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Ray Carroll’s ‘From the Boundary’: August 29, 2023

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Gordon the great

Collingwood is having a stellar season in 2023. Really well coached, they are playing attractive football and their legion of fans will be hoping for a premiership.

It’s a bit hard to believe the famous club has triumphed only twice since their 1958 title win.

Over Magpie history though they have had many fine teams and a galaxy of champion players.

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One of the greatest was champion goalkicker Gordon Coventry who played from 1930-37.

From Diamond Creek, where his parents had an orchard, he came reluctantly to Victoria Park, believing he was not nearly good enough for the big league.

After a quiet beginning he went on to become an ‘immortal’ of the Australian game.

Gordon played 306 games for the Magpies, kicking 1299 goals – just short of the record – Tony Lockett’s 1360 from 281 games with St Kilda and Swans.

Both feats were remarkable but Coventry’s probably the more so. He played very often on muddy, waterlogged ovals in an era when one ball was used, which was often as heavy as a medicine ball by half time.

It was a different world, no manicured fields, or a new ball in each quarter in those times. Also, there was only one umpire and no TV cameras and Gordon regularly copped some brutal treatment from opponents. He only retaliated once as the following shows.

The one time he did hit back prompted one of the most celebrated tribunal cases of all time. It was in 1936 against Richmond.

Coventry played with a crop of painful boils on the back of his neck and, after repeatedly being struck on them, hit out at the Tiger defender responsible.

Despite it being his first report in more than 280 games he was harshly suspended for eight weeks – the remainder of the season. A public furore erupted, but the sentence stood.

Gordon played in five Magpie premierships and his coach was the legendary Jock McHale who coached the Magpies for 38 years (714 games) and eight premierships.

Gordon’s brother Syd is also a Magpie legend. He played 227 games in the same era and starred in premiership games as well as interstate clashes. He won the Brownlow Medal in 1927.

Thus, two lads from the Diamond Creek orchard who often rode bikes from home to Victoria Park training – after working all day – constitute a remarkable football story.

A star

Even avid Republicans who hate the monarchy, like Peter Fitzsimons and the like, reluctantly admit that Catherine, Princess of Wales, is an absolute star.

A devoted mother, she does an enormous amount of charity work in many areas including much valued work with childhood organisations.

Probably by far the most popular of the modern Royals, Catherine has not forgotten where she came from.

She grew up in the small town of Buckleberry in Bedfordshire and attended Marlborough College in Wiltshire for her secondary education. Her school and hometown pals are still among her best friends.

Keen on sport, she has many interests but above all is a great support for her husband Prince William.

The premiers

Collingwood appear favourites to win the 2023 AFL flag but it is no foregone conclusion.

Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton and Melbourne have strong backing while the premiership could go to a ‘bolter’ from teams outside the top four.

Meanwhile the Brownlow, according to the ‘experts’, looks likely to go to Magpie star Nick Daicos, even though he will have missed several late season games with injury.

If there is to be a surprise don’t discount Carlton’s Charlie Curnow or the Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli. The latter, a fine player and leader, played against Assumption for Marcellin and it was obvious then that he would be a star.

The Brownlow Medal was first awarded in 1924 with the winner Carji Greeves. The medal honours a great Geelong administrator Charles Brownlow.

Shortage

Last week the Herald-Sun ran a story highlighting the struggle country and suburban footy clubs in a number of areas are struggling for playing numbers and volunteers.

The latter is so vital in keeping any sporting clubs wheels turning and are in shorter supply than ever before.

Ever-rising costs and personnel shortages are causing lots of clubs to fall over.

Meanwhile, Herald-Sun journalist Michael Warner continues to shine a light on malpractice within the top echelon of the powerful AFL. His best seller a couple of years ago ‘The Boys Club’ exposed the dark side of the nation’s richest sports body.

The AFL tried to have his book banned and removed his accreditation to cover AFL games from any of the stadium press boxes.

Michael was a student at Peninsula school and played First XVIII and XI against ACK in the 1990s. His grandfather Denis Warner was a famous war correspondent.

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