A walk through History on the Collingwood Footy Tour

March 9th, 2018. It’s the Pomborneit Cricket Club’s presentation night. We’d lost our Division 1 Semi-Final the previous Saturday. The Under 16’s had tied their Semi-Final the week before. As we finished 3rd and our opponents Terang finished 2nd, the higher ranked team went through to the Grand Final. Our Under 13 team, who don’t play for points and don’t play finals, had finished a few weeks earlier.

 

As coach of both the Under 13’s & Under 16’s, I’d completed the awards and thanks for the season. The players and parents returned favour with a gift for the coach. Was blown away with a voucher for the Collingwood Footy Tour, something I’d wanted to do for several years.

 

 

Living 2 hours from Collingwood central, doing a two hour tour of the magnificence of Melbourne’s inner North alongside an AFL or VFL fixture proved too hard during the football season. As the Pomborneit Under 16’s had the bye, Sunday the 21st of October was the perfect date.

 

We meet Gary out the back of the old Sherrin Stand. Ample 4 hour parking available around beautiful Victoria Park. He’s warm, upbeat and utterly black & white from the instant we meet. Mrs R and the kids are along for the journey. Gary has them all laughing and interested from the start.

 

After the introduction and telling of how we all came to be Magpie fans, the walk takes us around the top of Victoria Park. To the foundation stone behind the Ryder Stand. Then to the former groundkeeper’s residence on the North-Eastern corner. We’re at the bottom of the “Collingwood flat”, where the sewage from Fitzroy and other neighbouring suburbs used to flow. The struggle of the early Collingwood residents, their survival in one of Melbourne’s poorest suburbs back in the day, is integral to the story.

 

We’re at the Yarra Falls end, near the old gates at that part of the ground, where Gary is talking about the feats of the great Dick Lee, Collingwood’s and arguably Australian Rules’ first great goalkicker. A blonde lady, walking past and overhearing Gary’s spiel, remarks that Dick Lee is her Great Uncle, and that she is only just finding out about him. Incredible coincidence. The book on Dick Lee is well overdue….

 

The walk takes us to the street Lou Richards grew up on, a viewing of the magnificent Collingwood Town Hall – established in 1885, features a truly moving tale of two Collingwood players and World War I servants (that I won’t spoil and needs to be heard on the tour), onto the former hotel where the Collingwood FC was formed, to stories of John Wren, his factory & his VERY profitable China Tea cafe. What a fascinating figure J.Wren was.

 

 

This laneway, behind John Wren’s cafe, certainly had a tale to tell!

 

Gary has a collection of magnificent photos and great stories from all eras of Collingwood history. I could have listened to him talk all day. Each era and premiership is covered with great passion.

 

Front page of The Sun from 1929 featuring Syd Coventry being chaired off after Collingwood’s flag win

 

The tour concludes on the hallowed turf of Victoria Park, with a footy brought out and tales of more recent years. A tour that kept us all enthralled, adults and children alike, for the full two hours.

 

Thanks to Gary for providing such an enjoyable journey through the history of the Magpies on the streets of Collingwood and Abbotsford. Highly recommend the tour for all Collingwood fans and for anyone who loves football and Melbourne history. Finally, a big thanks to Adrian & Karen Bignell from the Pomborneit Cricket Club for organising the voucher on behalf of the Under 13’s and Under 16’s.

 

Go Pies.

 

Thanks Gary!

 

Find out more information about the tour at: collingwoodfootytour.com

or follow on twitter: @PiesHistoryTour

 

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Excellent Luke have you fully converted,Mrs R from the saints ? What was your favourite part of the tour ?
    Any part which captured your children’s attention more than the others ? Thank you

  2. Sounds like it was brilliant Luke, love a bit of footy history! I agree with you on Dick Lee, a supreme footballer in the early years of the VFL and I feel an interesting enough subject for a story or two to a wider audience than currently knows of him.

  3. Dave Brown says:

    Great to see people connecting with their club’s history beyond what occurred on the field, Luke. So much footy and cultural history there.

  4. Luke Reynolds says:

    Rulebook- not quite, she has a far greater knowledge of Collingwood’s current list than St Kilda’s. Hard to pick a favourite part, but found the John Wren stories totally captivating. The kids were most interested in the fantastic old black & white photos that added so much to the stories.

    Jarrod, Dick Lee and his father were a big part of the early years, would be many great stories around them.

    Dave, fantastic to be able to tap into that history, very important that it gets preserved.

  5. ELIZABETH fryers says:

    Another great read Luke

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Sounds like you had a great time, Luke. Well done to you and Gary for making the tour come alive in print.
    Dick and Wal Lee were a huge part of Collingwood’s early history. The John Wren stuff is indeed fascinating. Such a divisive character. Apparently G.Coventry was one of his favourites and often the recipient of ‘cash prizes’. Why not when you can kick 17 goals in a game?
    Will have to take Anastasia and book tour soon. Cheers

  7. Luke some history on Dick Lee that has been overlooked to this date. Was this mentioned to you.
    Dick Lee, “the first player to exploit the accuracy of the drop-punt” published by Legend Journalist Hec de Lacy in 1953.

    Jack Dyer recorded in 1948 of his own drop punt that “Dick Lee, famous Collingwood forward, used the same type of kick”.

    Dick Lee’s “A Type of Stab Punt” that was published by legend journalist Hec de Lacy in 1941′

    “From close in I dropped the ball end on and kicked a punt from the end of the ball” as was said by Dick Lee of himself when interviewed by legend journalist Hec de Lacy in 1940.

    Hec de Lacy said of George Goninon in 1952 “He’s an ace shooter with his peculiar stab-kick-punt similar to that used by Dick Lee famous Collingwood forward.

    Find here under the larger extracts that the above were taken from.

    Most important!
    Hec de Lacey recording that Dick Lee was the first AFL player to kick the drop punt as a set shot for goal.
    “Forwards today should have seen Lee getting goals in his heyday. He got them from the boundary line and was the first player to exploit the accuracy of the drop-punt”.
    Extract from“ My Diary” by Hec de Lacy in The Sporting Globe of May 6 1953 page 3.

    Most important!
    “Jack Dyer uses the stab-punt kick dropping the ball point down and almost vertical, kicking it with the toe of his boot.
    Dick Lee, famous Collingwood forward, used the same type of kick”.
    Extract from “Dyer Sees Red” in which Jack Dyer, when being interviewed by Jim Blake in the Sporting Globe of March 31 1948 on page 9, saying Dick Lee had kicked a drop punt similar to his drop punt.

    Most important!
    Dick Lee’s drop punt that he called “A Type of Stab Punt”.
    Comment; “An amazing secret that had slipped through the cracks.
    (Section one) tjpc type of of swb-punr’in”wh!’c’h swb-punt which he he dropped I
    lhc ball point-first and stabbed ulike;w
    a shot arrow with hair-line accuracy.
    Section (1) above records a jumbled extract from the 2559 word Electronically translated text from “Dick!Dick!-Dick-e-e-e “ By H. A. de Lacy as published on Trove.

    See section (2) below for Jim Johnson’s corrections to the above jumbled section (1).

    Section (2) . “a type of stab-punt in which he dropped the
    ball point- first and stabbed it like a shot arrow with
    hair-line accuracy.”
    If you had not heard of a stab punt or new how to kick one the above section (2) may not mean anything special.

    The above corrections made in section (2 ) were recorded on trove by Jim Johnson on June 1 2015. There were five words in section (1) to enable Jim Johnson to recognise his target of “stab punt” or “drop punt”. The key words for him in this group (1) were “punt” “ball point first”and “dropped”. These words were legible amongst this small selected group of jumbled words. Jim immediately looked, using magnification, at the actual on line news paper text in which he discovered the amazing words of “A Type Of Stab Punt” (Dick Lee using his drop punt as a set shot for goal.) Comment, this section one above has not been recognised by other researchers.

    Most important.
    From close in I dropped the ball end on and kicked a punt from the end of the ball. (Dick Lee’s Drop Punt)
    Practice it in the back yard with a stick as a target. Once you get the hang of it the accuracy will surprise you. I won many a prize at The Eastern Market with that kick with narrow little 2 foot wide goals to shoot at. Extract from DICK LEE sees FLAWS. Sporting Glob Saturday 18 May 1940 Page 6.
    Comment. Note the similarity of this description with Jack Dyer’s description of his own drop punt in “Dyer Sees Red”.
    Comment. The main difference was that Dyers Drop Punt was kicked far of the ground and Lee’s was kicked so close to the ground that no one recognised it. So in my opinion it was his secret that he kept to himself till 1940/41.

    Most important.
    Because Jim, at age fifteen in May 1949, had invented and perfected his very own Stab Punt kick he was able to recognise that Dick Lee’s ” A Type of Stab Punt” was in fact a drop punt.

    Most important.
    GEORGE GONINON another player recorded as kicking a drop punt similar to Dick Lee.
    “A brilliant exponent of the little-used drop punt”.
    George Goninon of Geelong is the AFL’s first specialist Full Forward to predominantly kick the drop punt as his set shot for his 289 goals kicked in the VFL.Twelve years latter he is followed secondly by the great Peter McKenna of Collingwood, 1965-1975, who kicked 874 goals. “Peter almost invariably finished things off with consummate precision, typically using a kick on which the jury at the time was still out! “The drop punt”.

    Here are some of the references from the newspapers of the day re George Goninon’s peculiar stab-kick-punt similar to that used by Dick Lee famous Collingwood forward.

    George Goninon (24) came to Essendon from Tasmania as a full forward but had few opportunities because of the success of John Coleman. Essendon then cleared him to Geelong where he has done remarkably well. Last season he kicked 45 goals in 14 games. He stays close to goal and uses an unusual “punt-drop” for most of his shots. Extracts from The Argus Friday 14 September 1951 Page 4 S

    “George really did it”. By Jack Cannon:
    Saturday was George Goninon’s big day. He became leading VFL goalkicker, ahead of John Coleman, for the season and by kicking 11 goals against Collingwood he equalled the record for the highest number of goals kicked in a final game. George has now kicked 82 goals for the year, He marked well, led out beautifully, and kicked eleven goals with his peculiar, spinning “drop punt.” On the day George had 15 shots. He kicked 11 goals, three behinds, and one out of bounds. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic) Monday 17 September 1951 Page 9.

    “Glamor boy” By H. A. de Lacy.
    George Goninon (Geelong) is a mouse beside the glorious John Coleman but he nibbles away without stop or let. He never stops battling. He gets a higher percentage of goals for his kicks than has any forward in 20 years. Give Goninon the drop on the goal and it’s all over. He’s an ace shooter with his peculiar stab-kick-punt similar to that used by Dick Lee, famous Collingwood forward. Sporting Globe Saturday 10 May 1952 Page7.

    Here Are The Boys Geelong Cheers.
    Goninon got only six kicks. He kicked six goals. This deadly accuracy is one of the secrets of Goninon’s great success. A brilliant exponent of the little-used drop punt, he rarely misses from any distance or at any angle.

    Len Metherell. One of the first regular exponents of the drop punt.
    Len Metherell’s new football home was Geelong, and he would give the Cats fine service for the next seven years, during which time he would play 110 senior games, kick 117 goals, help the side to a 20-point win over Richmond in the 1931 Grand Final, and represent the VFL in the interstate arena once. In addition to his renowned toughness, he was strong overhead, and was one of the first regular exponents of the drop punt the kick which Jack Dyer is often amusingly purported to have ‘invented’.
    Author – John Devaney

    For further information see on google.

    “The First Drop Punt? Recent research from a kick historian”.

    George Goninon and the “punt drop” kick.

    The Stab Punt and David Parkin – The Footy Almanac

    Researched by Jim Johnson. Melbourne High School 1st 18 football team of 1950.

  8. Great stuff, Crackers! I am all for footy history (even Magpie history).
    Was the Reynolds clan the only group on the tour?

    Useless trivia: pre-Red, when Lyn Haultain was the ABC774 brekky host, on air I once won a $50 voucher to the ABC Shop when I answered a question correctly. The answer was “Dick Lee”. I cannot recall the question!

  9. Yvette Wroby says:

    Magnificent as always. A great gift idea.

  10. Onya Luke and the Lukettes. You must read Frank Hardy’s “Power Without Glory” based on John Wren’s life (John West in the book). Mostly true and the bits that aren’t should be. Australia from the 1890’s to the 1940’s. The ALP, Catholic Church, footy, sport, war, crime, conscription, gambling, greed, ambition and human frailties. Hardy wrote a follow up “The Hard Way” on how he came to the story and researched it (talking to blokes in pubs was a big element).
    There are other more factual but less entertaining books on Wren – Niall Brennan’s “John Wren: Gambler”.
    I have always thought that Eddie is a corporatised contemporary version of Wren – with all the same strengths and weaknesses. History doesn’t repeat – but he rhymes.

  11. DBalassone says:

    Thanks for this Luke. I must head back down there soon. It’s been too long. The tour sounds like a ripper.

  12. Luke Reynolds says:

    Cheers Lizzie, and as always, thanks for reading.

    Phil, sure did have a great time. Highly recommend you book in!

    Stab Punt Jim- Yes the Dick Lee drop-punt was mentioned. Thanks for all that info, just adds to the legend that was Dick Lee. Will certainly google those articles.

    Thanks Yvette. Agreed, I was thrilled to receive it as a gift!

    Peter- Am making it my mission that “Power Without Glory” is the next book I read. Look forward to considering the Eddie comparison after that!

    Cheers Damian. Do yourself a favour.

  13. Colin Ritchie says:

    There’s something about those old suburban VFL grounds with so many stories that can be told, and to be told. And, certainly the Collingwood Football Club has one of the richest histories of all. As with PB, Frank Hardy’s book is a must read. Fascinating read, and Frank Hardy a fascinating figure. I had the good fortune to meet him when he was standing for the Senate not all that long before he died, and he was looking for support for his campaign wherever he could get it. My sister who knew him mentioned I had a bookshop in Colac and next thing he was on my doorstep, dragged me off to the pub and regaled me and others there with fantastic stories. I don’t think he was really all that keen on being elected, he just wanted to be around a captive audience yarning and discussing the issues of the day. Memorable stuff! They don’t make them like that anymore!

  14. Well done Luke. Gee, I love a walking tour- ghost, history, pub, sport, gastronomic. I reckon this one would be worthwhile too!

  15. Luke Reynolds says:

    Smokie- yes it was just us on the tour. What did you buy with your $50 at the ABC shop?

    Colin- great story! Can’t wait to read the copy of “Power Without Glory” that I ordered yesterday.

    Mickey- Rexkon you could run a brilliant Adelaide pub walking tour!

  16. Thanks for the write-up Luke, I’m also keen now to get on board some time soon.

    It would be great if Collingwood could bring Gary into the nest and help him promote the tour as an official club offering. There’s a massive captive audience out there and I’d have thought Ed would be all over this, being the history buff he is.

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