In 1952, Collingwood Football Club officials told 16 year old Murray Weideman to ‘go away and come back’ the following season.........by the end of his career Weideman had played 180 games and coached 45 games for the pies, and yet more at West Adelaide. He was hard hitting and is an Australian Football Hall of Famer. This is his story.
Table of contents
- PART: 1 FAMILY HISTORY
- PART:2 VFL FOOTBALL
- 1952 MURRAY GETS SHORT SHRIFT AT VICTORIA PARK
- OUT OF NOWHERE
- MURRAY MAKES HIS DEBUT
- A CHANGE OF NAME : MURRAY BECOMES MAX
- MURRAY MAKES AN IMPACT
- A BAD CASE OF THE ‘FLU OUTS MURRAY
- MURRAY IS SELECTED FOR THE GRAND FINAL
- 1953-A MIGHTY VICTORY FOR THE MAGPIES
- THE RISE OF MURRAY WEIDEMAN
- THE 1955-56-57
- 1958- BORN TO LEAD
- MURRAY THE MAGNIFICENT
- IN LATER YEARS 1959- 62
- MURRAY WEIDEMAN REPRESENTS VICTORIA
- MURRAY PLAYS AT YORK PARK
- MURRAY AND PHONSE BOW OUT TOGETHER
- GOAL KICKING AWARDS AT COLLINGWOOD
- COPELAND MEDAL & BROWNLOW VOTES
- TRIBUNAL HEARINGS
- NEVER FAR FROM THE SPOTLIGHT
- PART:3 COACHING AT ALBURY , WEST ADELAIDE & COLLINGWOOD
- PART: 4 OTHER HONOURS AND A FOOTBALL FAMILY
In 1952, Collingwood Football Club officials told Murray Weideman to ‘go away and come back’ the following season.
Undaunted by such a harsh rebuff and demoralizing rejection at Victoria Park, Murray returned the next year and, not only made his debut in VFL football, but played in a premiership team at the age of 17 years. Murray’s rapid rise through the ranks of VFL football was no fluke as, over the next decade, he proved to be one of Magpies’ greatest forwards and most fearless leaders…
This is the story of Murray Weideman.
PART: 1 FAMILY HISTORY
THE WEIDEMANN FAMILY ARRIVE IN ADELAIDEThe Weidmann (spelt with double ‘nn’) family boarded the ‘Princess Louise’ and sailed from Hamburg, via Rio De Janiero, and finally docked at the Port of Adelaide on August 7th 1849. According to the available maritime records, of the 161 passengers, there were at least four Weidemanns aboard that ship. The principal member of the family, as recorded on the passenger list, was Johann Ferdinand Weidemann aged 38 years; the only Weidemann child named on the register was Mary Louisa (aged 11years).
Note: In those days, the voyage from Hamburg to Adelaide took more than four months.
The Weidemanns were part of a group of educated, skilled, urban and professional Germans who had chosen to migrate in Australia during that turbulent period of European history.
Among such arrivals during those years were Herman (aka Leo) Buring (winemaker), Carl Linger (composer), and the famous botanist Moritz Schomburgh.
While many German families made their homes in and around Adelaide, others traveled far and wide in their quest to start a new life in the colony. The Weidemann family was one of the many ‘incomers’ who made the trek into Victoria and settled in the tiny rural town of Rupanyap in the Wimmera. According to the 1881 census, the population of Rupanyup (an Aboriginal word meaning ‘branch hanging over water’) was a mere 131 (68 men/63 women).
Note: The Weidemann name can be still readily found in matters related to education, farming, landcare and sport in and around Rupanyup.
Note: The story of Eric Zschech, which is also posted on this website in 2015, made further reference to the German pioneers who left South Australia and settled in Minyip.
GEORGE AND HAZEL WEIDEMANNFamily history reveals that George Oliver Weidemann (1902-64), of the family property ‘The Holm’ at Elmhurst, married Hazel Howard Start* (1903-74) of Crowlands* in the late 1920’s. The wedding took place at the Methodist Church in Crowlands.
Crowlands is a small farming community (near Ararat) on the Wimmera River. It was surveyed and proclaimed in 1848. In 1901 there were only 10 dwellings (population of 55); and, in the 2011 Census of the town and outlying areas, the population was recorded to be 317 people. Eleven members of the Start family are buried in the Crowlands Cemetery.
Soon after their wedding, George and Hazel Weidemann took ownership of a farming property (potatoes/dairy herd) at Waubra. Waubra, previously known as ‘Springs’, was an agricultural hamlet about 30km north-west of Ballarat. Like others on the land during those grim years of the great depression, George and Hazel laboured long and hard and often for minimal returns.
The times were testing and, while he never complained, George was somewhat restricted by the fact that he had suffered polio when younger. It was a tribute to the fortitude and resilience of both George and Hazel that they managed to keep their ‘heads above water’ when so many other farming families ‘went under’ as the economic crisis deepened throughout Australia.
It was during this period that their first son George (aka Graeme) was born (1934). Murray Weidman was born in 1936; both were born at the Ballarat Base Hospital.
A CHANGE IN PLACE AND IN SPELLINGSometime around 1939-40 George and Hazel seized a ‘golden opportunity’ to acquire a small mixed business (news agency/milk bar) in the city. Consequently, the Weidemann family packed their belongings and said ‘farewell’ to their friends in Waubra ; and thus began a new chapter in their lives at the small enterprise in Heidelberg Road, Alphington. (In later years, George and Hazel purchased the grocery store next door to the news agency.)
It was also during this period that the family changed the spelling of Weidemann from the Germanic ‘nn’ to Weideman. Such changes in names by German families, living in Australia, were not uncommon during the years of the First and Second World Wars.
In some cases, the names of towns, particularly in South Australia were altered in an attempt to avoid accusations of being sympathetic to the German military ambitions of those particular times. Instances of such include: Bismarck (Weeroopa), German’s Creek ( Benara Creek), Rhine Villa (Cambrai) and Petersburg ( Peterborough). In Victoria, a small settlement near Geelong formerly known as Germantown, which was settled by German immigrants in 1849, was renamed Grovedale in 1915.
One of the greatest rovers in VFL football in earlier times was George Heinz. George played with three clubs (Geelong/Melbourne/ St Kilda) between 1909-1927. Because of the fervent anti-German sentiment during World War: I, George changed the spelling of his name to ‘Haines.’ He played 194 VFL games, coached at VFL level and represented Victoria in 1911 and 1914. George Haines also served in the Australian Army during the Great War and, on his return from the battlefields of Europe, played VFL football until the ‘ripe old’ age of 35 years.
Younger readers may be unaware that the St Kilda FC changed its club colours at the outbreak of World War:I; it was regarded by most to be an unpatriotic act to wear the colours of the German Imperial tri-coloured flag.
The most famous change of name by any German-Jewish family living in Australia was that of General Sir John Monash (the original spelling was ‘Monasch). John Monash (born:1865) was Australia’s finest military commander and was once described as ‘Australia’s greatest son’ (‘Morwell Advertiser’ February 7th 1946).
EARLY DAYS AT ALPHINGTONDuring the years of the Second World War, life was austere but nevertheless full of fun and excitement for the Weideman boys. Both attended Fairfield State School (No: 2711); and there was rarely a dull moment in and around Alphington.
There was much for youngsters to occupy themselves and Graeme and Murray loved the outdoors. Cricket, football and baseball were great pastimes and, with the river so close at hand, the boys spent many hours in the summer months swimming, diving and ‘mucking around’ at the Alphington Swimming Pool which had been constructed on the banks of the river sometime in the 1920’s. The war in Europe seemed such a long way from the quiet and shady nooks of the Yarra for Graeme, Murray and their school mates.
Due to a quirk in the enrollment regulations of Victorian Education Department in that period, the boys ‘parted ways’ at the completion of their primary education(s). Graeme attended Northcote High School and then, later, Murray was ‘directed’ to the Westgarth Central School (No: 4177). As time would reveal, although the Weideman brothers walked different paths in life to find success they never forgot their happy days at Heidelberg Road.
MURRAY PLAYS FOR WESTGARTH CENTRAL SCHOOLIt was while Murray was a pupil at Westgarth Central School that he came into prominence as a footballer. He seemed to be a natural. His high marking and ball control were exceptional and he took to the rough and tumble of football with delight.
Murray starred for Westgarth in a match against North Fairfield in July 1948. Although Westgarth was defeated by 30 points that day, Murray was named in the best three players for his side (Allen, Weideman and Powell). Another name that appeared in the junior results was ‘Clegg’; and it is probably Ron Clegg who went on to become a champion with South Melbourne in later years. It is known that while Murray was a student at Westgarth Central he was selected to play for the Victorian Schoolboys…
“Former league stars Murray Weideman (Collingwood) and Ron Clegg ( South Melbourne) also played in the school boys carnival.” ‘The Age’ August 10th 1965.
Another famous Collinwood footballer who attended Westgarth Central was Herbert Naismith who played 75 games with the Magpies between 1938-46. Herb was the son of the champion defender Wally Naismith (Fitzroy/Melbourne).
THE RIVOLI STARSOn Saturday mornings, Murray played with a local team called the Rivoli Stars. Rivoli FC was affiliated with the PDJFA ; and the team played on the Harry Swain Reserve behind the Rivoli Theatre, in Gilbert Road Preston, and hence the name. One text states that the Rivoli team actually stemmed from the Preston Boys Club which had been formed in the 1940’s. It is believed that Murray Weideman was the only player to graduate from the Rivoli Stars to VFL football.
“Rivoli boasted amongst their "Stars", later Collingwood premiership captain and club legend, Murray Weideman, although his family were based in Heidelberg Road, Alphington…” From the ‘Oz Sports History’ website.
THE NURSERY FOR VFL STARSIt is documented that in the period 1944 -1954 more than 3,000 boys participated in the PDJFA; and it was known to be the first ‘port of call’ for several VFL and VFA clubs wishing to build their playing stocks. Collingwood, Fitzroy and Preston (VFA) relied heavily upon recruits from the PDJFA in that era of VFL football.
The PDJFA was a graded completion and some of the clubs that were affiliated with the association were : North Alphington, Brunswick 3rds, East Coburg, West Coburg , East Preston Swimmers, South Merlynston, Doutta Stars, Fawkner, Preston Boys, Preston Presbyterian Boys, Preston Scouts, Preston Swimmers, Regent, East Preston Methodists, Wanderers and the Rivoli Stars.
Many well-known VFL footballers began their careers in the PDJFA; the list includes:- Brian Pert (Preston Scouts/ Fitzroy) , Geoff Leek (Preston Boys/ Essendon), Keith Burns (Wanderers/ Collingwood), Ron Kingston (Wanderers /Collingwood), Arthur Gooch (Preston Boys/ Collingwood) and Garry Wilson (Preston Swimmers/Fitzroy).
The most famous footballer of all to be recruited from PDFJA was Ron Barassi who played with Preston Scouts before transferring to the Melbourne Third XVIII in 1952.
Murray Weideman and Ron Barassi were always intense rivals but respected each other as sportsmen. Although Ron was reported and reprimanded) for striking Murray in the 1958 Grand Final, Ron wrote in his book entitled ‘Barassi’ (published in 1995) that they were ‘life-long friends.’
ALPHINGTON AMATEURSWhen Murray was sixteen he played for the Rivoli Stars in the morning fixtures of the PDJFA ; but then he would hurry off to play with the Alphington Amateurs on Saturday afternoon. In 1952, Alphington Amateurs FC was affiliated with ‘A’ Section VAFA and played against other such strong combinations as Ormond, Collegians, Old Melburnians, University Blues, Old Scotch and Old Paradians.
The knowledge and experience that Murray gained in playing against such hardened and adept senior footballers would have been priceless; but he must have been exhausted by the time his ‘head hit the pillow at night’ during that season.
A newspaper (‘The Argus’ July 23rd 1954) photograph of the Collingwood FC team in 1954 refers to Murray being recruited from Alphington. In the same photograph, Jack Parker and Kevin Wylie are also listed as ‘from Alphington.’ Jack went onto play 59 games with CFC and Kevin played twelve games for the Magpies between1954-56.
Another VFL champion who started his football with Ormond in the VAFA, in that era, was Melbourne’s Laurie Mithen. Laurie won the Best & Fairest award in the VAFA competition in 1953 and went on to be selected in Melbourne FC’s Team of the Century. Murray Weideman, Laurie Mithen, Barry Harrison and Ron Barassi (see above) were dominant and colorful figures in the bone-jarring clashes that occurred in one of the most memorable Grand Finals in VFL history (1958).
PART:2 VFL FOOTBALL
1952 MURRAY GETS SHORT SHRIFT AT VICTORIA PARKAt the beginning of the 1952 season Murray trained at Collingwood FC. Phonse Kyne was the Magpies Coach at that time and Murray was …
“…told to go away and come back the following year. That was Weideman’s first set back in football. It hurt Weideman who a few years earlier had represented Victoria in a school boys team against other States.’ ‘The Age’ June 25th 1963.
What a tragedy it would have been for Magpies supporters if Murray had looked elsewhere to play VFL football. Who could have blamed him after such a reception at Collingwood? Readers may not be aware that Ted Whitten was also another promising young player to be told by Collingwood to return at a ‘later date.’ In late 1950, Ted trained at Victoria Park…
“Phonse (Kyne) told me to come back in a few years after I’d put on some more weight on…” Ted Whitten in ‘Sons of the Scray ‘
As is well documented, Footscray pounced upon the ‘unwanted’ teenager and immediately signed Ted; and within a season or two young Ted was dubbed as a ‘budding champion.’
However, luckily for Collingwood, Murray Weideman was ‘no Ted Whitten’ and he returned to the ‘Rivoli Stars’ and put his dream to play with the Magpies ‘on hold’ for twelve months. ‘Patience is a virtue’ and Murray put his spare time to good use in honing and developing his skills.
OUT OF NOWHEREIt is difficult to get a tight grip on Murrays’ performances in the first part of the 1953 season. It is known that he played for Collingwood thirds in the earlier rounds of that season; and, according to one text, he kicked six goals in his second outing at Victoria Park.
According to ‘The Age’ he was named in the Collingwood Seconds team on May 23rd to play against Hawthorn.
Murray’s name was mentioned several times in other results of VFL Seconds matches including being named in the best players for the CFC Seconds against South Melbourne in July. It was a sign that Murray was starting to ‘hit his straps’; and his chance for senior selection came when Jack Hamilton busted his wrist in the match against Geelong in Round: 14 at Kardinia Park.
On Thursday 6th August, there was some talk of the options to cover Jack’s loss but there was no mention of Murray being a possible replacement. However, when the teams were published in ‘The Argus’ on Friday 7th August Murray Weideman was a surprise selection at centre-half forward for the clash against Carlton. The Collingwood half forward line that day was: Pat Twomey (ex-Heidelberg YCW), Murray Weidman and Thorold Merrett (ex-Cobden).
MURRAY MAKES HIS DEBUTIt would be no exaggeration to suggest that Murray was ‘plucked from obscurity’ to play VFL football. Although the Magpie selectors may have ‘pencilled-in’ his name earlier in the week, to most football supporters, Murray had ‘come from nowhere’ to fill a key position at Collingwood. One reliable source stated that not all senior players actually knew Murray when his name was announced in the team.
History shows that such selections are often fraught with danger. However, Murray’s inclusion in the team would, in time, prove to be an astute move by the Collingwood ‘brains trust’ and one that would bring rich rewards to Victoria Park.
Collingwood won the match against Carlton by 17 points that day. More than 31,000 fans turned up at Victoria Park to watch the match. ‘The Age’ newspaper reported that Collingwood’s pace and teamwork were the difference between the two teams. As for Murray, the match report was not particularly complimentary…
“Collingwood newcomer Weideman did not show out at centre half-forward or when switched to full forward.” ‘The Age’ August 19th 1953.
Percy Taylor failed to mention Murray in his match review and there are no statistics available to gauge Murray’s efforts in his first senior game.
The final scores were: Collingwood 12.15.(87) defeated Carlton 9.16. (70).
Collingwood’s best players were listed in ‘The Argus’ as: Bob Rose, Bill Twomey, Frank Tuck, Ron Kingston, George Hams, Arthur Gooch and Jack Finck. Carlton’s champion forward-follower, Jack Howell, was named as the best player afield with four goals and Jack won praise for his brilliant exhibition of high marking.
A CHANGE OF NAME : MURRAY BECOMES MAXOn the Monday following Murray’s debut for Collingwood, ‘The Argus’ carried a sizeable photograph of Murray (wearing number: 16 guernsey and kicking for goal) and in error named him as Max Weideman. It was an example of poor editing at ‘The Argus’ but it again suggested that very little was known about Murray , including his correct name. The caption below the photograph said…
“MAX WEIDEMAN, 17-year-old Collingwood centre half-forward, playing his first game for the Magpies, snapshoots goalwards to register a point. Bruce Comben, Carlton backman, sprawls on the ground at Weideman's feet in a desperate attempt to intercept the kick…” ‘The Argus’ 10th August 1953.
Although Murray’s performance in VFL football drew little comment from the press, Phonse Kyne and his fellow selectors perceived things differently …
“…with Collingwood still not really happy about its attack, the task will not be easy. Fortunately there are no real injuries, except, of course, Jack Hamilton's broken hand, which will keep him out until next year. Officials are happy about the opening game of 17 year-old Murray Weideman. He pleased with his marking and kicking, and seems sure to be retained.” ‘The Argus’ 11th August 1953.
MURRAY MAKES AN IMPACTAs suggested above, Murray was retained in the team for his second VFL match against Hawthorn and it was a classic case of going ‘from boiled lollies to chocolates’ for the young boy from Rivoli. Murray kicked three of the Magpies’ twelve goals; and Alan Pitcher (‘Sporting Globe’) referred to Murray’s strong play in several passages of the review and he listed Murray among Collingwood’s better players that day.
It was quite a ‘step up’ in football; and in one week Murray had probably done enough to be win consideration for selection in Collingwood’s best twenty players for the 1953 final series. Sometimes life has unexpected pitfalls and ‘Lady Luck’ intervened, at the wrong moment for Murray, and he received a severe setback.
A BAD CASE OF THE ‘FLU OUTS MURRAYIn 1953 Footscray, under the inspiring leadership of Charlie Sutton, made the finals after winning thirteen games; and along with Essendon, Geelong and Collingwood made up the Final Four. Collingwood met Geelong in the Second Semi-Final but unfortunately for Murray Weideman he fell ill with the ’flu during the week leading up to the match and was omitted…
“…Murray Weideman 17 in attack because of influenza and they left out Keith Bromage 15…” ‘The News’ (South Australia) September 11th 1953.
Note: Keith Bromage was/is the youngest player to have ever played VFL/AFL football. His first game was against Richmond in Round: 17 and, on that day, Keith was 15 years and 287 days. Keith (born: 1937), who was recruited from the ‘Collingwood Schools,’ went on to play 28 games with Collingwood FC before crossing to Fitzroy in 1958.
Collingwood fought back from being behind in the second quarter and, in an exciting display of power football, broke away in the last term to overcome a determined Geelong team. One text described the clash as ‘top-class’ and Bob Rose will never be forgotten for his brilliance in the last quarter as he lifted the Magpies to victory.
The scores that day were: Collingwood 13.12.(90) defeated Geelong 8.12.(60). Bob Rose (four goals) and Neil Mann starred for the Magpies that day, while Peter Pianto, Geelong’s champion rover was said to be best afield.
The following weekend Geelong defeated Footscray and, consequently, set up a ‘return bout’ against Collingwood for the 1953 pennant.
MURRAY IS SELECTED FOR THE GRAND FINALOne can only imagine how Murray must have trained in the lead-up to the 1953 Grand Final that week. He would have needed little prodding to ‘train at his top’ as every move he made would have been ‘under the microscope.’ Phonse Kyne would not take the chance with any unfit player(s) for the most important match of the season...
“…with Gooch out, Batchelor would be needed for the back pocket and as relief follower and the full forward role probably would go to young Murray Weideman. Weideman was unavailable for the semi-final because of influenza. Pat Twomey trained well to remove all doubt about his fitness, following a knee injury…” ‘The Age’ September 23rd 1953
Murray must have shone on the training track and indicated that he had fully recovered from his bout of the ‘flu as he was named 19th man. Veteran defender George Hams was the 20th man.
Youngster Keith Bromage failed to be included and was listed as an emergency. Nothing has changed in Grand Final selection(s) and there is always one unlucky player who is ‘left out in the cold’. Being dropped for a final is a taxing and defining experience for any footballer (no matter what age).
An interesting sidelight to the selection of the Collingwood team was that the three Twomey brothers (Bill, Pat and Mike) were included in the starting line-up that day. Collingwood’s team also comprised the Rose brothers (Bob and Bill) and Lou and Ron Richards.
1953-A MIGHTY VICTORY FOR THE MAGPIESMurray Weideman had not had his eighteenth birthday (17 years and 223 days) when he was part of the triumphant Collingwood team that carried off the flag in 1953. The key to the win was a five goal third-quarter when the Magpies surged and mesmerized the Cats’ defence. Ken Hands (Carlton captain) wrote his column in the ‘The Sun’ that…
“Collingwood played some of the most relentless football I’ve seen to break away from Geelong in the third term.”
Collingwood’s lead at the break was vital as during the last quarter the Magpies nearly buckled under the sustained pressure as the Cats mounted a gallant revival. Inaccuracy in front of goal hurt Geelong; and the Cats’ fans must have been heart-broken when so many promising build up to goals were simply frittered away with bad kicking….
“Collingwood had stopped to a walk and only the Magpies’ fighting spirit kept them going. Geelong was in attack when the siren sounded but it had left its run too late.” ‘The Sun’ September 28th 1953.
Phonse Kyne had taken Collingwood to a premiership and the ‘black and white army’ rushed from all points of the compass to embrace the all-conquering heroes. It was Collingwood’s first VFL flag since 1936; in that year the Woodsmen had scuttled the ‘Foreign Legion’ (South Melbourne) by eleven points.
Phonse Kyne had starred in the 1936 final and was again was the ‘hero of the hour’ in 1953. It had been a long, rough journey across ‘barren terrain’ for seventeen years for Phonse; but he had ‘kept the faith’ and that afternoon he won the admiration of every Magpie supporter for evermore.
The final scores were : Collingwood 11.11.(77) defeated Geelong 8.17. (65).
Goals for Collingwood: Batchelor 4, R. Rose 3, Healey 2, M. Twomey, L. Richards.
Goals for Geelong: Davis 3, Rayson 2, McMaster, Hovey, Trezise.
Best from Collingwood: Healey R., Richards, Mann, R. Rose, Finck, Batchelor, L. Richards, Waller, W. Twomey.
Best for Geelong: Smith, Davis, Williams, Pianto, Trezise, Turner, Flanagan, Sharp.
Murray Weideman was on the ground, when the final siren blared, as he had replaced Arthur Gooch, who had suffered a severe ankle injury, early in the final term. In that hectic last quarter, Murray had proven to be an effective replacement and gathered four kicks and one mark.
Collingwood’s winger Des Healey was regarded, by a panel of experts, as the star of the Grand Final while Bernie Smith was Geelong’s best player.
Playing in front of a capacity crowd of 89,000 fans was an experience that Murray would never forget; and the legendary Dick Reynolds was quick to point out how playing football, at the highest level, would benefit the group of young players…
“Lads like Terry Waites, Lerrel Sharp, Neville Waller, and Murray Weideman are among the luckiest footballers. They have had experience in a hard grand final. That must act as a refreshing tonic on all of them. They are certain to begin next season full of confidence and more polished players. They have been tried by fire.” ‘The Argus’ September 28th 1953.
THE RISE OF MURRAY WEIDEMANThe 1953 Grand Final was a salient point in Murray’s career and over the next couple of years he cemented his position in the Collingwood team and built a reputation as a talented and forceful footballer.
The following season, Collingwood played Melbourne in the opening round and Murray starred with four goals; it was only his sixth VFL match but it was probably his ‘break-out game’ and he was described by Hugh Buggy ( ‘The Argus’) as a vastly improved player…
“Centre half-forward Terry Waites was pushed out to a flank and replaced by Murray Weideman, a vastly improved player, and Thorold Merrett was sent out to sharpen his pace on a wing.” April 20th 1954.
A week later in the in the ‘Globe’s’ popular column entitled ‘In the League Limelight’ Murray was referred to as an emerging champion…
“The early brilliance of Murray Weideman hailed as a new Collingwood champion.” ‘Sporting Globe’ 28th April 1954.
Often premature lauding can prove a hindrance to a young footballer’s career but in Murray’s case he went from ‘strength to strength.’ Murray played in an exhibition match against a South Australian State Second XVIII at the Adelaide Oval in June that season; and he kicked three goals while Lou Richards and Jack Hamilton starred in the Magpie victory.
The scores that day were:
Collingwood 12.14. (86) defeated South Australia 9.12.(66). According to Vic Johnson of ‘The Mail’, Murray played only two halves in that match but still impressed…
“Weideman, who came on after half-time, added his third goal, a good effort, and right on the siren, to leave Collingwood victors by 20 points.” ‘The Mail’ 19th June 1954.
Murray played 15 games in 1954 and kicked 12 goals but Collingwood could only manage ten wins that season and finished seventh on the VFL Ladder. In a most memorable final series, Footscray broke through to win its first VFL pennant since affiliating with the competition in 1925.
Murray’s team mate, Neil Mann, finished second to Richmond’s ‘Gentle Giant’ Roy Wright in the Brownlow Medal. The top five in the medal that season were: Roy Wright (29 votes), Neil Mann (19) and then Eddie Lane (South Melbourne), John Gill (Essendon) and Harvey Stevens (Footscray) each polled 14 votes.
THE 1955-56-57In the history of VFL football, the 1955-56-57 seasons were the ‘Glory Days’ of Melbourne Football Club as the ‘Red Fox’ (Norm Smith) drove his young list of ‘up-and-comers’ onward; Norm was relentless in lifting Melbourne FC from eleventh place on the VFL Ladder in 1953 to the premiership in 1955.
Collingwood finished second in 1955 and 56 and missed the finals in 1957; but those three years were marked with intense rivalry between Norm, Phonse and their respective teams…
“The Collingwood –Melbourne rivalry became, for a decade, the most publicized in football, the teams met in no fewer than five Grand Finals in the ten years from 1955-64. ‘The Clubs’ Page: 90.
Murray Weideman blossomed as a player in this period and garnished a reputation as a strong, direct and fearless footballer. He gained confidence, experience and his status as a real ‘match winner’ in VFL football placed all opposing coaches on ‘high alert’ and some defenders on ‘edge.’
In those three seasons, Murray played 53 games including six finals and kicked 79 goals. He brought up his 50th VFL match against South Melbourne in Round:13 in 1956. A few weeks later Murray ‘stole the show’ against Geelong in a most telling individual performance…
“Just one little switch in positions/and Collingwood went on to a grand win at Geelong. Murray Weideman, at centre half-forward, changed places with Ken Smale, at full-forward early in the second quarter and both were transformed from mediocrity to near-brilliance. lt was the match winning move …..Weideman's height and strength gave him good marks against the lighter Bob Gazzard. His success led Geelong to send Max Sutcliffe to full back, but goals still came.” ‘The Argus’ August 13th 1956.
Murray was just 20 years of age when he blitzed the Cats that day. It is hard to believe Murray, who had been turned away from the club in 1952, had established himself as Collingwood’s spearhead and was emerging as a future leader of the club…
“The retirement of two of the club’s inspirational leaders-Bob Rose and Lou Richards, after the 1955 season- prompted a change in Weideman’s role within the team. Sensing the loss of these two…he became a more physical footballer, protecting his mates at every opportunity. He later claimed he took on the role because there was simply no one to do it…” ‘The Collingwood Illustrated Encyclopaedia’ Page: 83.
It was during these years the Murray emerged as the ‘strong man’ at Victoria Park and later became known as ‘The Enforcer’. It was a most apt description for one who saw himself the club’s guardian warrior.
1958- BORN TO LEADThe Collingwood Football Club was formed in 1892 and its ‘finest hour’ was the club’s fighting victory over the mighty Melbourne combination in the 1958 VFL Grand Final. Both teams had much for which to play; Collingwood was defending its club’s proud history ( four successive premierships 1927-28-29-30) while Melbourne , regarded by most as the hot favourite for the title, was trying to create its own history.
Melbourne had doubled Collingwood’s score in the Second Semi-Final and, with a glittering array of stars, the Demons looked unstoppable. Murray Weideman was central to the build-up of the final series that season because Collingwood’s captain Frank Tuck was forced onto the sidelines with a serious thigh injury…
“At Collingwood, two of the Magpies’ injured players captain Frank Tuck and veteran Bill Twomey had solid training runs but according to ‘The Age’ football writer Percy Beames , neither looked convincing.” ‘The Age’ September 17th 1958.
Percy was right; Frank was declared unfit to play and Murray Weideman was named as the CFC captain. Murray was only 22 years of age when asked to lead the team that day; but he seemed to be the natural choice as he had all the attributes of a seasoned veteran.
On Grand Final day, the Collingwood’s oldest player was Peter Lucas (28 years) while Brian Beers, Ken Bennett, Ron Reeves and Kevin Rose were teenagers.
Melbourne’s youngest player in that game was Neil Crompton (21 years). Neil would later win fame for his goal at the ‘death-knell’ in the 1964 Grand Final (also against Collingwood).
MURRAY THE MAGNIFICENTThere have been thousands of words written about the tactics that Phonse Kyne employed to overcome the Melbourne juggernaut in the 1958 Grand Final and Magpie supporters have never forgotten that famous victory.
It was miserable weather as the heavens opened up that morning and the order of the day for the 97,956 spectators, who thronged to the MCG, was overcoats, umbrellas and a ‘hardy spirit.’
Melbourne started firm favourites; and with Laurie Mithen controlling the midfield and the Demon on-ballers ‘on fire’ it seemed that the pundits were right as Melbourne slammed on five first-quarter goals.
The role(s) that Murray Weideman and Barry Harrison played in the Magpies revival is now well and firmly entrenched into football folk-lore as …
“Weideman and Harrison systematically roughed up the potential Melbourne match winners notably Barassi and Mithen ….” Graeme Atkinson.
Murray was magnificent in the way he led the Magpies that day; and as Ron Barassi later recalled…
“An explosive third quarter when Collingwood took control…with Weideman and Harrison the main instigators-shrewdly began the incidents but left the rattled Demons to finish them…”
Jack Dyer called the Collingwood win ‘the upset of the decade’ while Jim Main wrote…
“They (Collingwood) were never to surrender and had the perfect enforcer in the hard hitting Weideman, a formidable competitor.”
Murray kicked two vital goals in the ‘Woods resurgence that day and, along with Harry Sullivan, Ron Reeves and Thorold Merrett was included among the team’s best.
The final scores were: Collingwood 12.10.(82) defeated Melbourne 9.10.(64).
When the end came, the Collingwood supporters mobbed their mud-splattered and exhausted heroes; and the revelry of the occasion was described by Graeme Atkinson …
“The Magpie supporters exploded in a delirious demonstration of appreciation for the great performance of their side…the Magpies thirteenth, and probably greatest premiership victory.”
As for Murray Weideman, he led his team like General Monash (see above) that day and he will always be remembered for…
“His (Murray) most enduring mark on the football field was leading Collingwood to the 1958 flag as stand-in skipper for the injured Frank Tuck.” ‘Holmesby and Main’ Page: 899.
In 2008, fifty years after the victory, the entire 1958 Collingwood premiership team was inducted in the CFC Hall of Fame in 2008.
IN LATER YEARS 1959- 62Murray celebrated his 100th VFL game with a six goal haul at Victoria Park in Round: 11 in 1959. It was a thrilling encounter and the Magpies scraped in by the lowest possible margin. Murray’s performance was even more meritorious as he was the only Collingwood player to kick more than one goal that day.
As expected, Murray was elected captain of CFC when Frank Tuck stepped aside in 1960. It was a ‘natural succession’ of leaders and Murray was extremely popular with the press and the football public.
Murray also won plaudits for his flamboyant style of playing and he became a charismatic and swash-buckling hero of Victoria Park…
“Magpie fans loved Weideman and regarded the handsome, well groomed skipper as a buccaneer at the head of his troops.” ‘Holmesby & Main’
MURRAY WEIDEMAN REPRESENTS VICTORIAMurray Weideman represented Victoria on five occasions. Murray played interstate football in an era when:
- The interstate competition was embraced by all football fans.
- Interstate football was encouraged by the ANFC.
- It was regarded as a great honour to represent your state in football.
Murray and Neil Mann were the Collingwood representatives chosen to travel to Perth with the ‘Big V’ for the 1956 ANFC Carnival. The team was coached by Geelong’s living legend, Reg Hickey, and the team comprised such players as Ted Whitten, Jock Spencer, Neil Roberts, Roy Wright, Bill Hutchison, John James and Ron Barassi…
“Power, science in a tough State side…Victoria has a strong blend of youth in the tough, experienced side to defend the Australian Football Championship at Perth. Of the eight newcomers, four…Murray Weideman (Collingwood), John O'Neill (Geelong), Alan Woodley (Hawthorn), and Ron Barassi (Melbourne)-are only 20. Other new men are John Chick (Carlton), Peter Box (Footscray), Fred Goldsmith (South Melbourne) and Brian Gilmore (Footscray) who is named as a reserve.” Percy Taylor ‘The Age’ May 29th 1956.
The available records indicate that Murray played in two of the four match matches (against the VFA and Tasmania) in that series.
Victoria swept all before it and won the championship in emphatic style; and the play-off between West Australia and Victoria was an anti-climax with the VFL winning by more than 10 goals. Ted Whitten kicked four goals; and Des Rowe and Fred Goldsmith were virtually impassable in defence that day for the Victorians.
MURRAY PLAYS AT YORK PARKMurray Weideman also played in one of the most famous interstate matches in the history of Australian football. In June 1960, Murray was selected for the Victorian ‘B’ team to take on a combined Tasmania team at Launceston.
The Victorian team was led by Bruce Comben (Carlton) and comprised some other very well-known footballers such as: John Peck (Hawthorn), Ken Fraser (Essendon), Verdun Howell (St Kilda), Max Oaten (South Melbourne), Pat Guinane (Richmond), John Birt (Essendon) and Bill Goggin (Geelong).
More than 15,000 people squeezed into York Park to witness the spectacle. Tasmania, led by former champion Melbourne rover Stuart Spencer, ‘upset the apple cart’ that day and, against all odds, defeated the powerful Victorian team.
The final scores were: Tasmania 13.13.(91) defeated Victoria 12.12.(84).
Murray Weidman kicked two goals for Victoria but was well held by a little-known but big-hearted Tasmanian defender named Brian Loring…
“The surprise of the game for Tasmania was the achievement of Cooee full back Brian Loring blanketing the bigger and stronger Murray Weideman to such an extent that he had to be moved off him.” ‘Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame’.
The surprise victory was both hard fought and well-deserved. It was an historic occasion in Tasmanian football and inscribed the team and the coach (Jack Metherell) into the archives of national football.
MURRAY AND PHONSE BOW OUT TOGETHERThe Magpies were thrashed by Melbourne in the 1960 Grand Final and then slumped to ninth on the ladder in 1961; and it was an indication that there was a ‘changing of the guard’ in VFL football.
Murray played his last game for Collingwood against Essendon at Windy Hill in Round: 18 in 1963. It was a ‘forgettable finale’ for Murray as the Bombers won by 27 points.
Murray was only 27 years of age when called a halt to VFL football. He had played 180 games and kicked 262 goals and, in all his years at Collingwood FC, he had only known one coach (Phonse Kyne).
It is interesting, and probably a little known fact, that Murray and Phonse both stepped down from CFC on the same day. Phonse had coached Collingwood from 1950-63. In 272 games, he had been involved in 20 finals matches including six VFL Grand Finals (two premierships 1953 & 1958) and had a win-loss ratio of 59.56%.
In 1964, one of Collingwood’s all-time heroes, Bob Rose, was appointed coach of CFC.
GOAL KICKING AWARDS AT COLLINGWOODMurray won the goal kicking award at CFC on three occasions .In 1959 he kicked 36 goals, then 30 in 1960; and his best return being 48 goals for Collingwood in 1962 which represented 24.5% of the team’s tally that season. In his career, Murray booted 262 goals for the Magpies.
His highest goal tally in a game was six goals which he kicked on four occasions; the last being against South Melbourne at the Victoria Park when Murray led the team to a thrilling four point victory. That day he kicked six of the Magpies’ eleven goals and, his ‘old friend’ from the 1961 tribunal hearing, Jack Irving (see below) was the field umpire.
COPELAND MEDAL & BROWNLOW VOTESMurray won three Copeland Medals at Collingwood FC. ‘The Copeland’ is the name given to the Best and Fairest winner at CFC and it is a most prestigious award and the list of recipients reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Australian football.
Murray won his medals in 1957, 1961 and again 1962; and his name sits among those of the other Magpie champions: Des Fothergill (3), Albert Collier (3), Bob Rose (4), Len Thompson (5) and the current CFC coach, Nathan Buckley, who won six awards during his playing days.
In eleven seasons at Collingwood, Murray polled a total of 32 votes in the Brownlow Medal. 1957 was his best season when he received eight votes; that year Brian Gleeson (St Kilda) won the award with 24 votes.
TRIBUNAL HEARINGSIt is interesting to note that while Murray gained a reputation as a tough, hard-hitting and aggressive footballer he was only reported on two occasions. According to the history of tribunals, as posted on this website, Murray was reported in 1959 and 1960.
The first report was in Round: 4 in 1959 for striking Eric Guy of St Kilda. Eric who was regarded as the Saint’s ‘Iron Man’ clashed with Murray during the last quarter at St Kilda. Murray was reported by field umpire, Alan Nash, and was subsequently found guilty at the VFL tribunal hearing and received a four match suspension.
In 1960, Murray was also found guilty of striking Essendon’s skipper Jack Clarke. In his defence at the hearing, Murray explored the possibility that Jack Irving (umpire-see above) had ‘got it all wrong’…
“I think that from the umpire’s position he may have made a mistake in interpreting the incident.” ‘The Age’ June 7th 1961.
Murray then called upon Jack to demonstrate, to the tribunal chairman, Mr Hammond, what he had seen. Despite his lively court-room style, the unusual re-enactment and his cross-examination of Jack Irving nothing could save Murray that night at Harrison House. Murray copped a two match penalty for his indiscretion but won praise for his role as Perry Mason (a well-known TV criminal defence lawyer of that era).
NEVER FAR FROM THE SPOTLIGHTMurray Weideman was a popular personality in VFL football and, along with Ron Barassi and Ted Whitten, always provided reporters with something entertaining or newsworthy for the papers, radio and, in later years, television.
Football evokes great passion and Murray really hit the news 1959 when a bullet was fired through the front window of Weideman’s shop in Alphington. That episode became front page news and, while Murray was hardly cowered or intimidated by the threat, it was as sign of Murray’s prominent profile in VFL football.
In 1960, Murray and his fiancée Kay Nielson had the flashbulbs popping and ‘tongues wagging’ when they announced their intention to marry in March that year. Kay was a former Miss Victoria and her marriage to Murray, at the St John’s Church of England in East Malvern, was a highlight of the social calendar of Melbourne that Autumn.
Perhaps Murray attracted the most attention when he entered the ranks of professional wrestling in 1962. As a publicity relations exercise for Murray it is was a ‘master stroke.’ His first outing in the ring was at Festival Hall in July 1962 when he was a partner in an international tag-team wrestling bout…
“A crowded house gave Weideman a tremendous reception. Cheer squads sang ‘Collingwood for Ever’ and waved Weideman banners.” ‘The Age’ August 1962,
Murray’s foray into wrestling caused some angst at Victoria Park but it was just another phase in his life and an opportunity to make some money. Years later Murray confided that...
“I made £1800 (pounds) in 11 years at Collingwood and £2500 (pounds) in one year of wrestling…” ‘The News.com.au’
After stepping down from football, Murray proved to be an eloquent and forthright football commentator on Channel: 9. The ‘bright lights’ of the television studio suited Murray and his experience and knowledge of the game gave viewers some rare insights into VFL football. Murray who had started football with the Rivoli Stars and had become a television star…it had been quite a journey!
In 1970, Murray Weideman wrote the foreword to a book entitled ‘How to Play Football’ and the 64 page manual had the specific aim of encouraging aspiring youngsters to improve their football skills. Melbourne supporters probably hesitated in purchasing the book as the lessons Murray gave them (in September 1958 ) would have been difficult to digest.
Even in his quieter years, Murray was/is still eagerly sought for his ideas and comments on Australian football; and his memories of his life at Victoria Park are worth gold to history buffs and those who loved that era of VFL football.
PART:3 COACHING AT ALBURY , WEST ADELAIDE & COLLINGWOOD
THE TOAST OF ALBURYIn 1964 Murray headed northwards when he accepted a lucrative offer to coach Albury FC (affiliated with the strong Ovens and Murray FL). The lessons ‘passed down’ by Phonse Kyne were more than useful to Murray as he went about re-building the team and steering the club on a new course.
Murray’s hard work reaped rich rewards as in 1966 he led Albury FC to a long-awaited premiership. The final scores were Albury 14.11.(94) defeated Wangaratta 5.10.(40).
Murray was Herculean for Albury as he kicked four goals and was named best afield by the O&MFL officials. ‘The Age’ journalist Peter Stone described Murray as inspirational in the way he had lifted his team that day. The headline to Peter’s match review read:
“Weideman the toast of Albury …
Weideman in his second year as captain –coach led his team to a resounding victory over Wangaratta in the Grand Final winning by 55 points. And it was Weideman himself who was chiefly responsible for the victory. He was unbeatable all over the field….In fact it was reminiscent of Weideman in his hey-day and he gave the impression that he could be still playing league football.” ‘The Age’ October 3rd 1966.
Weideman in his second year as captain –coach led his team to a resounding victory over Wangaratta in the Grand Final winning by 55 points. And it was Weideman himself who was chiefly responsible for the victory. He was unbeatable all over the field….In fact it was reminiscent of Weideman in his hey-day and he gave the impression that he could be still playing league football.” ‘The Age’ October 3rd 1966.
BOUND FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIAIn 1968, Murray crossed the border again and took over the reins at West Adelaide FC in the SANFL where his profound knowledge of football and the leadership of men again came to the fore. Murray coached WAFC from 1968 until 1971 and in that time the club played in finals in 1968 and 69…
“…He (Murray) accepted a similar job with West Adelaide, which had been in the doldrums since the early 1960’s. Murray promptly got the Blood and Tars (West Adelaide) into the finals….” John Devaney ‘Australian Football ‘website.
In his three seasons with West Adelaide, Murray played 39 games and kicked 13 goals.
BACK TO VICTORIA PARKAt the end of the 1974 season Neil Mann stepped down as the coach of Collingwood; and with Murray’s impressive resume, at Albury and West Adelaide, it was probably a straightforward process for the committee of CFC to appoint Murray as coach for the 1975 season.
Under the leadership of Murray Weideman, the Magpies won 13 matches and secured fifth position on the ladder and, in turn, a place in the 1975 final series that season. (The McIntyre system of the ‘Final Five’ had only recently been introduced into the VFL in 1972.)
In a close and exciting Elimination Final, Richmond 11.11. (77) defeated Collingwood 10.19.(69); and thus it was ‘mothballs’ for Collingwood for that season.
It was a fair result but in the world of ‘cut-throat’ football there are no prizes for ‘also-rans’ and the pressure for greater success was bearing down on the committee, every player and, of course, the coach (Murray).
Note: A highly talented but controversial footballer from (Edenhope/Norwood) named Phil Carman won both the Copeland Medal and club goal kicking award in 1975.
A SAD END TO A FINE CAREERThe 1976 VFL season was an absolute nightmare for Collingwood supporters and the season finished in a most unpleasant manner for Murray. For a variety of reasons, the club faltered in the early rounds of the season and plummeted to eleventh position at the half way mark…
“The club was in disarray. Discipline had disappeared; dissension within in the team was at its highest level in living memory” ‘Collingwood Illustrated Encyclopaedia’ Page: 181
In the second half of the year, the Magpies haemorrhaged so badly that the bleeding could not be curbed and a bitter dispute between Murray Weideman and the-then president Ern Clarke erupted into open warfare.
The club heaved under the unbearable strain of disunity, player discontent and on-field failure. Collingwood lost nine of its last ten games that season and, for the first time in the club’s distinguished history, the CFC won the ‘wooden spoon’…
“The turning point came in 1976…That year Collingwood had to beat archrivals Melbourne in the last game at Victoria Park to avoid finishing on the bottom of the ladder. It failed dismally. That was the bottom, mentally and even spiritually, for the club. Former captain and strongman, Murray Weideman, was dumped as coach and Richmond's wizard, Tom Hafey, appointed coach — the first non-Collingwood man ever to coach the side.” ‘The Canberra Times’
After 45 games as the coach of the club that he cherished, Murray Weideman was sacked and a new era at CFC began under Tom Hafey (in 1977).
PART: 4 OTHER HONOURS AND A FOOTBALL FAMILY
Apart from the Copeland Medals and goal kicking awards, as mentioned above, Murray Weideman is a most highly revered and decorated player in the annals of Australian football.
Murray was granted Life Membership of CFC in 1962. He is a member of the Collingwood Hall of Fame (2004) and was also inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2007.
One of Murray’s most significant honours was his selection in the Collingwood FC’s Team of the Century. The team, which was named in 1997, again underlines the brilliant players that have shaped that club and built it into one of Australia’s greatest sporting organizations. Murray was selected at centre half forward. The five other forwards selected in that team were: Des Fothergill, Dick Lee, Phonse Kyne, Gordon Coventry and Peter Daicos.
Two of Murray’s teammates from the 1953 premiership team, Bob Rose and Thorold Merrett, are also members of the team.
THE WEIDEMAN NAME LIVES ONWhen the Weideman family stepped disembarked from ‘Princess Louise’ in Adelaide all those years ago, no one knew what the future held; however, it is safe to say, that the Weidemans have left an indelible mark on the Australian landscape and, in football, the name will live for ever.
Murray’s son, Mark, played with Collingwood from 1981-84. Mark, recruited from West Adelaide, played 28 games (34 goals) before being cleared to Coburg FC in the VFA. Despite only playing 36 games with Coburg, Mark was selected as an interchange player in Coburg’s Team of the Century.
One of Murray’s cousins, Peter (ex- Dandenong), played five games with CFC in 1960-61; and his son Wayne became a popular and hard-hitting utility player with the Adelaide Crows from 1991-96. Wayne (68 AFL matches and 26 goals) started his football in the small South Gippsland town of Fish Creek.
At the time of writing this story, Murray’s grandson, Sam, has been drafted to the Melbourne FC. Sam (196cm and 94kg) from Eastern Ranges, among other things, is described as…
“ Grandson of Collingwood legend Murray Weideman.” ‘Herald Sun’
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe writing of the first part of this story, regarding the history of the Weideman family would have been impossible without the kind assistance of Nick Weideman (Murray’s nephew) and Graeme Weideman (Murray’s brother).
Graeme is well-known throughout the Mornington Peninsula and has been a highly successful retail-pharmacist in the Frankston- Hastings area since the 1960’s.
In 1976, Graeme was elected to the Victorian Parliament as the Member for Frankston and held the portfolio of Minister or Tourism and Assistant Minster for Health (1981-82) and served on various parliamentary committees. Graeme stepped down from Parliament in 1992.
Thanks also to the Rosebud Public Library for the provision of several texts used in the research and writing of this story for Boyles Football Photos.