Collingwood has one less senior player in its record books today than it did last week, in the wake of new research that has revealed an error that's lasted nearly 100 years.
In 1921, Collingwood had two players named Smith on its list – Basil, from Warrnambool, and Clyde, from Heidelberg. According to AFL records, Basil made his debut for us against Carlton in the Rd 18 game in 1921, while Clyde debuted in the opening round of 1922. Yet another almost-Smith, Hector Lingwood-Smith, would debut in Round 2 of 1922.
But somewhere along the way, things seem to have become muddled. It now turns out that Basil never played a senior game for Collingwood, and that it was Clyde who made his debut late in the 1921 season.
The Herald newspaper and the Collingwood annual report for 1921 and the Football Record for the round were all clear, saying that C J Smith from Heidelberg had played that solitary game. But the game's official records have continued to show Basil playing that day until last week, when they were altered.
The errors were uncovered by the Collingwood Archives Committee's research team of Phil Taranto, Rob Harris and Peter Marshall.
Club historian Michael Roberts said the search to make our records as accurate as possible was likely to be an endless one.
"Just two weeks ago we learned that Ian Graham and Terry Waters had their goal tallies confused in the 1964 Grand Final. Now we discover that two Smiths were actually one. It's amazing how we keep finding these things – and I don't see it stopping soon."
The findings mean there have been 1235 senior players for Collingwood since 1892. Basil's removal from our records also impacts upon the player debut order number, but after internal discussions the club has decided to 'decommission' Basil's player number (#256), so that other players can keep their existing numbers.
Basil would go on to play 16 games with South Melbourne and Richmond, while Clyde's career with Collingwood eventually totalled seven games. A policeman by profession, he was tragically killed in 1935 when a colleague's gun went off while he was inspecting it when the two were on duty in Frankston. He was just 33 years old.