1981 Revisited – Round 6: ‘Hell’s Bells’


Carlton and Collingwood. It’s a long time since this rivalry surpassed all others, but it was truly at its peak in 1981.


When the two sides met in this round, both were undefeated and in ripping form. More than that, the recent history between the clubs was blood-stirring stuff. The story so far:


  • 1978 – after a disastrous start to the season, Carlton sacks coach Ian Stewart and appoints Alex Jesaulenko as playing coach. The Blues immediately begin a resurgence with an upset win over Collingwood at Victoria Park. However, the Magpies turn the tables in September, eliminating Carlton in the First Semi Final;


  • 1979 – in their match at Princes Park, Carlton storms over the top of Collingwood, incensed by Stan Magro’s heavy clash with Jesaulenko. On the eve of the finals, Collingwood inflicts one of Carlton’s three defeats for the season at Victoria Park. The Grand Final, pinched by Carlton by five points, is the stuff of legends. Carlton president, George Harris, rubs salt in Collingwood’s wounds by proclaiming that it’s sweeter to beat the Magpies by five points than ten goals;


  • 1980 – despite an off-season of turmoil, Carlton thrashes Collingwood on the opening day of the season and follows up with a narrow win on Queen’s Birthday Monday. The Magpies again have the last laugh, demolishing Carlton in the First Semi Final.


By the lofty standards of both clubs, 1980 had been a poor year. They had been badly beaten by Richmond during the season and in the finals. They realised the need for significant improvement and had recruited strongly over the summer. Their early results had been promising to say the least. The Round Six clash at Princes Park couldn’t have had a better build-up.


To say then that Collingwood’s 57-point drubbing of the home side was a shock is an understatement. After quarter time, it was 20 goals to eight in a peerless team performance by the Magpies. A seven-goal masterclass from Peter Daicos was undoubtedly the highlight. At this point of the season, Daicos was the hottest property in the competition. However, the Magpies had plenty of honourable mentions. Veteran Kevin Morris chimed in with four goals, Peter Moore dominated the ruck and the newly-recruited duo from South Australia, Mark Williams and Mick Taylor, continued to enhance their reputations. A 35-possession game from Rod Ashman was the standout performance for the losers on a day that seemed to have undone much of their promising early groundwork. However, as we well know, Premierships aren’t won in May!





While the top-of-the-table clash attracted most attention, the round saw some other significant developments. Most notable was at the MCG where I witnessed in growing horror Richmond’s 75-point demolition at the hands of Hawthorn. It was second only to the Hawks’ 79-point win over the Tigers two years previously and a result that confirmed that the Tigers were highly unlikely to successfully defend their 1980 Flag.


At the Western Oval, the home side slogged their way to their first win for the year, a narrow victory over Essendon. The diminutive Kevin Sait, with 23 touches, two goals and lugging number 52 on his back, led the way for the Dogs in a see-sawing affair. Bill Berry kicked four for the Dogs, proving an important stand-in for the injured Kelvin Templeton. The video highlights below include a brief but interesting post-game interview with an upbeat Footscray coach, Royce Hart. For Essendon, it was now five losses from six games. For all the talent on their list, the Bombers were only off the bottom of the ladder on percentage and more than a little disquiet was being expressed about their choice of untried coach Kevin Sheedy. But you know what they say about the darkest hour…





South Melbourne’s narrow win over St Kilda was equal parts frustration for the Saints who kicked a distressing 2.8 in the last quarter, and controversy over the debut appearance by Stephen Allender. Allender had won the Liston Trophy as part of Port Melbourne’s 1980 VFA premiership team and was signed by South at the start of the season. However, although he lived in South Melbourne’s zone, he was residentially tied to Carlton and would remain as such until November 1983, because he had lived in Lalor until February 1979. Carlton ended up granting him a clearance to South, but South Melbourne was later fined $20,000 by the VFL for poaching.


At Arden Street, North Melbourne and Fitzroy continued their high-scoring exploits, sharing 46 goals. In a wind-affected game, the teams kicking with the breeze managed quarters of 8, 8, 8 and 10 goals. North’s efforts of nine goals to three against the wind proved decisive.


The VFL’s first interstate foray for 1981 took place this round with Geelong easily accounting for Melbourne at the SCG. In the Footy Record, General Manager of the NSW Australian Football League, Russell Hopper is quoted saying that there was widespread interest in the match.


“We have had many phone calls over the past few weeks from people wanting to know about the game and that is usually a good indication of interest levels. We have a hard core of Australian Football fans up here and they wouldn’t miss it for anything.”


VFL General Manager, Jack Hamilton, also weighed in, noting that two other matches were planned for Sydney and one for Brisbane in 1982, but that these might be rearranged ‘depending on whether a 13th VFL team is established in the city.’ The article also reported that the VFL was preparing a feasibility study on the establishment of the 13th club in 1982.


It was a good day for the Cats, reigniting their season after three straight losses. But a disappointing crowd of only 11,000 was well below the League’s expectations and on face value did little to advance the cause of expanding the competition outside Victoria. Ever-positive in pursuing its expansionist agenda, the VFL rationalised the poor turnout on the basis that the match was between two out of form teams and an air hostess strike in the week preceding the game had hindered promotion of the game!







South Melbourne 5.5 10.9 15.10 15.13 (103)

St.Kilda 5.2 9.5 11.7 13.15 (93)



SOUTH MELBOURNE: Roberts 4, Evans 3, Taylor 3, Wright 2, Allender, James, P.Morwood.

ST KILDA: Bennett 6, Faletic 2, Jesaulenko 2, Mildenhall 2, Roberts.



SOUTH MELBOURNE: Ackerly, Round, Carter, Allender, P. Morwood.

ST KILDA: Bennett, Dunne, Barker, Faletic, Roberts, Kellett.


Umpires: Dargavel, Nash.


Attendance at VFL Park: 27,172. Receipts: $64,415.




Footscray 1.5 5.9 6.11 13.13 (91)

Essendon 2.4 4.5 8.9 12.11 (83) _



FOOTSCRAY: W. Berry 4, Dunstan 2, J. Berry 2, Perrin 2, Sait 2, Whitten.

ESSENDON: Thomson 3, T. Daniher 3, Andrews 2, Stoneham, Buhagiar, Foreman, Watson.



FOOTSCRAY: Dunstan, Sait, Wheeler, Hampshire, Egan, Burton.

ESSENDON: Andrews, N. Daniher, Neagle, J. Madden, Stoneham, T. Daniher.


Umpires: Chapman, Dye.


Attendance at Western Oval: 19,624. Receipts: $36,048.




North Melbourne 4.4 12.12 17.14 27.17 (179)

Fitzroy 8.4 8.6 16.8 19.12 (126)



NORTH MELBOURNE: Good 5, Blight 5, Glendinning 4, Kelly 3, Hodgeman 3, Jonas 2, W. Schimmelbusch 2, Wilson 2, D. Schimmelbusch.

FITZROY: Quinlan 3, Parish 3, Lawrie 2, Alexander 2, Rendell 2, Conlan 2, Harris 2, Lewis, Mugavin, Murnane.



NORTH MELBOURNE: Glendinning, Hodgeman, Dempsey, Blight, W. Schimmelbusch, Kelly, Good, Dench.

FITZROY: Parish, Rendell, Wilson, Lawrie, Harris, Conlan.


Umpires: Cameron, James.


Attendance at Arden Street: 16,210. Receipts: $24,858.




Collingwood 2.5 10.5 16.9 22.12 (144)

Carlton 4.3 6.7 7.10 12.15 (87)



COLLINGWOOD: Daicos 7, Morris 4, Stewart 2, Davis 2, Taylor 2, Barham, Hannebery, Williams, Weideman, Allan.

CARLTON: Marcou 3, Ashman 3, Francis 2, Bosustow2, McConville, Maclure.



COLLINGWOOD: Williams, Moore, Daicos, Taylor, Morris, Byrne, A. Shaw,Twomey.

CARLTON: Perovic, Maclure, Hunter, Ashman.


Umpires: Deller, Sutcliffe.


Attendance at Princes Park: 36,506. Receipts: $63,858.




Hawthorn 3.3 11.7 6.11 23.16 (154)

Richmond 3.7 4.10 7.17 10.19 (79)



HAWTHORN: Tuck 4, Greene 4, Matthews 3, Robertson 3, Murnane 3, Goss 2, Moncrieff 2, Wallace, Mew.

RICHMOND: Roach 3, Jess 2, Mount, Sarah, Rowlings, Bartlett, Cloke.



HAWTHORN: Mew, Goad, Tuck, Greene, Turner, Matthews, Goss, Eade, Robertson.

RICHMOND: Wood, Dunne, Strachan, Raines.


Umpires: Robinson, Smith.


Attendance at MCG: 45,750. Receipts: $88,845.





Geelong 2.7 12.13 16.18 22.23 (155)

Melbourne 2.3 7.6 12.7 16.7 (103)



GEELONG: Bright 5, Reynoldson 3, King 3, Lunn 2, Taylor 2, Preston, Bruns, Witcombe, Nankervis, Mossop, Featherby, Floyd.

MELBOURNE: Jackson 5, Catoggio 3, Healy 2, Keenan, Gaunt, O’Donnell, Martin, Moir, Bickford.



GEELONG: Mossop, Bruns, Murrie, Bright, Floyd, Yeates.

MELBOURNE: Maynard, Gordon, Baker, Jackson, Giles, Healy.


Umpires: Sawers, Howe.


Attendance at Sydney Cricket Ground 11,077. Receipts: $29,983.







P W L D F A % P
COLLINGWOOD 6 6 0 0 860 590 145.8 24
CARLTON 6 5 1 0 703 574 122.5 20
HAWTHORN 6 4 2 0 742 615 120.7 16
RICHMOND 6 4 2 0 660 701 94.2 16
NORTH MELBOURNE 6 3 3 0 717 665 107.8 12
Fitzroy 6 3 3 0 800 760 105.3 12
Geelong 6 3 3 0 580 586 99.0 12
South Melbourne 6 3 3 0 679 737 92.1 12
St Kilda 6 2 4 0 693 690 100.4 8
Essendon 6 1 5 0 562 603 93.2 4
Melbourne 6 1 5 0 605 854 70.8 4
Footscray 6 1 5 0 546 772 70.7 4



Read The Age, Monday 4th May 1981, for coverage of all matches HERE.



To read further stories from ‘1981 Revisited….’ click HERE



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE


About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. Stephen Allender had a wonderful 1980 with the Burra’s.

    After a less than auspicious start to the season including having a ‘Bag’ kicked on him by Rex Hunt at the Beach Road Oval in round 2 he had a season to savour. The Burra’s season was somewhat similar. After a shock home ground loss to Sandringham in the second half of the season they took all before them, including beating reigning premiers Coburg by 11 points in the Grand Final. Poor old Coburg couldn’t take a trick. Four losses for the season: all to the Burra’s. Stephen Allender and Port Melbourne certainly delivered in 1980.

    Stainless , which Nankervis goaled for Geelong that day: Ian or Bruce?


  2. Stainless says

    Hi Glen
    Thanks for filling in the background about Stephen Allender. I wasn’t a big VFA follower back in those days so I didn’t really get why Allender’s arrival on the VFL scene was such a big deal.
    And it was Bruce who goaled for Geelong that day.
    Thanks for your continuing interest in the series.

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    1981 was a pivotal year for Essendon. High hopes, new coach, great blend of players but a disastrous start to the season, 1 win out 6. Interestingly they weren’t losing by much, it was a matter of putting it all together. I think they start to win a few over the coming rounds then their tremendous run to the finals.It’s fab to relive those times again, thanks Stainless.

  4. Stainless says

    Hi Colin
    I reckon the story is about to get a lot better for Essendon in the upcoming chapters!
    They were very much a sleeping giant at this time. The trick was to wake them up.

Leave a Comment