Murray Wiedeman

Murray Wiedeman – Collingwood legend

by Joel

Murray Wiedeman, Collingwood legend.
In 1958, Murray Wiedeman was to become the last premiership captain of the Collingwood Football Club for the next 32 years. However, Wiedeman was captain on that day for only one reason, the actual captain of the side, Frank Tuck, was out injured. Nevertheless, he captained the side to premiership glory, and become a Collingwood great. He was a player that was rarely out of the spotlight during his career, but was loved by his teammates.

Like some players before him, and like others after him, Murray Wiedeman was initially considered too slight, and perhaps not quite good enough to play senior football. However, with a hard work ethic, and great endeavour, Wiedeman eventually worked his way into senior Collingwood side.

Wiedeman’s junior days were played in the Preston and District Junior Football Association. In his early days he was seen as a talented player who had the potential to play in a key position. Initially, Wiedeman was noticed by the club when he was seen regularly kicking over 12 goals in a game in junior competitions. He was then asked to play Under 19s at Victoria Park, where he kicked 6 goals in just his second game. By the end of his career, he would be known as an enforcer, and a player that was loved by Pies supporters, but hated by opposition supporters.

Wiedeman aroused the ire of opposition supporters to such a level that, bullets were fired into a shop he owned, bricks were thrown through his windows, he received calls and letters threatening his safety and he often needed police escorts to games.

In 1953, Wiedeman was lucky enough to gain a place in the Grand Final side. He was lucky because he was young, at the youthful age of 17, and he had missed the previous final the week before because of illness. He became a premiership player at only the age of 17.

It was only when senior players, such as Rose and Richards, started to retire that Wiedeman took the next step in his evolution as a footballer. He began to bulk up, and became more aggressive in his football. He became the ‘protector’ of his teammates.

Wiedeman proved that he could make it at the top level, and in doing so, he won several Copeland Trophies for the Collingwood Football Club, in the years 1957, 1961, and 1962. Not only that, but he was the club’s leading goal kicker in the years, 1959, 1960, and 1962. On top of that, Wiedeman proved he could hold down one of the hardest positions on the field, at Centre Half Forward.

Perhaps Wiedeman’s most glorious moment came in the 1958 Grand Final. Collingwood faced a relentless Melbourne side that had won the previous three grand finals, and was well on it’s way to equaling the 4 in a row premiership record that the Collingwood Football Club had set in the years 1927-1930. It was a record that the Magpies were very proud of and were intent on keeping. The Demons were odds on favourite to beat the Magpies, and many believed they would do it easy. However, Wiedeman and his teammates had other ideas.

Wiedeman took it upon himself, along with the help of Barry ‘Hooker’ Harrison to unsettle the Melbourne lineup. It was to be an inspired decision that would help the Pies to overcome the Demons. Wiedeman famously said to Harrison after quarter-time, “Let’s see who we can collect”. The end result was that while, Wiedeman and Harrison lined up Melbourne players, the rest of the Collingwood team kept their eyes on the ball and played the game. On top of that, Melbourne players took their eyes off the ball, and forgot what they were actually there for, a premiership cup. Collingwood would go onto win the 1958 Premiership, and stop the Melbourne football club from recording their fourth premiership straight. Just to put the win into perspective, the Melbourne team went onto win the next two Grand Finals, if it was not for the Wiedeman led side of 1958, Melbourne would have held the record of 6 grand final wins in a row. Furthermore, if Collingwood has not have won that Grand Final, it would have mean a premiership drought between the year, 1953 to 1990. A long time indeed.

Wiedeman went on to play some of his best football in the following years, when he won two of his Copeland Trophies and was the leading goal kicker for the club, three times. He was made captain of the club in 1960, and it was a role he held until 1963.

In 1962, strangely Wiedeman announced that he was going to join the Professional wrestling circuit. It was a move that shocked the Collingwood board, and it almost resulted in Wiedeman losing his captaincy. This was perhaps the first indication that Wiedeman was losing his motivation to play football at the top level. Coupled with the fact that footballers of that era did not received much of a pay packet, the temptation of money for professional wrestling lured Wiedeman into becoming a wrestler. Wiedeman ended up wrestling in 9 fights, including some during the season, this was a fact that didn’t win him any supporters within the Collingwood hierarchy.

The year 1963 was to Wiedeman’s last season as a top-level footballer. He was to retire from the football field at the age of just 27, some may say it was a premature retirement, while others may say that it was time because Wiedeman was no longer gaining pleasure from playing football at the top level.

Wiedeman’s final two matches were said to be quite a sight. Wiedeman was given the opportunity to run a lap of honour in each game, in which thousands of supporters joined in. It was a sign of respect and admiration from the supporters that had followed his every move throughout his career.

In 1964 Wiedeman went on to commentate on a Channel 9 football show. In same year, Murray was tempted to return to football, after Bob Rose took over as the coach of the team. However, the commitment to Channel 9 meant that he would have to work on match days, and unfortunately for the Collingwood Football Club, and it’s supporters, Channel 9 would not let Wiedeman out of his contract. Wiedeman lasted only a year working at Channel before he was to leave.

Wiedeman would go onto coach in the country, initially at Albury before going to South Australia to coach West Adelaide in 1968. He achieved good results at West Adelaide as a playing coach before returning to Victoria for a major job in coaching.

Wiedeman returned to Victoria in 1975 to coach the team he played at, the Collingwood Football Club. However, his return was perhaps bad timing. He returned to the club while there was disharmony in the club over how much players were being paid. It didn’t take long before he was embroiled in a dispute which eventually spilled over into the public arena. Wiedeman believed that Clarke interfered too much with the football side of the club. In the end, unfortunately Wiedeman was to coach Collingwood to it’s first wooden spoon in 1976. Nevertheless, while Wiedeman’s style of coaching may not have suited the era he was coaching in, outside influences also had a big impact on the side. Wiedeman was replaced as coach of the club at the end of the 1976 season by Tom Hafey.

Wiedeman was loved by Collingwood supporters, and Collingwood players alike. He was a team man that would do anything to protect his fellow team members. He should be remembered for all the right reasons, he was a team leader who led by example. He was a player that put his teammates before his own well being, and he was a Collingwood man, through and through.

Murray Wiedeman, Collingwood legend.