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JACK COLLINS - FOOTSCRAY’S ‘JACK OF ALL TRADES’

Jack Collins was a local hero of the Western Oval and a household name in the 1950’s. Jack’s dazzling performance, in the 1954 Grand Final, was a key factor in Footscray winning it’s first-ever VFL flag.

While most remember Jack Collins as a forward, he was a versatile footballer who was just as much ‘at home’ at centre half back or in the midfield.

In later years, Jack was a loyal servant of Footscray; and his service, as a player and an administrator, reflected his enduring commitment to the club and the community in which he lived.

This story attempts to keep alive the memory one of the VFL’s most popular characters. This is Jack Collins’ story …

Jack Collins - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


EARLY YEARS IN YARRAVILLE


From reading Jack’s life history, he appears to have been a man who rarely ventured ‘far from home.’ Jack (born in 1930) was raised in Yarraville, attended the Yarraville State School (S.S.1501) and played football and cricket with his neighbourhood teams.

It seems that Jack had a safe and happy childhood; and his days were rarely spent ‘sitting around’ waiting for something to happen. Jack met life ‘head on’ and was a boy who liked nothing better than fun and games and outdoor life …

“ Collins enjoyed an ideal football upbringing while growing up in Campbel Street Yarraville…Young Jack served as a Bulldog mascot for several years , relishing the chance to meet his boyhood idols like Norm Ware, Joe Ryan and Harry Hickey….Collins played his footy at Yarraville Primary School and West Footscray Football club. In 1948 , he played centre for Yarraville’s VFA side …” . ‘Sons of the ‘ Scra’ Page: 26.


A FAMOUS FOOTBALL FAMILY


Having grown up in a family which loved football and club life, Jack Collins was destined to play Australian Rules. The Collins family is listed in Ken Piesse’s book (‘The Complete Guide to Australian Football’ ) under the heading: ‘Famous Brothers.’ Jack Collins’ father, Jim, played 30 games with Essendon FC in the period 1919-1921; and it is also known that he coached Yarraville FC prior to crossing to Essendon (i.e. when Yarraville was affiliated with the Victorian Junior Football Association) .

Jack’s older brother, Alan was quite a star for Footscray FC and won the club’s Best and Fairest trophy in 1943. Alan (born 1919) played 99 senior games with the Bulldogs from 1936-1946 and was selected to represent Victoria in 1941. Alan was a prolific goal-kicker for Footscray; and he won the club’s goal-kicking award in 1941 (35 goals) and again in 1943 when he booted 41 goals. During his VFL career, Alan kicked 178 goals for the Bulldogs.

Ariel shot of Yarraville 1930s  - by Pratt C1930s SLV
Ariel shot of Yarraville 1930s - by Pratt C1930s SLV


Note: Public awareness of Alan’s achievements, in VFL football, has faded with the passing years. He was another footballer who played VFL football during the years of the Second World War (when reporting on the matches was understandably limited because of the more important national matters).

Jack’s other brother, Robert (aka Bob) was born in 1934 and played with Footscray in 1954. Bob played 20 senior games for the Bulldogs.

THREE AFL STARS NAMED JACK COLLINS


Younger ‘students of the great game’ should be made aware that there were three prominent players with the name ‘Jack Collins’ throughout the history of the VFL.

One ‘Jack’ was a brilliant wingman for Melbourne ( 1923-31). That particular Jack Collins was recruited from CBC St Kilda; and his two sons ( Geoff and Mike ) also played with Melbourne in later years. Geoff and Jack Collins ( the centre of this story ) would cross paths during their lives.

Another Jack Collins (ex- Golden Point) played 112 games for Geelong in the period 1929-1938. Jack was one of the finest centre-half forwards of his era; and he played nine games with Victoria.

Jack Collins b1930 - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Football Record 1928 Round 18 p24 J Collins Melbourne - Source State Library of Victoria
Football Record 1928 Round 18 p24 J Collins Melbourne - Source State Library of Victoria
AFL record 1930 Round 13 p13 Jack Collins
AFL record 1930 Round 13 p13 Jack Collins


Note: Researching the ‘Collins’ name can be quite confusing; and it is certain that Jack Collins is not related to brothers Daryl and Dennis Collins (both ex-Braybrook) who also played with Footscray in the period 1972-77. Daryl and Dennis are the sons of another VFL footballer , John Collins, who played with Fitzroy and Essendon between 1945 and 1950. John Collins played on the wing in Essendon’s premiership team in 1950.

JACK COLLINS BUILDS AT REPUTATION AT YARRAVILLE


John Charles Collins better known as ‘Jack’ was a highly gifted youngster and came into prominence when he was playing with Yarraville. The club, known as the Villains (until 1949) and later the Eagles, wore the colours red, white and blue…

Jack Collins b1930 - Yarraville - 1950 Kornies Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - Yarraville - 1950 Kornies Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


Yarraville 1948 Team - You Cant Beat Yarraville John Heron 2003
Yarraville 1948 Team - You Cant Beat Yarraville John Heron 2003


“Yarraville was a working class suburb until close to the end of the 20th century. The football club was formed in 1903 and played in the Victorian Junior Football Association where it was successful. In the 1920's the VJFA was associated with the VFA as a junior competition and in 1928 Yarraville joined the VFA.” Boyles Football Photos website.


Yarraville produced a substantial batch of VFL players during its fifty-five years of existence including: Jack Garrick (South Melbourne), George Garlick ( North Melbourne), Roy Evans ( Footscray), Brian Gilmore ( Footscray), Tom Joyce ( South Melbourne) and Thomas Tribe ( Footscray ).

Note: James Collins (Jack’s Father) was recruited to Essendon from Yarraville FC . Furthermore, throughout the life of the Yarraville FC (1928-1983), the club was most successful in attracting star VFL players to join the club. Noted VFL footballers such as Tom Fitzmaurice, Alan Hopkins, Merv Hobbs, Jack Cashman, Dick Harris, Harry Hunter, David Thorpe, Kevin Sait, Leo Dwyer and Fred Cook all played with Yarraville at various times.

Yarraville 1920 You Cant Beat Yarraville John Heron 2003. Jim Collins (Jack’s father) played with Yarraville to mid 1919
Yarraville 1920 You Cant Beat Yarraville John Heron 2003. Jim Collins (Jack’s father) played with Yarraville to mid 1919


The Yarraville Sugar Works, a major local industry, was often mentioned in researching this story; and the available records show that Wally Glenister , who played eight games with Footscray, was actually recruited from the Yarraville Sugar Works. Another local football club known as Footscray-Yarraville Socials had quite a strong profile in suburban football; and developed a handful of brilliant VFL players including : Ted Whitten Jnr, Peter Welsh and Ian Bryant.

Following a problematic period, Yarraville FC’s stocks slumped to an all-time low; and in its ultimate season, as an affiliate of Division: 2 VFA, Yarraville was uncompetitive and won only one of its eighteen games.

The ‘writing was on the wall’ and, unfortunately, Yarraville was forced to disband in 1983. Further information regarding the history of Yarraville FC can be found on this website at: http://www.boylesfootballphotos.net.au/Yarraville+%28VFA%29


JACK COLLINS CROSSES TO FOOTSCRAY


Argus Magazine 8 Apr 1950 P16 League Club Mascot Badges
Argus Magazine 8 Apr 1950 P16 League Club Mascot Badges


‘The Argus’ told readers of the hopes that Footscray held in securing the services of young Jack Collins …

“Footscray Wants J. Collins….Although Yarraville, last night deferred an application by half forward Jack Collins for a clearance to Footscray, officials of the League club are still hopeful Collins will play in their opening game. According to Footscray officials, there has always been harmony between the two clubs and Footscray has cleared many players to Yarraville in the past. They believe Collins will fit nicely into their side this season if he is cleared.” April 12th 1950 Page: 25

As readers will appreciate, there is often a degree of brinkmanship in clearance wrangles; and there was some doubt about Jack’s immediate VFL future. However, common sense prevailed and, within a short space of time, everything ‘fell into place’ and Jack was selected for Footscray in Round: 1 of the 1950 season…

“ Collins to play for Footscray ……Jack Collins, Yarraville's brilliant forward, was granted a League permit last night to play for with Footscray. Yarraville agreed to grant a clearance after an early evening conference with Footscray officials. Previously, they had refused to grant a clearance unless Footscray made an exchange of players. After the permit was granted at 9pm., Footscray officials selected the team for today's match against St. Kilda. The team is: Backs: Sutton, Moncrieff, Bryden. Half-backs: Abbey, McDonnell, Martin. Centres: McLaren, Donald. Wearmouth. Half-forwards: Collins, W. Scanlon, Isaac. Forwards: Millen, Wood, Linton. Followers: Olliver, McCaffie Rover: Laffy. “ ‘The Argus’ 22nd April 1950. Page: 45


ARTHUR OLLIVER- A TOWER OF STRENGTH


Jack Collins’ first coach at Footscray was Arthur Olliver; and it impossible to write a story about the 1950 team at Footscray without acknowledging the lasting contribution that Arthur made to VFL football. He was one of the VFL’s finest players, a loyal ambassador of the game and a tower of strength during the tough times (1934-39) at the Western Oval.

Arthur Olliver (born 1916) was once described as a ‘mighty follower’ for Footscray. He was recruited from Footscray Technical School in 1935 and went on to play VFL for sixteen seasons. Although better known as a forward, Arthur was also a determined ruck man and could be used in defence to great effect.

Arthur’s impressive career at Footscray included:

  • 272 VFL games and 354 goals.
  • 7 goals against Essendon in 1936.
  • A total of 58 Brownlow votes.
  • Footscray’s leading goal kicker in 1936, 37 and 49.
  • Winner of Footscray’s Best & Fairest trophy in 1941 and 44.
  • Coached Footscray for a total of 128 games.
  • Selected in Footscray’s team of the Century.
  • Represented Victoria against South Australia and the WAFL.

Arthur played his last game against Collingwood in 1950 and left the mainland in 1951 to coach in Tasmania, at New Norfolk FC, for three seasons. In 1960, Arthur coached West Perth (WAFL) to a premiership.

In later years, Arthur was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame and there would be little argument that he was a most worthy recipient for his contribution to the Bulldogs and national football. Arthur Olliver died in 1988 at the age of 77.

Arthur Olliver - 1938 Hoadleys League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Arthur Olliver - 1938 Hoadleys League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 011 - Arthur Olliver - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Football Cards
Card 011 - Arthur Olliver - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Football Cards
Sporting Globe 13-May-39 p5 - Arthur Olliver Footscray - Photographer Unknown
Sporting Globe 13-May-39 p5 - Arthur Olliver Footscray - Photographer Unknown
Arthur Olliver - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Arthur Olliver - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


JACK DEBUTS AT THE WESTERN OVAL


Jack’s first game against St Kilda was at the Western Oval. He was 20 years of age when he ran onto the oval and commenced his warm-up lap in the company of some of Footscray’s finest players of that era: Charlie Sutton, Dave Bryden, George McLaren, Len McCankie, Wally Donald, Alan Martin and Arthur Olliver. Jack wore number two guernsey that day (and for the next nine seasons).

Note: A story about Alan Martin can be found on this website at: http://www.boylesfootballphotos.net.au/article89-Alan-Martin-The-Star-from-Stawell

The Saints outplayed Footscray in the last quarter to record an unexpected victory by eight points. Footscray’s inaccuracy in front of goal was a major factor contributing to its defeat . The scores were: St Kilda 12.11. 83 defeated Footscray 9.20. 74.

John Coffey was at his brilliant best for the Saints; and he kicked two goals while Peter Bennett booted four majors. On a day when It was hard to find good players for Footscray, Mervyn Laffey (ex- Footscray Districts ) was noted in ‘The Argus’ match review for his honest effort.

Footscray’s full-forward, Bill Wood (ex- Jindera, near Albury) kicked three goals for the Bulldogs. Bill was most under-rated and perhaps another forgotten star of that era. Very few people today would realize that Bill booted nine goals in his debut match against Collingwood in Round: 3 1944. He went on to play 115 games and kicked 294 goals at an average of 2.55 goals per match.

Jack Collins was not mentioned in that newspaper report; but it is known that he played 17 games in 1950, which illustrated that he had won the confidence of Arthur Olliver and the Bulldog selectors during that season.

In a sign of Jack’s unquestionable potential, he polled seven Brownlow Medal votes. Only Charlie Sutton (17 votes ) and Wally Donald (9) polled more than Jack that season. It is fair to say that Jack had found VFL football very ‘much to his liking.’

Argus 13 May 1950 Footscray Team Edema
Argus 13 May 1950 Footscray Team Edema


A COMPLIMENT FROM PERCY TAYLOR


At the end of the 1950 season, Percy Taylor gave a deal of column space in writing about Jack Collins’ performances in his first season of AFL football and Percy predicted a bright future for the young Bulldog. It should be remembered while Jack was just twenty years of age, he was being touted as an emerging star. Percy’s description of Jack ( below) is a reminder of how Jack Colllins had burst onto the scene...

“ IF FOOTSCRAY'S eight new players become regulars next season, there is every reason "to believe that the team will make a strong advance. The "big eight" are Des Reardon (known everywhere as "Bill"), Don Henderson, Jack Collins. Bill Kelly, John Barrett, Frank McRae, Reg Egan, and Norman Charles. Most important - nearly all are district boys.… Jack Collins just walked into the Footscray side. He had been playing with Yarraville, and was a younger brother of Alan, who was one of Footscray's stars for years. He has done well in various positions, but principally as a wing, centre, or half forward. He is just 20 is 6ft and 12st 10lb , so is ideally built for the job. He is a cool type of player with excellent control and a nice mark and kick. His future in the club is exceedingly bright.” ‘The Argus – Weekend Magazine ‘September 2nd 1950 Pages10 &11.


AN EMERGING STAR OF VFL FOOTBALL


1951 was a year of substantial change at Footscray as the redoubtable Arthur Olliver finally stepped down as coach. Charlie Sutton was appointed to the job with the hope of bringing the apparent talent at the Western Oval together and ‘to the fore.’

Argus 8 Sep 1951 P15 Footscray Essendon Semi Final Line Ups (No.8 Jack Collins)
Argus 8 Sep 1951 P15 Footscray Essendon Semi Final Line Ups (No.8 Jack Collins)


1951 was a stellar season for Jack Collins as he won Footscray’s Best & Fairest trophy. Jack was on the crest of a wave as within eighteen months, of his VFL debut, he was regarded as a vital player in the Bulldog’s plans for the future. It was indeed a ‘big call’ …

“Jack Collins (21), now in his second year, is already one of the best centre half-backs in the game.” ‘The Argus’ September 7th 1951 Page: 5.

Jack Collins was making a name for himself in VFL circles; and he was extremely versatile and could switch from forward to defence with great effect. He also took out the Best & Fairest award in 1952, and had forged a reputation that would have been envied by most. The ‘Holmesby and Main’ entry reads….

“Collins had uncanny goal sense, was a good mark and had natural cleverness. His high marking equipped him for either of the key position posts and he also played some great football in his early days at centre half back.”

Argus Magazine 6 Jun 1952 P1 Footscray Team (Jack Collins bottom centre)
Argus Magazine 6 Jun 1952 P1 Footscray Team (Jack Collins bottom centre)


JACK COLLINS IS GIVEN CHAMPION STATUS


Jack was in superlative form during 1952 and was tipped to win selection for Victoria. Peter Golding of ‘The Argus’ wrote that Jack was a ‘champion’ at the age of 22 years. As with Percy Taylor’s earlier article about Jack, it was strong praise for such a young player.

It is always a risky business, by any journalist, to make such a prophecy on any young player; but Peter Golding was confident that Jack Collins was an elite footballer…

“In Jack Collins Footscray has one of the finest centre half-backs in the League today. From the slim, nice looking lad who joined the Bulldogs three seasons ago, Collins has developed into a powerful defender, who is the bugbear of any opposing side. Twenty-two-year-old Jack Collins is a natural footballer. He has all these little extras about his play which make him so much better than average. His superb judgment, coupled with clean, high marking, speed, and good kicking combine to make him a champion.” ‘The Argus.’ June 13th 1952 Page: 5.

JACK WINS ANOTHER MAJOR AWARD AT FOOTSCRAY


Footscray struggled in 1952 and finished 10th on the VFL Ladder but, in personal terms, it was a triumphant season for ‘young’ Jack Collins. Playing in defence or across the forward line, he was the Bulldogs’ best player that season. He not only took out the club honours but finished equal fourth in the Brownlow Medal.

That year Roy Wright won the medal on count back from Essendon’s Bill Hutchinson with 21 votes while Harold Bray ( St Kilda 19), Peter Pianto (Geelong 17), and (Billy Wilson)) ( Richmond 15). Collingwood’s Thorold Merrett and Jack Collins each polled 12 votes.

Other Footscray players to receive Brownlow Medal votes that season included: Ted Whitten (6), Roy Harper (4), Bill Scanlan (4), Dave Bryden (3) and Charlie Sutton also polled three votes.


JACK COLLINS- MR VERSATILE


As the title of the article suggests, Jack Collins was a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ and was a blessing to Arthur Olliver ( and later Charlie Sutton) in being able to bolster vulnerable positions around the ground during a match…

“ …there was far more to Collins’ career than his work as a spearhead. His versatility was such that he represented Victoria in three key positions: full-forward, centre half- forward and centre half – back.” ‘ Sons of the ‘Scray’ Page;26

In the book entitled, ‘Clubs’, it is also written…

“…Collins had been a top-line player well before his goal kicking exploits from full-forward. In his early years , Sutton used Collins at centre half-back and centre half-forward with enormous success.” Page: 151.

Note: Although difficult to substantiate, it was said, that on one occasion, Jack Collins proved to be most effective successful full back against John Coleman. Apparently he kept the Essendon’s match-winner to three goals in a match in 1953. However, that statement could not be verified using the available AFL historical data; and perhaps the writer had intended to write 1950 (i.e. in Round:15 at the Western Oval Round:15).


JACK WINS STATE SELECTION.


During his VFL career, Jack Collins represented Victoria on eight occasions which further demonstrated his ability and attitude in VFL ranks. In 1952, he was part of a team that could only be described as a ‘Who’s Who’ of Victorian football.

On that day (14th June) , Jack was chosen to play against West Australia at the MCG. The Victorian team was:

C. Sutton (Capt.), J. Collins (Footscray), T. Merrett, R. Rose (Collingwood), F. Flanagan, B. Morrison (Geelong), W. Gunn, J. Taylor (South Melbourne), D. Cordner, G. Collins (Melbourne), W. Hutchison, N. McDonald (Essendon), D. Fraser, R. Wright (Richmond), W. Stephen, N. Jarvis (Fitzroy), J. Kennedy, E. Fletcher (Hawthorn), J. Spencer, L. Mogg (North Melbourne), H. Bray, K. Drinan (St. Kilda), L. Kerr and K. Warburton from Carlton .

Jack sat on the bench for Victoria in that game while Geoff Collins (Melbourne, and no relation to Jack) was selected on the half-back flank. The crowd witnessed an entertaining and close contest, and the final scores were: Victoria: 13.13. (91) defeated WA: 13. 4. (82).

North Melbourne’s champion full-forward, Jock Spencer, kicked six goals for Victoria; and Collinwood’s stylish and speedy wing man, Thorold Merrett, was given ‘the nod’ as the ‘Big V’s’ best player.

It is not possible to highlight all of Jack’s games with Victoria in this story but interested readers my like to browse this website for photographs and articles regarding Jacks interstate representation.

Herald 10 Jul 1953 P11 Jack Collins And Alan Martin Footscray
Herald 10 Jul 1953 P11 Jack Collins And Alan Martin Footscray


Mirror Perth 17 Jul 1954 P17 Victorians In Perth Before The Game
Mirror Perth 17 Jul 1954 P17 Victorians In Perth Before The Game


JACK COLLINS MEETS GEOFF COLLINS


Percy Beames of ‘The Age’ newspaper, listed Charlie Sutton in his better players in the above match review; and also he mentioned the name ‘Collins’ in that group. However, it is assumed that referred to Geoff (see above). Geoff was the son of former Melbourne footballer, Jack. A. Collins, who had played 127 games for Melbourne between 1923-1931.

Geoff Collins was recruited to Melbourne in 1948 and a was hard-running and daring defender. Geoff had an interrupted VFL career as he served as pilot in the Korean War during 1953. On his return to Australia, he was appointed captain of the Demons in 1954. In all, he played 88 games and kicked 8 goals for Melbourne. Geoff Collins was described in the ‘Weekend Magazine’ of ‘The Argus’ as…

“…a player from Yallourn, is the brilliant type of defender, with the habit of unsettling the opposing half-forwards with his dash, determination, and accurate disposal. He is the cool type and gives his opponent no quarter.” July 1st 1950 Page: 12

In an interesting twist, Geoff was Melbourne’s captain on the day that Jack Collins guided Footscray to victory win in the 1954 Grand Final (see below).

Age 15 Apr 1954 P18 Geoff Collins Melbourne Sergant Pilot Korea
Age 15 Apr 1954 P18 Geoff Collins Melbourne Sergant Pilot Korea


That was to be Geoff’s last game of VFL football and he later coached Heyfield FC In the Gippsland FL. Geoff’s brother, Mike, also played four games with Melbourne (1961-62).

A story of the famous Collins family of Yallourn can be found at: http://www.virtualyallourn.com/node/25660

Bearing the above in the mind, it appears as though the two Collins families had much in common; with the most of all being- their great love of football.


WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE AT THE WESTERN OVAL


In May 1953, Jack Collins was involved in one of the most amazing football matches in the history of VFL. The match between Footscray and Fitzroy, at the Western Oval, was played with the ground completely underwater and in a state of virtual flood ….

“Flooding at the ground was deep enough so that parts of the boundary line were ankle deep under water, making the job of the boundary umpire very difficult.” ‘Boyles Football Photos’ website.

As can be imagined, the appalling conditions made for ‘hard going’ for players, umpires, spectators and, most of all Fitzroy. Fitzroy was completely outclassed in the wet and was held score-less for three quarters. All sorts of low scoring records could have been smashed that day except Fitzroy’s captain and coach, Alan Ruthven, in a desperate effort, got his boot to a ball in mid-air…

“Fitzroy would have been held scoreless except for the efforts of their captain Alan Ruthven who 5-10 minutes before the end of the game who somehow got his foot to a ball already in the air and got it through for a goal.” Boyles Football Photos website.

The quarter by quarter scores were:

Footscray: 2.2 5.5 8.5. 10.6( 66)
Fitzroy: 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 ( 6)

Goal kickers for Footscray : Jack Collins 3 Roger Duffy 3 Brian Gilmore Doug Reynolds Don Ross

Goal kicker for Fitzroy: Alan Ruthven

Fitzroy’s solitary goal that day, at the Western Oval, was the club’s lowest score since affiliating the VFL in 1897.

1953 Flood Match - TheAge25May1953p12 Section of Wells Cartoon
1953 Flood Match - TheAge25May1953p12 Section of Wells Cartoon



JACK COLLINS TANGLES WITH RON ‘SMOKEY’ CLEGG


Jack fronted the VFL Tribunal in June 1953 after being reported for an altercation with South Melbourne champion Ron Clegg. Clegg’s statement to the chairman must have caused considerable mirth around footy circles that night…

“Charges of striking against Footscray interstate selection Jack Collins and North Melbourne half-back Laurie Icke last night were dismissed by the Victorian Football League tribunal. Collins had been charged with striking South Melbourne centre half-forward Ron Clegg during the second quarter of last week's match. Goal umpire Leverett, who reported Collins, claimed the Footscray star had struck backwards and hit Clegg in the stomach with a clenched fist after the pair had contested a mark. Both had missed the ball, and Clegg had made no attempt to go after it…Clegg said in evidence that he had not been struck at all. "If I doubled up it might have been because I was tired," he said. "I did not do so because I had been struck." Tribunal chairman, Mr. Hammond, S M., said the tribunal was satisfied the umpire had seen some interference, but that Collins' word that he had not struck Clegg would be accepted.” ‘The Argus’ 23rd June 1953 Page: 11.

Ron Clegg - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Clegg - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


ANOTHER TRIBUNAL HEARING - JACK COLLINS IS SUSPENDED


Although the Bulldogs were assured of a place in the 1953 Finals, bad luck hit FFC in the form of Jack Collins being suspended for striking Frank Tuck in the clash against Collingwood in Round:18 at Victoria Park.

Jack and Frank both received four week(s) suspensions, which meant that Jack was ineligible to play for Footscray in the finals. It was huge setback for Footscray because up until that juncture, Jack had booted 50 goals for the season…

“Last evening Jack Collins, Footscray full forward, and Frank Tuck, Collingwood half-back, were suspended for four premier ship matches by the Victorian Football League tribunal for striking each other. Both were reported by boundary umpire L. Sutton and goal umpire E. White for the incident during the third quarter of the game between Footscray and Collingwood, at Collingwood last Saturday. After both had been found guilty, a plea was made by Mr. D. Minogue, the players' advocate, for a suspended sentence. He said "that if given a suspended sentence, the players would be liable for disqualification if reported again. This was rejected.” ‘The Burnie Advocate’ September 2nd 1953 Page: 17.


According to the evidence of goal umpire White, it appeared that Jack and Frank didn’t hold back in the fracas. Mr. White’s colourful description of the incident was published in the ‘Adelaide News; and it didn’t help Jack or Frank to escape the wrath of the Tribunal…

"They lost their heads… many punches were thrown …every type of blow known under the Marquess of Queensberry rules, bar knees and boots was used.” Page: 31.


JACK COLLINS MISSES THE 1953 FINALS


Jack’s suspension and injury to several players caused a major reshuffle at Footscray for the 1953 Semi-Final. Footscray was stretched at selection table because the ever-reliable half-back flanker, Alan Martin, was under an injury cloud.

Footscray selectors brought three players (Tom Jones, Brian Gilmour and a youngster named Lionel Ollington) into the team. Added to this predicament, was the fact, that Charlie Sutton was very ill with influenza. The Bulldogs named follower-defender Dave Bryden at centre half forward and selected Roger Duffy at full forward for the Bulldogs. Footscray narrowly defeated Essendon in the First Semi-Final but was beaten convincingly by Geelong in the Preliminary Final, which was played on the 19th September.

Argus 7 Sep 1953 P1 Sutton Ollington Footscray
Argus 7 Sep 1953 P1 Sutton Ollington Footscray

Argus 21 Sep 1953 P22 Donald Brydon Footscray Rayson Geelong
Argus 21 Sep 1953 P22 Donald Brydon Footscray Rayson Geelong

Argus 23 Sep 1953 P1 Trezise Geelong Whitten Footscray
Argus 23 Sep 1953 P1 Trezise Geelong Whitten Footscray


A sure sign that Footscray missed the talents of Jack Collins was that the Bulldogs managed to kick only five goals in the entire game.

1953 wasn’t a great season for Jack as he was unable to take his selected place in the Victorian team for the 1953 Carnival in Adelaide because of injury.


Argus 8 Jun 1953 Wally Donald Herb Henderson Footscray Ron Richards Twomey Tebble Collingwood
Argus 8 Jun 1953 Wally Donald Herb Henderson Footscray Ron Richards Twomey Tebble Collingwood

Herald 19 Jun 1953 P11 Collins Ross Whitten Henderson
Herald 19 Jun 1953 P11 Collins Ross Whitten Henderson

Argus 22 Jun 1953 P16 Whitten Footscray Goldsmith SM
Argus 22 Jun 1953 P16 Whitten Footscray Goldsmith SM
Herald 15 Aug 1953 P24 Jack Collins Footscray Darrigan Fitzroy
Herald 15 Aug 1953 P24 Jack Collins Footscray Darrigan Fitzroy

Argus Magazine 17 Jul 1953 P1 Footscray Team
Argus Magazine 17 Jul 1953 P1 Footscray Team

Argus 31 Aug 1953 P16 Jack Collins Footscray Neil Mann Collingwood
Argus 31 Aug 1953 P16 Jack Collins Footscray Neil Mann Collingwood

Argus 7 Sep 1953 P18 Sutton Ross Footscray Gardiner Bigalow Essendon
Argus 7 Sep 1953 P18 Sutton Ross Footscray Gardiner Bigalow Essendon


1954 JACKS KICKS NINE GOALS AGAINST CARLTON.


Jack best-ever goal return, at VFL level, was against Carlton in 1954. Not only did Jack make the headlines news but he received the bulk of the credit for Footscray’s telling victory. In a high scoring match, Jack kicked nine goals and the subsequent tributes included the following, as printed in ‘The Age’, …

“The brilliance of Footscray full forward Jack Collins who kicked nine goals from nine shots in the first half, proved a match winning effort against Carlton…Collins gave a superb display of split-second judgment, breath-taking aerial work and unerring accuracy.” ‘The Age’ May 10th 1954 Page: 14.

Elsewhere on the page, Jack was listed in the ‘Star Player’ column.

Herald 8 May 1954 P1 Jack Collins Footscray 9 Goals
Herald 8 May 1954 P1 Jack Collins Footscray 9 Goals


The scores that day were: Footscray 20.14 (134) defeated Carlton 17.21 (123).

Goals for Footscray: Collins 9 Trusler 4 McCarthy 2 Gilmour Box Sutton Duffy Edwards.
Best players for Footscray:- Collins Whitten Box Stevens Edwards Bryden Edwards and Donald

At that stage of the season, Essendon’s John Coleman (21 goals) led Jack on the goal-kicking table by four goals. However, as the VFL records show, Jack would excel in the season and win the VFL goal-kicking award with 84 goals.

Argus 28 May 1954 P24 Jack Collins Footscray
Argus 28 May 1954 P24 Jack Collins Footscray


Herald 9 Jun 1954 P1 Coleman And Collins
Herald 9 Jun 1954 P1 Coleman And Collins


AN UNUSUAL INCIDENT


Jack Collins belongs to a list of AFL footballers who have kicked two goals without the ball being returned to the centre to re-start play. The incident occurred during the first quarter, in the above match, against Carlton on May 8th 1954.

Jack Collins was ‘dealt with’ most unfairly by a Carlton player after kicking a goal; and Umpire Rowe applied a rarely enacted law, of the Australian Rules football, and awarded Jack a free kick.

Some other sources had no compunction in naming ‘the Carlton culprit’ in recounting the incident; but ‘The Age’ reporter was a little more circumspect as is shown…

“Penalty Gave Extra Goal…A football rule rarely invoked gave Footscray an extra goal during the first quarter at Carlton on Saturday. Footscray full-forward, Jack Collins, after goaling from a mark, was interfered with by a Carlton defender. Umpire Rowe, without taking the ball back to the centre, immediately awarded a free kick and Collins, in deadly form with nine goals from nine shots during the .match, made no mistake” ‘The Age’ May 10th 1954 Page: 16.


A BRIEF NOTE ABOUT ‘BOLD’ UMPIRE HARRY ROWE


Umpire Harry Rowe displayed a good understanding of the rules of the game; and a degree of courage in paying the above free kick to Jack Collins. It is not hard to imagine that, in such a close game, there would have been a deal of ‘verbose debate’ about such a rare decision.

The VFL Umpires Appointments Board must have agreed with Harry Rowe’s interpretation of the law and supported his decision because, on the following Saturday , Harry was in charge of the match between Hawthorn and Geelong at the Glenferrie Oval ( 15th May 1954).

However, it is interesting to note that Harry had a short career at the top level of football umpiring. AFL records indicate that, in his four years of officiating at VFL senior level, Harry umpired just 16 games.

While it is impossible to surmise the ramifications of Harry Rowe’s ruling that day at Princes Park, it happens that some umpires can be ‘branded for life’ or ‘pigeon-holed’ for making such strong decisions when the stakes are high.

Argus 17 May 1954 P18 Charlie Sutton Footscray Roach Umpire
Argus 17 May 1954 P18 Charlie Sutton Footscray Roach Umpire


Herald 28 May 1954 P17 Ted Whitten
Herald 28 May 1954 P17 Ted Whitten


Herald 3 Jul 1954 P17 Jack Collins Footscray
Herald 3 Jul 1954 P17 Jack Collins Footscray

Herald 11 Sep 1954 P1 Collins Footscray Morrison Geelong
Herald 11 Sep 1954 P1 Collins Footscray Morrison Geelong

Herald 11 Sep 1954 P1 Collins Footscray Morrison Geelong Duel 1
Herald 11 Sep 1954 P1 Collins Footscray Morrison Geelong Duel 1

Argus 13 Sep 1954 P1 Trezise Duffy Geelong Collins Morrison Footscray
Argus 13 Sep 1954 P1 Trezise Duffy Geelong Collins Morrison Footscray



JACK COLLINS WRITES HIS NAME INTO VFL HISTORY


The Final Four in 1954 was made up of Geelong, Footscray, North Melbourne and the league’s ‘big improvers’ Melbourne. Under the leadership of Norm Smith, the Demons had ‘leap-frogged’ from eleventh place on the ladder in 1953 to win a berth in the 1954 final series.

Briefly, Footscray defeated Geelong in the Second Semi-final by 23 points. Jack had played a leading role in that win with four goals. The Bulldogs then progressed straight through to the Grand Final. In a surprise result, Melbourne had defeated North Melbourne then Geelong and had won the right to play in its first Grand Final since 1948.

The teams for the Grand Final that year were:

Footscray

B:Wally DonaldHerb HendersonDave Bryden
HB:Alan MartinTed WhittenJim Gallagher
C:Ron McCarthyDon RossDoug Reynolds
HF:Roger DuffyPeter BoxRon Stockman
F:Brian GilmoreJack CollinsCharlie Sutton (c)
Foll:Harvey StevensArthur EdwardsJohn Kerr
Reserve(s):Jack NuttallAngus Abbey
Coach:Charlie Sutton


Melbourne

B:John BeckwithLance ArnoldKen Christie
HB:Geoff Collins (c)Noel McMahenDon Williams
C:Ralph LaneKen MelvilleIan McLean
HF:Laurie MithenGeoff McGivernGeoff Case
F:Bob B JohnsonNoel ClarkeKen Albiston
Foll:Denis CordnerRon Barassi JnrStuart Spencer
Reserve(s):Frank AdamsBrian Dixon
Coach:Norm Smith

The game was played in fine conditions and more than 80,000 people flocked to the MCG that day. In what has become part of VFL folklore, it is known that Charlie Sutton, Footscray’s intrepid captain and coach, had directed his players to ‘shop early and avoid the rush’. There is no doubt, that every Footscray player fully understood Charlie’s succinct dispatch and they wasted no time in indicating their intentions.


CHARLIE SUTTON AND JACK COLLINS- THE DYNAMIC DUO


Within minutes of the opening bounce, the Bulldog’s aggressive attack put the Demons under pressure. Charlie Sutton’s forceful play was inspiring and set the scene for the Bulldogs’ assault. He clashed heavily with Ron Barassi; and Norm Smith was forced to move the Melbourne skipper, Geoff Collins, onto Charlie to curb his influence.

Jack Collins was the focal point for the Bulldogs and had kicked four before half time. Footscray had a handy lead at the break; and the third term was ‘one-way traffic’ as Footscray piled on six goals; and set up a comfortable margin at three quarter time.

‘The Age’ (28th September 1954) carried a large photo of Jack Collins soaring above a Demon defender to take a finger-tip mark. In the body of the report it stated…

“In that dazzling first quarter display full forward Jack Collins demonstrated the value a great full forward is to a team. He kicked three goals….Arnold ( Melbourne) at full back worked hard but could not prevent Collins from kicking seven goals.” Page : 18.

With the ‘end in sight’, Charlie Sutton urged his men on and the Bulldogs responded with gusto by kicking three more majors. As the last quarter ticked down, Jack Collins brought up his seventh goal and unselfishly gave away the chance for another in the dying moments of the game. It made no difference as Jack and his team mates were the ‘conquering heroes’ and had brought home Footscray’s first-ever VFL pennant.

Hugh Buggy’s review of Jack Collins’ brilliant contribution in the victory was as follows…

“That plan called for the strategy of direct, head-on drives to find their star sharpshooter Jack Collins. His skill in the air and on the ground were relied upon to clinch victory. Collins was given plenty of room in which to deploy. Neither forward pocket player converged on him to compete for marks and re-strict his scope. He was given clear territory, as large as a tennis court, in which to pit his pace and marking skill against Melbourne full back Lance Arnold… Collins, who has mastered certain temperamental tendencies, played as if he enjoyed every minute of this man-to-man jousting. Often the ball was belted to him like a tracer bullet, but whether he led to the right or left flank it followed him as if he were a magnet.” Page: 23

The scores were:

Footscray 6.3 8.5 12.9 15.12. (102)
Melbourne 1.4 4.6 6.7 7.9. ( 51)

Goals for Footscray: Collins 7 Sutton 3 Kerr Stevens Duffy Reynolds Stockman
Goals for Melbourne: Clarke Barassi Spencer Mithen McLean Johnson Albiston

Best for Footscray: Kerr Bryden Ross Collins Whitten Reynolds Box
Best for Melbourne: Cordner Collins Barassi Mithen McLean Albiston


Jack’s seven goals in the Grand Final brought his tally for the 1954 season to 84 goals; and he topped the league table that year. It was the first time in VFL history that any Footscray footballer had won the coveted award. He was again to win the VFL goal kicking in 1957 with 74 goals.

See color tv highlights of the game at https://youtu.be/_8VYdl7qaTo

Herald 24 Sep 1954 P17 Henderson Collins Donald Footscray
Herald 24 Sep 1954 P17 Henderson Collins Donald Footscray

VFL Football Record 1954 Grand Final P10 Jack Collins
VFL Football Record 1954 Grand Final P10 Jack Collins

Age 27 Sep 1954 P18 Jack Collins Footscray L Arnold Melbourne
Age 27 Sep 1954 P18 Jack Collins Footscray L Arnold Melbourne

Argus 27 Sep 1954 P1 Charlie Sutton Footscray
Argus 27 Sep 1954 P1 Charlie Sutton Footscray

Argus 27 Sep 1954 P24 Whitten Stevens Footscray Spencer Melbourne
Argus 27 Sep 1954 P24 Whitten Stevens Footscray Spencer Melbourne

Argus 27Sep 1954 P5 Sutton And Collins Carried Off
Argus 27Sep 1954 P5 Sutton And Collins Carried Off


JACK PLAYS FOR QUEENSLAND IN 1954.


A little known fact, about that season, is that Jack was selected to play for Queensland. The story was unearthed in the pages of ‘The Brisbane Courier Mail’; and the fixture may come as a surprise to many football historians (and may be a topic for greater research) …

“Collins, Wright …Rules match each…..Top Victorian Australian Rules players Roy Wright and Jack Collins will play one game each for Queensland against Essendon. Wright, Richmond follower and Brownlow Medallist for 1954, will play on October 9. Because Richmond is playing in Adelaide this week-end, Wright cannot come to Brisbane for Saturday's game. Footscray full forward and leading goal kicker in the VFL, Jack Collins, will play for Queensland next Saturday only, because of similar commitments.

Collingwood follower and runner up to Wright for the Brownlow medal, Neil Mann, and leading Victorian rover, Neil Treslze (Geelong), will play for Queensland in both matches. Wright, Mann, and Collins have represented Victoria in interstate matches. The Queensland team for Saturday's match will be chosen from: L. Sanders (Capt.), D. Pie (V-Capt.), Collins, Mann, Tresize (Victorians), Hurren, Hearnden, McGuinness, Sneyd, Case, Stewart, Boston, Sanders, Broadbent, Lord, Kirkcaldie, Harmon, Maguire, Hollinsworth, McGill, Byers, T. Gear, Anseline. September 29th 1954 Page: 12.

‘The Sunday Mail’ (October 4th 1954 Page: 17 ) gave considerable space to the match; and, in a high scoring affair, Essendon 19.22. (136) defeated Queensland 15.9. (99). Jack Collins received several mentions and starred for Queensland and kicked six goals. The other Victorian ‘guest player’ Neil Tresize kicked two goals.


‘THE SPORTING LIFE’ - TEAM OF THE YEAR


Between the years 1947 and 1957, a widely read national magazine entitled ‘The ‘Sporting Life’ Magazine’ published a ‘Team of the Year’. The selection of the eighteen representatives was based upon the performances of players in all States Leagues throughout Australia…

“ The 'Sporting Life' Magazine was a popular sport magazine published nationally from March 1947 to January 1957. The magazine pioneered the concept of the ‘All-Australian’ team. Official teams would come later. Firstly they were linked to the ANFC carnivals between the Leagues and appeared only in the year that a carnival was held. More recently the AFL has announced the team.” ‘Boyles Football Photos’ website.


In 1953, Jack was selected on the half back-flank; and his team-mate Herb Henderson was selected at full back. The fact that Jack was chosen as a defender re-iterated his ability at either end of the ground.

Len Fitzgerald (Sturt- SANFL) was selected at centre half back. Len had an interesting story in VFL football as he was regarded as a VFL ‘Wonder Boy’ in earlier years. Len played for Collingwood at the age of just 15 and 10 months; and later crossed to Sturt where he won three Magarey Medals in 1952, 1954 and 1959. Arguably, Len was one of the best footballers, on the national scene, in that era.

In 1954, Jack Collins was again selected in the team but on this occasion at full-forward. Footscray’s Ted Whitten (centre), Wally Donald (back pocket) and Jim Gallagher ( half back flank) were also included in the line-up.

Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Collins b1930
Ted Whitten - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Whitten - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Whitten
Wally Donald - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Wally Donald - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Wally Donald
Jim Gallagher - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jim Gallagher - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jim Gallagher


1955- LAURIE NASH PAYS JACK A COMPLIMENT.


In a special article for ‘The Argus’, the widely celebrated Laurie Nash named Jack Collins as one of his best five footballers in the 1955 season. It was high praise indeed from a living- legend of the game and it was a ‘seal of approval’ for Jack.

The others players listed by Laurie were: Roy Wright (Richmond), John Brady (North Melbourne), Bill Gunn (South Melbourne) ,Denis Cordner ( Melbourne) and Collingwood’s Bobby Rose

“Bob Rose, Jack Collins, Bill Gunn, Denis Cordner, John Brady, and Roy Wright are the champions of the moment.And they all have the ability, or the genius, to stay there. They're the real glamor boys of the sport. Each has earned his place and each is an able craftsman…Collins…Without him at, full forward Footscray's attack is far from premiership winning class, and is likely to fumble its way to failure… As a specialist Jack Collins is top class. The best full forward in action today; he is a brilliant, intelligent, and invaluable player. His ability to twist and turn and outthink opposing full backs plays a large part in his success. His tenacity and accuracy are other vital factors.” Laurie Nash as told to Peter Banfield in ‘The Argus’ May 28th 1955 Page: 42.

Laurie’s remarks about Jack were flattering and any footballer would treasure such a written comment for their ‘resume’. Furthermore, for the words to be penned by Laurie Nash would add great weight and prestige to any ‘job’ application.

Argus 28 May 1955 P28 Laurie Nashs Best
Argus 28 May 1955 P28 Laurie Nashs Best


Bob Rose - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bob Rose - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bob Rose
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Collins b1930 - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Collins b1930
Bill Gunn - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bill Gunn - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bill Gunn
Denis Cordner - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Denis Cordner - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Brady - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Brady - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Brady
Roy Wright - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Roy Wright - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Roy Wright



1955 FOOTSCRAY IS DENIED A FINALS BERTH BY 0.6%


In 1955, Footscray performed creditably again under the leadership of Charlie Sutton but missed the finals by a ‘cat’s whisker’ (0.6%) as Essendon fell across the line to finish in fourth position on the VFL ladder.

The VFL leading goal-kickers that season were: Noel Rayson (Geelong-80 goals ), Noel O'Brien (Carlton -73), Jock Spencer (North Melbourne -68), Jack Collins ( Footscray-60) and Hugh Mitchell, a spirited and deft ruck-rover from Essendon, booted 51 goals.

Jack’s sparring partner full back, Fred Goldsmith, from South Melbourne, won the Brownlow Medal that season. It is documented that Jack and Fred had some lively tussles during their combative years…

“…Collins played on plenty of fine full-backs but his fondest memories are of days spent on his old mate Fred Goldsmith. The South Melbourne Brownlow Medallist was always a worthy opponent …” ‘Sons of the ‘Scray’ Page: 26.


Argus 2 May 1955 Denis Cordner Melbourne Jack Collins Footscray
Argus 2 May 1955 Denis Cordner Melbourne Jack Collins Footscray

Argus 2 May 1955 P1 Marquis Christie Melbourne Box Duffy Footscray
Argus 2 May 1955 P1 Marquis Christie Melbourne Box Duffy Footscray

Argus 9 May 1955 P22 Herb Henderson Footscray Hugh Mitchell Essendon
Argus 9 May 1955 P22 Herb Henderson Footscray Hugh Mitchell Essendon



A ‘RUN IN’ WITH TED WHITTEN.


Jack had everyone at the Western Oval very worried when he collided with Ted Whitten in a training accident in August 1956. ‘The Argus’ ran the story…

“A sensational collision at training last night almost cost star Footscray forward Jack Collins his place in the first semi-final tomorrow. He ran into Ted Whitten and fell, clutching his knee. There was dead silence in the big crowd when a stretcher was hurried out, Collins was placed carefully on it, and taken in for treatment. Although an X-ray has been ordered for today officials declare that Collins will be able to take his place in the team, as selected. He suffered a severe blow on the knee, which was badly cut.” August 24th 1956 Page: 26.

Jack’s collision with Teddy was a scare for the Footscray supporters but not as big as the fright they received in the nail biting victory over Geelong in the First Semi-Final the following day. Jack played, probably under duress, and kicked one goal in a low scoring affair.

Argus 25 Aug 1956 P1 Sutton And Collins
Argus 25 Aug 1956 P1 Sutton And Collins


A STOUT MAGPIES DEFENCE STYMIES THE BULLDOGS


The following week, Collingwood, coached by Phonse Kyne, defeated the Bulldogs by 39 points to a secure a place in the 1956 Grand Final against Melbourne.

Jack Collins was kept goal-less that day as Collingwood’s back line of Lerrel Sharp, Jack Hamilton. Neville Waller, Ron Kingston, Frank Tuck and Peter Lucas reigned supreme. The Collingwood defence was dour, workman-like and highly effective; and the scoreboard indicated that Footscray squandered many opportunities to convert forward build-ups.

Note: Of the six defenders mentioned above, five ( Peter Lucas, Lerrel Sharp, Ron Kingston, Jack Hamilton and Frank Tuck) were each listed in Collingwood’s best players that day. That evidence is fairly damning that Jack and his co-forwards were well and truly negated in that match.

WILLIAM (aka BILL) YOUNG TOPS THE TABLE IN 1956


In terms of Jack’s season, it had been ‘lean pickings’. He played 18 games but could only manage 38 goals; with his best return being against Collingwood in Round: 4 at Victoria Park. On that day Jack kicked 5 goals despite the Magpies winning by 14 points.

In 1956, a remarkable sportsman, from the small country town of Stratford, named William ( aka Bill) Young topped the VFL goal kicking with 56 goals.

Bill’s career at St Kilda is only part of his magnificent journey in sport. Prior to arriving at the Junction Oval, Bill had coached Stratford in the Gippsland Grand Final against Heyfield…

“Coached by the legendary Bill Young at the tender age of 24, Young developed the Stratford side into what was described at the time as ‘a non –stop side that play football hard to counter. The 1955 Grand Final against Heyfield was described by journalists as a ‘thrill-packed struggle’, the lead changing repeatedly throughout the course of the first three quarters before Stratford raced away from Heyfield to seal their first Gippsland League premiership.

The deadly accurate kicking of coach and full forward Young was attributed to the 15.10 (100) to 10.13 (73) victory. Young scoring nine goals from 12 scoring opportunities, his efforts seeing him sign with St Kilda. In a remarkable rise to the ranks of the Victorian Football League, Young won the Coleman Medal in 1956 one year after being at the helm of Stratford.” Written by Lauren Carey- ‘Gippsland Footy.com.au’.- 2008.


Bill Young - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Bill Young - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Bill Young - 1959 Kornies Swap Cards - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Nestlé Australia
Bill Young - 1959 Kornies Swap Cards - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Nestlé Australia
Neil Roberts - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Nestlé Australia
Neil Roberts - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Nestlé Australia


In 1956, Bill Young and Max Cross (ex-Parkside and Jack Collins’ team-mate from Footscray) booted 52 goals; and they were the only players to reach 50 goals in a tough and testing season for all VFL full forwards.

Bill Young ( born 1931) was a lightweight ( 73 kgms ) for a key position but he stood tall for St Kilda in 94 games (274 goals). In 1956, Bill booted eight goals against North Melbourne at the Junction Oval; and he won the goal-kicking trophy at St Kilda on five occasions ( 1955-57-58-59-60). Bill also represented Victoria in 1959.

Well-known author Ken Piesse, who has written several books on country football stars, ranks Bill Young in his top ten footballers from the Gippsland/Latrobe Valley region(s). Ken’s other nine nominees were: Alan Morrow, Gary Ayres, Alan Noonan, Robert Ballingall, Bernie Quinlan, Barry Round, Brian Royal, Alf Weidner, and Kelvin Templeton.

There have been two great ‘Williams’ from Stratford…William Shakespeare (England) and William Young; and in 1956 Bill Young, one of Gippsland’s best and most popular sporting heroes, was the ‘toast of the town’…

“When Stratford’s first hotel was opened in 1956, Young was given the honor of having the first drink: a lemon squash!” Ken Piesse- ‘Footy Almanac’ May 2010.


Argus 16 Jun 1956 P1 Jack Collins Cuties
Argus 16 Jun 1956 P1 Jack Collins Cuties

Argus 23 Jul 1956 P18 Collins Wiitten Footscray Dressing Room
Argus 23 Jul 1956 P18 Collins Wiitten Footscray Dressing Room

Argus 10 Sep 1956 P8 Footscray Fans
Argus 10 Sep 1956 P8 Footscray Fans

Argus 10 Sep 1956 P8 JAck Collins Footscray
Argus 10 Sep 1956 P8 JAck Collins Footscray


JACK COLLINS AND BILL YOUNG - CRICKET ENTHUSIASTS


Jack Collins and Bill Young had quite a bit in common; and it wasn’t just being ‘sharpshooters’ on the football field.

Bill Young was probably the finest batsman in Gippsland cricket in that period; and, in February 1955, Bill topped-scored with 56 runs for a Victorian County XI against the touring MCC at Yallourn. On that day, the English bowling attack included Alec Bedser, Peter Loader and an extraordinary character and ingenious spin bowler named Johnnie Wardle …

“ …St Kilda footballer Bill Young added to his reputation as one of Gippsland’s leading sportsman with a first class knock of 56 , made with a variety of strokes on both sides of the wicket.” ‘Coaldust and Cricket’ by John White -2012 Page: 90.

Jack Collins was also a most accomplished cricketer; and VCA records indicate that in the 1951-52 season , he played for Footscray Cricket Club in the V.C.A. 1st XI Competition. Jack scored 110 runs at an average of 22.0, captured six wickets and held two catches.
“ Bulldog Forward to Play Cricket - Footscray full-forward Jack Collins intends resuming his cricketing career with Footscray's first eleven this season. He will start practice when, he returns from a football trip to Brisbane…Collins, a slow leg bowler and useful bat, last played with Footscray in 1951.” ‘The Age’ September 22nd 1954 Page: 14.


JACK COLLINS CONSIDERS STANDING FOR COUNCIL


As if he wasn’t busy enough kicking goals, Jack toyed with the idea of entering local politics. In August 1956 he stood, as a candidate, for the Kingsville Ward in the Footscray Council elections.

Jack’s policies were a little ‘light on detail’ but. according to ‘The Argus’, it seemed as though the state of the local roads was an issue worthy of some consideration by the candidate for Kingsville…

“ After football training last night 26-year oId Collins, who is a carpenter, said: My friends talked me into it. At first I was flabbergasted with the idea, but now I'm keen on it even though some of my footy team mates ribbed me a bit tonight. I haven't got a policy and I don't intend to have one either," Jack said. "You can stick your neck out if you say too much and then can't keep your promises. I'm going to judge each issue on its merit and try to please the majority of people - that's if I get into the council. Perhaps I'll try and do something about repairing the local roads, but we'll have to wait and see." ‘The Argus’ 27th July 1956 Page: 5

Herald 27 Jul 1956 P5 Jack Collins For Kingsville
Herald 27 Jul 1956 P5 Jack Collins For Kingsville


Jack’s team-mate Peter Box won the Brownlow Medal in 1956. Peter’s story in football is one of real courage as he was seriously injured in a motor bike accident in 1952. Peter suffered head and leg injuries but, in time, fought his dreadful injuries, is a story in itself.


1957 JACK STARS BUT FOOTSCRAY STUMBLES


Jack was ‘up and about’ in 1957 and back to his very best. Jack played in every match and kicked 74 goals to win the VFL goal kicking award for the second time in his career. Jack’s tally included two ‘bags’ of seven goals and, in all, he kicked five (or more) goals on eight occasions.

Jack’s 74 goals were even more commendable because no other player kicked more than 13 goals for FFC that season. Much fell onto Jack’s shoulders that year as the team struggled and finished sixth with only nine wins and one tie. The two point defeat against Hawthorn, in the final round of that season, had proven very costly for Footscray.

The leading goal kickers that season were: Jack Collins with 74 goals, Fred Wooller (Geelong-56 goals ), Athol Webb (Melbourne-56), Bill Young (St Kilda -56), Fred Goldsmith (South Melbourne-43), Bob Dummett (Richmond-41) and John Dugdale of North Melbourne booted 37 goals.

It is interesting to note that Fred Goldsmith, who kicked 43 goals for the Swans that year, had won the 1955 Brownlow Medal playing at full back.


A DECISION THAT SENT SHOCKWAVES THROUGH FOOTSCRAY


In 1957 Jack was ‘firing on all cylinders’ but the Footscray FC suffered a massive set back when Charlie Sutton, the hero of the 1954 VFL pennant victory, was sacked as coach after the Round :12 defeat by Geelong.

It was calamity and Footscray dropped out of the four after Round:12 and missed the final series.

‘The Age’ ( July 10th ) reported the events in its edition on the 10th July and outlined the given reasons for Charlie’s dismissal as : “…business obligations had not allowed him to do full justice to his coaching responsibilities.”

In football, as in life, there are always two sides to every argument, but Charlie’s dismissal was divisive and the source of much acrimony among the loyal band of Bulldog supporters. Charlie’s wife didn’t ‘mince words.’ She believed that Charlie had been treated shabbily and that he been discarded by FFC like an ‘old pair of footy socks.’

Jack Collin’s thoughts on Charlie’s sacking echoed the sentiments of the majority of Footscray supporters; and Jack was forthright in his views about the club’s momentous decision…

“…Charlie being sacked was the worst thing that could have happened. They (the club administration) just didn’t realize the ramifications. It was probably the worst decision in the history of the club.” ‘Sons of the ‘Scray’ Page: 27.

One of the Bulldog’s favourite sons, Ted Whitten, took over the role of coach and a new era at the Western Oval begun. However, the shock waves of Charlie’s removal reverberated for some time; and, as the history books show, Footscray floundered and struggled to find a way forward for several seasons.

For some unknown reason, some texts gloss over the fact that Charlie Sutton returned to coach Footscray in 1967 and 1968; but, in stark contrast to his mighty triumph of 1954, the Bulldogs finished near the bottom rung of the VFL ladder.

Don Ross - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Don Ross - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Don Ross
Ted Whitten - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Whitten - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Whitten
Peter Box - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Peter Box - 1957 Kornies Mascots - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Peter Box



JACK’S LAST GAME AT FOOTSCRAY.


Jack played his last game for Footscray at the Western Oval in Round:18 in 1958. Footscray suffered a 19 point defeat to Melbourne that day. Jack kicked two goals to bring his season tally to 50 goals and his career total to 385 goals. He was nearly twenty-nine years of age when he ‘hung up his boots.’

In a disappointing season, Footscray won only six matches and languished at the eleventh slot on the VFL Ladder. The Bulldogs’ coach, Ted Whitten, had experienced the high and lows of football within a very short space of time.

Ted Whitten gave his ‘body, heart and soul’ in trying to lift the Bulldogs during the next few years but it was a weight that nearly ‘broke his back.’ It was ‘heavy going’ but he persisted, as only Ted could; and, in the end, he was finally rewarded, for his strenuous exertions, when he led the Bulldogs into the 1961 finals.

Jack Collins b1904 - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Jack Collins b1904 - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Jack Collins b1930
Bill Costello - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Bill Costello - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Bill Costello
Brian Gilmore - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Brian Gilmore - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Brian Gilmore
Jack O'Halloran - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Jack O'Halloran - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Jack O'Halloran
Kelvin Payne - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Kelvin Payne - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Kelvin Payne
John Quarrell - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
John Quarrell - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

John Quarrell
Don Ross - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Don Ross - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Don Ross
Don Whitten - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Don Whitten - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Don Whitten
Arthur Edwards - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Arthur Edwards - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Arthur Edwards
Ted Whitten - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Ted Whitten - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Ted Whitten


JACK’ S FAMOUS NO:2 GUERNSEY


The No: 2 jumper at Footscray FC has been worn by some of the most noted names in the club’s history. While Jack Collins wore the jumper No:2 after Bernie Hogan ( ex-Merbein), few people, would be aware that Jack’s brother, Alan, also wore No: 2 between 1939-1946.

When Jack Collins stepped down from playing VFL football, the jumper was passed to Terry Devery (ex- Box Hill FC) who played 31 games and kicked 28 goals for FFC.

Other prominent Bulldog players to have worn the No: 2 guernsey at Footscray include: Alan Hopkins ( 151 games), Alby Morrison (224 games), Merv Hobbs ( 74 games), Bernie Quinlan (177 games), Steven Kolyniuk ( 177 games) and Robert Murphy who played 312 games before retiring in 2017. In all, the No: 2 is a Guernsey of some status at Footscray.


JACK COLLINS ~ A LOYAL SERVANT


Apparently, Jack played football with the Footscray Amateurs (VAFA) after he stepped down from VFL ranks. ‘The Age’ ( 7th July 1959) mentioned that Jack had been reported by the goal umpires and central umpire for allegedly striking a full back from the North West AFC in the Sunday Amateur Football League.

However, while the incident made a ‘splash’ in local newspapers, it was Jack’s on-going work, as a committee member at Footscray FC that was more important in that particular era.

Jack was diligent and tireless working for the club as Secretary for eight years and the later FFC President (1967-1973). Jack was instrumental in preventing Footscray from amalgamating with Fitzroy in 1989 during a vexing period of the club’s history. His love of the Bulldogs combined with his sense of community made his decision, to fight for the retention of the club’s identity, straightforward.

Jack Collin’s was adamant there would be no merger with the Lions.

As history shows, Footscray survived those difficult years’ and today remains a constant force (as the Western Bulldogs) in AFL football. Sadly, Fitzroy was forced to ‘go north’ and seek for a new identity and supporter base as the Brisbane Lions.

JACK COLLINS AND THE BULLDOG SPIRIT


In summary, Jack Collins played 154 VFL games and kicked 385 goals. He won the VFL goal-kicking award twice (1954 and 57) and won the goal kicking trophy at Footscray on five occasions ( 1953-54-55-57-58). Jack was also the recipient of Footscray’s Club Champion on two occasions (1951-52).

Jack played in eight interstate matches for Victoria; and was named in the Footscray Team of the Century along with other greats of the Western Oval such as: Ted Whitten, Arthur Olliver, Alan Hopkins, Alby Morrison, Gary Dempsey, John Schultz, Herb Henderson, Harry Hickey and Charlie Sutton.

Jack Collins died on the 6th of July 2008. He will always be remembered as an effervescent personality and a loyal and spirited team man who did everything possible to build and fortify the Footscray Football Club.

Jack Collins by Charles Boyles
Jack Collins by Charles Boyles




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