Grand Final, 1955
Melbourne vs Collingwood
Saturday 17 September
Melbourne win by 28 points
Goalkickers: Noel Clarke 3, Ian Ridley 3, Clyde Laidlaw 1, Bob McKenzie 1
Having already taken care of the Pies in the Semi Final, the Demons went into the premiership decider as favourites. Despite their recent successes, the Pies had been the first team to beat Melbourne that year - but after the two sides had played on a mudheap a fortnight before the Demons had a week to recover.
It was just two years since the Demons had finished second last on the league ladder, and 12 premiership players were not yet 23-years-old. The young side had lost a Grand Final in 1954, and the lessons from that defeat had well and truly been learnt.
In a stark contrast to their Semi Final match, the Grand Final was played in glorious sunshine. The Pies goalled first from a downfield free kick after Noel McMahen had ironed out Bob Rose. Checker Hughes had always stressed that when playing Magpies, "Once Collingwood starts handball, meet the player with shirtfront football", and the 1955 side had taken that age old concept to heart.
Incensed by the incident the Magpies players went in harder, but their physical exertions only served to highlight the bumps they'd taken in two gruelling games to qualify for the grand final. When the sting went out of the physical action after firm handling of the aggro from umpire Harry Beitzel Melbourne hit back to take the lead, and were just a point in front at the first break.
The Demons should have blown them away in the second quarter but managed just 1.7. If it wasn't for the resiliency of the Collingwood backline they may have had even more shots on goal. At the other end, though, the Magpies were doing nothing. They went from the ten minute mark of the first quarter to midway through the third without kicking a goal. At the long break it was just 11 points the difference, and the Pies were still in with a shot of stealing an undeserved victory.
The third quarter saw the Pies claw back a few more points, but the 88,000 fans were still no closer to an answer about who would win. They had taken full advantage of Demon inaccuracy to be just seven points behind at the last change. Two late goals from Rose and Smale had given the Pies fans hope of a comeback victory.
Goals from Bob Johnson and Bob McKenzie early in the last term gave the Dees a handy break, and they never looked back from there. The Magpies again tried to force the game with tough play but the umpire again defused a potential melee.
Late in the game, with the Demons seemingly having the flag won, Frank "Bluey" Adams, Melbourne's 19th man, was introduced to the match to replace the injured Geoff Case. He sprinted off the interchange bench and collided with Collingwood's Des Healey. Both men were knocked unconscious and Adams' Grand Final lasted just a few seconds. Adams said the last thing he remembered was getting ready to run out onto the ground.
Melbourne's win came despite poor forward play, with six of eight goals kick from snaps on the ruck, one from a free kick and one from a mark.
Denis Cordner was the Demons best, dominating the ruck in the second half. Barassi and Melville were also prominent.
Norm Smith said "we planned to kick the ball as far as possible to capitalise on the opposition's recent hard games, and it worked well late in the game". He said his side was stronger than the Pies, but that his forwards were "inclined to play behind their opponents far too much", but that "I'm proud of the boys, who showed tons of spirit, and lots of dash and pace. They finished on well, and I think most onlookers will say we were the better team". Pies coach Phonse Kyne acknowledged that "Melbourne's physical strength was greater than ours, and that made the real difference between the two teams at the finish."
Collingwood won the free kick count 34-28, and took four more marks on the day. It was the lowest winning score in a Grand Final since 1923.
The post-match function had a delayed start, after the festivities at the MCG were over Jim Cardwell gave players and their partners instructions to meet at St Kilda Junction, and it was only when everyone arrived that they realised he wasn't there and hadn't left any further instructions on where to go.
B: John Beckwith, Peter Marquis, Trevor Johnson
HB: Don Williams, Geoff McGivern, Noel McMahen (c)
C: Ian McLean, Ken Melville, Geoff Case
HF: Laurie Mithen, Clyde Laidlaw, Robert McKenzie
F: Bob Johnson, Noel Clarke, Ian Ridley
R: Denis Cordner, Ron Barassi, Stuart Spencer
S: Terry Gleeson, Frank Adams
Coach: Norm Smith
Argus - 13/09/1955
Argus - 16/09/1955
Age - 17/09/1955
Argus - 19/09/1955
Argus - 19/09/1955
Age - 20/09/1955