1 CFC Games Played
0 CFC Goals
Les Abbott might have only played one game for Collingwood, but that single game started him on the road to a piece of history.
For Les was one of the most travelled footballers in the history of the game. He played for no fewer than five VFL clubs across a career that spanned nine years at the highest level, and which also included stints with Port Melbourne, Brunswick and North Melbourne, as well as Collingwood Districts. He never stayed long anywhere – and because of that he owns the title of being the first man to play for five different VFL/AFL teams (only two others have managed it since, and it remains the record).
The son of renowned Collingwood committeeman Thomas Abbott and older brother to fellow Magpie Clarrie, Les first came to light playing for Port Melbourne in 1903. He switched to Collingwood Juniors in 1904, and it was there that he must have crossed Collingwood’s radar.
The Magpies snapped him up mid-season and took him on their country trip to Castlemaine in June, where he played well against a local side, kicking a goal. That was enough for the selectors, who chose him in a forward pocket for the game against Geelong at Corio the following week.
Les was tall and well built, though with plenty of pace, and was a superb kick of the football. Those attributes were enough to make him a natural full-back, and it was there he would spend most of his career.
Unfortunately, his Magpie debut came in a game that would be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Geelong’s Charles Coles went down with a badly broken leg that was so horrific that it not only ended his career, but also caused several spectators at the ground to faint. After that, nobody was too interested in what happened in the game, and Abbott’s debut passed largely without notice.
He was dropped thereafter and didn’t return – at least to Collingwood. In 1905 he played a solitary game with Carlton. In 1906 and ’07 he played with Collingwood Districts (where he was described as “a sterling full-back”, despite missing the early part of ’07 while holidaying in New Zealand).
He then crossed to Brunswick in the VFA, where he was part of the 1909 Premiership side in a back pocket, before returning to the VFL for his longest stint at the top level, with Richmond for 31 games across 1910-11. He then managed a single game with both Melbourne and South Melbourne within the same season – 1912 – before finally crossing to North Melbourne (then still in the VFA) in 1913. He also trialled with Williamstown before the start of the 1919 season, but that doesn’t seem to have led to a playing gig.
In the end Les Abbott managed 39 VFL/AFL games between his debut with Collingwood in 1904 and his last game with South in 1912. It was the classic ‘journeyman’ path, and he just about defined the category. But even if he wasn’t a star, he still managed a place in the history books that only two others have matched since.
– Michael Roberts