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14 CFC Games Played
15 CFC Goals
By Michael Roberts:
Sometimes opportunity comes knocking in the most unlikely of circumstances.
For Mick Lynch, that opportunity came through a tragic situation where a young Footscray footballer named Harry Clayton – regarded as a “sterling little player” – died after the 1897 VFA season. The Tricolours, as Footscray were then known, decided to play a benefit match ahead of the 1898 season to raise money for his grieving parents. Collingwood quickly agreed to be their opponents for the day.
And that’s where Mick Lynch got his chance.
He starred there too, kicking two goals in the first quarter and three for the game. The Magpies thought they had a potential star on their hands.
And so it continued to look for much of 1898. Lynch had an outstanding debut season and was regularly among the goals, finishing with 15 from his 14 games. He was quite tall for the time (5’8″) and solidly built, but agile. He quickly became an important part of the Collingwood forward set-up, mostly alongside champion forward Archie Smith. Archie would go on to top the VFL’s goalkicking ladder that year with 31 goals – a tally that makes Lynch’s 15 even more impressive. In fact, Lynch’s tally put him in the top 10 goalkickers of the season.
The critics were quick to notice the Geelong-born youngster, and he was described variously in the press as “brisk”, “an acquisition”, “an expert worker” and “ever busy”. He was frequently noted as being among the best of the Magpie forwards, and one observer said he “showed good all round football – even better than Smith”.
Lynch made such an impact that eyebrows were raised when he was dropped after six games to bring in the experienced Wal Gillard. The Australasian wrote: “Collingwood had their strongest team afield, or room would have been found for Lynch, whose cleverness amongst the forwards had in previous games been very noticeable…”
He was back the next week, and his reputation was further boosted when he added another bag of three, this time against the eventual Premiers Fitzroy. The goals dried up a bit towards the end of the campaign, but it was still a memorable first season – with the promise of much to come.
But then Mick Lynch returned to Richmond City, and relative football obscurity. It’s not clear whether that was Collingwood’s decision, or his, but either way the VFL clearance books show him returning to his old club in May of 1899. A few weeks later he’s back with City, kicking goals again.
The next that is recorded of him is when he enlisted in the AIF in 1915, at the relatively old age of 36. He was an engine driver at the time, living in Yarraville, and he spent a couple of years in France, serving with a number of different infantry battalions. He was twice wounded in action, the first time suffering gunshot wounds to his side and wrist and the second to his left arm. He was hospitalised in England with lumbago in October 1917 and eventually forced home to Australia with the same complaint the following year.
He might have only had one season at the top level, but Mick Lynch made that season count. Collingwood fans of the time must have wished they’d got to see more of the talented forward with the sharp eye for goal.
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