Remembering Hafey’s Heroes

Magpies thrive on Hard Yakka. L-R: Tom Hafey, Bill Valli, Stan Magro, Ray Byrne, Billy Picken and Peter Moore.


From the deepest recesses of my mind I can extract fleeting memories of football as a small child.  By football I mean Collingwood. These memories hark back to the t-shirt Tommy (Hafey) era, when a mixed bag of young guns combined with recycled has-beens and never-wases to routinely make grand finals, only to lose them out of habit.

Please forgive me for I was brain-washed.  I knew every player and their number on the list from 1-60 and would be regularly tested by my older brothers.  Football also meant Scanlens cards, being glued to the Captain and the Major on the wireless, Seven’s Big League replays, the occasional excursion to VFL Park, not speaking during the World of Sport panel and Coach’s Corner and Sunday afternoon kick-to-kick at the local oval where my brother pretended he was Ricky Barham and took great delight in hitting me on my puny chest with searing stab passes.

A Billy Picken footy card, circa 1979-1982

The first plastic number on my woollen, collared guernsey was Ronnie Wearmouth’s #5, closely followed by Stan Magro’s #3.  Before too long it was #35 when Peter Daicos burst on the scene and captivated the Pie brethren as if he was the Second Coming, or better.  Other personal faves included Craig Davis, Billy Picken, Allan Edwards, Ricky Barham, Peter Moore and Ross Brewer (dunno why).

As Collingwood historian Richard Stremski labelled the John Hickey administration of the day, ‘for a few dollars more’ these heroes of mine would have had their names etched in gold.  Any one of the bumbled recruiting attempts to nab Quinlan, Ashman or Conlan might have averted the life informing pain of 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981.  Fortunately, I only vaguely remember watching the last two.

Alas, I’d rather find it within myself to let nostalgia take hold and look back with some degree of fondness on those wonder years.  And thanks to a small but growing band of Youtube heroes, rekindling memories from a hazy past is now possible.

So, for the benefit of black and white desperadoes like me, here’s a collection of golden nuggets that have lost nothing, if not gained meterage with the passage of time.  You’re welcome.

1977, Round 5

A nice selection of highlights includes a young Ricky Barham initiating a length of the field goal in the blink of an eye against Geelong.  Vic Park looks naked without the Sherrin Stand behind the goals.


1977, Rounds 9-15

Collingwood’s rise from wooden spooner to the top of the table in Hafey’s first year was unprecedented and unexpected.  These highlights cover the heavy going part of one of the wettest seasons on record.  Check out the game against the Bulldogs at the Western Oval/Waterworld at 4.05.  Undeterred, Ronnie Wearmouth skips across the surface like a Jesus Christ lizard.


1978, Round 6

What is going on here?  Reckless abandon is what I love about the VFL in the Seventies.  So besides the crowd prematurely invading the field, Ronnie Wearmouth decides to hoof the ball away as far as he can (probably not that far).  For the record Collingwood won the game by 52 points.


1978, Round 20

Almost 60,000 witnessed one of the greatest comebacks of all time against Richmond when the Pies ran down a deficit that blew out to 55 points (10 minutes into the 2nd quarter).  Also notable was the comeback of ‘Twiggy’ Dunne, coming out of retirement to boot four goals.


1979 Night Grand Final

Going by the post match celebrations, it would appear the players certainly appreciated the significance of Collingwood’s first silverware since 1958, and all the heartbreak in between.  And against the reigning premiers Hawthorn it was no mean feat. If you make it through the dozen uploads you’ll notice the conditions progressively deteriorate as Waverley’s winter weather takes hold.


1979 First Semi Final

How quick was Ricky Barham?  Indeed, Ray Shaw and Leigh Carlson also had plenty of toe.  The fast, open play puts today’s spectacle to shame.  Collingwood killed the game in this third quarter with seven goals scored in electrifying style. Those who’ve seen The Club will recognise this game as the one cut to depict the big grand finale.  You won’t see any 80 metre Geoff Haywood miracles here, though you might enjoy some typical Billy Picken arm flapping near the end.  And unlike the ’79 Grand Final Derek Shaw actually gets a kick.


1979 Preliminary Final

This is an underrated gem.  Collingwood had to fight for their lives to avenge the previous year’s loss to North in the same game.  On the big expanses of VFL Park the action is fast and furious and fortunes see-saw.  The Pies carry on their form from the First Semi to deservedly win their way to the big dance.


1980, Round 2

In fine conditions, albeit with a fluky wind at Arden St, heavyweights Collingwood and North Melbourne tallied 14.33 between them.  ‘Butch’ Edwards proved the hero at the end.  As he controversially did some weeks later, Kerry Good kicks a goal after the siren amid a crowd invasion, however the result this time is more palatable.  Watch for Malcolm Blight’s shot at goal missing everything by a huge margin at 24.00.


1980 Elimination Final

Highlights like these make you wonder why Leigh Carlson was traded to Fitzroy. Carlson tore North to shreds, along with Ray Shaw and Peter Moore. It was sweet revenge for the night grand final the Roos claimed on the back of a deaf umpire.


1980 First Semi Final

This would surely be one of the most enjoyable finals of my lifetime; the Magpies belting the Blues in front of a packed MCG in a game that mattered.  The same scenario being repeated now seems unlikely in my lifetime.  Pour yourself a few Collingwood Draughts and you might even be able to suspend your disbelief sufficiently to pretend this was a grand final!


1980 Preliminary Final

Hafey’s Magpies notched many a big home and away victory but as then PM Malcolm Fraser might have said, ‘finals were never meant to be easy’.  And again the Pies did it the hard way, its Cinderella story run from fifth enduring for one more fateful week.


1981, Round 9

I never saw a game at Arden Street. Instead I would have been listening to the radio this day, keeping score with my lego scoreboard with numbers made from blocks and drawing pictures of Billy Picken taking screamers.  Highlights include David Twomey kicking a famous Phil Manassa-esque goal and other rippers booted by Mark Hannebery (from a mile out), Barham, Davis and of course Daics.

Check out the size of the Collingwood cheer squad.  Also note the ‘Mark Dreher’ and ‘Des (Herbert) 47’ signs on the fence.  LOL.  North left their kicking boots behind, however this was still a top win by the Woods in testing conditions.


1981 First Semi Final

After fluffing a golden opportunity to clinch top spot in the final round (losing to the Lions at home), the ‘Roys also threatened to put the ‘Pies out in straight sets in this cut throat final.  Daicos was Daicos, and dead-eye Craig Davis also rose to the occasion.  An electric atmosphere, a terrific high scoring match and a heart-in-mouth finish…


1981 Preliminary Final

I love this game for it was the first final I ever attended, and doubly so because Daics kicked an audacious pearler to help win a nail biter.  Hafey’s teams had a will to win, more often than not finding a way.  On this particular day Rene Kink was ‘on’ – I sat in the pocket just in front of his left foot goal that was admittedly from out of bounds.  But the ultimate hero was oft-injured backman Ian Cooper who played the game of his life.



About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Lovingly curated Jeff.

    That was probably West Adelaide’s GM Doug Thomas behind the Dreher and Herbert signs.

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    Top stuff Jeff. Forget the grand finals, they were brilliant times following Collingwood in the Hafey era. I was at that game at the Western Oval and also in ’78 when the Pies got up from six goals down at 3/4 time.

    That’s Phil Manassa in the Hard Yakka photo, not Ray Byrne. Bill Valli was going to be HUGE, but wasn’t.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Brilliant compilation JD,
    Just watched the footage of the 1979 Prelim. Had not seen it since my tenth birthday, which I happened to celebrate with my new Preston East Primary mates on the day. Tim Lane’s voice has hardly changed in 36 years! Ronnie Wearmouth, Butch Edwards, Dreher, Derek Shaw, Brewer, Russel Ohlsen, Graeme Anderson. Battlers that played well in prelims and other finals, but just couldn’t seem to find it in the Big Ones. Although, Ohlsen was dominating in ’79 before he was knocked out by Trevor Keogh. For a few dollars more indeed. Imagine Quinlan, Conlan and Ashman in those sides? Hafey was very unlucky. Should have pinched at least one! Great stuff mate. Will be watching the other clips over the weekend. Cheers and Go Pies!!

  4. Peter Warrington says

    great team led by a great Tiger. just ran into some other very good teams. would have been fair if they took one off Carlton. great era of footy!

  5. DBalassone says

    Thanks for this JD. Despite the obvious heartache for the black and white, a golden era for footy.

  6. Where’s Tom Floyd and Michael Woolnough in this conversation ? I won’t mention Ian Lowe.

    The 1980 preliminary final to me is best remembered by a mark paid to Ray Shaw in the first quarter, despite the man in front, Ian Nankervis having marked the ball prior to Shaw whisking it out of his hands. Shaw goaled and in a match decided by 4 points goals like that matter.


  7. Great stuff, Jeff.
    Talk about stepping back in time!

    I was actually at VFL Park for North’s “famous” victory over the Magpies in the night grand final. I actually remember it being a reasonably wild night in the outer, almost like the crowd was on edge. The final minute of play didn’t help things, either! I quickly stuffed my North beanie into my pocket to avoid any potential confrontations.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Finally finished watching all the clips. Well put together Jeff, fantastic highlights. My first footy memories are from 1985 so missed the Hafey era, what a shame they couldn’t claim a flag in those years.
    Always great to see footage of young Daics.

  9. Thanks Jeff; great to see a compilation of highlights. Carman would have been the difference in ’77, his best season (missed 8 games with injury but lost the Brownlow by a couple of votes). Tommy got a lot out of the team but apparently flogged them on the training track even in the week of the grand final (remember how flat the team was against Richmond?). Add to that poor selection (Moore carrying a hamstring into GF against Blues) and bad luck (Harmes’ out of bounds rescue goal) we just couldn’t buy a flag. Regarding missed opportunities to recruit talent; apparently we were close to getting Lockett. Nice to see players tending to stay in their third of the ground, resulting in fast open footy. Wet, muddy conditions seem unreal now.

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