Pictured are Thorold Merrett, John McCaskill (in the scarf and cap he hopes to wear for the next four weeks) and Ken Mitchell
Last Monday, the great talents of Karin Simpson, Helen Hartnett and others including the amazing Cathie McMillan, produced a room and program with a football flavor to celebrate finals time.
Our speaker was Collingwood legend Thorold Merrett who had a stellar career with the Magpies playing 175 games and winning three Copeland Medals (Best and Fairest).
Former Rotarian and current Probus member (himself a former VFL Boundary Umpire for many years at the same time as Bill Granger), Ken Mitchell introduced Thorold and set the scene for his talk about what he called “the most significant grand final of all time” in 1958.
Back in the 1920’s, Collingwood won four consecutive premierships…..1922, 1923, 1924 and 1925. The experts said this would never be equaled….and they are still right about that. In the period between 1920 and 1958, Collingwood and Melbourne between them won 18 premierships and were runner up 11 times.
Melbourne won the premiership in 1955, 1956 and 1957. They were clearly the dominant team in 1958 and easily accounted for Collingwood in the semi final that year before meeting them again in the Grand Final which the Demons were expected to win easily. They would then equal that record of four consecutive premierships. Melbourne had a team of experienced champions and Collingwood had almost half their team with less than 100 games including five first year players.
Thorold then gave us his account of the game from the players perspective including the plan conjured up by Gordon Carlyle; the Colliers, Coventry and Jack Reagan at full back were the catalysts for victory according to Thorold. Weideman  and Harrison “handled the rough stuff” but when Laurie Mithen “kinghit” one of the young Collingwood players, Collingwood were steeled for revenge and came from five goals behind at half time to win the game.
This was a fascinating account of passion and football rivalry at a different and more violent time in the history of the game - one field umpire and no video replays. The numerous questions reflected the great interest and enjoyment of the huge audience of 54 - Thorold still knows how to draw in a crowd.
Thorold went on to also enjoy a very successful business career with his sports store in partnership with Australian test cricketer and superstar Lindsay Hassett.
Thanks to everyone who was responsible for a most interesting and highly entertaining night to celebrate the footy finals. Always a Melbourne highlight.