The Fish That Got AwayBy: The Blueseum Writing Crew on: Sun 02 of Jan., 2011 02:34 AEDT (9986 Reads)
First published: January 2011
Collingwood. Collingwood. Collingwood. Yes, we all know that we've beaten them in 5 Grand Finals; 5 of 6 no less! But we also know they're the reigning Premiers, have the worst - and seemingly most fertile - fans, and that they are just behind us for overall Premiership success. But there's something else that is little known outside of Carlton historical circles. For Carlton keeps feeding the Collingwood empire with charity, and champion players, most from our own crop, and right from out of our own hands. Collingwood, successful yes; but how much is due to our recruiting! We decided to look at some notable examples, stretching right back to the Pre-VFL days...
William 'Billy' Strickland; Collingwood's first VFL captain, but Carlton VFA star
Billy Strickland is revered by Collingwood as their first VFA Premiership captain in 1896, and their inaugural VFL captain in 1897 – but he had already been playing football with Carlton for more than a decade when he joined the Woods in 1893.
Disciplined and determined, he was a born leader, and his loss to Carlton was perhaps best summed up by the following paragraph from the Argus newspaper of October 5, 1896;
Old members of the Carlton club present must have realised what a stupendous mistake they made when the team took sides some years ago on the question of captaincy, and rejected Strickland in favour of another man, who, though a fine player, never once showed the least talent for leadership.
Strickland was also Collingwood's first VFL coach in 1904.
Harry Curtis; 2 Carlton games; 121 Collingwood games including 2 Premierships
After playing two games for Carlton in 1913, only to cop criticism for his wayward kicking, Harry Curtis went to Collingwood the following season to prove the Blues wrong. In 122 matches for the Magpies, he became one of the outstanding centre half-forwards of his era, and formed a potent combination with Dick Lee in their 1917 and 1919 Premiership teams.
Curtis retired from the field in 1924, and was elected President of Collingwood soon after. He served an unbroken term of 27 years, during which the Pies won another six flags.
Harold Rumney; 15 Carlton games; 171 Collingwood games including 5 Premierships
Rumney left Princes Park in 1926 after playing 15 matches for the Blues over two seasons, his departure apparently sparked by a blow-up with his new captain-coach Ray Brew over Rumney’s inclination to back himself and take opponents on.
He made his debut for Collingwood in the first round of 1927, and thereafter was only dropped through injury. Nicknamed ‘Dasher’ for his blistering pace, he spent his first full season at Collingwood as a forward, before his coach Jock McHale sent him back into defence, where he was equally effective as a half-back flanker or back pocket.
Between 1927 and 1930, Rumney played in four successive Collingwood Premiership teams. In 1931 he won Collingwood’s Best and Fairest award, and by 1932 had represented Victoria ten times in interstate matches. His career peaked in 1935, when the Magpies beat South Melbourne on Grand Final day to give Harry his fifth Premiership in the black and white.
Ted Baker; 1 Carlton game; 141 games at Collingwood, Geelong and Footscray; Premiership captain at Geelong in 1931
Edward Richard (Ted) Baker played the first of his 142 VFL matches on a fine Saturday afternoon in July, 1920, when he ran out on to the Junction Oval as second rover for Carlton against St Kilda. Recruited from Wonthaggi, Baker was a quick and skilful terrier of a player, but he left Princes Park soon after in unexplained circumstances.
Two years after that one appearance for the Blues, Baker bobbed up at Collingwood and stayed two seasons, however it wasn’t until he joined Geelong in 1927 that his career really took off. In 95 matches for the Pivotonians, Baker blossomed into a star rover renowned for his accurate left-foot stab passing. He became a regular Victorian state representative, and captained Geelong to the 1931 Premiership.
In 1932 he left Geelong to rejoin Collingwood, before he finished off his nomadic football journey with three games for Footscray in 1934. All up, Ted played VFL football for ten seasons, in a career spanning 14 years.
Ray Byrne; 81 Carlton Games; 138 games at Geelong and Collingwood
Ray Byrne was recruited by the Blues at the age of 19 from Golden Square, in Carlton's rich Bendigo League zone. He was given guernsey number 26 and soon proved to be a popular clubman and a creative half-back. At 181 cm and 80 kg, he was equally at home on the last line of defence, where he played in Carlton's 1973 Grand Final loss to Richmond.
After 81 games and 13 goals for Carlton in six seasons, he cleared to Collingwood, where he quickly established himself in their lineup. He went on to play 121 games and boot 10 goals in black and white, including three consecutive losing Grand Finals; to Carlton in 1979, Richmond in 1980 and Carlton again in '81. In 1984, Byrne felt his time was up at Collingwood and asked for a clearance to Geelong. The 'Pies concurred and, at the age of 32, Ray played another 17 games with the Cats, before finally calling it quits after an impressive career.
Craig Davis; 42 Carlton games; 121 games at North Melbourne, Collingwood and Sydney
Beginning his fine VFL career at Carlton, Craig Davis (a cousin of Carlton legend Brent Crosswell) went on to play at three other clubs. A slightly built, yet skilful and strong-marking full-forward, he was on the losing side in finals with Carlton, North Melbourne and Collingwood, before making a return to senior football with Sydney at the age of 33.
In 1976, Davis suffered a serious head injury in a pre-season practice match, when an opponent’s knee collected him from behind in a marking contest. Fearing further complications, Carlton’s doctors insisted that his career was over, and the club delisted him after the season. He had played 42 games in Navy Blue, and kicked 75 goals.
Convinced that the medicos were wrong, and that he still had plenty to offer, Davis joined North Melbourne in 1977 and played 10 games for 20 goals in two seasons. Then in 1979 he crossed to Collingwood, where his career re-ignited. He went on to play a further 102 games for the Magpies (including the 1979 Grand Final loss to Carlton).
Others to have left Carlton and played in a Premiership for Collingwood include:
Jim Crowe - 83 Carlton games, 21 Collingwood
Determined and versatile, Jim Crowe was a regular finals player throughout his six years at Princes Park from 1929 to 1934. Originally regarded as a goal-kicking rover, he later became a creative back pocket, and formed a notable combination with Carlton’s star full-back Frank Gill. But at the peak of his career, Crowe walked from Princes Park after an apparent dispute over his role in the team, and two years later, played in a Premiership side for Collingwood. He then served his country in World War II, before spending one season as coach of Footscray.
Harry Sullivan - 31 Carlton games, 78 at Collingwood
Harry Sullivan joined Carlton from Brighton Technical School in 1949 at the age of 17, and played in our Under 19 Premiership side in that same year. He was selected for his senior debut in round 18, 1950, when Carlton finished off a dismal year by losing to South Melbourne by almost six goals at Princes Park. Four years later, after 31 senior games, he was granted a clearance to Collingwood.
His first season at Victoria Park was much like those that came before; 10 games, 5 goals and regular demotion to the seconds. Then, in early 1956, someone had the bright idea of trying Harry at full-back, and a star was born.
In September 1956, Sullivan was at full-back for the ‘Pies in their Grand Final loss to Melbourne, and there again when they defeated the Demons two years later to deny Melbourne four flags in a row. Cool under pressure, and renowned for his ability to punch the ball from his opponent’s grasp at precisely the right moment, Harry also represented Victoria in 1958, on the way to 78 games and immortality among the Collingwood legions.
Carlton and Collingwood share a fascinating history, but this little known 'talent sharing' receives no publicity and even less thanks. Then again, maybe it is better that way!
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