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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Phil Manassa

Phil Manassa

1973-1979
31

122 CFC Games Played

60 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
29 January 1956
Recruited From
Olympic
Collingwood Debut
Round 3, 1973
Height:
178cm
Weight:
79kg

Biography

Thirteen and a half seconds. That is all Phil Manassa took to transform his standing in the hearts of Collingwood supporters from one of honest battler to one of cult hero.

Halfway through the final quarter of the 1977 grand final replay Collingwood was heading for defeat and Phil Manassa seemed destined never to be regarded as anything more than a gutsy, determined, aggressive utility player. Then Wayne Gordon tapped the ball across to the running Manassa on the half-back flank. He tucked the ball under one arm and charged up field like a rampaging bull. He bounced the ball once, twice, three times, faked a handball to elude a North Melbourne opponent, bounced once more then slotted home an angled shot from more than 50 metres. It was one of the greatest individual goals ever seen, and it so exhausted Manassa that he could barely make it back to his position in defence.

In the short time it took him to charge from half-back to half-forward Phil Manassa secured himself a permanent place in Collingwood’s history. Manassa was already something of a fan favourite, largely the result of his ‘full-speed ahead’ approach to footy. But his grand final run – even though, like Ray Gabelich’s run in 1964, it was ultimately in a losing cause – took that popularity to a new level.

Ironically though, it took some time for the significance of Manassa’s achievement to dawn on the man himself. “I was just buggered,” he said later. “All I could think was that we had a chance to win and that I had to get back on (Malcolm) Blighty. After the game everyone was walking past and patting me on the back, saying it was fantastic, but I couldn’t comprehend it — I just didn’t think it was anything special. It’s like taking a big ‘specky’ mark — you never know how good it is until you see it yourself.”

Still, that’s exactly the kind of mark many people thought Phil Manassa would leave on League football, for he was an incredibly successful junior footballer.

Born and raised in Ivanhoe, he had been a junior star since he first pulled on the boots as a nine-year old. As a centreman with an eye for goals, he racked up numerous club and competition best and fairest awards — one season picking up 149 votes out of a possible 162! He represented Victoria at under-16 level for two years, the second as the vice-captain. At each of those junior carnivals he won Victoria’s best player award, ran second in the competition voting and was chosen in the all-Australian team. He also excelled in other sports, representing his school in everything from volleyball, baseball and soccer to hockey, basketball and cricket.

When Manassa started attending Heidelberg High School, he found that two of his teachers were Collingwood players Lee Adamson and Ted Potter. They would soon be teammates. Indeed Manassa had a way of making many of his teammates feel a little old; both Wayne Richardson and Barry Price had conducted primary school football clinics a few years earlier in which Phil took part. He never missed a chance to remind them of the fact.

Manassa made it to the supplementary list in 1972, kicking 37 goals in 14 games with the under-19s, including one haul of six, and also playing a few games with the reserves. Early in 1973, aged only 17, he made it into the senior team as a reserve against Geelong, and a couple of weeks later earned himself a place in the starting 18. In all he played 13 games that year, but started on the bench in nine of them.

By 1974 Phil was an established part of the starting line-up and took part in all 24 games, one of only three players to do so. He played most of those in the back pocket, but through his career he proved extremely versatile, playing everywhere but in the ruck (he once even kicked 1.8 from full-forward against Hawthorn). The word ‘utility’ was rarely more apt than when applied to Manassa, and Collingwood knew it would get good value from him wherever he was placed.

Ironically for one who always fancied himself as a goalkicker, and who admits he was never really “turned on” by playing in defence, Manassa spent much of his career in the defensive half of the field. His dashing, straight-ahead style of play was perhaps at its most effective when running off the back line. But no matter where he lined up you could be sure Manassa would approach his football the same way — at full throttle.

He was not a graceful footballer by any means, but he was effective. Burly of build but possessed of fair pace, Manassa was a hard man to stop when he built up a head of steam. He approached the ball aggressively and did not shirk physical confrontations, believing if the ball was there to be won then nothing else mattered. He had a fanatical will-to-win and a desperation in his play that was twice rewarded with the club’s “most determined player” award. A booming kick and a safe mark, he was always creating options for his teammates. Even in defence his was an aggressive, attacking approach, and he was never content with merely playing safe.

Although he became a Collingwood regular, Manassa never quite took the game by the scruff of the neck in the way that his junior career had led some to expect. Nonetheless, by the end of 1978 he had strung together more than 100 games and was one of the most experienced players in the team. But 1979 turned out to be a poor year for him. He played only 10 games, spent time in the reserves and generally seemed to fall from favour. There are some who believe that Manassa’s love of a drink and a smoke (he did like to enjoy life), did not go down well with the dedicated Tom Hafey. Whatever the reasons, the club did not stand in his way when a business opportunity tempted him to Tasmania at the end of 1979. Incredibly, he was only 23 when he played his last League game.

Collingwood leased him to Devonport for two years, and he then spent four years coaching and playing in Sydney, then three more in New Guinea after he was transferred there by his employers, Rothmans. In 1989 he returned to Sydney, and in 1990 came home to play with St Leo’s in a church comp — still of an age less than some playing VFL football.

Wherever he went through that nomadic phase of his life, people always wanted to talk about “The Run”. When Collingwood left Victoria Park in 1999, it was one of the highlights recreated one final time. Even today, the winner of the AFL’s Goal of the Year is awarded the Phil Manassa Medal. In a game renowned for its spectacular individual moments, Phil Manassa’s 1977 run-and-goal will always stand as one of the most memorable of them all.

This is an edited version of the biography that appeared in the club’s centenary book, A Century of the Best.

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Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1973-1979 122 60 9 59%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1973 13 3 8 85 15 100 31

1973 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 3 Geelong W 1 3 3 31 View match >
Round 4 St Kilda W 0 31 View match >
Round 5 North Melbourne W 1 14 5 19 31 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 2 13 13 31 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 1 1 2 31 View match >
Round 10 Hawthorn W 4 4 31 View match >
Round 11 Essendon W 9 2 11 31 View match >
Round 12 Sydney W 1 2 24 4 28 31 View match >
Round 13 Western Bulldogs W 2 8 1 9 31 View match >
Round 14 St Kilda W 1 6 2 8 31 View match >
Round 16 North Melbourne L 0 31 View match >
Round 22 Essendon W 2 2 31 View match >
Preliminary Final Richmond L 1 1 1 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1974 24 7 8 252 70 322 31

1974 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon W 9 9 31 View match >
Round 2 Hawthorn W 17 4 21 31 View match >
Round 3 Western Bulldogs W 9 3 12 31 View match >
Round 4 Fitzroy L 9 2 11 31 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 11 4 15 31 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 15 1 16 31 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda W 8 2 10 31 View match >
Round 8 Geelong L 6 1 7 31 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 9 3 12 31 View match >
Round 10 North Melbourne W 8 3 11 31 View match >
Round 11 Sydney W 8 1 9 31 View match >
Round 12 Essendon W 13 8 21 31 View match >
Round 13 Hawthorn W 5 2 7 31 View match >
Round 14 Fitzroy W 9 5 14 31 View match >
Round 15 Western Bulldogs W 15 15 31 View match >
Round 16 Carlton L 8 5 13 31 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 9 2 11 31 View match >
Round 18 St Kilda L 12 1 13 31 View match >
Round 19 Geelong W 2 2 15 3 18 31 View match >
Round 20 Richmond L 2 4 12 2 14 31 View match >
Round 21 North Melbourne L 1 1 9 3 12 31 View match >
Round 22 Sydney L 2 18 4 22 31 View match >
Elimination Final Western Bulldogs W 4 5 9 31 View match >
Semi Final Hawthorn L 1 14 6 20 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1975 16 123 25 148 31

1975 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Sydney W 9 3 12 31 View match >
Round 2 Carlton L 9 1 10 31 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy W 5 1 6 31 View match >
Round 5 Western Bulldogs L 7 2 9 31 View match >
Round 7 North Melbourne W 2 2 31 View match >
Round 8 Essendon W 5 1 6 31 View match >
Round 9 St Kilda W 8 3 11 31 View match >
Round 10 Hawthorn L 17 17 31 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne L 0 31 View match >
Round 12 Sydney W 10 10 31 View match >
Round 13 Carlton L 8 1 9 31 View match >
Round 14 Geelong L 9 4 13 31 View match >
Round 15 Fitzroy W 11 2 13 31 View match >
Round 16 Western Bulldogs W 15 3 18 31 View match >
Round 17 Richmond L 8 4 12 31 View match >
Round 18 North Melbourne L 0 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1976 15 16 18 166 65 231 31

1976 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton L 3 3 31 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 2 2 12 5 17 31 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda L 1 6 4 10 31 View match >
Round 9 Western Bulldogs L 7 4 11 31 View match >
Round 10 Essendon L 14 3 17 31 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 1 2 12 6 18 31 View match >
Round 12 Carlton W 1 1 12 7 19 31 View match >
Round 14 Richmond L 2 9 8 17 31 View match >
Round 15 Hawthorn L 2 2 13 1 14 31 View match >
Round 16 St Kilda L 2 2 14 6 20 31 View match >
Round 17 Geelong L 2 3 20 4 24 31 View match >
Round 18 North Melbourne L 2 12 4 16 31 View match >
Round 19 Fitzroy L 1 3 17 8 25 31 View match >
Round 20 Western Bulldogs L 1 3 1 4 31 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne L 2 12 4 16 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1977 19 12 16 216 63 279 31

1977 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 5 Geelong W 2 7 6 13 31 View match >
Round 6 Carlton W 1 3 11 5 16 31 View match >
Round 7 Fitzroy W 2 2 31 View match >
Round 9 Hawthorn W 2 1 9 4 13 31 View match >
Round 10 Sydney L 1 6 9 1 10 31 View match >
Round 12 Western Bulldogs W 1 9 4 13 31 View match >
Round 13 North Melbourne W 1 1 18 4 22 31 View match >
Round 14 Richmond W 11 5 16 31 View match >
Round 15 Essendon W 1 11 4 15 31 View match >
Round 16 Geelong L 10 7 17 31 View match >
Round 17 Carlton W 13 2 15 31 View match >
Round 18 Fitzroy W 12 2 14 31 View match >
Round 19 St Kilda W 12 2 14 31 View match >
Round 20 Hawthorn L 18 4 22 31 View match >
Round 21 Sydney W 3 1 12 2 14 31 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 10 4 14 31 View match >
Semi Final Hawthorn W 11 1 12 31 View match >
Grand Final North Melbourne D 0 0 13 3 16 31 View match >
Grand Final North Melbourne L 3 1 18 3 21 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1978 25 18 26 275 73 348 31

1978 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong W 1 16 4 20 31 View match >
Round 2 Essendon W 1 2 10 4 14 31 View match >
Round 3 Sydney L 2 2 11 1 12 31 View match >
Round 4 Hawthorn L 1 2 11 1 12 31 View match >
Round 5 North Melbourne L 1 11 11 31 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 1 15 4 19 31 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 1 6 3 9 31 View match >
Round 8 Western Bulldogs W 1 10 3 13 31 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 1 16 1 17 31 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 12 8 20 31 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 2 10 4 14 31 View match >
Round 12 Geelong L 1 9 4 13 31 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 1 3 7 2 9 31 View match >
Round 14 Hawthorn W 15 2 17 31 View match >
Round 15 Sydney W 1 3 10 3 13 31 View match >
Round 16 North Melbourne L 6 1 7 31 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy W 11 7 18 31 View match >
Round 18 Carlton L 11 1 12 31 View match >
Round 19 Western Bulldogs W 14 7 21 31 View match >
Round 20 Richmond W 4 1 13 3 16 31 View match >
Round 21 St Kilda W 3 2 17 1 18 31 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 1 1 8 5 13 31 View match >
Qualifying Final Hawthorn L 1 1 10 3 13 31 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 1 1 7 1 8 31 View match >
Preliminary Final North Melbourne L 1 9 9 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1979 10 4 6 75 23 98 31

1979 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy L 1 9 2 11 31 View match >
Round 2 Hawthorn W 1 1 14 6 20 31 View match >
Round 3 North Melbourne L 6 3 9 31 View match >
Round 6 Essendon L 2 2 31 View match >
Round 10 Carlton L 1 2 2 31 View match >
Round 14 St Kilda W 1 11 3 14 31 View match >
Round 15 North Melbourne L 9 1 10 31 View match >
Round 19 Sydney W 1 2 10 1 11 31 View match >
Round 20 Richmond W 1 1 10 4 14 31 View match >
Round 21 Carlton W 2 3 5 31 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 122 60 82 1192 334 1526
Avg/Game   0.49 0.67 9.77 2.74 12.51
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

735

Total AFL Games
122
Total AFL Goals
60
CFC Debut
Round 3, 1973
CFC Last Game
Round 21, 1979
Recruited From
Olympic
Full Name
Phil Manassa
Nickname
Mauler

Awards

  • x2
    Most Determined Player
    1974, 1976
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