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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Tom Bartlett

Tom Bartlett*


1 CFC Games Played

0 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
29 June 1860
Date of Death
3 September 1905
Collingwood Debut
Round 1, 1892


Given that Tom Bartlett only managed to play one game for Collingwood, he sure picked the right one to play.

Tom was one of the 20 who took the field for the Magpies in their first ever senior match as an official football club, against Carlton on May 7 1892. It was a massive day not just for the club but for the entire local community, who had fought so hard to get their own footy team up and running. There was a huge crowd, a wonderful festive atmosphere and a downtrodden suburb suddenly full of pride. It was one of the great days in the suburb’s early history.

And Tom Bartlett was a part of it all.

He had been born in England in 1860 and came to Australia with his family while still a toddler. But from then on he didn’t seem to have much luck on the family front. His father died in 1867, just four years after arriving here.

His younger brother, James, died around age 20, then each of his first three children – two boys and a girl – all died inside their first year, one in 1885, one in 1886 and one in 1888. Then, to make matters worse, the one child that had survived, daughter Mary, died at age 5 in 1888, followed soon after by Tom’s wife Sarah, in 1890. It was an unthinkable run of tragedies.

In the face of all that, football must have seemed an irrelevance. And indeed there is little known evidence to support where Tom played his football in the 1880s and early 1890s. Previous records have said he came to us from Carlton, but there are no records of him having played there at all. So the mystery of how he came to be chosen for our very first game remains.

He was named on a half-back flank that day, and attracted only a few mentions in the papers afterwards. The Age praised one ‘strategic’ chain of play in which he was involved, and then also highlighted his interception of a Carlton wingman in full flight, showing he had plenty of pace. But there was nothing else from which we could glean insights into his playing style.

As it turned out, that was it for his playing career with Collingwood. He turned 32 soon after that game, and not too long afterwards joined Wal Lee’s team of trainers and rub-down experts. He served there until 1905, when he joined the long list of his family members to have died prematurely, passing away suddenly at age 45. The club’s annual report for that year said he had been “a devoted servant of the club for many years”.

That is true. And maybe the best reward Tom Bartlett received was to have been a part of arguably the most historically significant game in the club’s history.

– Michael Roberts


CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
0 0 0 %

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC VFA Debut Number


VFA Matches Played at Collingwood
CFC Debut
Round 1, 1892
Full Name
Tom Bartlett

* Player statistics include VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.

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