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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Max Davidson

Max Davidson


16 CFC Games Played

7 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
30 July 1934
Date of Death
25 October 2023
Recruited From
North Hobart
Collingwood Debut
Round 5, 1956


Max Davidson’s Collingwood career was short, interrupted, full of promise – and ultimately ended prematurely by the insidious disease tuberculosis. But the club’s response to his illness says much about the impact he made in his relatively brief time at Victoria Park.

Max was a brilliant rover/flanker who started his footballing journey in Tasmania. As a 17-year-old in 1952 he was playing with Campbell Town, where he was regarded as “the most brilliant rover in the Midland Association”. He was the brother of State cricket captain Rex Davidson, and another brother, Carl, was also well-known in football circles.

But soon it was Max’s football, rather than his family connections, attracting the attention. He was elevated to the Cornwall team midway through the year, but still won the Campbell Town best-and-fairest and shared the competition best player award.

In 1953 he took a step up and crossed to North Launceston, and after a solid season there moved to Melbourne early in 1954 to train with Collingwood. He did superbly in the practice matches and was named on the senior list. But in April he returned to Tasmania because he had to do his national service training.

That service deprived him of all but a handful of games in Tasmania in 1954. Late in the season he moved to North Hobart after being transferred there with his employment, but he’d always intended to return to Victoria in 1955.

He made the journey back in April of 1955, served out a residential qualifying period and then built a solid year of form in the reserves, playing 16 games and kicking 18 goals. In the end he didn’t make his senior debut until the fifth round of 1956, when the Magpie selectors decided to introduce a radical ‘three rover’ policy for a game against Carlton.

Max took to senior football smoothly. In fact, he hardly missed a beat. The Age described him as fast, clever and tenacious and said his disposal was good. He had a very good nose for goals, and found his time split between roving and flank duties. He played every game (some from the bench) from when he came into the side all the way through to the preliminary final, eventually totalling 16 games and seven goals in what was a highly promising debut campaign.

He was dropped for the Grand Final, which must have been a cruel blow, but that was nothing compared to what he was to face in 1957. He hurt his knee in the first game with the seconds, and managed only a handful of further reserves games before coming down with tuberculosis midway through the year.

The club was devastated for their young rover, and they promptly found innovative ways to help him out. Firstly they got the players to hand-sign a large number of autograph sheets, which were sold to raise money for a fund-raising campaign. The club then arranged a special benefit morning at the club, during which guests were treated to the remarkable sight of ‘The Magpies Rhythm Group’ – Ray Gabelich on drums, Lerrel Sharp on cowbell and Neville Waller on the bass fiddle – providing the entertainment. Oh to have been inside the Victoria Park rooms that day!

These, and other, activities helped raise a huge 680 pounds for Max’s benefit – no small figure in those days. And it looked like he would need every penny of it: he was hospitalised for many months, and doctors told him he would never play football again. At 23, it looked like his playing days were over.

But the medicos hadn’t counted on Max’s renowned tenacity. Collingwood knew he would need to return home, and cleared him back to Tasmania early in 1958. By 1959 he was playing with a new team, Scottsdale, which also wore the black and white stripes. He would go on to become a legend there, eventually being named in the back pocket in Scottsdale’s best team of 1960-2000. When he died late in 2023, the service was held at Scottsdale footy club and guests were asked to wear black and white.

Max Davidson’s overall VFL career summary is modest – 16 games and seven goals. But those numbers reveal nothing of the dramas he faced or the hurdles he had to overcome, firstly to play with Collingwood and then later to play footy at all. It’s a remarkable story.

– Michael Roberts


CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1956 16 7 2 68%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1956 16 7 0 16

1956 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 5 Carlton L 0 16 View match >
Round 6 Geelong W 0 16 View match >
Round 7 Melbourne L 0 16 View match >
Round 8 North Melbourne W 0 16 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy W 1 0 16 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 1 0 16 View match >
Round 11 Essendon W 1 0 16 View match >
Round 12 Hawthorn W 0 16 View match >
Round 13 Sydney W 2 0 16 View match >
Round 14 Richmond W 1 0 16 View match >
Round 15 Western Bulldogs W 1 0 16 View match >
Round 16 Carlton L 0 16 View match >
Round 17 Geelong W 0 16 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne L 0 16 View match >
Semi Final Melbourne L 0 16 View match >
Preliminary Final Western Bulldogs W 0 16 View match >
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 16 7
Avg/Game   0.44
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number


Total AFL Games
Total AFL Goals
CFC Debut
Round 5, 1956
CFC Last Game
Preliminary Final, 1956
Recruited From
North Hobart
Full Name
Max Davidson
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