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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Les Hughes

Les Hughes

1908-1922
9
Other Guernsey Nos.
10, 12, 6, 7, 8

225 CFC Games Played

175 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
18 April 1884
Date of Death
27 September 1962
Recruited From
Collingwood Trades
Collingwood Debut
Round 1, 1908
Height:
188cm
Weight:
93kg

Biography

Collingwood has known plenty of gentle giants over the journey – names such as Ray Gabelich, Bob Heard and Graeme Jenkin spring readily to mind – but Les Hughes was the first to be given the tag, and he remains one of the most popular and good-natured big men ever to pull on a Collingwood jumper.

He was also one of the best. In a mighty career spanning some 15 seasons, Hughes amassed 225 games, kicked 175 goals, twice topped the club’s goalkicking and established a reputation as one of the finest tap ruckmen of his era. He was still playing at age 38, making him the second oldest Magpie of all time.

That’s a record any player would have been proud of, but especially so for someone who was dismissed by many observers as not being up to VFL standard when he first appeared at Victoria Park in 1908. To be fair he did look pretty raw then, having come from the Collingwood Trades team in the Wednesday League. He stood about 188cm (6ft 2in) tall, making him unusually tall for his time, and he looked awkward and clumsy from the get-go. His ungainly and apparently uncoordinated movements earned him the first and most common of his nicknames, ‘Flapper’ (the other, ‘Lofty’, simply reflected his height).

But as it turned out, Hughes was well and truly up to VFL standard: it was just that he needed more time to develop. That development never quite succeeded in removing all the rough edges from his game – he was never elegant, and his kicking was a truly mixed bag – but he still turned into one of the most valuable players in the competition.

As early as 1911, Sport newspaper was proclaiming him to be a champion ruckman. “His weight and size overpowers many opponents,” it said. “He is now a top-flighter, his hitting out to the rovers being clever and well timed.” The Football Recordalso noted the quality of his tap work. “He seems to have eyes all over his head and he smacks the ball … in whatever direction he sees a cobber ready to receive it. Like a staunch craft on a rough sea, buffetted and battling along, Les Hughes again proved himself a great ruckman.”

Another element of his game that stood out was his workrate. ‘Flapper’ was one of the hardest-working ruckmen in the game, and he would run tirelessly through a game from start to finish. This was particularly true in big games, and Hughes had a great track record in finals and clutch home-and-away matches. But there wasn’t much he could do in the infamously wild 1910 grand final: he was flattened before the ball was even bounced, and then decked for a second time in the final quarter.

His marking was another strong suit. He was not a sensational high-flyer but he used his height and great reach to outmark most players, sometimes literally reaching over the top of them to pluck the ball away. The Football Follower said he was “a wonderful high mark, who goes up for the ball like a Trojan”. Another newspaper said he provided “an object lesson to young players on how to bring down a mark”.

But for all his outstanding qualities as a footballer – and there were many – Hughes was just as fondly remembered for the way he played the game. He was good-humoured, kind and totally without pretension. “What a champion old ‘Flapper’ Hughes was and how he could laugh at anything humorous in the play,” theSporting Globewrote on his retirement. “A genuine sportsman, and one of the finest exponents of clean ruck play imaginable, he was an ornament to the game.”

“His place has always been where the battle has raged thickest and … it is not on record that he has once lost his temper,” ‘Leander’ wrote in the Heraldin 1921. “No better tribute can be paid to a ruck player than that he can go through a game with a smile always on his face and leave the field on cordial terms with his opponents. Hughes can claim this for himself, and his claim will not be disputed.”

As noted in the book A Century of the Best: “He revelled in football, and in the fellowship of life with his teammates on and off the field. He liked nothing better than to get away on trips with his colleagues, and he became famous on those journeys for his backing of the ever-present accordion players with his tin whistle. In 1919 when he captained a VFL representative team that played in Ballarat, he broke with tradition and drove several members of the side to the game in the motor-van he used for work.”

The Pies fans loved him, and the longer his career lasted the greater their affection became. For much of his career he was regarded as one of the game’s great characters. And like all great characters, odd things seemed to happen to him. In 1917, for example, he missed the train to Geelong with the team – and therefore missed the match – after being late for the bus that would have taken him to the station. A few years later he was again unable to make the trip to Sleepy Hollow, this time because of some urgent demands in his job as a van driver. Soon a rumour spread that, however improbably, Hughes would make a late arrival at Geelong by plane. It seemed crazy, but also just the kind of thing that Flapper could make happen.

During a pre-War match against University, one of his more wayward kicks sent the ball flying out of the ground and into the press box, where it bounced through a window of the lunch room, and rolled down the stairsnear the bar. “The reporters didn’t know for the moment whether some suffragette in a flying machine had dropped a bomb into their midst,” noted the Football Record.

When things like that happened, Hughes would just laugh. And everyone else would just say, ‘That’s Flapper for you’. Given his personality, it was no surprise that he became a publican after he retired, and he remained working in the industry into his seventies.

His genial nature and ready laugh sometimes disguised just how good a footballer he was. He won interstate selection a number of times, the last against New South Wales at the ripe old age of 37, and was voted Collingwood’s most consistent player in 1912. He was also, importantly, a key part of three Premiership teams. That’s a record to give any old player the last laugh.

– Michael Roberts

Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1908-1922 225 175 20 65%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1908 10 4 0

1908 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong L 0 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy L 1 0 View match >
Round 3 University W 0 View match >
Round 8 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 10 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 13 Carlton L 0 0 View match >
Round 14 Essendon W 1 0 0 View match >
Round 15 Richmond L 2 0 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1909 19 14 0

1909 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 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 3 Carlton L 0 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 1 0 View match >
Round 5 Sydney L 1 0 View match >
Round 6 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 7 University W 0 View match >
Round 8 Geelong W 0 View match >
Round 9 Melbourne D 0 View match >
Round 10 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 12 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 13 Richmond W 2 0 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 1 0 View match >
Round 15 Essendon L 1 0 View match >
Round 16 University D 1 0 View match >
Round 17 Geelong W 1 0 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne W 3 0 View match >
Semi Final Sydney L 1 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1910 16 10 0

1910 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Sydney W 0 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 0 View match >
Round 5 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 7 Richmond W 0 View match >
Round 8 University W 1 0 View match >
Round 9 Geelong L 0 0 View match >
Round 11 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Round 14 Melbourne W 3 0 View match >
Round 16 Richmond W 1 0 View match >
Semi Final Essendon W 1 0 View match >
Preliminary Final Sydney W 0 View match >
Grand Final Carlton W 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1911 17 11 0 7

1911 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy W 0 7 View match >
Round 3 Geelong L 0 7 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 0 7 View match >
Round 7 University W 0 7 View match >
Round 9 St Kilda W 0 7 View match >
Round 10 Richmond W 0 7 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy L 2 0 7 View match >
Round 12 Geelong W 0 7 View match >
Round 13 Essendon L 0 7 View match >
Round 14 Sydney L 0 7 View match >
Round 15 Melbourne W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 16 University W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 17 Carlton W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 18 St Kilda W 2 0 7 View match >
Semi Final Sydney W 1 0 7 View match >
Grand Final Essendon L 0 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1912 17 13 0 7

1912 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne L 0 7 View match >
Round 2 Essendon L 1 0 7 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda L 0 7 View match >
Round 4 Carlton W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 5 Richmond W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 6 Geelong L 0 7 View match >
Round 7 University W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 0 7 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 1 0 7 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 11 Essendon L 1 0 7 View match >
Round 13 Carlton L 2 0 7 View match >
Round 14 Richmond W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 15 Geelong W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 16 University W 0 7 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy L 0 7 View match >
Round 18 Sydney L 0 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1913 18 22 0 12

1913 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne W 1 0 12 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 3 0 12 View match >
Round 4 Carlton W 0 12 View match >
Round 5 Richmond W 3 0 12 View match >
Round 6 University W 0 12 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda W 0 12 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy L 1 0 12 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 0 12 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne W 2 0 12 View match >
Round 11 Geelong W 3 0 12 View match >
Round 12 Essendon W 1 0 12 View match >
Round 13 Carlton W 2 0 12 View match >
Round 14 Richmond W 1 0 12 View match >
Round 15 University W 3 0 12 View match >
Round 16 St Kilda L 1 0 12 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy L 0 12 View match >
Round 18 Sydney L 1 0 12 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 0 12 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1914 18 11 0 0 9

1914 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton D 2 0 0 9 View match >
Round 2 Melbourne W 0 9 View match >
Round 3 Richmond W 0 9 View match >
Round 4 Fitzroy L 0 9 View match >
Round 5 University W 3 0 9 View match >
Round 6 St Kilda L 0 9 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 8 Sydney W 0 9 View match >
Round 9 Geelong L 0 9 View match >
Round 10 Carlton L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 0 9 View match >
Round 12 Richmond L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy W 0 9 View match >
Round 14 University W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 16 Essendon W 0 9 View match >
Round 17 Sydney L 0 9 View match >
Round 18 Geelong L 1 0 9 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1915 17 18 0 7

1915 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 2 Richmond W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 4 Melbourne W 0 7 View match >
Round 5 Geelong W 0 7 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 0 7 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 0 7 View match >
Round 9 Sydney W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 10 Essendon W 1 0 7 View match >
Round 11 Richmond W 0 7 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 13 Melbourne W 3 0 7 View match >
Round 14 Geelong W 0 7 View match >
Round 16 Carlton L 2 0 7 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy W 2 0 7 View match >
Round 18 Sydney W 1 0 7 View match >
Grand Final Carlton L 1 0 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1916 10 6 0 10

1916 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond W 0 10 View match >
Round 2 Carlton L 0 10 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy D 0 10 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 2 0 10 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 1 0 10 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy W 0 10 View match >
Round 10 Richmond L 0 10 View match >
Round 11 Carlton L 0 10 View match >
Round 12 Fitzroy W 1 0 10 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 2 0 10 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1917 16 12 0 10

1917 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond W 3 0 10 View match >
Round 2 Carlton L 0 10 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy W 1 0 10 View match >
Round 4 Sydney W 1 0 10 View match >
Round 5 Geelong W 0 10 View match >
Round 6 Richmond D 0 10 View match >
Round 7 Carlton W 2 0 10 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 1 0 10 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 1 0 10 View match >
Round 10 Geelong W 0 10 View match >
Round 11 Richmond W 0 10 View match >
Round 12 Carlton L 0 10 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 0 10 View match >
Semi Final Sydney W 2 0 10 View match >
Preliminary Final Fitzroy L 0 10 View match >
Grand Final Fitzroy W 1 0 10 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1918 16 17 0 9

1918 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 0 9 View match >
Round 3 Sydney L 0 9 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 2 0 9 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda W 4 0 9 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 8 Carlton L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 9 Geelong W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 10 Sydney L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 11 Richmond W 0 9 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy W 2 0 9 View match >
Round 14 Essendon W 0 9 View match >
Semi Final St Kilda W 1 0 9 View match >
Grand Final Sydney L 1 0 9 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1919 19 18 0 6

1919 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Sydney W 0 6 View match >
Round 2 St Kilda L 1 0 6 View match >
Round 3 Geelong W 1 0 6 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 1 0 6 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 6 0 6 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 0 6 View match >
Round 8 Essendon W 0 6 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy L 0 6 View match >
Round 10 Sydney W 1 0 6 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 0 6 View match >
Round 12 Geelong W 2 0 6 View match >
Round 13 Richmond W 1 0 6 View match >
Round 15 Melbourne W 0 6 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 1 0 6 View match >
Round 17 Essendon W 2 0 6 View match >
Round 18 Fitzroy W 1 0 6 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 0 6 View match >
Preliminary Final Richmond L 0 6 View match >
Grand Final Richmond W 1 0 6 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1920 16 8 0 8

1920 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon L 0 8 View match >
Round 3 Melbourne W 0 8 View match >
Round 4 Fitzroy L 0 8 View match >
Round 5 Richmond L 0 8 View match >
Round 6 St Kilda W 1 0 8 View match >
Round 8 Carlton W 2 0 8 View match >
Round 9 Sydney W 1 0 8 View match >
Round 10 Essendon W 0 8 View match >
Round 11 Geelong W 1 0 8 View match >
Round 12 Melbourne W 2 0 8 View match >
Round 13 Richmond L 0 8 View match >
Round 14 Fitzroy L 0 8 View match >
Round 18 Sydney W 1 0 8 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy W 0 8 View match >
Preliminary Final Carlton W 0 8 View match >
Grand Final Richmond L 0 8 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1921 14 10 0 9

1921 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 2 Melbourne W 0 9 View match >
Round 3 Geelong W 2 0 9 View match >
Round 4 Essendon W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 5 Richmond L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 6 Sydney W 0 9 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda W 2 0 9 View match >
Round 9 Carlton L 0 9 View match >
Round 10 Fitzroy L 0 9 View match >
Round 12 Geelong L 0 9 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 14 Richmond L 1 0 9 View match >
Round 15 Sydney W 1 0 9 View match >
Round 18 Carlton L 0 9 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1922 2 1 0 10

1922 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 14 St Kilda W 0 10 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 1 0 10 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 225 175 0
Avg/Game   0.78 0.00
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

138

Total AFL Games
225
Total AFL Goals
175
CFC Debut
Round 1, 1908
CFC Last Game
Round 17, 1922
Recruited From
Collingwood Trades
Full Name
Les Hughes
Nickname
Flapper/Lofty

Awards

  • Life Members
    1919
  • x2
    Leading Goalkicker (Gordon Coventry Trophy)
    1912, 1913
  • CFC Hall of Fame
    2009
  • x3
    Premiership
    1910, 1917, 1919
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