Relics and mementos from Bruce Andrew’s remarkable life in football – including a 1930s Collingwood jumper – have made their way back to the football club after a wonderful donation from his family.

The donation includes jumpers, boots, scrapbooks, original photographs, cartoons and much more, both from his time with Collingwood in the late 1920s and early 1930s and also through his decades of service to the broader game with the Australian National Football Council and days as a TV and newspaper pundit.

Club historian Michael Roberts described the collection as unique, and one of the most fascinating he had seen.

Bruce was a local Abbotsford boy who shot to fame as a speedy wingman in The Machine team era under Jock McHale. He played 62 games for the Pies, including the 1928 and 1930 Premierships

But his post-playing career was even more important. He was a pioneer in the promotion and development of the game amongst young players and in emerging markets such as Queensland and NSW. He developed a series of illustrated lectures using colored lantern slides which he took on the road to country halls and theatres. He produced some of the first instructional books and films on the game, and ended up spending 27 years in charge of the Australian National Football Council, where he helped establish the Teal Cup. He was also a famous panelist on the World of Sport TV show in the 1960s and 70s.

Bruce spent much of the Second World War as an RAAF officer in Europe but didn’t misplace his love of sport during those years, organizing games of Australian football, rugby and cricket for Australian servicemen in London during the early 1940s (he was a brilliant fast bowler who played alongside Keith Miller in one of those services games).

All these facets of his life are reflected in his collection of items. Highlights of the donation include:

  • The #30 jumper worn by Bruce during the 1934 season;
  • Two other Collingwood jumpers from the same era;
  • Several old pairs of boots, at least one of which is believed to have been worn by Bruce in his playing days;
  • A wonderful assortment of Collingwood team photos from the 1920s and 1930s, plus a number of action photos;
  • Two magnificent scrapbooks, one chronicling his football career, the other his forays into the football lectures and educational talks;
  • Victorian, South Australian and All-Australian Amateur team jumpers from the 1958 Australasian Football Carnival held in Melbourne; and
  • A colourful poster advertising a series of cigarette cards issued by Grey’s Cigarettes in the early 1930s.

But Bruce’s life in football covered more than Collingwood. So our Archives have undertaken to distribute many of the non-Collingwood items to other AFL clubs, the AFL itself and potentially the Australian Sports Museum.

Bruce’s daughter, Fran Thomas, said: “Dad believed sport crossed all boundaries and was a glue that united communities. He spent his life developing the game. Dad would be delighted to know that his collected materials will be displayed for all who may be interested in our wonderful game, its rich history, and its unique capacity to bring enjoyment to people from all walks of life.”

Michael Roberts welcomed the donation, and paid tribute to Bruce’s contribution to the wider game.

“I had the good fortune to spend some time with Bruce back in the 1990s, and he was a lovely man. It’s wonderful that we now have so many of his items as part of the Collingwood collection, and we feel honoured that Fran and her son Ben have entrusted it to us.

“But other clubs will benefit too, and that’s always been the way with Bruce. He was a Collingwood man, of course, but he always had his eye on the bigger picture. There is nobody who has done more for the game of football.”

It’s also worth noting that Bruce’s widow, Marj, is still going strong, and earlier this year celebrated her 108th birthday!

To read more about Bruce’s career, and his amazing life in football, check out his biography on Forever: