The Collingwood Football Club has a long relationship with teams that have acted as ‘feeder’ clubs for its senior team.
That started as far back as 1893 – just Collingwood’s second season – when the club helped form the Collingwood Juniors. This club disbanded in 1905,and was replaced as the Magpies’ unofficial seconds team by the Collingwood District Football Club.
In 1919, the VFL formed an official seconds or reserves competition, which included teams such as St Kilda Districts, Carlton Juniors, Fitzroy Juniors and Richmond, as well as outliers such as University and Leopold. Collingwood Districts represented the Collingwood Football Club in this competition until 1938.
But even though Collingwood supported the Districts side financially, it was in effect a stand-alone club with its own committee, its own way of running, a highly regarded coach in Hughie Thomas and even its own loyalties and culture – some seconds players in the 1920s had reportedly not wanted to be chosen for the seniors if it meant missing out on a final with Districts.
By the late 1930s, some Collingwood officials felt the seconds had become too independent. They were also concerned at rising costs, and several suspected financial irregularities. So the senior club’s leaders – Frank Wraith, Harry Curtis and Bob Rush – decided it was time to haul them into line.
But other long-serving committeemen disagreed, and refused to sign a circular to members denouncing the management of the seconds. A bitter election battle ensued, which the pro-reserves faction lost decisively. The seconds or reserves were now completely under Collingwood control.
Collingwood stayed in the VFL/AFL reserves competition until 1992, and then in what was known as the Victorian State Football League from 1993 to 1999. In 2000, the VSFL merged with the modern day VFL (formerly the VFA). Since the merge, the senior grade of the VFL has accommodated senior teams from the VFL, reserves teams from the AFL, and affiliations between VFL and AFL clubs, in which VFL senior players and AFL reserves players compete in the same team.
Collingwood fielded a stand-alone reserves team in the VFL in the 2000 VFL season, finishing 11th on the ladder. That team was disbanded in 2001, and the Magpies entered into an affiliation with the VFL’s Williamstown Football Club. Collingwood ended its affiliation with Williamstown after the 2007 season, and re-established a stand-alone reserves team in the VFL in 2008.