors had done from 1893-1905. The team played in the Metropolitan (Amateur) Association from 1906 to 1915, then the competition went into abeyance for two years because of the First World War. The Districts then joined the Junior league in 1918 (the Junior League was one tier down from the VFA whilst the Metropolitan League was another tier down again).
In 1919 the VFL decided to use the Junior League as the base for it to establish a formal competition for second 18 or reserves teams. The Districts became Collingwood’s official reserves team – a title they would hold until 1938 – and initially found themselves playing against ‘B’ teams from St Kilda, Richmond, Carlton and Fitzroy, as well as others such as University and Leopold.
But even though Collingwood supported the Districts side financially, it was in effect a stand-alone club with its own committee, its own way of running, a highly regarded coach in Hughie Thomas and even its own loyalties and culture – some seconds players in the 1920s had reportedly not wanted to be chosen for the seniors if it meant missing out on a final with Districts.
By the late 1930s, some Collingwood officials felt the seconds had become tooindependent. They were also concerned at rising costs, and several suspected financial irregularities. So the senior club’s leaders decided it was time to haul them into line. But other long-serving committeemen disagreed, and refused to sign a circular to members denouncing the management of the seconds.
For the first time, a major split emerged within the club. A bitter election campaign followed, causing lifelong friends to turn against each other. When the dust settled, Collingwood had taken back control of its reserves team – but the victory came at a high price to club stability.
When looking at the players who represented the Districts side, we have separated the pre-1919 and post-1919 periods, as the latter is also part of our reserves history. But we’ve also recognised the overall history of the CDFC through the inclusion of the Honour Roll and other key stats and records.