Machine named among world's best ever sporting teams
Collingwood’s fabled Machine teams of the late 1920s have been chosen among an elite group of the greatest teams in the history of sport worldwide.
Only two Australian teams made the final list of 16, with the Hockeyroos of 1993-2000 being the other.
The teams were chosen by American journalist and author Sam Walker in a new book called The Captain Class, to be released next week.
In choosing the greatest sporting teams the world has ever seen, Walker considered a range of factors, including the length and extent of their reigns of domination, and the qualities of their captains and coaches.
That wasn’t enough to get Don Bradman’s Invincibles into the list, or the Australian cricket teams of the 1990s and 00s. No rugby league or rugby union teams made it either.
But remarkably, given the book’s US focus, Collingwood’s mighty Machine team that won four successive VFL flags between 1927 and 1930 did make it onto the final list of 16.
The author credited much of the Machine’s success to coach Jock McHale – whom he likened to legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi – and captain Syd Coventry.
Those magnificent Pies’ teams not only won four straight flags, but did so with a winning percentage of around 86% across the four seasons, and an average winning margin of about five goals. In 1929 they also became the only team in history to go through a home-and-away season undefeated.
Club historian Michael Roberts said the inclusion of the Machine team was justified.
“They were an awesome quartet of teams, and they simply steamrolled everyone they played against,” he said.
“Of course we’re biased here at Collingwood, so it’s wonderful to have some independent ratification of the teams’ greatness. And it’s even better that it’s come from a highly respected sports media figure in the United States.
“The Machine ranked as one of the two greatest Australian sports teams of all time? Yes, we’ll take that.”
Other great sporting dynasties chosen by Walker included the New York Yankees baseball teams of 1949-53, the Boston Celtics basketball teams 1956-69, Barcelona’s football from 2008-13 and the New Zealand All Blacks from 1986-90.