Vale George Hams, AM
CFC Games (108) CFC Goals (3)
The Collingwood Football Club is saddened to announce the passing of 1953 Premiership player George Hams, also one of the few ex-Magpies to have been recognised with an AM.
George was a midfielder/forward when he crossed to Victoria Park from Ivanhoe Amateurs in 1946, but he had to wait more than two years for his senior debut. In those seasons he finished second in the VFL reserves best-and-fairest count in 1946, then second in Collingwood reserves’ best-and-fairest in 1947.
So he was more than ready by the time his chance at senior level came around in Round 6 of 1948, named on a half-forward flank against Richmond. He held his place after debut but was moved to the half-back flank the next week, and by his third game he was in the back pocket – and that’s where he stayed (by and large) for the rest of his career.
He was soon regarded as one of the best specialist back pocket players in the game. In that role he formed a wonderful understanding with the combustible Jack Hamilton at full-back. George was effective at quelling the impact of resting rovers, being strong and close-checking and unafraid to throw his weight around to unsettle an opponent. But he also loved to launch attacking forays down the ground and out of defence.
He would finish third in Collingwood’s Copeland Trophy in 1950 (no mean feat for a humble back pocket player), and The Argus rated him the best in his position in the League that same year. He was also wonderfully consistent, playing 57 consecutive games after his debut.
In 1951 The Argus wrote: “Hams is a back pocket player with pace, judgement and, above all, determination. He has settled down to being one of the best players in the League at a difficult position. He is intelligent and thoughtful, as master of a neat and well-judged defence. He is one of the most consistent players of his type in the game.”
But injuries began to bite from 1952 on, and he could only grab a position on the bench in the 1953 Grand Final against Geelong. Further injury-enforced interruptions followed after that, and he eventually retired while captain of the reserves in 1955.
He had a Bachelor of Science and was an engineer with the Post Master General’s Department (PMG), and that is where he devoted most of his energies post-footy – so much so that in 1990 he was named in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, being granted an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) “for public service, particularly in the field of telecommunications”.
George died peacefully last Thursday after two days of palliative care at Blue Cross The Gables in Camberwell, at the age of 94. He is survived by his wife, Frances, children Marcus and Lisa, and grandchildren Alisha, Natasha and Alex.
The Board, management, staff, coaches and players of the Collingwood Football Club wish to acknowledge George’s outstanding contribution to our footy club, especially as both a 100-game and Premiership player. Our thoughts are with his family, and all his friends from Collingwood, and beyond.
Side by Side.
To read George’s full story and the stats from his career, check his bio on Forever.
A memorial service to celebrate George’s life will be held on Friday 10 February at 12:30pm at Highfield Road Uniting Church, 72 Highfield Rd, Surrey Hills. Followed by a private cremation.
In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to Fight Parkinson’s.
Details of live-stream service available at bethelfunerals.com.au