Vale Bill Serong
98 CFC Games, 52 CFC Goals

The Collingwood Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of 1958 Premiership player Bill Serong.

Bill was a strong, fast and fearless centre who played a key role in that famous flag, being involved in some of the game’s most memorable physical clashes. He would later place twice in the Copeland Trophy, and finished second in the Brownlow Medal in 1959.

Bill was born in Collingwood territory but didn’t attract the attention of Magpie recruiters until he’d moved to Terang, about 200km west of Melbourne, for his first teaching position. He enjoyed a wonderful 1955 season with the local football team, playing under former Footscray wingman Dick Wearmouth (father of our fan favourite, Ronnie).

The Magpies exercised their claim on him for the 1956 season, by which stage he was teaching in Geelong. Those work commitments saw him limited to only a handful of training appearances at Vic Park: instead he trained with the Cats for virtually the entire 1956 season!

It clearly did not affect Bill’s performances though; inheriting the No.22 guernsey from the great Bob Rose he marched straight into the senior team for the opening round and missed only one match for the year, playing 20 games and kicking 20 goals.

By 1957 the Education Department had thankfully moved him back to Melbourne and Serong was at last able to train with his Collingwood teammates. His size, speed, marking strength and athletic ability – he was one of the fittest players of his time – saw him thrown all over the ground in his first few seasons. “Here’s a six-footer who can run close to even time, rise for high marks and kick 60 yards,” wrote The Sun in 1958. “Has everything a top player needs – speed, height, strength and ability to kick strongly with either foot. On his day he can dominate a game.”

Despite his heroics in the ’58 decider it wasn’t until he was moved into the centre full-time in 1959 that he truly ‘arrived’. He finished third in the Copeland and second in the Brownlow that year, then runner-up in the Copeland in 1960. But he broke his collarbone in the 1960 Preliminary Final, and then his parents both died unexpectedly within months of each other. By now studying law and working different part-time jobs, Bill suddenly found himself with a huge family burden and took a break from footy late in the 1961 season.

Incredibly, he was then caught up in the Club’s brutal end-of-season purge and dumped from the senior list just before the 1962 season. He went to North Melbourne and won the best-and-fairest in his only season there before heading to Echuca to do his articles. He captain-coached the local team there and won League and Club best-and-fairests.

Beyond football, Bill was also a champion handballer (he was in the Victorian team for 30 years and won both state and national titles). He retained the lawyer’s gift of the gab throughout his life and was always great value at past players’ social functions.

Bill passed away early this week, just a couple of weeks after his 88th birthday.

The Board, management, staff, coaches and players of the Collingwood Football Club wish to record our appreciation for Bill’s great contribution to our footy club, and especially for his part in our famous 1958 Premiership win. Our thoughts are with his family and all his friends, from Collingwood and beyond.

Side by Side.

To read Bill’s full story and the stats from his career, check his bio on Forever.