Collingwood v South Melbourne
1910 VFL Final

Collingwood and South Melbourne went into the 1910 season with most observers believing the teams were certainties to make the finals. South Melbourne was the reining premier after it had put an end to Carlton's domination in the 1909 Grand Final, while Collingwood, who lost to the Southerners in the second-semi final by 21 points, finished the season in third place and was every chance to go further in the season ahead...

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South Melbourne kicked off its season with a resounding win over Richmond. It then suffered successive losses to Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton before a narrow 2 point win against University broke the unenviable trend. When the Southerners lost to Geelong on the following Saturday it seemed that all hope for the season was lost.

Collingwood's year was running in an opposite direction to that of South Melbourne. The Magpies began with a loss to Carlton in the season opener before the round 2 victory against South Melbourne. While the 41 point win did not make up for the previous season's semi-final loss, it showed that the team might just have what it would take to go a step further by season's end. Collingwood went from strength to strength winning five of their next six matches - their only loss being a 2 point thriller against Essendon at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Just as the Collingwood people began to cast their thoughts to the distant finals, the team suffered successive losses to Geelong, Carlton and South Melbourne, relegating them to sixth place on the ladder. The loss to South Melbourne was especially damaging as it was by a massive 62 points.

South had rediscovered the form that saw them take out the 1909 premiership and lost just two of the next eleven matches to finish the home and away season in third place. Collingwood also turned its fortunes around in the latter part of the season to win its last seven matches and leap to second place on the ladder.

The first week of the finals saw Collingwood take on Essendon in the first-semi final. The Magpies were never headed throughout the afternoon and ran out comfortable winners by 58 points. Jock McHale was voted best on ground, while Dick Lee kicked 6 goals to equal the finals goal kicking record set by Fitzroy's Percy Trotter in the 1905 first-semi final against Essendon.

Week two of the finals was a rematch of the previous year's Grand Final between South Melbourne and Carlton. The match was clouded in controversy after Carlton was forced to drop three players who were under suspicion of taking bribes to 'play dead'. The South Melbourne club was seen to be responsible for the crime and it was clear from the reception that the players got when they walked onto the ground that a good number of the 42,000 people in attendance agreed. South Melbourne got an early break on the Blues and the two teams matched each other in all facets of play. Carlton fought gamely to make up the ground on its adversary, but inaccuracy in front of the posts made the task a difficult one. South Melbourne would not be denied and was able to maintain its narrow lead throughout the afternoon to eventually prevail by 12 points. As minor premiers, Carlton had the right of challenge and would meet the winner of the final between Collingwood and South Melbourne in a Grand Final on the Saturday following the big clash.

The final between Collingwood and South Melbourne at the MCG was attended by 43,000 people. Collingwood stepped onto the MCG to a rousing reception, while South Melbourne, it seemed, had not been forgiven for their part in the bribery scandal and were met with disdain by a vast majority of the crowd. The South Melbourne players seemed unaffected by the taunts of the angry crowd and put on a fine display of team football. It was an absorbing contest throughout the first term. The teams were evenly matched and neither could gain the ascendancy. Collingwood, however, had a slight edge on the scoreboard and went to the change of ends with a lead of 5 points. It was difficult to forecast the result from the quarter just played, for though the Southerners were trailing on the scoreboard, they looked to be playing the better football. While many felt they might soon breakaway, it was clear from Collingwood's second quarter performance that they were not about to concede and at half-time the margin remained unchanged.

The third quarter produced much of the same outstanding play that had so enthralled the crowd in the first half. Collingwood had been praised for its earlier endeavours and it was now also showing a marked improvement in working together as a team. Unfortunately for the throng of black & white supporters at the ground, it did not translate to any advantage on the scoreboard. The teams scored one goal apiece in the third quarter and went to the final break with the margin once again at 5 points. Collingwood threw everything at South Melbourne in the final term. Their precision teamwork began to pay dividends. The men in red & white had no answer for Collingwood's renewed vigour and appeared to only watch on as the Magpies kicked three unanswered goals. South Melbourne's short lapse was enough for Collingwood to take an unassailable lead. The Southerners never gave up the struggle and kicked a further two goals before the final bell. It was Collingwood's day, however, and the players left the ground surrounded by an adoring hoard of well-wishers.

The final score read Collingwood 8.7 (55) to South Melbourne 6.8 (44)

Dick Lee kicked 3 goals for the winners and was regarded by most as the best player on the ground. Captain Coach, George Angus, led the team brilliantly and also finished the day with 3 goals to his credit. Other Collinwood players who deserve extra credit for their performances were McHale in the centre, McIvor at half-back and Wilson up forward.

Collingwood looked well set for the 1910 Grand Final on the following Saturday.

In other football related news, it has been reported that "Mr T. W. Sherrin, of Collingwood, has again been commissioned to specially manufacture the balls used in all the League premiership matches".