Eagle-eyed watchers of our VFL team in recent weeks will have noticed the emergence of a tough, left-footed goalkicking small forward named Jack Raines. And while some might have wondered whether he was related to our 1980s winger Geoff, the Collingwood connection actually runs much further back – and is much more impressive – than that.

For Jack is the great grandson of the legendary Harry Collier.

For those who don’t know, Harry Collier is one of the most famous names in Magpie history. A feisty rover/forward, he played more than 250 games, kicked nearly 300 goals, played in SIX Premierships – two of them as captain – won two Copeland Trophies, a Brownlow Medal and multiple Victorian guernseys. 

Perhaps more importantly, he was one of the 'heart-and-soul' standard-bearers of the fabled Machine team of the late 1920s that won four flags in a row under Jock McHale. A local boy who grew up near Victoria Park, his love of the black-and-white guernsey helped inspire and sustain the famed “Collingwood spirit” that helped carry the club through its most successful era. He later spent long periods as a committeeman and recruiter, and remained passionately connected to the Magpies throughout his life.

One of Harry’s daughters, Judith, married a man called Ian Raines, and one of their children, Andrew, was a more than handy player, playing 19 games and kicking 30 goals across two seasons with the under-19s in the early 1980s. Andrew has two kids (twins), one of whom, Jack, is now making his way with our VFL team.

For Jack, it’s been a remarkable journey, and one he’s still struggling at times to come to terms with.

“Honestly I’m pinching myself,” he says. “Today we were having the captain’s run and I was kicking the footy around with Brayden Maynard. And I’m like, really? This is really happening? You do pinch yourself – I can’t quite believe it’s happening sometimes.”

Reminded that Harry had once famously said he couldn’t believe it when told he would be paid to play for Collingwood – he thought you did it for nothing, and would probably have paid for the privilege if necessary – Jack laughs and says he’s had a similar experience.

“I honestly had the same sort of reaction when I got here. They said you’ll get paid. But I don’t really care too much about that. It’s just the chance to play here, to wear the famous jumper, following in the footsteps of my great grandfather and my father, and the opportunities you get at such a big club … it’s amazing.”

Given his background, it’s no surprise that Jack was a Magpie from day one (though his twin sister Isabelle wasn’t so lucky: she got mum’s North Melbourne). He grew up in Pascoe Vale, went to Auskick but didn’t start playing junior footy with Pascoe Vale until the relatively late stage of under-12s. He crossed to Carey Grammar for his last years of schooling and found himself part of Carey’s team alongside one Nick Daicos, with whom he remains very good mates (the two played in the school’s 2019 premiership).

Jack played mostly as a rover or midfield/forward throughout his junior days, and at Collingwood is trying to adapt to the role of specialist small forward. He missed most of last year with a broken leg, which set him back badly, and is still settling into the VFL team but he feels like there is plenty of improvement to come in his own game.

“I feel like my game is building now,” he says. “I’m learning more about being a forward, learning a lot from guys like Neville Jetta. I hope there’s a lot more to come from me in the future.”

Jack is now 19 and is combining his footy with studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in logistics and supply chain management at university. He kicked three goals against Footscray and three more against the AFL Academy team, showing the goalkicking genes he’d inherited from both his dad and, more distantly, Harry. “It seems to run in the family,” he says. “It’s in the genes.”

And even though he never met Harry, he’s deeply aware of the significance of carrying on the family’s traditions. He has Harry’s Hall of Fame jumper, and some of his old medals. The family still get a buzz on Copeland nights whenever the Harry Collier Trophy (for Best First Year Player) is announced. Nor is it lost on him that he also carries Harry as his middle name. “It’s really special to be a part of that history,” he says. “It means a lot to me.”

His grandmother Judith and great auntie Kay, Harry’s daughters, have enjoyed seeing Jack wearing the black and white guernsey this year and are beyond proud. The whole family are: it’s a bit like Jack playing with Collingwood has brought Harry’s legend back to life again.

“Dad and I used to keep the name under wraps a bit,” he says. “It wasn’t until I was selected for my debut against Essendon at Windy Hill on ANZAC Day when Craig Black announced it to the team and he kindly invited me to share my family’s football history and Collingwood connection on such a significant day. With me being here now I’m really proud of it. Everyone in the family is super proud. It’s been a real positive lift for everyone. I’m happy it’s doing that. It’s our story, it’s a great story and we need to write it. Hopefully there’s still a few more chapters to be written.”