AFL grand final: Former Melbourne player Mike Collins dreams of seeing an anti-drought flag in the flesh

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Almost a century after his father helped Melbourne win his second post as VFL Prime Minister, Mike Collins hopes to see his beloved demons break their 57-year drought on Saturday.

A former Melbourne player under Norm Smith, Collins managed to snag tickets to this weekend’s historic grand final and said watching his former team win their long-awaited lucky 13th flag would be indescribable.

The 82-year-old said it meant the world to him to be able to watch the team running in his blood in his own backyard.

“It’s very lucky. If it had been in Melbourne I would have tried to cross, ”he said.

“It’s great, it’s here; my whole family is here. It gives you the opportunity to see them and I think we will have the crowd on their side.

“We have a very strong association. I am the only surviving member to have played, but I have nephews and nieces who are very close supporters of Melbourne.

“I would just like to see another before I die.”

Camera iconGeoff Collins being chaired from the ground in 1954 by Geoff Case, Don Williams, Ron Barassi and John Beckwith. Credit: Provided

Collins’ family bond with the Demons runs deep: his father Jack and brother Geoff were both prominent players in their respective times and were named to the club’s 150 heroes list, celebrating Melbourne’s best players since. their first 150 years.

Jack, a mainstay of the Demons from 1923 to 1931, played 127 games and was a member of their 1926 flag team, playing on the wing in Melbourne’s second prime minister.

Mike’s older brother Geoff made 87 appearances in two stints with Melbourne, including serving as the club’s premier in 1948 and captain of the team in their 1954 grand final loss to Footscray by all teams. .

Geoff was Ron Barassi’s captain in his early days and, by a beautiful coincidence, Barassi was Mike’s captain when he made his debut in 1961.

The youngest Collins has only appeared in four games in red and navy, including the second semifinal of 1961 against Hawthorn, in which he scored his only goal in the AFL with his first kick in the game. , before suffering an ankle injury ending the season. .

Collins was in his preliminary final victory over Geelong, having completed his quarantine after his trip to Melbourne the same day, and has tickets up for grabs for this weekend’s big game.

He admitted he was nervous ahead of the game given the Bulldogs’ pedigree and barricaded for Port Adelaide, but he had a soft spot for the Sons of the West.

Jack Collins during the Melbourne Demons era in the 1920s.
Camera iconJack Collins during the Melbourne Demons era in the 1920s. Credit: Provided

“I get a lot of butterflies before a game after the last 40 or 50 years,” he said.

“I have a lot of time for Footscray. When they won their first Premiership my brother was captain of Melbourne and they were very good to him the following years. He often went to Footscray meetings for their Premiership teams.

Upon leaving the Demons in 1963, he was approached by football clubs South and North Melbourne, but declined both offers, choosing instead to play for Heyfield in the Latrobe Valley Football League.

He then spent the next four seasons with Yallourn Football Club, during which time he served as an assistant coach and captain, won the Rodda medal for best player in the league and helped his team win two finals.

Upon retirement, Collins moved to Darwin, Geraldton and Papua New Guinea, where he was involved in local football leagues, before moving to Perth in the mid-1980s.

He joined Kingsley Junior Football Club and served on the committee for 13 years, including four as chairman, and had several Melbourne teams organize internships at the club.

Collins was also president of the Melbourne FC WA Supporters Group for several years and was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for service to sport in 2000.


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