George Angus was one of our first great captains, and also our first ever Premiership coach.
His finest moment, undoubtedly, was when he led the team – as both captain and coach – to the 1910 Premiership against Carlton after a wild and violent Grand Final. In the wake of that dramatic win, a group of our female supporters decided to reward him with a magnificent sterling silver tea and coffee service.
Now that service, a wonderful symbol of one of our most famous flags, has come back to Collingwood. George’s grandson, Geoff (himself a Premiership player with Hawthorn in 1971) and his wife Denise, have donated the items to the club’s Archives.
George Angus was born near Kerang and played with a team called Macorna Wanderers. He served in the Boer War and didn’t actually start his Collingwood career until 1902 – at the ripe old age of 27. He would be 36 when he played his last game.
He was a strong and fearless follower who played a key role in the back-to-back flags of 1902-03, and again in 1910. He was widely respected throughout the football world, with a shrewd football brain, and he was appointed coach in 1909 (when Bob Nash was captain), then had the captaincy added on in 1910.
It was to prove a masterstroke. The 1910 Grand Final was one of the wildest of all time. Les Hughes was decked before the ball was even bounced, random acts of violence dotted it throughout and the last quarter was marred by a brawl described variously as “disgusting”, “degrading” and “the most disgraceful scene ever witnessed on a football field”. Four players would subsequently be suspended for a season or more.
In the midst of all the mayhem Angus was one of the players to stand tall. The club’s annual report that year said Angus “had never appeared to better advantage than in the final game”. Sport newspaper said Angus “absolutely excelled himself’. “Never at a loss what to do with the ball and always cool, Angus played well to his forwards, his driving drop kicks sending the ball well up every time,” it said.
So outstanding was his performance that day that the Lady Supporters of Collingwood presented him with a silver coffee service “in appreciation of his gallant efforts”.
The set is beautiful, featuring a tea pot, coffee pot, sugar pot and creamer, on a wooden tray, upon which is an engraved plaque dedicated to him from the Lady Supporters.
Sadly, George would play only one more year before being forced into retirement through injury. Then, just a handful of years later, he was diagnosed with a tumour of the brain and died a mere six weeks later, aged just 42.
One of George’s children, Les, played nine games for Collingwood in 1928, and was part of the fabled Machine team under Jock McHale. Geoff, who played more than 70 games for Hawthorn in the 1970s, including the 1971 flag, is Les’s son. And he and his wife Denise have now decided that the tea and coffee set should come back to the club where George left such an indelible mark.
Club historian Michael Roberts said it was a wonderful addition to the club’s collection.
“For a start, it’s something that’s personally connected to our first ever Premiership coach – that’s hugely important.
“But it’s also a link to the 1910 Premiership, which is arguably one of the most famous in our history.
“George was huge for us that season in particular, and I’ve written in the past about this tea/coffee set he was presented with after the Grand Final. So to actually know it exists and have it in our hands and back in the collection is incredibly exciting.
“We can’t thank Geoff and Denise enough – it’s a great piece with a great story attached to it, and we love having it in our collection.”