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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Wes McGaw

Wes McGaw


4 CFC Games Played

2 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
6 June 1950
Date of Death
5 September 1981
Recruited From
Collingwood Debut
Round 16, 1972


The idea of a long apprenticeship is pretty much anathema in football these days, unless it’s occasionally afforded to big men.

But in years gone by it was not unusual to see players spend years developing their trade, and confidence, in the seconds before finally getting their chance at senior level. And some of the game’s greatest players, such as Michael Tuck, were poster boys for how successful that approach could be.

For a while, it looked like Wes McGaw was going to be that sort of project player for Collingwood.

He came to the club from northern suburban club Regent in 1968, having gone to Reservoir High School and played with Kingsbury before that. The eldest of nine children, he had a footballing pedigree that included one uncle who played with Richmond in the late 1950s and another who was a star with Moorabbin in the VFA.

Wes played 25 games with the thirds, spread over three seasons, and finished second in the team’s best-and-fairest count in 1969. He also got his first taste of reserves footy that year.

At those levels it was clear that Wes had plenty of talent. A goalkicking midfielder/forward, he was wirily built with good speed and excellent skills. He was also a natural athlete and covered the ground well. Wherever he played he could find both the ball and the goals.

But these were hard Collingwood teams to break into, so he was forced to keep plugging away at the lower levels. And plugging away. In the end it wasn’t until 1972, into his fifth season at Victoria Park, that he was finally rewarded for his patience with four senior games late in the year.

He played the first of those against North Melbourne, named as 20th man and coming on in the last quarter for Ian McOrist. The next week he stayed on the bench again, this time for the whole game. He returned to the seconds and was brought back three weeks later for his first full game – named in the centre when Barry Price came down with tonsillitis. It was a huge leap but Wes did well enough despite suffering a mild concussion, including kicking two goals, to keep his place the following week, with Price being returned to a wing to allow him to keep the centre spot.

He was dropped for the club’s finals campaign, but by the time the year ended could look at an overall balance sheet that read 25 games in the U19s, 57 in the reserves and four in the seniors. Overall it was 86 games and 52 goals across all grades. It was surely a good basis to build on.

But the Magpies, somewhat surprisingly, decided they’d seen enough, and Wes was cleared to Preston before the 1973 season, where he played 24 games across two years. He then went to Doveton and played local footy.

He worked at the Sherrin factory stitching footballs, and then as a labourer, and continued playing cricket (he was a very good local cricketer). His brother Darryl played seconds and U19s with us while a younger brother called Jason also played U19s with us as well as trying out for Melbourne in the mid-80s.

He spent the summer of 1980-81 playing cricket with Omega CC in the City of Moorabbin competition (he averaged just under 50 with the bat and took 28 wickets at 12.5) and working as a bricklayer. He remained a competitive, super fit athlete. But he was stricken with a particularly virulent cancer not long after and died in September that year, just weeks before his son Paul would be born. Omega’s Club Champion award would later be named in his honour.

It was a sudden and premature end to a life that had promised so much. Wes McGaw was deeply loved by his family and friends, and he was taken far too soon.

– Michael Roberts


CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1972 4 2 0 75%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1972 4 2 20 4 24 39

1972 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 16 North Melbourne W 4 4 39 View match >
Round 17 Hawthorn W 0 39 View match >
Round 21 Sydney W 2 10 10 39 View match >
Round 22 Essendon L 6 4 10 39 View match >
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 4 2 20 4 24
Avg/Game   0.50 5.00 1.00 6.00
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number


Total AFL Games
Total AFL Goals
CFC Debut
Round 16, 1972
CFC Last Game
Round 22, 1972
Recruited From
Full Name
Wes McGaw
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