Terry Waters, former Collingwood captain, Copeland Trophy winner, Hall of Fame inductee and Board member, passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. He was 76.

Waters was regarded as one of the best marks in the game during the 1960s. He came to Collingwood as a full-forward and enjoyed early success in that role, but ultimately made his name as a big ruck-rover whose trademark became the towering mark while playing in defence or behind the ball, followed by a booming punt kick.

Former teammate Ian Graham was Waters’ closest friend during their playing days, and they remained great friends after football finished. 

“Terry was a major contributor to our success during the 1960s, and he was very popular and highly respected at the club,” Graham said. “He had an outgoing, gregarious personality with a great sense of humour. He was always great company and loved engaging in vigorous discussion on a whole range of subjects with friends.

“He had a wide range of friends from all walks of life, and he has always been devoted to his family, which was the source of great pride and joy to him over the years. 

“We have been close friends since we both came to Collingwood in 1963 and I will miss him greatly – as will his legion of friends.”

Another former teammate, Magpie legend Peter McKenna, said it was “terribly sad news”. “He was a great character, a great guy – he made us all laugh. And he was a wonderful footballer and teammate. We always used to sit together at club functions (in recent years) and we’d have the best time. I’m going to miss Terry terribly.” 

Terence Joseph Waters was born in Rochester but received his early education in the school at Teddywaddy, near Charlton, which had only about seven students. Terry’s father worked with the railways and his mother was a postmistress, which meant the family moved extensively around the Mallee in those early days. Terry had three older brothers, who made one of the back paddocks into a football field.

The family moved to Dandenong when Terry was still young. There he attended St Mary’s, and won a scholarship to De La Salle College in Malvern. It was here that he played his first seriously competitive football. While Terry was at school, his brother Bryan had tried and failed to win a regular spot with Hawthorn. He returned to VFA club Dandenong, and won the Liston Trophy in 1959. Terry followed him there in 1961.

Collingwood eventually won the race for Terry’s signature from at least four other VFL clubs, but then Dandenong refused to let him go and a messy legal battle ensued, involving Supreme Court injunctions and threats of further writs. 

That tug-of-war between Collingwood and Dandenong brought plenty of publicity, ensuring that Terry’s debut in Round 2 of 1963 was eagerly anticipated throughout the football world. He lived up to all the hype, starting the game as a ruck-rover, ending it at full-forward and kicking five goals in the process. Three weeks later against Melbourne he kicked seven, and Collingwood looked to have found a new star.

He ended up kicking 50 goals for the year to finish second in the League goalkicking behind Hawthorn’s John Peck. He also was named Collingwood’s best first year player and polled third in the Copeland Trophy.

Waters stood 187cm (6ft 1.5in) and had a wonderful spring, a powerful, sure pair of hands and superb judgement. He was one of the best and safest marks in the game throughout the 1960s. He was also a long, driving punt kick. This combination of skills saw him played as a key forward early, but he always saw himself as a follower, where his reading of the game and marking really came to the fore.

He moved to ruck-roving in 1965, changing in either the back or forward pockets, and instantly became one of the team’s most valuable and consistent players. His work around the ground was vital, and his telling marks in the last line of defence became one of his trademarks. He gained interstate selection in three years out of four, won the Copeland Trophy in 1966 and finished third in 1969 — the same year in which he was named in the All-Australian side. 

He became vice-captain in 1967, and took over the leadership From Des Tuddenham after Tuddy’s ‘strike’ during the 1970 pre-season saw him stripped of the captaincy. Barry Price says he’s always admired how Terry embraced the captaincy in those “turbulent” circumstances. “He was passionate about Collingwood and he played an important role in uniting the group during that time,” he said. 

That change meant Terry had the misfortune to be in charge during the horrors of the 1970 Grand Final, and again in 1971 when his form and confidence plummeted. He eventually resigned the captaincy late in the season and did not play again that year, returning for a handful of games at the start of 1972 before hanging up the boots, finishing with 163 games and 181 goals. 

He enjoyed a long career at Carlton and United Breweries, firstly as an industrial chemist (something which had led to some good-natured ribbing about him being the “educated” one of the team) and later rising to a senior position in the packaging area. He then reappeared at Collingwood in the 1980s as part of “The New Magpies” regime, spending two years on the Board as vice-president.

Terry was a regular at club functions until recently, and battled cancer over the past couple of years, facing it with the same grace and courage he had displayed throughout his footy career. He passed away peacefully on Monday, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Jane, son Tom and daughter Charlotte.

The Board, management, staff, coaches and players of the Collingwood Football Club acknowledge Terry’s outstanding contributions to our footy club, both on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family, and all his friends both from Collingwood and beyond. 

Side by Side. 

To read Terry’s full story and stats from his career, check his bio on Forever: