Almanac Book Review – In Black and White: 125 Moments That Made Collingwood

Book Review: In Black and White: 125 Moments That Made Collingwood. By Michael Roberts and Glenn McFarlane


Faithful Magpie historians, Michael Roberts and Glenn McFarlane have produced a terrific potted history of Collingwood FC as the club enters its 125th and arguably most divisive year in its existence.


Each year is punctuated by a special event that will either inspire the black and white army to bask in old glory or elicit much gnashing of teeth at the lost opportunities and self-inflicted sabotage that has seen the club under-achieve since 1958.


The lay out of the book is a feature as it devotes two pages to every year. This is perfect for young fans looking for a window into a particular period and essential reading for every player on Collingwood’s list as it may hopefully help them to learn from the mistakes and emulate the successes of their predecessors.


Roberts and McFarlane have written a number of excellent books for Pies fans over the years and are rightfully acknowledged as the club’s narrators and historians. The Machine, Collingwood at Victoria Park, and The Barrackers are Shouting are three notable titles penned by the dynamic Magpie duo. The love, passion and respect they have for Collingwood is tempered by an honesty that does not shy away from critiquing some of the bleaker events that have plagued the Magpies over the years. Political infighting (1939,1950,1963,1976), player revolts (1922,1928,1970,1976 ) personality clashes, the Collywobbles, the Winmar incident, Didak-Shaw escapade, are covered objectively.


Interestingly enough, Eddie and Bucks are not put under any scrutiny and the Goodes issue of 2013 is ignored completely. The current regime is a year away from imploding if the Magpies continue to produce mediocrity in 2017. Some coverage and critique is warranted here, but I guess the authors are savvy enough to know that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.


There are a number of years and events to celebrate fondly, most are familiar to knowledgeable footy fans, like the stab-pass inspired and inaugural VFL flag in 1902, the coaching of JJ McHale and the dominant teams of the 1920’s and 30’s, the record-protecting win against all odds in 1958 and the Collywobble slayer in 1990 which broke a run of nine grand finals without a win. Some are a bit more obscure. For instance, Collingwood and Fitzroy played the first game for premiership points in Sydney in 1903 as the VFL tried to cash in on the Magpies’ burgeoning success and rapidly expanding supporter base. Collingwood was also the first club to gain a liquor license and form a Social Club in 1941, largely thanks to the influence of noted benefactor, John Wren. It was a decade ahead of other clubs in this respect.


As the book reaches 1949, roughly half-way through, there are a number of wonderful pictures in colour and in black and white that capture the agony and the ecstasy of following the Pies. High fliers like Dick Lee and Ron Todd feature, along with some memorable snaps of Lou Richards, Jock McHale, Murray Weideman, Phonse Kyne, Bob Rose and the 1970 tragedy, Phil Carman, Tommy Hafey, Craig Kelly and Darren Millane holding the 1990 Cup and finally a young Eddie McGuire and Nathan Buckley taking centre stage in Collingwood’s final game at Victoria Park in 1999. The authors agree; following Collingwood is never dull.


2016 is devoted to the formation of the Women’s team. A new era is dawning and I wonder what historians will be writing about the female Magpies in 100 years?


125 Moments That Made Collingwood is an ideal Christmas gift for fans, budding historians and adolescents that need time away from their digital applications. Each year stimulates curiosity to find out more details behind the events the make Collingwood one of the most intriguing football clubs in the world.


About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Excellent review Phil, you’ve whetted my appetite.

    Amid the black and white stripes there are many shades of grey. Sounds like Macca and Michael Roberts have kicked another goal.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Great review Phil. Look forward to adding it to my Collingwood book collection.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks JD and Luke,
    It is a good read as an entry point into the club’s history. Great layout and one of those books where you can pick a year and then do some further research.
    In 2013 Heath Shaw is made somewhat of a scapegoat, symbolising the dawning of Buckley’s team after the Malthouse years.
    Interesting times lay ahead for Eddie’s Politburo in 2017. Finals or bust?

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