Monday 30 September, 1929
SCIENTIFIC MACHINE TRIUMPHS.
By OLD BOY
Collingwood avenged its former defeat by Richmond on the Melbourne Cricket-ground on Saturday afternoon by a display of strong, resolute, brainy football, which left no doubt in the minds of the 63,236 spectators as to which was the better team. After defeating Richmond twice in the first round, in which Collingwood went through without losing a match, Collingwood failed most unexpectedly and, it must be admitted, convincingly, when it met Richmond in the second semi-final match on September 14.
Collingwood had set its heart on gaining the championship, that is, on going through the season without defeat, a performance not accomplished since 1893, when Essendon was the champion side. When it met Richmond it was outpaced, outplayed outgeneralled, and the surprise was the greatest effected in football for many years.
The form of Collingwood was too bad to be true, and the only explanation was that either the side had gone stale or that through over-confidence it had failed to enter the game with the seriousness and determination which had marked its previous efforts. Richmond, on the other hand, exceeded itself.
It played such sparkling football; its players ran, marked, passed and kicked like champions. They displayed such force, worked so much in unison that the Collingwood machine became disorganised and for the first time this year, broke down. On that form it seemed impossible that Collingwood could readjust its forces, that it could avenge that defeat when the teams met again.
Collingwood made no excuses; but its leaders and advisers set themselves to reconstruct the side, to retune the machine, to so alter its tactics that the dash and force of Richmond might be checked, and to learn from the defeat lessons which it might turn to its own advantage. There was a council of war at Victoria Park, and the result was seen on Saturday.
Richmond meanwhile had had a strenuous, fatiguing, devitalising contest with Carlton. It had lost one player (B. McCormack) through disqualification; but the substitute, D. Harris, had proved himself quite worthy to fill the gap, and was, if anything an improvement on the man he had replaced.
The weeks rest had freshened Collingwood, and while it looked on Richmond had had to fight for its life, and only by a display of the courage of despair in its match with Carlton had by a last-minute recovery won the right to meet Collingwood again. Reports from Richmond were that the team was never more fit, that every man was at the top of his form, and that the players would do even better than they had done when they beat Collingwood on September 14.
Those of us who watched the training on Thursday noticed that Hunter, the Albury rover, who had played so grandly in the other games, was limping and doing only light work, and from well-informed sources I learned that he had what footballers call “a terrible leg.” One Richmond enthusiast told me on Friday that Richmond people were so confident that they were “giving four goals in,” and he would not hear of the possibility of defeat.
Plans of Campaign.
Richmond tactics had proved so successful against Collingwood and Carlton that its advisers decided to adopt the same again.
The game was to be played with great dash, the strongposts of Collingwood were to be once again swept aside. Force was to accompany dash, and Collingwood was to be run off its feet. Gordon Coventry was to be so closely watched that his goal-kicking ability was to be checked. Beveridge (in the centre) was to be prevented from using his dash. Albert Collier, at centre half-back was to be crowded whenever he attempted to mark, and Syd Coventry, the follower and captain was to be shouldered out of the way and prevented from being the winning force he has so often proved. These tactics had prevailed before, and Richmond saw no reason why they should fail.
Collingwood watched every move in the Richmond v. Carlton match and the astute coach (J. McHale) and the rest of the Collingwood advisers and players set themselves to checkmate the plans, which had proved so successful. They realised that the must meet guile with guile, must oppose force by force.
In a previous match Richmond had put into the field what they described as a “camouflage” team, but the disguise was promptly penetrated, and was of no effect. Collingwood’s camouflage was complete on Saturday, and it was late in the game before Richmond discovered that things are not always what they seem. Gordon Coventry had already established a goal-kicking record, which must stand for years. He had already kicked 122 goals this season, and so goals were of no consequence to him.
Thus while he was calling for the ball, and Richmond defenders were concentrating on him, Edmunds was deputed to be the goal-kicker, and it was not until the game was well lost that Richmond woke up and discovered how it had been tricked. Beveridge was instructed that as centre man he was to be first to the ball, at all hazards, and was to be dashing if nothing else, and he carried out his instructions to the letter. Albert Collier, the Brownlow medal winner, had a bad day in the former match, but on Saturday he did not let anyone interfere with his style of play, and he was triumphant.
A fortnight ago Syd Coventry had been overwhelmed from the opening, and Collingwood brought in Ahearne from the second eighteen to absorb the shock tactics directed against him by the first Richmond ruck pair—Bentley and Ryan. That both Ahearne and his two adversaries were repeatedly cautioned did not minimise his effectiveness, and Syd Coventry was given full opportunity to use his skill. Clayden was moved from half-back to the back line, to look after Titus, and both men came under the umpire’s notice more than once; but while Clayden’s value to the side was not impaired Titus was effectively checked.
In the former match the Collingwood half forward line was weak, and so it was strengthened on Saturday, L. Murphy’s marking being invaluable. On the wing Bowyer’s pace was of more value than McLeod’s force had been, and with the wing strengthened, Beveridge, in the centre, had a freer hand. Edmunds as deputy goalkicker fulfilled his part to the letter. As it turned out everything went right for Collingwood, just as it had gone wrong a fortnight before. Collingwood showed much improved dash, it checked the high marking, and it won because it was the superior side.
It must be admitted, in justice to Richmond, that its men showed signs of the wear and tear or their other games; but on the day it was no match for Collingwood, as a matter of fact its desire for force was met by a side equally anxious to match it for strength. That there were some serious clashes, that at times there were incidents not contemplated in the laws of the game must be admitted, but it was by no means the bitter struggle Carlton and Richmond had provided.
A peculiar feature of this year’s play has been the number of anonymous letters indicating what would happen and what certain players were going to do. Carlton received several of these, and took notice of them. No less than eleven such epistles were delivered at the Collingwood training room by the postman last week, but the authorities impounded them, and it was not till the game was over that the players, to whom the letters had been addressed, were aware of the threats that had been made by those who were afraid to put their names to the letters. In view of what had happened on Saturday the letters when read yesterday caused much amusement, and were labelled “the threats that failed.” Collingwood’s Success.
There was keen enthusiasm at the success of Collingwood in gaining its eighth premiership of the League, and thus making its record superior to that of Fitzroy (seven premierships). It has won the premiership three times in succession, and thus equals Carlton’s record made in 1906, 1907, and 1908.
The record is four successive premierships held by Essendon 1891- 1894. Collingwood’s goal-kicker, Gordon Coventry, holds the goal-kicking record, 124 goals for a season; Albert Collier is the Brownlow medal winner as the fairest and best player of the season.
Its captain, Syd Coventry, holds a record of having led the side continuously in winning the three premierships. In 1908 F. Elliott, who had succeeded J. Flynn, captain of Carlton in 1906-1907, led the side until the last match, and then retired in favour of Flynn, who then won three premierships. Colling- wood also has the record of going through the first round undefeated and of having scored more points than any other team in the season. In the last three years the club has played 61 matches, of which 53 have been won, seven lost, and one drawn. As soon as the final bell rang the Collingwood players danced with joy at their success, and many of them were carried shoulder high to their dressing-room, where there was a scene of great enthusiasm.
H. Clover Not to Retire.
The Carlton football team was entertained at dinner at Markillie’s hotel, Flinders street on Saturday evening. Responding to the toast of “The Team,” H. Clover, the vice-captain, whose probable retirement had been announced, said that he would be with the team next year. The announcement was received with enthusiasm. Among the speakers was Alderman Gardiner, who was captain of the Carlton team in 1876.
A Dashing Opening.
The teams were out punctually, each being accorded a rousing reception. Miss Harrison (the Queen of Football) spun the coin and Syd Coventry, having won the toss, chose to kick towards the railway goal, which was slightly favoured by the breeze.
The game began at a great pace, Beveridge, with fine dash, forwarding to Gordon Coventry, who missed the mark. Thus early the umpire’s finger went up, cautioning L. Murphy, and it was evident that Scott, warned by the experiences of the week before, was determined to keep the players within bounds. In a flash Richmond was away, and Empey passing to Baggott first goal appeared after two minutes’ play. When Ryan served Baggott a moment later the shot went wide of the goal out of bounds.
It seemed as if Richmond might repeat the performances of the previous match, but a dash by Bowyer to Frank Murphy to H. Collier, who was awarded a very doubtful mark right in front, brought Collingwood’s first goal. In five minutes’ play each had scored a goal.
A moment later Edmunds, racing across goal, persisted in his attack, and when he fired the ball rolled through an unguarded goal. Hardly had the cheering subsided before Geddes, with a long running shot, saw the ball bounce through the Collingwood goal, Dibbs vainly attempting to stop it. Seven minutes gone and two goals, all was brilliant indeed, and the game was being played with rare dash and pace. Richmond, however, was not finding it easy to get away. In one clash Ahearne and Ryan were at loggerheads, and were cautioned, but Ahearne was awarded the free kick, and from him Frank Murphy scored with a long shot. The kicking was patchy, some splendid efforts being interspersed with faulty work.
The game was in the balance then, with Collingwood holding its own and Richmond straining every effort to regain the lead.
This was however a very different Collingwood side slowly the balance swung in its favour.
A behind by Gordon Coventry and another by Libbis, who struck the goal past, were valuable points, but when F. Murphy added another Collingwood feared their sharpshooters were not on the target. Richmond was already feeling the strain; its players were dropping the marks and the game had slowed down. Collingwood had withstood the fury of the opening attack and when Gordon Coventry and Edmunds (twice) added goals and Collingwood led by 27 points the game became ragged. It was evident that Richmond had “shot its bolt” and, though Makeham was hurt, Collingwood was displaying winning confidence.
As the teams crossed over with the board showing Collingwood 6 goals 3 behinds, Richmond 2 goals, they were cheered. For Collingwood the cheers were of congratulation; for Richmond the note was of hope, encouragement, and sympathy. It had been a vigorous quarter, but towards the end the force and pace had abated.
Even Second Quarter.
The second term saw an even struggle, but Collingwood was playing with great confidence and strong reserve and cohesion, while Richmond efforts were spasmodic and individualistic. Each side scored a goal and three behinds; Weidner with a splendid punt kicking Richmond’s goal and Edmunds scoring for Collingwood. It was evident that Collingwood was too good, too systematic, and Richmond, finding itself well held, was not showing its form of the previous match.
“A team plays only as well as its opponents allow it” is an old sporting adage, and it was being exemplified to the full. Collingwood was not letting Richmond get in its full work. The game was becoming tame. All the fire had gone out of it, and as the teams left the field at half-time with the score 7-6 to 3-3 in its favour, Collingwood supporters knew that the premiership was safe.
Tame Second Half.
The second half was very tame. Richmond men were trying hard, but everywhere the Magpie was the master of the Tiger. Richmond in a desperate effort to save the game reduced the deficit by two points in the third term, but the Collingwood men were playing well within themselves.
The defence of Murdoch was wonderful for Richmond, and the high marking of O’Halloran was outstanding; but the smooth-working Collingwood machine could not be upset by individual effort. L. Murphy and Edmunds scored for Collingwood, and Weidner and Baggott got the goals for Richmond.
When they changed ends for the last time Collingwood led by 9 goals 6 behinds to 5 goals 5 behinds, and with lead of 25 points there was little chance of disaster. The game had become very commonplace, and with the Richmond men tiring and their attack weakening all interest, had gone out of the play long before the finish. O’Halloran and Lilburne scored for Richmond, and Libbis and Gordon Coventry added goals for Collingwood. Play became desultory and uninteresting, with Collingwood complete masters. They had lost the championship by one day of weak endeavour; but they had gained the premiership and had proved their indisputable right to the honour.
The final scores were:—
COLLINGWOOD, 11 goals 13 behinds (79 points).
RICHMOND, 7 goals 8 behinds (50 points).
COILINGWOOD played as a team. There was not a weak man; everyone did his part. Libbis, I think, was the best man on the field. His dashing roving, clever turning, persistence, and general skill making him outstanding. Syd Coventry, as leader and player, was splendid. He did two men’s work at times and his kicking was wonderful and much of his success he owed to Ahearne. Clayden in defence did admirably, his force, marking, and pace clearing the goal repeatedly Dibbs as full back has never played better, and his kicking and anticipation were in-valuable.
Albert Collier at half-back did great work, but next to Libbis I think Wescott was the best man on the side. He made no mistake, and turned repeated attacks. Rumney, Beveridge, L. Murphy, and F. Murphy should also be specially mentioned. Gordon Coventry, though he kicked only two goals, was most serviceable and unselfish. Edmunds who kicked five goals, was a thorn in the flesh of opposing defenders all day.
RICHMOND as a team fell far below its form of the two former games. The men lacked the sparkle of their other performances, and they were soon tired and inert. Murdoch at centre half-back saved them repeatedly, and was their outstanding man. Bentley worked untiringly in the ruck, but he was overpowered. Geddes and Watson on the wings did well, and for a while Empey, Weidner, and Baggott were busy forwards. Harris was a brilliant defender, with Sheahan rendering him able assistance.
O’Halloran’s marking was the best in the match, but on the whole there were many stars of the previous games who were partially, if not totally, eclipsed. The field umpire (R. Scott) did his work admirably, and was cheered as he came in after the game. He kept a tight rein on the players and due control in a game which might easily have got out of hand.
In the Dressing-room.
There was a scene of great excitement both outside and inside the Collingwood room after the match. Hundreds of Collingwood supporters waited to cheer their heroes as they emerged from the room, and the players had great difficulty in forcing their way through the crowd which did not disperse until after 6 o’clock. In the room the customary congratulatory speeches were made. The president of the League (Dr. W. C. McClelland), on behalf of the League, congratulated Collingwood on its success.
He said that Collingwood’s splendid play during the afternoon was only typical of its efforts throughout the season. The team had delighted thousands of people during the year, and in addition to winning the premier- ship for the third time in succession, the officials must be proud to have among them the win- ner of the Brownlow medal (A. Collier), and the champion goal kicker (G. Coventry) whose record of 124 goals for the season would probably stand for many years. Mr H. Curtis (president) paid a tribute to the players for their determination, and said that much of the credit for the success of the club was due to the untiring efforts of the captain (S. Coventry), the coach (“Jock” McHale), and the secretary (Mr. G. Connor).
Mr. George Connor (who caused much amusement by taking off his coat and displaying a placard on his back with the words “Hat trick, 1927, 1928, 1929”), the captain (S. Coventry) and the coach (“Jock” McHale) also spoke. The latter said that after 28 years connection with the club he could say that the side was quite equal to any that had ever worn the Collingwood colours, and that Coventry was the greatest captain Collingwood had yet produced. On behalf of the Richmond club, the president (Mr. J. Archer) and secretary (Mr. P. Page) visited the Collingwood room and extended congratulations to Collingwood on its success.
Both admitted that, on the day’s play, Collingwood had proved the better side. Mr. Archer remarked that Richmond’s only satisfaction was that it had stopped Collingwood from being proclaimed champions. He considered that in doing so Richmond had rendered a good service to football.
The Free Kicks.
There was a great disparity in the distribution of the free-kicks, Richmond, with a total of 61, getting nearly twice as many as Collinswood (34). Of Richmond’s total 18 were for kicking out of bounds, 43 being for other infringements of the rules, while Collingwood received 13 for out of bounds and only 21 during the afternoon for other infringements.
No fewer than seven of the Collingwood side (Beveridge, A. Collier, H. Collier, G. Coventry, Makeham, F. Murphy, L. Murphy) did not receive a free-kick, while Empey was the only player on the Richmond side who did not receive one.
The details are:
COLLINGWOOD. — Ahearne, Chesswas, Dibbs (5 each), Bowyer, Clayden, Lander, S. Coventry, Wescott (3 each ), Edmunds (2), Libbis, Rumney (1 each ); total, 34.
RICHMOND. — Heifner (7), Watson, Murdoch (6 each), Bentley, Harris (5 each), Benton, Fincher, Dunne (4 each), Sheahan, Geddes (3 each), Ryan, Titus, Baggott, Lilburne, O’Halloran, Hunter, and Weidner (2 each); total, 61. How the Goals Were Scored.
No fewer than seven of Collingwood’s goals were scored from snapshots — Edmunds (3), F. Murphy (2), G. Coventry, and Libbis), while the other four were got from marks (Edmunds 2, H. Collier, and G. Coventry). None was obtained as the result of free kicks, while from this source. Richmond scored three (Weidner, Baggott, Lilburne). Of the other three (Baggott, Weidner, and O’Halloran) were scored from marks, and one (Geddes) from a snapshot.
Celebration at Collingwood.
The victory and the winning of the third successive premiership was enthusiastically celebrated yesterday afternoon at a gathering of supporters which filled the Collingwood Town Hall to capacity. The mayor (Councillor W. Angus ) provided.
A cheque for £200, and blazers and ties provided by the social committee for the players’ trip to Tasmania, was handed over by the mayor who congratulated the side upon its success referred to the fact that the club had produced a captain who had created a new record, and players who were Brownlow and Gardiner medallists. (Applause)
Responding on behalf of the club, the president (Mr. H. Curtis) remarked that the previous feat by Richmond had been a “blessing in disguise.”
It had spurred the club to greater efforts in the final contest with successful results. The captain (S. Coventry), who was greeted enthusiastically, said that he found little difficulty in captaining a side which comprised such wonderful players. They were not only pleased at having won the premiership for the third successive season, but were more than pleased that they had redeemed themselves.
The coach (J. McHale) paid a tribute to the work of the management committee and the “team” spirit which prevailed among the players. He considered that the club owed most to its supporters who had maintained it well during the past 34 years. The secretary (Mr. G. Connor), who also spoke, caused amusement by his appearance in a waistcoat on the back of which was inscribed, “The Hat Trick. 1927-28-29.” An excellent musical programme was provided by Mr. A. Webb and artists.
1929 ‘FOOTBALL.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 30 September, p. 15, viewed 20 August, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4040566
Collingwood 6.3 7.6 9.6 11.13 (79)
Richmond 2.0 3.3 5.5 7.8 (50)
Collingwood: Edmonds 5, G. Coventry 2, H. Collier, Libbis, F. Murphy, L. Murphy.
Richmond: Baggott, Weidner 2, Geddes, Lilburne, O’Halloran.
Collingwood: Libbis, Westcott, S. Coventry, Ahern, Clayden, Dibbs.
Richmond: Murdoch, Bentley, Geddes, Watson, Empey, Harris.
Crowd: 63,336 at the MCG.