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2017 Hall of Fame: The offer Magpie superstar Ron Todd couldn't refuse

Hall of Fame: Ron Todd Collingwood's goalkicking machine stunned footy when he left the club

IT REMAINS one of the biggest sensations in football history.

Collingwood superstar Ron Todd, 23, was the League's most electrifying forward when he accepted a godfather offer to defect to VFA club Williamstown in 1940.

The hotly debated bombshell challenged notions of loyalty and highlighted the lack of financial reward for League stars.

Todd's decision was so unfathomable because he was a Magpie through and through.

Born in Collingwood, he'd followed in the footsteps of his hero, legendary full-forward Dick Lee, a family friend he called 'Uncle Dick'.

Todd was almost lost to football as a teenager. Dropped from his school team, he spent a winter playing baseball instead.

A growth spurt proved telling and Todd developed into a tall, lean, fast (he also became a professional sprinter), acrobatic high-flyer and a long, though occasionally erratic, kick.

Todd made his League debut at 18 in 1935, but his big break came when Pies goal king Gordon Coventry was suspended the next year, thrusting the teenager into the full-forward role for the 1936 Grand Final against South Melbourne.

Todd responded with 20 kicks, 10 marks and 16 shots at goal – albeit for a return of just 4.9, which he rued as "woeful" – and achieved his dream of becoming a Collingwood premiership player.

Todd, who blazed 7.12 from 22 shots in another game, gradually modified his set-shot method, writing in The Sporting Globe Football Book 1946: "I use the flat punt whenever I can. I used to kick the torpedo punt, but usually I'd get about three from 10 shots and anyone knows that is not nearly good enough."

The next year, with Coventry back in the goalsquare, Todd returned to centre half-forward and slotted 62 goals, including 4.1 from 22 kicks and 10 marks in the 1937 Grand Final loss to Geelong.

After Coventry's retirement, Todd became a goal machine himself, kicking League-high tallies of 120 goals in 1938 and 121 the next year, averaging six a game.

He dominated September – in 1938 he booted 18 goals in three finals, and the next year amassed a record 23 in three finals (only beaten by Gary Ablett's four-final total of 27 in 1989).

These tallies included unmatched 11-goal hauls in successive preliminary finals.

There were also 28 goals in five appearances for Victoria.

In his last League game at just 22, Todd kicked six goals in a big Grand Final loss to Melbourne.

With the Coulter Law severely restricting player payments, Todd believed League players were grossly underpaid.

Despite his love for Collingwood, he felt compelled to accept the riches on offer at Williamstown, later telling The Sporting Globe: "It was an opportunity too good to let go."

Todd crossed to the VFA without a clearance and copped a five-year suspension from the VFL.

When the ban expired in 1945, Todd wanted to return to Collingwood, but his old club officially "expelled" him.

He consoled himself by winning the 1945 VFA flag and kicking a record 188 goals, including a best haul of 20.

In his last game, Todd captained Williamstown to the 1949 premiership. In the dying seconds he had the chance to kick what everyone believed would have been his 1000th goal (VFL and VFA combined) but he unselfishly passed to a teammate for the winning goal. However, new research shows Todd had already accumulated 1001 goals.

In 1996, deep-seated hostility towards Todd denied him his place in Collingwood's Team of the Century, but there will be few objectors to this honour.

FACTFILE: RON TODD
Club Collingwood/Williamstown
Born October 23, 1916
Died February 8, 1991
Recruited from Heidelberg Railways (VMFL)
Playing career 1935-49 (Coll 1935-39; Will 1940-49)
Games 217 (Coll 76; Will 141)
Goals 1001 (Coll 327; Will 674)
Player honours Coll 3rd best & fairest; VFL leading goalkicker medal 1938, 1939; Coll leading goalkicker 1938, 1939; VFA leading goalkicker (Jim ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal) 1945, 1946; Williamstown leading goalkicker 1940, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948 (equal), 1949; Coll premiership team 1936; Will premiership team 1945, 1949; Victorian representative (5 games, 28 goals); Coll Hall of Fame; Will Hall of Fame Legend; Will Team of the Century

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