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Percy Wilson

Percy Wilson

1909-1920
24
Other Guernsey Nos.
19, 22, 25, 29, 9

183 CFC Games Played

71 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
31 March 1889
Date of Death
28 March 1941
Recruited From
Collingwood Trades
Collingwood Debut
Round 2, 1909
Height:
168cm
Weight:
70kg

Biography

By Michael Roberts

Small men don’t come much smaller – or gamer – than 1917 Premiership captain Percy Wilson.

The one-time Magpie skipper was only about 168cm (5ft 6in) tall and, even in those days of smaller footballers, stood out as being undersized. But he was not frail, and his fearlessness, courage and skills more than made up for any lack of height and weight.

In the end, despite his lack of inches – and a run of injuries that would have cruelled lesser careers – he managed a 16-year VFL career during which he tallied more than 200 games with two clubs. And best of all he got to fulfill his biggest dream – leading the Pies to a flag.

Percy Wilson first appeared at Victoria Park for the 1909 pre-season trials, having starred with the Collingwood Trades team (which played in the mid-week industrial competition) in 1908. Although small, Wilson’s performances with the Trades team and then in practice games were simply too good to ignore. The sandy-haired rover was chosen on the Collingwood list and made his debut in only the second game of the season against St Kilda.

He struggled initially but secured his place when he returned to the seniors midway through the season. After his first few games, The Football Follower wrote: “Wilson is just a colt but is a clever little footballer. He handles the ball as much as anybody on the ground, but at times fails to make the best use of it.” Sport newspaper described him as “a smart little player and a nice kick”.

Wilson was a beautiful ball-handler whose control of the leather, even in the wet, was quite remarkable. He had great stamina and was quick, entirely fearless and sure in his play. He was a great possession-gatherer and learned to use the ball well with either foot or hand. Sport once described him as “sparkling and scintillating”. The Star tagged him “the perfect footballer”. “He is dashing and fearless, swift and certain in all his movements, smart in his ground play, clever with handball and a fine kick,” it said.

He also did not mind when things got a bit rugged. “The hotter the struggle the more he likes it,” was one observer’s description. Importantly, he was also consistent, rarely turning in a poor game.

After settling in during his first three seasons, and playing in the 1910 Premiership, Wilson seemed ready to take the next step in 1912, but he missed most of the year with a broken leg. When he returned, he became part of one of the game’s most formidable first ruck divisions, alongside ruckman (and former Collingwood Trades teammate) Les Hughes and Dan Minogue.

After Minogue left for the First World War at the end of 1916, Jock McHale was elected captain of the team for the 1917 season. But he was injured in Round 6 and Wilson was chosen to fill his spot. At the same time, to help give him better control over the game and the players, Wilson moved into the centre. That proved to be a masterstroke, as Wilson lifted his game to a new level. Newspaper reports said that he “beat everything on the football map that season, and was generally adjudged the best man in the League”. One hundred years later, Collingwood would honour him with its retrospective Best Player award for that season.

When McHale returned for the third last game of the season, Wilson wanted him to captain the side. But McHale recognised Wilson’s outstanding performances in his absence and, in a grand sporting gesture, declined the captaincy ­– thus allowing Wilson the eventual honour of leading his team to a Premiership. He led the team again in 1918, but 1919 proved to be a year of disappointments, capped off with the heartbreak of missing another Premiership due to a broken arm. The 1920 season, too, brought its share of mishaps, as he suffered concussion, lost a couple of teeth and injured a shoulder.

At the end of the season he was made a good offer to cross to Melbourne as coach. The offer was tempting, as Wilson was now in the veteran class and his job at the Metropolitan Gas Company was going nowhere. He’d knocked back previous offers from rival clubs, but this time he succumbed. His standing at Collingwood was perhaps best illustrated by the wording of the club’s decision to grant his clearance. “Mr Wilson’s whole heart and soul has been bound up with Collingwood,” the 1920 annual report said. “Your committee has granted him a clearance with willingness, but a lot of regret. Percy remained true to Collingwood when he had opportunities to go elsewhere… and therefore your committee felt that, in his declining years, as a coach and player he should be given every opportunity of making good.”

Wilson stayed at Melbourne until 1924, playing more than 50 games, then briefly joined St Kilda as coach. He went back to Melbourne, spent the next couple of seasons at Murtoa and then two at Port Melbourne. His fitness (which he once attributed to “clean living”, and his refusal to smoke or eat a big meal on the morning of a match) was such that he was still playing good football in his 20th year at senior level. He was never reported, nor even rebuked, by umpires in his career, and was renowned as a kindly man with a warm character.

Over the years the Collingwood fans had developed a special affection for Percy Wilson, partly because of his size, partly because of his terrier-like approach to the game and partly because of his longevity. Their feelings were clearly demonstrated when Wilson first reappeared at Victoria Park in his new colours with Melbourne. Not for Wilson the heckling and jeering sometimes directed at former players. Instead he was accorded a magnificent ovation from the Magpie supporters, being cheered “long and loud” according to one report. Wilson had given his all for Collingwood over 12 years, and that sort of reception was no more than he deserved.

This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in A Century of the Best.

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Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1909-1920 183 71 19 67%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1909 10 4 0

1909 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 9 Melbourne D 0 View match >
Round 10 Fitzroy W 1 0 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 0 View match >
Round 12 Carlton W 0 View match >
Round 13 Richmond W 0 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 0 View match >
Round 17 Geelong W 2 0 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Semi Final Sydney L 0 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1910 20 11 0

1910 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton L 0 View match >
Round 2 Sydney W 4 0 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 1 0 View match >
Round 5 Melbourne W 1 0 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 2 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 10 Carlton L 0 View match >
Round 11 Sydney L 0 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 1 0 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 0 View match >
Round 14 Melbourne W 0 View match >
Round 15 Fitzroy W 0 View match >
Round 16 Richmond W 0 View match >
Round 17 University W 0 View match >
Round 18 Geelong W 0 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 20 12 0 22

1911 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond W 1 0 22 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy W 0 22 View match >
Round 3 Geelong L 1 0 22 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 1 0 22 View match >
Round 5 Sydney W 0 22 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 0 22 View match >
Round 7 University W 2 0 22 View match >
Round 8 Carlton L 0 22 View match >
Round 9 St Kilda W 1 0 22 View match >
Round 10 Richmond W 0 22 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy L 0 22 View match >
Round 12 Geelong W 1 0 22 View match >
Round 13 Essendon L 1 0 22 View match >
Round 14 Sydney L 0 22 View match >
Round 15 Melbourne W 3 0 22 View match >
Round 16 University W 1 0 22 View match >
Round 17 Carlton W 0 22 View match >
Round 18 St Kilda W 0 22 View match >
Semi Final Sydney W 0 22 View match >
Grand Final Essendon L 0 22 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1912 9 3 0 24

1912 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne L 0 24 View match >
Round 2 Essendon L 2 0 24 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda L 0 24 View match >
Round 4 Carlton W 0 24 View match >
Round 5 Richmond W 0 24 View match >
Round 6 Geelong L 0 24 View match >
Round 7 University W 1 0 24 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 0 24 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1913 19 9 0 29

1913 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne W 0 29 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 0 29 View match >
Round 3 Essendon W 0 29 View match >
Round 4 Carlton W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 5 Richmond W 0 29 View match >
Round 6 University W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda W 0 29 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy L 0 29 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 0 29 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 11 Geelong W 0 29 View match >
Round 12 Essendon W 2 0 29 View match >
Round 13 Carlton W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 14 Richmond W 0 29 View match >
Round 15 University W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 16 St Kilda L 0 29 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy L 1 0 29 View match >
Round 18 Sydney L 0 29 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 1 0 29 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1914 14 8 0 29

1914 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 5 University W 4 0 29 View match >
Round 6 St Kilda L 1 0 29 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 8 Sydney W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 9 Geelong L 0 29 View match >
Round 10 Carlton L 0 29 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 0 29 View match >
Round 12 Richmond L 0 29 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy W 1 0 29 View match >
Round 14 University W 0 29 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 0 29 View match >
Round 16 Essendon W 0 29 View match >
Round 17 Sydney L 0 29 View match >
Round 18 Geelong L 0 29 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1915 16 2 0 25

1915 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon W 0 25 View match >
Round 2 Richmond W 0 25 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 0 25 View match >
Round 4 Melbourne W 0 25 View match >
Round 5 Geelong W 0 25 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 0 25 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 1 0 25 View match >
Round 9 Sydney W 0 25 View match >
Round 10 Essendon W 0 25 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 0 25 View match >
Round 13 Melbourne W 0 25 View match >
Round 14 Geelong W 0 25 View match >
Round 16 Carlton L 0 25 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy W 0 25 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 0 25 View match >
Grand Final Carlton L 0 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1916 11 3 0 24

1916 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond W 0 24 View match >
Round 2 Carlton L 0 24 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy D 0 24 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 0 24 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Round 7 Richmond L 1 0 24 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Round 10 Richmond L 0 24 View match >
Round 11 Carlton L 1 0 24 View match >
Round 12 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy L 1 0 24 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1917 18 3 0 24

1917 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond W 0 24 View match >
Round 2 Carlton L 1 0 24 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Round 4 Sydney W 0 24 View match >
Round 5 Geelong W 0 24 View match >
Round 6 Richmond D 0 24 View match >
Round 7 Carlton W 0 24 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 1 0 24 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 1 0 24 View match >
Round 10 Geelong W 0 24 View match >
Round 11 Richmond W 0 24 View match >
Round 12 Carlton L 0 24 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 0 24 View match >
Round 15 Geelong L 0 24 View match >
Semi Final Sydney W 0 24 View match >
Preliminary Final Fitzroy L 0 24 View match >
Grand Final Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1918 15 2 0 24

1918 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton W 0 24 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 1 0 24 View match >
Round 3 Sydney L 0 24 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 0 24 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda W 0 24 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Round 7 Essendon W 0 24 View match >
Round 8 Carlton L 0 24 View match >
Round 9 Geelong W 0 24 View match >
Round 10 Sydney L 0 24 View match >
Round 11 Richmond W 1 0 24 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda L 0 24 View match >
Round 14 Essendon W 0 24 View match >
Semi Final St Kilda W 0 24 View match >
Grand Final Sydney L 0 24 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1919 14 5 0 19

1919 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Sydney W 1 0 19 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 0 19 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 1 0 19 View match >
Round 8 Essendon W 0 19 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy L 0 19 View match >
Round 10 Sydney W 0 19 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 0 19 View match >
Round 12 Geelong W 0 19 View match >
Round 13 Richmond W 0 19 View match >
Round 15 Melbourne W 1 0 19 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 0 19 View match >
Round 17 Essendon W 0 19 View match >
Round 18 Fitzroy W 2 0 19 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 0 19 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1920 17 9 0 24

1920 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon L 0 24 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 0 24 View match >
Round 3 Melbourne W 1 0 24 View match >
Round 4 Fitzroy L 0 24 View match >
Round 5 Richmond L 1 0 24 View match >
Round 8 Carlton W 0 24 View match >
Round 9 Sydney W 0 24 View match >
Round 10 Essendon W 0 24 View match >
Round 11 Geelong W 1 0 24 View match >
Round 12 Melbourne W 0 24 View match >
Round 13 Richmond L 0 24 View match >
Round 14 Fitzroy L 2 0 24 View match >
Round 15 St Kilda W 0 24 View match >
Round 18 Sydney W 1 0 24 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy W 0 24 View match >
Preliminary Final Carlton W 3 0 24 View match >
Grand Final Richmond L 0 24 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 183 71
Avg/Game   0.39
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

153

Total AFL Games
234
Total AFL Goals
91
CFC Debut
Round 2, 1909
CFC Last Game
Grand Final, 1920
Recruited From
Collingwood Trades
Full Name
Percy Wilson

Awards

  • Life Members
    1921
  • x2
    Team Captain
    1917, 1918
  • x2
    Premiership
    1910, 1917
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