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The Geelong of '83: When the Pies ran a broom through its list

David Cloke arrived at Collingwood in 1983 after leaving Richmond. Picture: AFL Media - ${keywords}
David Cloke arrived at Collingwood in 1983 after leaving Richmond. Picture: AFL Media

Ashley Browne

In the round one edition of the AFL Record, Ashley Browne looks at Geelong’s makeover in the off-season, drawing on examples of other clubs that have gone on massive recruiting drives between seasons. Here, he looks back at what Collingwood did in the early 1980s. 

THE YEAR was 1983 and a new broom had swept through the tired corridors of the Collingwood Football Club.

Leading Melbourne businessman Ranald McDonald and his team had comprehensively won the board elections the previous summer and set about reviving a club torn apart by the disappointment of years of Grand Final defeats and the subsequent sacking of coach Tom Hafey.

The makeover wasn’t just restricted to the administration. The Magpies were aggressive with their list management (not that the term was at all in vogue in 1983) and among the big names to make their debuts for the club under new coach John Cahill were Greg Phillips, Michael Richardson, Shane Morwood and Gary Shaw. The Pies also plucked Phillip Walsh from their country zone and he played every game for the year.

But the poster boys for the new Magpies were David Cloke and Geoff Raines, brazenly signed away from the neighboring – and hated – Richmond.

The pair had played in Richmond's 1980 Grand Final thrashing of Collingwood and in the Tiger team that lost the 1982 flag decider to Carlton. But they fell out with coach Francis Bourke and the Magpies swooped, starting off a bidding war between the two clubs over the next few years that sent them both to the brink of financial ruin.

It wasn't all one-way traffic into Victoria Park. Brownlow medalist Peter Moore wanted out and eventually crossed to Melbourne to play under Ron Barassi. In a smart piece of scheduling, the VFL fixtured the Demons and the Magpies to open the new season at the MCG.

The Pies would win a highly charged clash by 10 points in front of more than 72,000 fans but would finish the season in sixth place, a game out of the finals. However, they would make the preliminary final the following year, losing to Essendon by 133 points.

Cahill was sacked afterwards, with the Pies bringing Bob Rose out of retirement to coach. By round three of 1986, Rose had been replaced by Leigh Matthews and new president Allan McAlister was the sole remaining member of the new Magpies on the board of directors.

The hype surrounding the Magpies in 1983 is not unlike that around Geelong in 2016. With Patrick Dangerfield, Zac Smith, Lachie Henderson and Scott Selwood all joining the club during the trade period, the bar has been raised high at Simonds Stadium.

Other examples in the feature story are South Melbourne's so-called ‘Foreign Legion’ in 1933, North Melbourne in 1975, Melbourne in 1983, Carlton and the Swans in 1986 and the Brisbane Lions in 2010.

The sobering news for the Cats is that the quick-fix doesn't always guarantee success.

Read more about this topic in the round-one edition of the AFL Record, available at all venues.