Collingwood at a glance
Club formed: February 12, 1892
Joined AFL: 1897
Home ground: MCG
VFA Premiership (1): 1896
VFL/AFL Premierships (16): 1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990, 2010, 2023
Record home and away attendance: 99,256 – Round 10, 1958 v Melbourne (MCG)
Brownlow Medallists (9): Syd Coventry Snr (1927), Albert Collier (1929), Harry Collier (1930), Marcus Whelan (1939), Des Fothergill (1940), Len Thompson (1972), Peter Moore (1979), Nathan Buckley (2003), Dane Swan (2011)
The History of Collingwood
The Collingwood Football Club was born out of the most disadvantaged neighbourhood in Melbourne, yet grew to be arguably the most famous football club in the country. It was founded on a sustained and passionate grass roots campaign in the late 1880s for the suburb of Collingwood to have a senior football club bearing its own name. Local residents, community and business leaders and politicians all hoped that having their own football club could help bring a measure of pride to a downtrodden suburb.
After more than two years of community struggle, the Collingwood Football Club was finally approved for admission to the Victorian Football Association (VFA) in September 1891, and played its first game in May of 1892. The team wore black and white striped guernseys, and were known as the Magpies, from the very beginning. They played at Victoria Park – a ground that Collingwood would call home for more than 100 years.
The Magpies quickly became a powerhouse in the game, largely on the back of a large and fanatical support base and sustained on-field success. The Pies won a Premiership in just their fifth season, and were invited to join the more established clubs in a new breakaway competition called the Victorian Football League (now the AFL).
In the decades that followed, Collingwood grew to become the biggest and most successful club in the competition. In the late 1920s the Magpies’ famous ‘Machine’ teams became the first in VFL/AFL history to win four Premierships in a row. It is a record that has never been equalled, let alone broken.
The onfield success was based on an extraordinary connection between the Club and its fans. The community bond that helped found the Club in the first place grew even stronger through the Depression of the 1890s, the Great Depression of the 1920s-‘30s and both World Wars. The football team was often the only bright light in the lives of locals during such times: the Club supported its struggling fans as best it could, and Victoria Park became a kind of community hub. The echoes of this connection can be seen in the competition-leading community programs the Club runs today.
Of course, as the years passed and Collingwood continued to grow, so did the supporter base spread and diversify. But the passion of our famed Magpie Army remains as intense today as it was when all the fans were ‘locals’.
The 1950s saw two further Premierships, including the fabled ‘Miracle of ‘58’ when we beat the seemingly unbeatable Melbourne. Flags proved harder to come by after that, and we had to wait until 1990 for the next taste of success. But even during that drought the Club remained successful and relevant, producing some of the game’s biggest names and regularly appearing in finals.
Indeed we’ve rarely had to suffer extended periods away from finals throughout our history: it’s one of the reasons we’ve always remained a big club. We have now played in a record 45 Grand Finals (the next best is 29) and won an equal-record 16 VFL/AFL Premierships, as well as one in the VFA. The Club has produced nine Brownlow Medallists, and some of the greatest players and teams ever to have graced the football field.
Those are records of which we can be rightly proud. But we’re just as proud of how we have continued to evolve and grow as a football club. In 2017 – our 125th anniversary year – we became one of the foundation clubs in the newly-formed AFLW competition. This finally gave young girls the chance to one day play for the Pies, and our women’s programs are a huge part of our future.
In 2023 Collingwood broke the AFL’s all-time membership record and won the Premiership, our third in the AFL era after 1990 and 2010. It was in so many ways a stellar season – one for the ages. But it was also just one more chapter in the ongoing story of the Collingwood Football Club.
Our Club Song
Good old Collingwood forever,
They know how to play the game.
Side by side we stick together,
To uphold the Magpies name.
See the barrackers a shouting,
As all barrackers should.
Oh, the premiership's a cakewalk,
For the good old Collingwood.
History of the Song
The Collingwood theme song had its origins in the United States of America during the Spanish-American War of 1898, when it was written by Will D. Cobb and Paul Barnes. Its popularity grew during the Boer War in South Africa, and it was Collingwood player Tom Nelson (3 games) who used the music of Goodbye Dolly Gray as the basis for Good Old Collingwood Forever in 1906.
The relevant lyrics adapted from Goodbye Dolly Gray are as follows:
Goodbye Dolly I must leave you,
Though it breaks my heart to go.
Something tells me I am needed,
At the front to fight the foe.
See – the boys in blue are marching,
And I can no longer stay.
Hark – I hear the bugle calling,
Goodbye Dolly Gray.
An unofficial addition to the theme song is the line ‘Cor Blimey’, which has been sung by the players after the fourth line of the theme song since the 1920s, according to an interview with Collingwood legend Harry Collier in the 1996 documentary 100 Years of Australian Football. It is not included in the official recording.