Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : VFL              Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

COBURG

Once were Lions!

In the days before cyberspace and mergers the local football club was timeless.  As a kid I used to wander up with my mates and grab a spot after half time on the hill alongside Coburg High to take in the ritual.  Blokes with long white shorts, steep rectangle side burns and boots that enveloped the ankle and weren't made by little fingers in a Nike sweatshop were just so chic.  And there at half back in the days before we could spell multiculturalism was Tony Tancredi, our own Italian stallion.  Those were the days!

Although Coburg will survive thanks to a partnership with Richmond, there's no mistaking the impact of the AFL on suburban football since its fledgling first steps twenty years ago.  For although there are a some AFL officials who'd prefer to forget it, or rather believe it never happened, the VFA of the 70s was truly something else.  So too was the Coburg Football Club I entered in 1975.

Freddie Cook grabs another one at Port in the early '80s.

Look at the crowd! Cook was simply the best. 

The dramatic loss to Port at the Junction in 1980 in front of 20,000 people will remain one of the most disappointing moments in my football career.  We'd led all day against a more talented opponent only to be pipped in the last 10 minutes of the game. It hurt even more when long time Port secretary Norm Goss senior remarked to the media 'we're so good we only needed to play for twenty minutes to win the grand final.  Imagine if we'd played four quarter.'

I vividly remember at Coburg the next year when, with Port trailing by 10 goals, Gary Brice belatedly moved Cook into the ruck prompting my sarcastic 'where have you been?'  His response? 

'In the goal square shining last year's premiership cup, Phil.'  

Forty years earlier Norm Goss has been given the task of running across the leads of the unstoppable Bob Pratt in the 1941 grand final at the MCG.  After kicking 179 goals for the season Pratt was held to four goals, all kicked after half time.  The 36 000 people at the MCG were stunned. Nineteen eighty must have been deja vu for Goss.  These days there isn't the same level of defiance among the VFA/VFL officials. 

Bob Pratt (back row third from left) at Coburg/1941. Do you know the lolly boy? 

Four along from Pratt is Rob Sitch's relative.

 

Back Row from the left. Bill Brown, Milte and Bob Pratt at Coburg in 1941.

 

 

From the left - capt-coach Lance Collins, Murray and the club's oldest living player Bob Atkinson.

 

Giant ruckman Jim Jenkins

 

Champion, premiership rover Clarrie Mears.

 

Jack Harris - emergency in the Team of the Century.

Another Coburg legend of the 20's and 30's.

Harris played in 6 grand finals.

 

THE LATE JEFF ANGWIN I KNEW

AS TOLD IN INSIDE FOOTBALL

When talk turns to football it's easy to regale a crowd with stories about characters, rogues, tough men and whackers. In eighteen years of playing and coaching at Coburg in the old VFA I met them all. George Allen, Fred Cook, 'Frosty', Paddy Flaherty and Harold Martin and even the Mohawk himself, Mark Jackson; it was a cavalcade. Some however came without the fanfare.

In 1985 a sinewy 19-year-old kid from Foster sheepishly unpacked his bags and told me he'd like to have a go at the VFA. By the end of 1989 he'd assumed a remarkable status at Coburg. Quiet and unassuming he never spoke about himself or cast a word of criticism of anyone else into a conversation. We called him 'Seagull', the nickname he'd inherited as a child on the bus collecting what the other kids left behind. His real name was Jeff Angwin. Unlike today's players Angwin arrived at training bearing the residue of a day's manual work. Blasting and spray-painting iron left him literally as black as the ace of spades.

On Friday 15 June he died suddenly at home of natural causes. A week later we buried him in a simple plot on a tranquil green hill as serene as the bloke himself. On the bus we recalled his feats and the impact he had on the team. To those who witnessed his bone crushing collisions and reckless lunges into heavy football traffic the thought thta we could lose him at 35 years of age was incomprehensible. Jeff Angwin was simply indestructible.

When I look back at that 1988/89 premiership side it's easy to see why we were too good for those truly great Williamstown sides and why we lost only one game in 1989. Angwin, with his courage, loyalty and selflessness typified the spirit and character that drove those sides. The role of men such as Jeff Angwin in the evolution of Aussie Rules is something that's never quite been captured by those who write and talk about the culture of the game. Too often the blowhards, the technically gifted or the flawed of character take centre stage.

Yet every successful coach understands the value of having a bloke whom when asked whether he'd like to take the opposition side's best player says 'sure, I'll give it my best'. For Angwin that meant VFA goalkickers like Ian Rickman and Mark Eaves, the brilliant Grant Smith or the Bullants captain, David Brine. As the VFL evolves and old VFA clubs grapple with the impact of AFL alliances on their culture and identity the memory of Jeff Angwin could not have more profound significance.

Jeff Angwin marks at Windy Hill in the 1989 grand final.

As with Windy Hill in 88/89 it was standing room only in the church in Foster. On the wall was a photo of Jeff at Windy Hill in the red and blue of Coburg, arm stretched above the head searching for a dangerous ball. He grabbed it and we won another flag; simple as that. As the gathering laid testament, Peter and Nancy Angwin's boy Jeff was someone special.

 

COBURG PICKS ITS TEAM OF THE CENTURY

CFC

TEAM OF THE CENTURY- * = deceased

FULLBACK

BP Bob Atkinson - 110 games

FB Ron Promnitz - 41 grand final- 96 games *

BP - Trevor Price - 124 games 3 flags

HALFBACK

HBF - Dave Starbuck 219 games B+F

CHB Brad Nimmo 154 games 3 flags (CAPT)

HBF - Tony Tancredi 119 games/B+F1967

CENTRE

W Alan Mannix 110 games-flag 74- - B+F both divisions

C - Jim Sullivan 92 games Liston flag 70

W Gary Sheldon - 159 games 2 flags Liston- 2 B+F

HALF

FORWARD

HFF Laurie Burt ruck-roving 157 games/1979 flag 3 B+F

CHF- Bill Byron 89 games/229 goals

HFF Lance Collins 98 games/432 goals/ VC*

FULL

FRWD

F/P-Ken Ingram 150 games /208 goals/ 2 flags/2 B+F

F/F-Bob Pratt 40 games 263 goals *

F/P Brian Allison 174 games/150 goals/ 2 flags

RUCK

RUCK- Jim Jenkins 174 games/40 goals/ 3 flags 26/27/28/ 2 B+F *

R/R- Colin Hobbs 98 games/ premiership 74

R- Clarrie Mears 166 games/278 goals/flags 26/28/ B+F - 25 ) *

1/C

Ray Jordon 98 games/168 goals/3 B+F

Henry Kerley 86 games/126 goals/ 2B+F/flags 26/27/28 *

Mick Erwin - 90 games/flag 70/B+F 72/Premiership captain coach- 26 goals

Jack Condon 186 games 150 goals/B+f 46

Tim Rieniets 57 games/flags 88/89 /2 Norm Goss Medals

Mark Weideman 36 games/ flags 88/89/B+F

EMERGENCIES

Jack Harris 191 games - 26-37/3 flags 6 grand finals *

Jack Rogan 145 games/289 goals/B+F

Allan Eade - 119 games/B+F/2 flags

E 'Snowy' Martin -Recorder Cup 27/Flags 26/27

COACH- Phil Cleary

Played 205 games - 1979 premiership player - Coach = 9 years - 1984 -19 92

Coached Coburg to 5 finals series --85/86/88/89/90 - 3 grand finals- 86/88/89

Capt/coach/86 grand final

Coach 88/89 premierships

5 time undefeated VFA coach.

 

 

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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