Collingwood has ‘discovered’ its 62nd ANZAC.

Ten years ago, official records showed that the Club had 57 players who served in the First World War. Ongoing research since then had lifted that number to 61 by last year, as more information came to light on long-forgotten links with a small number of former soldiers.

And now the Club has found one more.

It’s always been known that a player called George Marsh pulled on the Collingwood jumper for seven games in 1905, before later enjoying a fine career with both Brunswick and Coburg. But AFL records had him identified as George Herbert Marsh, whereas research from the Collingwood Archives team revealed that he was actually an entirely different person named Mungo George Marsh.

This discovery not only gave the AFL its first ever player named ‘Mungo’, but also gave the Magpies another ANZAC, as Mungo served in the First World War.

Mungo George Marsh (the ‘Mungo’ came from his maternal grandfather) was born in Bendigo on New Year’s Eve in 1884. His father William was a miner who later worked for the railways. The family moved to Melbourne and George found himself playing football with Coburg. He was a highly talented rover/forward, who won a silver medal from the club in 1903.

By 1905 his form was such that Collingwood started paying attention. He played seven games for the Magpies that year. He was described as a “clever junior” after one of his early VFL games and was “applauded for some splendid football on the right forward lines” after a game against Melbourne. He showed early signs of having a good nose for goal, kicking a major in three of his first four games and being described as a “busy and consistent forward.”

After his debut game The Herald said: “Marsh, the Coburg lad, created a good impression by his play with Collingwood against St. Kilda. He was tried out on the half-forward line, and was also given a show roving, Condon standing aside to permit the recruit to prove his prowess.”

George played in the semi-final loss to Carlton, but was dropped from the Grand Final team as the Pies opted for a stronger, more experienced team. That seems to have prompted George to look elsewhere, and in the years that followed he played for Tallarook, Collingwood Trades, Brunswick and finally Coburg, whom he led to successive Premierships as captain-coach the Melbourne District Association.

He was still leading Coburg when he enlisted to serve in the First World War in 1915. After initially being rejected because of problems with his teeth he was finally accepted, leaving Australia in October of 1915 as part of the 11th reinforcement of the 5th battalion. Just a few weeks before he left he married his wife Annie, who already had a son named Percy (who would go on to play both Australian football and rugby union for Queensland).

George arrived in Egypt in January 1916 to defend the Suez Canal, alongside his fellow soldiers of the 5th Battalion who had just returned from Gallipoli. In March 1916

He travelled to Marseille, France and subsequently the Western Front, fighting at Pozieres on the Somme, Ypres in Flanders, and at Amiens. He also captained the 5th battalion football team while on service.

It’s taken a long time, but in 2024, the life, career and service of the ‘real’ George Marsh can finally be celebrated by the Club.

Special thanks to Club researchers Phil Taranto and Rob Harris for their work in uncovering this story.