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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Dick Condon

Dick Condon*

1894-1900, 1902-1906

193 CFC Games Played

115 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
19 March 1876
Date of Death
27 December 1946
Recruited From
Collingwood Juniors
Collingwood Debut
Round 10, 1894
Height:
180cm
Weight:
72kg

Biography

By Michael Roberts:

Phil Carman remains one of the most popular, yet frustrating, players of Collingwood’s post-1970s period – a rare mixture of supreme talent combined with all-too-frequent lapses of discipline.

But back in the club’s earliest days, the Magpies had their own early model of Phil Carman – a wizard called Dick Condon.

Like Carman, he was among the most gifted players who have ever pulled on a Collingwood jumper. But – again like Carman – he was prone to individualistic or selfish play, and had problems dealing with figures in authority. The result was a brilliant yet combustible footballer who sometimes drove his teammates and officials to distraction, yet more frequently left them in awe at his ability.

Make no mistake, Dick Condon was one of the most talented footballers the game has seen. In his day, he was a star. Tough judges such as Jock McHale and Bill Strickland later rated him the best footballer they had ever seen, a view echoed by former teammates such as Charlie Pannam Snr and Eddie Drohan.

His great strengths were his marking, agility and pure footballing skills, which were exceptional. He could pick up the ball with either hand while at top speed, and in one movement kick accurately with either foot – a rare ability in those times. Former teammate Eddie Drohan said Condon’s unerring accuracy with passing was equalled by only one or two players in the 30 years after his retirement, and his dual-sidedness was unparalleled for the time. In a game against Melbourne in 1898, for example, he “brought the house down” with a goal from a left-foot screw kick made while hemmed in and running across the face of goal. He could also bounce the ball with either hand, something few of his contemporaries were able to master.

Although quite tall for his time (about 180cm) and lightly built (about 72kg), Condon frequently played as a rover, or sometimes in the centre. Teammates and critics frequently marvelled at his ability to twist in the air while marking, so he could land and take off running in almost the one movement. Former trainer Wal Lee described him as a “footballing acrobat”. “No matter which way he was tossed he always landed on his feet and in a position to be off into his stride in a flash,” he told the Sporting Globe. Charlie Pannam Snr concurred: “He could turn like a hare and had the faculty of marking the ball and going off in the same stride. [He would] take a mark and, while in the air, twist round to face goalwards.” Eddie Drohan concurred. “What a dance he led players with his quick getaway after flying for a mark,” Drohan said. “He seemed to spin in the air, always finding an opening for a quick dash with the ball”.

In addition to his ball skills and agility, Condon added other weapons, including balance, game-reading and cleverness. He was “as full of tricks as a cage full of monkeys”, according to Wal Lee. Former teammate Ted Rowell said he was “cunning, clever, almost uncanny.” “He was the brainiest and cleverest footballer I ever saw,” said Pannam.

His knowledge of the game was also exceptional. Drohan again: “At players’ meetings at Collingwood all were invited to have a say, but Dick held us all spellbound. He could discourse on the game in a manner that inspired, being one of the few who could impart his ideas to others”. One player who benefited immensely from such tutelage was a young Dick Lee, to whom Condon took a particular liking.

This package of talents led many to brand him the greatest player of his time. Eddie Drohan once described him as a “footballing freak.” “I have never seen a player who made as many opportunities for his side and at the same time so few mistakes,” he wrote. “When at Collingwood I studied Condon’s movements and tricks, but he held sole world’s patent rights for most of them. No player could extricate himself from a jam with such dexterity. When he looked to be hopelessly hemmed in he would back out like a crayfish, always with the ball. His baulking and feinting too, nonplussed every man he met. There was no aspect of the game in which he was not the master, and he possessed qualities that no other player could hope to possess.”

But for all his brilliance, it’s impossible to look at Condon’s career without highlighting the other side of the ledger. At its most benign, that included a propensity for selfish play. As the Age noted in 1899, he would be of double the value to his side “if he could be induced to remember that C-O-N-D-O-N does not spell Collingwood.”

More troubling was his rebellious nature. Within a year of joining Collingwood from junior clubs Excelsior, Primrose and Collingwood Juniors, he was hauled before the committee for disobeying the captain (Strickland). The next year he refused to wear the lace-up jumpers favoured by the rest of the team. In 1900, while captain, he was suspended for three weeks for abusing an umpire. Soon after he came back he came to blows with a teammate, Artie Robson, at a three-quarter time break, and later in the season threatened to take his team from the ground in protest at the umpiring.

In the next game, however, it all went to hell in a handcart. Condon violently abused the game’s most famous umpire, Ivo Crapp (delivering the famous insult, ‘Your girl’s a bloody whore!’), and was hit with a lifetime ban by the VFL. That suspension wasn’t lifted until early in 1902.

His temperament didn’t stop his teammates from electing him captain in 1899 – a role that ended with his ‘lifetime’ ban – or the club from appointing him as coach in 1905-06. He had a wonderful football brain, and the same feisty spirit that so often caused trouble also produced a competitiveness that could be inspirational.

Still, it surprised nobody when his short tenure as coach also ended in controversial fashion – suspended by his own club for several weeks in 1906 for being the cause of dissension within the team. Yet, just the year before, Condon had been near-universally considered the best footballer in the competition. Such were the paradoxes that dotted his career.

Condon left Collingwood at the end of that year and headed to Tasmania (where, ironically, he took up umpiring!). He returned to the VFL in 1908 when he joined Richmond without a clearance, and the Magpies responded by refusing him Life Membership: for decades he was the only 10-year player to be denied the honour.

That wrong was finally corrected in 2012, and Dick Condon’s Collingwood story was at last complete. It had been a hell of a ride, but one thing was undeniable: for all the controversy and all the angst, he was one of the most brilliant footballers the Magpies have ever produced.

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Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1897-1900, 1902-1906 149 101 12 71%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1897 17 5 0

1897 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 2 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 3 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 4 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 5 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne L 0 View match >
Round 7 Carlton W 1 0 View match >
Round 8 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 9 Essendon L 1 0 View match >
Round 10 Geelong L 0 View match >
Round 11 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 12 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 13 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 14 Carlton W 0 View match >
Semi Final Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Semi Final Essendon L 0 View match >
Semi Final Geelong L 2 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1898 16 9 0

1898 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Round 3 Melbourne L 1 0 View match >
Round 4 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 2 0 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 8 Geelong L 0 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Round 11 Sydney W 1 0 View match >
Round 12 Carlton W 1 0 View match >
Round 13 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 14 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 2 0 View match >
Round 16 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1899 17 8 0

1899 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong L 2 0 View match >
Round 2 Melbourne L 0 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 4 Sydney W 0 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 1 0 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 8 Geelong L 1 0 View match >
Round 9 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 11 Sydney W 0 View match >
Round 12 Carlton W 1 0 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 14 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 15 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 1 0 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1900 14 9 0

1900 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy W 2 0 View match >
Round 2 Geelong L 0 View match >
Round 7 Melbourne L 0 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Round 9 Geelong W 1 0 View match >
Round 10 Sydney L 1 0 View match >
Round 11 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 13 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 14 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 3 Sydney W 3 0 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 16 Geelong L 1 0 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1902 16 17 0

1902 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Melbourne W 2 0 View match >
Round 3 Geelong W 0 0 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 6 Essendon L 2 0 View match >
Round 7 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 8 Sydney W 1 0 View match >
Round 9 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Round 10 Geelong W 2 0 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 3 0 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 3 0 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 15 Sydney W 1 0 View match >
Round 16 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 17 Geelong W 1 0 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Grand Final Essendon W 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1903 19 18 0 2

1903 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton L 1 0 View match >
Round 2 Sydney W 2 0 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 4 Fitzroy L 1 0 2 View match >
Round 5 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 6 Geelong W 2 0 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 8 Carlton W 1 0 View match >
Round 9 Sydney W 1 0 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 12 Melbourne W 3 0 View match >
Round 13 Geelong W 1 0 View match >
Round 14 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 2 0 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 0 View match >
Grand Final Fitzroy W 1 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1904 17 6 0

1904 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong W 1 0 0 View match >
Round 2 Melbourne W 2 0 0 View match >
Round 3 Sydney L 1 0 0 View match >
Round 4 Fitzroy W 0 0 View match >
Round 5 Carlton L 0 0 View match >
Round 6 Essendon W 0 0 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda L 0 0 View match >
Round 9 Melbourne L 1 0 0 View match >
Round 10 Sydney L 0 0 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 0 0 View match >
Round 12 Carlton L 0 0 View match >
Round 13 Essendon L 0 View match >
Round 14 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 15 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 16 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1905 18 17 0

1905 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Round 2 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 4 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Round 5 Sydney W 4 0 View match >
Round 6 Geelong W 1 0 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 1 0 View match >
Round 9 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 0 0 View match >
Round 13 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 14 Essendon L 0 View match >
Round 15 Carlton W 2 0 View match >
Round 16 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Round 17 Sydney W 3 0 0 View match >
Semi Final Carlton L 1 0 View match >
Grand Final Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1906 15 12 0

1906 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong W 2 0 View match >
Round 2 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy W 1 0 View match >
Round 4 Carlton L 0 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 8 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 9 Sydney W 2 0 View match >
Round 10 Fitzroy L 0 View match >
Round 11 Carlton L 0 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 14 Melbourne W 2 0 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 1 0 0 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 4 0 View match >
Semi Final Carlton L 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 149 101
Avg/Game   0.68
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

3

CFC VFA Debut Number

V74

VFA Matches Played at Collingwood
44
Total AFL Games
149
Total AFL Goals
101
CFC Debut
Round 10, 1894
CFC Last Game
Semi Final, 1906
Recruited From
Collingwood Juniors
Full Name
Dick Condon

Awards

  • Champion of the Colony
    1898
  • Life Members
    2012
  • x2
    Team Captain
    1899, 1900
  • x2
    Premiership
    1902, 1903

* Player statistics include VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.

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