Rout of the Blues

Collingwood’s 50 Most Sensational Games

Round 4 1969

Collingwood   5.3.33     9.8.62   21.13.139   23.15.153
Carlton            6.5.41   10.7.67       10.9.69     13.11.89

VENUE: Princes Park
DATE: Saturday 26 April
CROWD: 39,120
UMPIRE: Sleeth

B          McKenzie      Whelan         Waters
HB      Adamson        Potter       Greening
C          Watt                 Price              Tully
HF       Tuddenham   Graham            Britt
F           Jenkin          McKenna           Pitts
FOLL  Thompson, Dunne, W Richardson
INT      Urquhart, Ellis

B          Collins          Walls                 Hall
HB       Thornley      Stone                Kerr
C          Crane         Jackson      Robertson
HF       Quirk       Jesaulenko     Crosswell
F           Jones          McLean            Nicoll
FOLL  Nicholls, Silvagni, Gallagher
INT      McKay, White
COACH  Barassi

COLLINGWOOD – Greening, Waters, Jenkin, Tully, Adamson, Tuddenham, Thompson, Britt
CARLTON – Collins, Crosswell, Walls, Crane, Nicoll, Jesaulenko, Quirk

COLLINGWOOD – Greening 7, Tuddenham, W Richardson, Waters, Graham 3, McKenna 2, Britt, Jenkin
CARLTON – Jones 2, McLean 2, Crosswell 2, Jesaulenko, Nicoll, Jackson, Waite

For the first time under Bob Rose’s watch Collingwood missed the finals in 1968, and carried the form into 1969.  Despite eight more scoring shots, the Magpies lost to the Hawks, and then fell to the Tigers at home.  Finally winning form was found against the lowly Demons in Round 3.  Two seldom known players in John Bell and Danny Hibbert were dropped from that team, and young ruckman Vaughan Ellis was demoted to 20th man for the Round 4 clash against the reigning premier.  A noteworthy inclusion was Ian Graham, back after a two year hiatus following a 58 goal season back in 1966.  A year overseas, then a ruptured Achilles tendon derailed his promising career, however 11 goals in the reserves the week before against Melbourne demanded selection.  Jenkin was the other handy inclusion, whilst Jeff Pitts debuted.

Meanwhile, Carlton’s supremacy showed no signs of abating, perched on top of the ladder in flag winning form.  A star-studded forward line had amassed 30.30.210 against Hawthorn, and their backline was just as ominous.  With a home game against the struggling Magpies, the Blues were hardly expecting an inquisition.

Tuddenham won the toss and opted for the scoreboard end, notwithstanding a strong cross-wind negated any real advantage.  A number of positional changes by both teams puzzled the punters.  Greening quickly opened the ‘Pies’ account, and confident play gleaned another by Tuddenham.  Potter and Crosswell engaged in the first physical challenge for the afternoon, Carlton’s Robertson charging in to lend a hand.  Players hurled themselves about with reckless abandon, as they would for the rest of the afternoon.  The Blues finally notched their first goal after 14 minutes via Jackson.  McLean scored another before Waters’ strong mark in the goal square regained Collingwood’s lead.  Carlton’s Jones took Waters’ cue and then doubled the measure.  After a couple misses by the Magpies, Nicoll put Carlton 14 points ahead, the Blues’ directness paying dividends.  Successive free kicks enabled McKenna to goal and the Woods’ score was further boosted by Greening on the run.  The mini-revival was short-lived when a running Crosswell quickly replied.  The quarter dissolved into stoushes between Jones and Waters, and then Jones and Jenkin. A free-scoring first term had Carlton eight points ahead, despite the Magpies winning the umpires favour with 16 frees to seven.

Graham’s long goal from a mark at centre half forward kick-started the Magpies before Crosswell resisted Collingwood’s advances with the aid of a free.  Waters marked and closed the margin to a point.  McLean’s true kick failed to register two flags for Carlton when Jones was caught pushing Thompson in the back. Walls then crashed into Britt, sparking an ‘angry scene’ of a dozen milling players, requiring the umpires to pull them apart.  Passionate hard tackling and physicality was the order of the day, and Greening lifted his team when he snapped truly, despite being bumped to the ground as he kicked.  He backed up again for a mark and another goal.  The hard-earned 14 point lead was reduced by McLean, who then wasted an easy opportunity to kick another. McLean made amends, Carlton finishing the quarter strongly (and benefiting from some handy frees).  In an even tighter and more intense second term, the Magpies narrowed the margin by just three points.

No one could have predicted what was to follow in the third quarter and the methodical way the Magpies dismantled their foe.  Tuddenham set the ball rolling in the first minute with a brilliant left foot snap over his shoulder and Greening followed suit with a left footer across his body after a clever ‘one-two’ with Tuddenham.  Three set shots in two minutes from roughly 35 metres out met with success, all from the trusty boot of Wayne Richardson. McKenna was in an uncustomary position at half forward flank, whilst Graham took the goal square.  A rare foray by Quirk failed to find the intended target Nicholls, Thompson marking safely.  In a rush towards the goal, Graham just got his foot to ball, racking up the Magpies sixth for the quarter.  On a roll, McKenna chimed in for his second and in just 15 minutes the Magpies had slotted 7.3.  The Carlton runner was flat out relaying many desperate messages, to the point where umpire Ray Sleeth issued a warning. An excellent shot by Greening from the boundary was followed by Tuddenham roving the pack in the goal square for another. Jenkin and Nicholls became ‘familiar’, the latter winning a free kick. Tuddy backed up with another easy conversion, running into open goal and then Greening bounced one in from a congested pack.  A free to Nicoll at half forward saw Carlton finally register their first score for the term, a lonely behind.  Finally, the dozen was brought up with an interesting torpedo by Graham from just 20 metres – the margin now a far-fetched 70 points.  Jenkin and Tully  were the chief destroyers from the centre bounces, with Richardson, Tuddenham and Greening (three goals apiece) finishing the deed.  Amazingly, McKenna was but a spectator for the most part, watching Carlton’s defence crumble.  Twelve goals five to just two points equated to the ‘Pies doubling the Blues’ score.

Now at full-forward, Jesaulenko opened the final stanza with a goal.  The match was over as a contest; football a mere diversion from here on as a procession of dust-ups took centre stage.  After the ‘footbrawl’ finally ceased, Nicoll registered another for the Blues, Tully responded via a free dead in front and Waite managed a belated six-pointer before the final siren. In the end, the Magpies recorded a comfortable 64 point victory.  At just 60 cents, punters in the outer extracted every ounce of value from their paltry admission fee.

A familiar sight in the third quarter and then they ‘all (went) ratty!’

Bob Rose praised his team’s performance as being the best since the 1953 Grand final, of which he himself was the prime mover.  Collingwood set themselves for this game.  Thorough planning on the Thursday night accounted for anything Carlton might throw at them and keeping ‘Big Nick’ in check was just one of the boxes ticked.  The third quarter score of 12.5 remains The Club’s best ever third quarter against any team.

The magnificent third term was overshadowed somewhat by the sensational events on the field.  Four players were reported but there could have been several more; Thompson for striking Waite, Potter for striking Nicholls, McLean for striking McKenzie and Thompson and Percy Jones for striking Waters and Jenkin.  All but one of the six reports occurred in the last quarter.

The spiteful clashes led to Thompson copping an eyeful of spit after the game from an enraged Blues’ supporter, as the Magpie ruckman made his way to the Carlton rooms for the traditional aftermatch.  But the ‘tinnie’ once inside would have tasted pretty sweet.

After the dust settled on Collingwood’s extraordinary third quarter, the game degenerated into ‘TV Ringside’.  The spark was a stray Ted Potter elbow that dared find ‘big Nick’, sending him from the field with blood trickling down his face.  He later received six stitches to his eyebrow.  Being thrashed on their own dunghill was enough; taking on the venerated king of Princes Park was another.  This relatively minor incident precipitated the flattening of Thompson after kicking the ball downfield.  From here it was mayhem, McLean belting McKenzie at the next centre bounce followed by other clashes involving McLean and Jones (Carlton) and Thomson and Waters.  Fortunately there was no trial by video back in 1969.  Subsequent brawling saw as many as 15 players involved on Carlton’s half-forward line, with numerous undetected blows dished out.

John Greening (Collingwood)
Greening was a teenage prodigy who dreamed of the day he would captain Collingwood to a premiership.  Raised in Burnie, he never barracked for any Tasmanian team because all he cared about was playing for Collingwood, a dream he chased almost since he could walk.  Greening admitted he would get on a high just listening to Collingwood matches across the Bass Strait over the static of his old Astor radio.

The nerveless youngster thrilled fans with his dash and his amazing skills from his debut as a 17 year old. Poetry in motion; whether it was a long raking goal, a sublime run or floating upon an opponent’s shoulders for a skyscraping grab.

Seven goals as a ruck-rover is a rare feat but Greening was a complete footballer, capable of anything.  Interestingly, he had been named on the half back flank, but lined up in the forward pocket.  Where he was positioned after that was anyone’s guess, for he was the everywhere man.

The famous Magpie #22; John Greening weaves his way around a pack before slotting a goal from the boundary

In a tribunal farce, chairman Alf Foley was forced to throw out all charges on a technicality.  The regulations demanded the umpires notify club delegates of any reports as soon as they enter their room and that the delegates are to receive written reports within 15 minutes of the umpires returning to their room.   Delegate Percy Bentley from Carlton stated the verbal notification did not come for 10 minutes and the written report 20 minutes. This testimony was supported by a journalist waiting outside the room at the time. That the umpires were probably working through so many charges didn’t matter, and the players thanked their lucky stars.

Unfortunately the dominance enjoyed over Carlton in 1969 was restricted to just one special quarter.  Round 2 of the Collingwood – Carlton bout at Victoria Park was a 10 point win for the Blues and Round 3 resulted in September pain; a disappointing six goal defeat in the Second Semi.

“They’ve all gone mad…all gone ratty.  This could be a real donnybrook if they keep this up.  It’s on for young and old out here – it’s gonna be slaughter.  I don’t know what’s come over them.”
Channel 7 commentator Jack Edwards, only slightly overstating the events unfolding in front of him during the last quarter.

“We had Carlton tabbed after a big meeting last Thursday night.  All our players knew exactly what was wanted and what they had to do.  No matter what, and how many switches Carlton made, we were prepared for them and could come up with an answer.  It worked out just that way.”
Bob Rose had one of those rare, pleasurable days in the coaches box.

“It had to come, and up to a point, I was not surprised it happened today.  But it still hurts deeply to be thrashed by more than 10 goals.”
A philosophical Blues coach Ron Barassi.

“It wasn’t the goals that were being kicked that kept the huge crowd on its toes near the end; it was the punches that were being thrown and the ones that looked like being thrown.”
Age reporter Ron Carter on the chaotic final quarter.

“I’ve never been prouder of a Collingwood side.  I’ve never seen the Magpies play better.”
No shortage of praise from President Tom Sherrin.

“We are not as good as we thought we were.  We’ll have to be like Hawthorn and overcome the big loss.”
Barassi again on Carlton’s reality check.

Collingwood’s 50 Most Sensational Games
An ebook by Jeff Dowsing


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. Yes, the Blue Baggers had their revenge in the finals, the following week theTtigers finished off the Pies in the preliminary final.The Pies crashed out in straight sets as Richmond came from fourth to claim their second flag in 3 years. John Greening what a superb footballer, tragically cut down in his prime. His return match in 1974,was when the Pies caned eventual premiers Richmond in a match at the ‘G’, and to my memory he kicked, 5, or 6 that day. Is he still working in the bookies ring, somewhere in Tassie?


  2. Yes Glen, Greening was ahead of his time, on track to become one of the all-time greats. His comeback game against the Tigers in ’74 actually features in my 50 most sensational games. Sadly, a bit like Jason McCartney, having gotten back at all was the mountain climbed. He was never the same again.

    Greening still works as a bookie, been up on the Gold Coast for a few years now since moving from Tassie.

  3. Jeff,

    does it have a companion publication by the Coodabeen’s Digger?

    “100 Decisions That Cost Collingwood”.

    Johnny Greening was one of the Montello Maulers from Montello Primary School in Burnie. Others from his era at the school were Graeme Shepherd, Stephen Beaumont and John Emin.

  4. Jeff Dowsing says

    No but that’s a fine idea Phantom. Not sure limiting it to 100 would do it justice though!

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Great work, Jeff. How I’d love to see a third quarter like that tomorrow night. Phanto, definitely more like 1000 decisions…and that’s only against Carlton.

  6. … against Carlton… against Craig ‘ya can’t touch him’ Bradley!

    Thanks Phil.

  7. Dave Nadel says

    I remember that game Jeff. I think it was the first time that I realised just how good Greening was going to be. In 1972 before he was destroyed by that worthless thug O’Dea, Greening was leading in the Brownlow. If he hadn’t been assassinated he may well have been the equal of that other Collingwood #22, Bob Rose. The amazing thing is that instead of being dropped from the club list, as Duncan Wright was at Collingwood, O’Dea was made a life member at St Kilda. They seem to have different values at St Kilda.

  8. Dave,

    I am thinking that if the O’Dea assault had been contemporary there would have been litigation and a substantial payout and quite possibly a gaol term. Assault is assault no matter where it is.

  9. Jeff Dowsing says

    Thanks Dave. The other part of O’Dea getting life membership was that he was just an unremarkable back flanker who played about 160 odd games. Greening’s wife was going to press charges but St Kilda averted that by playing a benefit match against Collingwood at Vic Park. Meanwhile, apart from a 10 week ban, O’Dea also spent a period at Dandenong in the VFA as some kind of penance.

    More than ruin Greening’s football career it stuffed his life for some years, he suffered depression, his marriage broke down and in suburban grades copped sledges like ‘cripple’. Remarkably he kept playing until he was 40. And when you think of the Magpies near misses between ’77 – ’81, what might have been…

  10. Yes, Greening came down to us at Port Melbourne, playing in the 1977 100 point victory over Sandringham in the VFA centenary grand final. He drifted away after the early part of the 1979 season, a pity for a player of his calibre. O’Dea went to Dandenong for a short period, prior to returning to St. Kilda, with his VFL career finishing around the same time as Greenings VFA career. A sad parallel.

  11. Yeah – this remains my best ever football experience. The dreaded enemy and a resounding thrashing on their own dung hill.

    I was also at the re-match at Victoria Park later that season and if you can trust my teenage mind the tension in the half-hour or so between the end of the reserves and the start of the big match was as ‘physical’ as I have even experienced.

    Fantastic memory – great articel. Thanks Jeff.

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