Monday 3 October
PLAYED IN THE WET.
Disappointing Finish to Season.
Collingwood on Saturday won the League football premiership for 1927 by defeating Richmond in a small scoring game on the Melbourne ground by 12 points. Worse weather conditions could not have been imagined, for rain early in the morning was followed by heavier rain soon after lunch, and it did not cease throughout the match. Before the ball was bounced the centre was a quagmire, there were deep pools on the outer wing where the cricket practice wickets are pitched, and on the wings it was almost equally impossible to keep a footing.
Some of the falls were amusing from the spectators’ point of view, but they were exceedingly uncomfortable for the players, who were quickly wet through. Kicking along the ground was adopted from the outset, this method being used almost as often as attempting to pick up the ball and punt it.
Scientific football was an utter impossibility, and generally it was the player most favoured by fortune who received the ball. In such disagreeable conditions it is a matter for surprise that the attendance was as large as it was, 34,551 people passing through the turnstiles. The gate takings were £1778/12/9.
The outer ground was well patronised, and those who could not find a seat in the stand braved the driving rain with the aid of umbrellas and raincoats. Even in the members’ reserve a number of people preferred to receive a wetting so that they might sit close to the boundary fence. Strangely enough, most of them were women, and several of them came without umbrellas.
Features of the Game.
Throughout the match considerable bitterness was displayed between various players. It is difficult to say how it began it was probably an aftermath of previous meetings—but very early in the game blows were exchanged between several opponents. One of the Collingwood players concerned received a rough handling all through the game, but it cannot be said that he turned the other cheek. The umpire did not miss all of the exchanges, but no players were reported.
There was some discussion of the failure of the league to postpone the matter, but it is guided by its rules. A match can be postponed only before 12 noon. At that time on Saturday there was every prospect of a reasonably fine afternoon.
Collingwood fully deserved its victory. It displayed better tactics, particularly in regard to long kicking whenever the ball was picked up. It showed greater pertinacity and also handled the ball better, while the players were content to stand down and allow Richmond to fly for and miss the ball.
Richmond on the other hand, while showing greater dash, tried to pick up the ball too often instead of kicking along the ground. While goals were usually a matter of good fortune, Richmond missed more easy chances than did Collingwood, whose grand defence was primarily responsible for the fact that so few of the shots were scoring ones. Richmond also attacked repeatedly on the wrong wing, and Collingwood’s only goals came from mistakes by Richmond’s defenders in attempting to work the ball away on the wing from which Collingwood found it easy to score. Richmond was without the services of Baggott, one of the outstanding players in the team. He was injured at training, and his place was takcn by Robinson.
Collingwood by winning, ended the season. Had Richmond won a grand final would have been necessary, for Collingwood, because it led at the end of the first round, had the right to a deciding match if it was defeated.
It is rare indeed for a premership to be won without a grand final. The last occasion was in 1918, when South Melbourne won an exciting game against Collingwood by a small margin. Small as the score was on Saturday, it was not the lowest, for in 1897, the first year of the League, Essendon defeated Melbourne by 1-8 to 0-8 and won the premiership. In the following year Fitzroy defeated Collingwood by 2-10 to 1-5.
Colllngwood’s Splendid Record.
Collingwood has been the outstanding club this season, and has fully earned its proud position at the head of the list. It has never played a really poor game, and lost three games only—one against Richmond by a goal on a windy day early in the season, another against Carlton in what has been described as the best match since the war, the play of Duncan, the Carlton half-back, being magnificent; and the third after its return from Western Australia against Fitzroy. It led at the end of the first round, and thus had a double chance if necessary, while in S. Coventry it had “the best and fairest player” in the game, that title being conferred by the umpires and recognised by the winner being awarded the Brownlow medal, created by the League for that purpose.
Not only this season, but since the inception of the League Collingwood has been a particularly fine combination. Fitzroy has won the greatest number of premierships—seven—since the League was formed in 1897, and Essendon and Collingwood come next with six each. Carlton has won five, and Richmond, South Melbourne, and Melbourne two each, and Geelong one. In the 31 years Collingwood has been 27 times in the last four, being runner-up nine times, third seven times, and fourth five times. Since 1920 it has been runner-up four times, and has thus fully earned the title of premier team. Its last premiership was in 1919, when it defeated Richmond.
Winning Team Congratulated.
After many disappointments the victory on Saturday was hailed with unbounded joy by Collingwood officials and supporters.
Players and trainers tried hard to carry the captain, S. Coventry, into the dressing- room on their shoulders, but the captain refused the honour and struggled to regain his feet. A pipers’ band played the players off the ground. It was in exceedingly difficult task for the players to reach their dressing-room, for they were surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic supporters, and, wet and cold, they were nearly exhausted by the time they struggled through. Collingwood had the small dressing-room, and this was soon filled to overflowing, while a strong doorkeeper kept hundreds more from forcing them way inside.
Cheering was renewed as the president of the club, (Mr. H. Curtis) congratulated the players, and especially the captain, S. Coventry, on the victory. In his response, Coventry said that it was one of the proudest moment of his life.
Other speakers were Senator Guthrie, Messrs. T. S. O’Halloran, K. C. (chairman of the South Ausralian Football League) T. A. Tabart (secretary of the Victorian Amateur Turf Club), W. Lee (head trainer), C. Hickey (secretary of the Australian National Football Council), Councillor Tunaley (mayor of Collingwood), and Dr. K. McCarthy (president of the Footscray club).
Later the president (Mr. J. H. Archer) and the secretary (Mr. P. Page) of the defeated club attended and added their congratulations. Mr. Archer said that he was very disappointed by the failure of his team, but the better side on the day had won the premiership.
Mr. Page said that Collingwood and Richmond were neighbours and a very friendly feeling existed between them.
While waiting to gain admittance to the room Mr. Archer and Mr. J. Thorp (a former president of the Collingwood club) addressed an audience of several thousands. Congratulations and compliments were exchanged.
The premiership was further celebrated at a social in the pavilion at Victoria Park on Saturday evening. A dance in the Collingwood Town Hall this evening will give supporters a further opportunity of expressing their appreciation of the victory.
Those spectators who wished to see the leading goal-kicker of the League in action were disappointed at the wet day.
G. Coventry, by kicking 95 goals, had left far behind the previous record of 83 goals, which he established last season. There were hopes that he would exceed the century, but the conditions were all against goal-kicking. He kicked the only two goals scored by his side, and ended the season with the wonderful record of 97 goals.
The League will suffer severely by the fact that the semi-final match on Saturday week and the the final on Saturday were played in unpleasant weather and that there will be no grand final.
The state of the ground was such that men fell without injuring themselves, but there were frequent gasps of apprehension when players made wild and indiscriminate kicks at a most elusive ball. Strangely enough very few of them received more than superficial cuts and bruises.
Fincher, of Richmond, who was particularly active early in the game, severely hurt his knee and was much inconvenienced for the remainder of the game. Officials believe that he would have scored another goal but, when in a good position, his knee could not stand the strain and the shot missed.
The only casualty on the Collingwood side was that suffered by Wilson, who received a cut over the eye. However, he continued to play in his determined fashion and gave good service.
Difficulty Regarding Grounds.
The fact that there will be no grand final in the League is likely to cause the League second eighteens some embarrassment. The semi-final and final matches of that body are always played as “curtain-raisers” to the League games but there is now a doubt about the locality of the grand final match between Carlton and South Melbourne. It is understood that the position was discussed at the meeting of the permit and umpire committee of the League last Wednesday when it was thought that the Melbourne ground would be available if the League season ended on Saturday.
There is now no certainty that it can be used. If the Melbourne ground cannot be used it will be difficult to obtain another suitable ground for cricket begins next Saturday. The position will be discussed at a meeting of the permit and umpire committee of the seconds on Tuesday, when all members of that committee are asked to attend.
The Association, which postponed its preliminary final match until next Saturday may also have difficulty in securing the Motordrome for the following Saturday when the ground has been secured by amateur athletes for the opening of then season. It is to he hoped, however, that a compromise may be effected so that the Association may have the opportunity of securing a large attendance.
No Goals in First Quarter.
The wind favoured the Richmond goal, and there were cheers when it was seen that Geddes had won the toss and had decided to kick in that direction. “First blood to Richmond,” said the supporters.
Despite the wet ball Bentley took a fine high mark when play began, and Rudolph marked his kick just as ably, but a poor kick sent the ball out. A fine long kick by O’Brien went through the goals, but a free kick to Collingwood stopped a score.
Fine passing between Clayden, Beveridge, Libbis, and Makeham ended in H. Collier receiving a free kick for a neck hold. His shot just missed, and McIsaac raced the ball away. The work in the ruck was already fierce, men being thrown out in all directions. A free kick to B. McCormack turned a Collingwood advance, but another thrust gave first point of the day, Rowe tipping the ball through for a behind. A Collingwood player was playing a little wildly, and earned the disapproval of spectators by his rough handling of an opponent.
The Richmond players, however, took it upon themselves to retaliate, and never lost an opportunity of repaying him in kind. Collingwood, although against the breeze, was having most of the play.
Lilburne defended ably, and a rush by Geddes was carried on by Rudolph. A long kick hit the goal post low down for Richmond’s first behind. McIsaac’s dash saved Richmond again, and in the recoil Hayes passed to J. McCormack for second behind. Despite splendid defence by S. Coventry another behind was added, but Richmond was making many mistakes due principally to the weather conditions.
A fine dash by H. Collier stopped progress, but Fincher and Geddes, handling the ball cleverly, returned, and J. McCormack, pushed in the back, added fourth behind from a long punt kick that just missed. Clever play by Murphy and Wilson kept down the score, and Richmond led by four behinds to one at the first change.
Richmond had not gained much advantage from the wind and there was considerable speculation regarding Collingwood’s progress when the second quarter began. Richmond attacked strenuously, Rudolph being conspicuous in attack. Dibbs, Rowe, and Milburn returned the ball, and a fine mark by Harris (R.) turned the tide. B. McCormack and Weidner counter-attacked, only fine relief by Dibbs keeping the goal intact.
In the rebound Rowe snapped a behind. G. Coventry’s shot that followed went across the goal; then O’Halloran and Geddes returned to J. McCormack, whose shot missed. Wescott and Rumney headed a Collingwood advance that was as persistent as it was strong.
A kick-off to the wrong wing ended in G Coventry marking and scoring first goal of the day. Spurred on by this success, Collingwood again raced to the attack, and in the effort to score men were felled like ninepins. A flying mark by Wilson was applauded, then Richmond attacked strenuously. Geddes was outstanding, and his clever handling of the ball was admired.
Good defence by S. Coventry transferred play, and Harris, marking cleverly, added a behind. Three more behinds were quickly added, the result generally of good long kicks, which was a marked contrast to the poor kicking of Richmond.
Splendid defence by Harris (R.) and a dash along the wing by Geddes were unavailing, for H. Collier dashed in smartly and passed to G. Coventry, a left-foot snap giving Collingwood second goal and the substantial lead of 2—6 to 0—4 at half-time.
There was a very long interval before the players reappeared. They had been able to effect complete changes in uniforms, but while Collingwood’s uniform was not altered, that of Richmond presented a pie-bald appearance, some being in red and white jerseys, others blue and white, and others again showing even greater variety.
In the long wait the crowd was enlivened by bagpipe selections. There were loud Collingwood cheers when a magpie—club emblem—was seen to fly across the ground.
“Now we cannot lose,” said one man.
Indiscriminate kicking in the ruck made many spectators fearful of consequences, and Beveridge was the victim just as the third quarter began. However, he quickly recovered. Lilburne’s fine dash gave Richmond an opportunity, good play by Wilson stopping progress.
Beveridge and Murphy carried the ball on, and again Lilburne was the thorn in the path. A fine strong dash by Clayden was applauded, but Powell marked nicely. Again the full back was called upon, and a timely kick along the ground saved the situation. A foolish stop by a Richmond defender gave G. Coventry a free kick, and still another behind was added, Murphy following with eighth from a kick 15 yards away from the goal.
Clever play by Hayes and Rudolph transferred operations, Fincher scoring a behind. Collingwood again rallied, and Chesswas added a behind. Two more behinds were scored by Richmond, one after a fine mark by O’Halloran. Then a grand attempt by Hayes and O’Halloran failed only because of the fine work of Dibbs, and at three-quarter time Collingwood led by 2—9 to 0—9 after an even struggle.
Hanging on to the Lead.
Richmond supporters awoke from comparative lethargy when a goal—the first of the match for that team—was scored in the first minute of the last quarter, for Rudolph and O’Neil forwarded and a fortunate kick along the ground by Fincher went through. Inspired by that success, Richmond attacked strenuously, but a foolish neckhold on Wilson stopped the advance. Geddes, McIsaac, and Hayes were in the van of another attack, but this time Westcott was in the way.
Collingwood was content to hold its lead and crowded the game to keep down the scoring. Rugged play carried the ball to the Collingwood forwards, three behinds being quickly added. One, by Harris (C.), missed the goal by a fraction. Harris (R.) was again prominent in defence, and in the rebound O’Halloran, marking well, kicked poorly, the ball going out. S. Coventry dashed the ball away, and a miss-kick by Rowe went to Rumney in front, a poor kick sending the ball out of bounds.
A grand dash by Libbis and a neat pass to Murphy ended in a behind. Hard, tearing pack work ended the game, Collingwood winning handsomely.
In a game where it was only by good fortune that a player was enabled to take a deliberate kick it is extremely difficult to select any “best player.” Those who adapted themselves well to the difficulties for the winners were S. Coventry, the captain, who was the same reliable and steady defender and follower that he has proved in every match. He showed good judgment throughout and handled the team well. The two small rovers and forwards, Libbis and Harris were quick and clever, and Harris in particular, was of great service in attack because he scouted out so well. It was really in defence that Collingwood won, with Wilson, Dibbs, Wescott and A. Collier the most conspicuous in that department. Wilson showed great dash and judgment and turned many attacks. Murphy, Makeham and H. Collier were the best of the others.
No one on the ground handled the ball better than did the Richmond captain, Geddes, and he was probably the out-standing player, for he showed great dash and coolness. Harris and Lilburne were especially good in defence, their grand dashes being features of the game. Bentley, McCormack, McIsaac, and Powell also played well in defence or following, O’Brien handled the ball nearly as cleverly as his captain. Fincher and Hayes, roving or placed were clever and persistent, while Rudolph also showed ability.
McMurray has again to be congratulated on his tactful handling of the game. Realising the state of the game, he made allowances and did not unduly hamper the players.
1927 ‘FOOTBALL.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 3 October, p. 6, viewed 26 August, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3882726
Collingwood 0.1 2.6 2.9 2.13 (25)
Richmond 0.4 0.4 0.7 1.7 (13)
Collingwood: G. Coventry 2.
Collingwood: S. Coventry, Makeham, Murphy, Beveridge, Rowe, H. Collier
Richmond: B. McCormack, Hayes, Geddes, Fincher, Harris, Rudolph.
Crowd: 34,551 at the MCG.