Almanac Footy History: The Diamond from the Creek

 

Gordon ‘Nuts’ Coventry

 

Gordon ‘Nuts’ Coventry; the Diamond from the Creek

 

The suburb we now know as Diamond Creek was part of the area claimed by John Batman in 1835. Gold was found there in 1863. After the gold rush wound down, many Diggers returning from the fields set up orchard gardens. One of the families who established an orchard garden was the Coventrys, Henry and Jane, nee Spencer. They had eight children. It is the eighth born child, Gordon, we‘ll look at here.

 

Gordon Coventry was born on September 25 1901.  His early footballing years were spent with Diamond Creek in the then Heidelberg League. In 1920 just prior to his 19th birthday he was recruited to play for Collingwood in the Victorian Football League, (VFL). He spent his first few seasons playing on the half forward line before moving to full forward. In 1923 he led the club goal kicking with 42 goals; not long after in 1926, he won the VFL goal kicking with 83 goals. From there he set about becoming a legend of the game, establishing many records, some that still stand the test of time. The following examples are indicative of his great career:

 

*He played a then VFL record 306 games. In 1937 he was the first player to break the 300 game barrier, a record that stood until Richmond great Jack Dyer broke it just over a decade later.

 

*He was Collingwood’s leading goal scorer for 16 consecutive years, including 13 seasons of scoring 50 plus goals. These records remain.

 

* He led the VFL’s goal kicking in six seasons: 1926 to 1930, again in 1937.

 

* He was the first VFL player to kick over 100 goals in a season with 124 goals in 1929. He subsequently kicked over 100 in three more seasons. He also kicked over 50 goals in 13 consecutive seasons, that particular record has not been equalled or beaten.

 

*He kicked 1299 goals in his 306 games a record that stood until 1999 when St Kilda and Sydney great Tony Locket set a new record.

 

As well as these records Gordon Coventry achieved many notable feats.  He played in five premierships with Collingwood. Sensationally he missed the 1936 premiership as he was suspended for hitting Richmond’s Joe Murdoch, who had repeatedly hit boils on Coventry’s neck. When Coventry retaliated he was reported and suspended for eight matches, his only suspension. He also won the club best and fairest in 1933. For his state he played 25 games, kicking 100 goals.

 

The Coventry name is famous in football. Gordon’s elder brother Syd, with Syd’s sons, Syd Junior and Hugh, all appeared for Collingwood in VFL ranks. Syd Coventry set a record, captaining Collingwood to four consecutive premierships from 1927 to 1930, as well as winning a Brownlow medal, during his illustrious career.

 

When Gordon Coventry retired at the end of the 1937 a luncheon was arranged at Anzac House where in recognition of his great accomplishments he was given 128 pounds. After his retirement from the VFL he retained his links with football coaching Collegians in amateur ranks. He worked in a range of occupations including a stint as a journalist with the Sporting Globe.

 

                Gordon Coventry died of a heart attack on November 7 1968 and is buried at Diamond Creek. However, in death, as in life his accomplishments are celebrated. In 1996 he was an inaugural inductee to the Australian Football hall of fame, being awarded ‘legend’ status not long after. At the AFL’s Dockland stadium, a corporate structure so unlike the muddy suburban grounds Coventry played on, the southern end is the Coventry end. At the MCG, a gate in the southern stand is named after Gordon and Syd Coventry. For his former team the leading goal kicker award is named after him, with him being named full forward in their team of the century. A truly amazing career for the young man recruited from the orchard in Diamond Creek.

 

Glen!

 

 

Comments

  1. Singers Rocket says

    Good story Glen!

    He was amazingly durable for a full-forward.
    No major injuries except for boils?

    Young full-forwards kicking bags of goals in the 50s and 60s were often nicknamed “Nuts”.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Glen. What a giant of the game.
    100 goals in 25 State games also very impressive. Wonder where that places him in all time state goal kickers?

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