Gordon Coventry

Gordon Richard James Coventry (25 September 1901 – 7 November 1968) was an Australian rules footballer who played for Collingwood Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL).

Gordon Coventry
Gordon Coventry – 1934 – I.jpg
Personal information
Full name Gordon Richard James Coventry
Nickname(s) "Nuts"
Date of birth (1901-09-25)25 September 1901
Place of birth Diamond Creek, Victoria
Date of death 7 November 1968(1968-11-07) (aged 67)
Place of death Diamond Creek, Victoria
Original team(s) Diamond Creek
Height 183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 85 kg (187 lb)
Position(s) Full forward
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1920–1937 Collingwood 306 (1299)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
Victoria 25 (100)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1937.
Career highlights

Club

Honours

Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Accorded "Legend" status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame, Coventry was the first player to play 300 VFL games, the first to kick 100 goals in a VFL season, the only player ever to head the league's goal-kicking list in five consecutive seasons, and the first to player to kick 1000 VFL goals, with his career total of 1299 VFL goals serving as a VFL/AFL competition record for over 60 seasons.

"He is often considered by fans and journalists to be amongst the greatest forward-line players of all time." — AFL Legends.com.[1]

FamilyEdit

The eighth of the ten children of Henry Coventry (1862-1948),[2] and Jane Henrietta Coventry (1863-1940), née Spencer,[3] Gordon Richard James Coventry — known as "Nuts" to his family (said, by some, due to his having a disproportionately large head as a child)[4] — was born on 25 September 1901 at Diamond Creek, Victoria.[5]

MarriageEdit

He married Christabel Violet Lawrey (1902-1991) on 28 February 1925.[6] They had four children:[7] two sons, George Gordon (b.1925),[8] and Graham (b.1945),[9] and two daughters, Betty Lois (b.1928), later Mrs. Alexander David Denney,[10] and Margaret Shirley (1930-2006), later Mrs. Charles James Banks.[11][12]

BrothersEdit

Jack, Oak, and ThomasEdit

Three of his brothers served in the first AIF:[13] John Thomas "Jack" Coventry (1893-1950),[14] Hugh Norman "Oak" Coventry (1895-1916), who was (posthumously) mentioned in dispatches for "gallant devotion to duty as volunteer stretcher bearer, carrying the wounded" on 9 August 1916,[15] and had been killed in action while serving with the First AIF in Pozieres,[16] and Thomas Coventry (1897-1970), who was wounded in the arm and foot in action in France in 1916.[17]

SydEdit

 
          "The Coventrys of Collingwood",
  Len Reynolds, Table Talk, 9 October 1930.[18]

Another older brother, Sydney Andrew Coventry (1899-1976), also played for Collingwood at the same time as Gordon.

While working as a miner at Queenstown, Tasmania, and playing football for the Miners' Football Team (as its captain), in Gormanston, Tasmania in 1920,[19] Syd was approached by St Kilda and invited to play for them in 1921. Syd moved to Victoria, and influenced by Gordon, began training with Collingwood (rather than St Kilda) in the 1921 pre-season;[20] however, in May 1921, "an application by S,A, Coventry for transfer from Miners' (Tasmania) to Collingwood was refused [by the Victorian Football League Permit Committee]".[21][22]

Having served 12 months out of football, Syd was cleared "from Tasmania to Collingwood" on 26 April 1922.[23] He went on play in 227 VFL games for Collingwood (1922-1934) and 27 representative games for the VFL (1922-1934), captain Collingwood for 144 games (1927-1934), win the Brownlow Medal in 1927, and serve for three years as the non-playing coach of Footscray (1935-1937), before returning to Collingwood as an administrator, serving as its vice-president for 11 years (1939-1949), its president for 13 years (1950-1962), and its patron from 1963 until his death in 1976.

EducationEdit

Gordon and his brothers and sisters attended the Nillumbik State School (No.1003), at Diamond Creek.[24] While still at school he began working on his father's fruit orchard.[25]

FootballerEdit

Although a very reliable right foot kick, he was equally able to use his left foot accurately and effectively when needed — see, for example, his left-foot goal, under pressure, for Victoria, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in the 7 August 1933 match against South Australia at the 1933 ANFC Carnival in Sydney in the recently recovered newsreel footage of the match.[26]

The "broad-backed and sticky-fingered" Gordon Coventry[27] did not possess the phenomenal skills of his predecessor at Collingwood, Dick Lee, or the aerial prowess of his successor, Ron Todd, but relied on tremendous strength and a vice-like grip when marking the ball, a combination that made him almost unstoppable once he had front position.[4]

"Once [Gordon "Nuts"] Coventry gets in front it seems that no defender can get round him.
His bulky body and his awkward gait seem to brook no interruption, and he never seems to drop a mark."[28]

Diamond Creek (HDFL)Edit

Gordon played his early football for Diamond Creek Football Club in the new Heidelberg District Football League (HDFL) (a competition which began after World War I), and had quickly established himself as a champion centre half-forward. In 1920, Gordon was invited to train at Collingwood.

The three significant officials involved with that invitation, who were anticipating Collingwood's need to find a suitable replacement for the at-the-time injured Dick Lee, who was nearing the end of his career,[29] were Ernest William Copeland (1868-1947),[30] John James "Jack" Joyce (1860-1945),[31] and John James "Jack" Peppard (1878-1940).[32] Although Dick Lee had played in Collingwood's first eight matches in the 1920 season,[33] he had only scored 17 goals; and, also, due to an injury sustained in the 26 June 1920 match against South Melbourne, he missed the next seven matches, returning in the season's last home-and-away match on 4 September 1920 — in the interim, Collingwood tried various permutations of forward lines to cover for the loss of Lee, centred on the selection of Ern Utting (five matches), Tom Wraith (one match), and Tom Drummond (one match), at full-forward over that time.

Collingwood (VFL)Edit

 
Gordon Coventry,
at Victoria Park (date unknown).

DebutEdit

Gordon Coventry played his first senior game for Collingwood at the age of 18 against St Kilda on 14 August 1920. He played on the half-forward flank, kicked one goal, and although "not particularly impressive … [he] showed that he can kick well".[34] As one of Collingwood's four inexperienced players given a run that day (the others were Les Lobb, Len Ludbrooke, and Roy Outram), Gordon played his second match, again on the half-forward flank, which was also Dick Lee's return match, in the last home-and-away round of the season, against South Melbourne, on 4 September 1920.

Then, just 18, and in his third match, Gordon played at centre half-forward in the Collingwood team (with Dick Lee at full-forward) that beat Fitzroy 4.17 (41) to 3.5 (23), at a muddy, rain-sodden MCG, in the 1920 Semi-Final on 11 September 1920. And then, once more at centre half-forward (with Harry Curtis replacing the injured Lee at full-forward), in the Collingwood team that beat Carlton 12.11 (83) to 8.11 (59) in the 1920 Preliminary Final on 25 September 1920, his nineteenth birthday. Then he played at centre half-forward, in the team (with Curtis at full-forward) that lost to Richmond 7.10 (52) to 5.5 (35) in the 1920 Grand Final on 2 October 1920 (Gordon kicked 3 goals).

Half-forward flankerEdit

In 1921, his second VFL season, he was selected in a representative VFL side to play against a combined Bendigo team on 6 August 1921, but did not play (due to influenza).[35][36]

He was unable to play in the last home-and-away rounds of the 1921 season due to his illness, although he was able to resume training.

Unexpectedly, he was selected as a last minute replacement for Mal Seddon,[37] who had declared himself unfit to play on the morning of the match, as a consequence of the injury to his thigh that he had sustained at the preceding Tuesday's training session in a collision with Percy Rowe.[38] Gordon played at centre half-forward (kicking 3 goals) in the team that lost to Carlton 9.11 (65) to 7.10 (52) in the 1921 Semi-Final on 1 October 1921.

He played the entire 1922 season playing on one half-forward flank, scoring 42 goals, with his brother, Syd, playing on the other.

Full-ForwardEdit

In 1923, with Dick Lee having retired at the end of the 1922 season, Gordon (by this stage a 34-game veteran) moved to full-forward, and was the club's leading goal-kicker that season, with 36 goals. He soon became one of the league's most prolific an consistent goal-kickers. He was Collingwood's best and fairest player in 1933. He was Collingwood's leading goal-kicker for 16 consecutive years, and the league's leading goal-kicker on six occasions (five of which were in consecutive years, 1927-1931). He kicked Collingwod's only two goals in the lowest-scores-ever VFL Grand Final in 1927, with Collingwood, in atrocious conditions, defeating Richmond 2.13 (25) to 1.7 (13). He was the first player to kick 100 goals in a VFL season (which he did in 1929, 1930, 1933, and 1934), kicked a total of 1299 goals in VFL football, and 100 goals in VFL representative teams. His tallies included:

FinalsEdit

Gordon played in 31 finals matches in his 18-year career — including the drawn Semi-Final match against Melbourne on 15 September 1928 (the first drawn finals match in VFL history), and 10 Grand Finals, five of which were won by Collingwood (1927-1930, and 1935).

In the 1928 VFL Grand Final he kicked a league record 9 goals, in a match in which Collingwood beat Richmond 13.18 (96) to 9.9 (63), perhaps due to Collingwood's drawn Semi-Final with Malbourne, and the consequent full replay the following week, which meant that Richmond had a two-week break, rather than the originally scheduled one week.

VFL TribunalEdit

Gordon missed Collingwood's 1936 VFL Grand Final victory due to disqualification. It was the only time he had been reported in his entire VFL career. He was found guilty of striking Richmond defender Joe Murdoch in the torrid match against Richmond on 1 August 1936.[41] Coventry had a crop of painful boils on his neck; and, when Murdoch repeatedly struck his neck, Coventry retaliated.[42]

Gordon was suspended for eight matches, and Murdoch for four;[43] and an appeal, by Coventry, against the severity of the penalty was unsuccessful.[44] At the time, Coventry announced that he was retiring from VFL football.[45] He later relented; and, having served the eighth and last match of his suspension in the first week of the 1937 season, he played in 19 matches, and kicked 72 goals in 1937, his final VFL season.

Life memberEdit

Gordon was made a Life Member of the Collingwood Football Club in 1932.[46]

RecordsEdit

External images
Caricatures and Cartoons
  Gordon Coventry,
in The Herald, 14 August 1925.[47]
  G. Coventry,
in Table Talk, 25 August 1927.[48]
  G. Coventry,
in The Herald, 30 April 1928.[49]
  G. Coventry,
in Table Talk, 30 August 1928.[50]
  "Nuts" Coventry,
in The Herald, 2 August 1929.[51]
  Gordon Coventry,
in The Referee, 30 July 1930.[52]
  Gordon Coventry,
in The Herald, 28 May 1934.[53]
  Gordon ("Nuts") Coventry,
in The Age, 30 July 1937.[54]
  Gordon Coventry,
in The Age, 27 September 1937.[55]

Coventry retired after the 1937 season, the first player to play 300 VFL/AFL games, winning his sixth league leading goal-kicker award, and his 16th consecutive club leading goal-kicker award. Coventry also represented Victoria on 25 occasions for a total of 100 goals.

He was the first player to kick 100 goals in a VFL season (which he did in 1929, 1930, 1933, and 1934), and he kicked a total of 1299 goals in VFL football: a record that stood for more than six decades — until it was broken by Sydney Swans player, Tony Lockett, in the match against Coventry's former club, Collingwood, on 6 June 1999.

VAFA coachEdit

After leaving Collingwood, Coventry coached Collegians in the VAFA for a number of years.[56]

DeathEdit

Coventry died on 7 November 1968 (of heart disease) at his property in Diamond Creek, survived by his wife and four children.[57][58]

LegacyEdit

In 2009, The Australian nominated Coventry as one of the 25 greatest footballers never to win a Brownlow Medal.[59]

In 1996, Coventry was an inaugural inductee of the Australian Football Hall of Fame and was elevated to "Legend" status (as the fourteenth "Legend") two years later.[60]

In 1998 he was named at full forward in Collingwood's "Team of the Century".

On 24 November 1999 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.[61]

RemembranceEdit

The Gordon Coventry Trophy is awarded to Collingwood's leading goalkicker each year.[62] The southern end of the Docklands Stadium is named the "Coventry end". When the Southern Stand at the MCG was built, a gate/entrance was jointly named after Coventry and brother Syd.

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Gordon Coventry, AFL Legends.com.au, 4 January 2019.
  2. ^ Deaths: Coventry, The Age, (Tuesday, 6 July 1948), p.2; Death of Mr. H. Coventry, The Age, (Tuesday, 6 July 1948), p.5.
  3. ^ Deaths: Coventry, The Age, (Thursday, 23 May 1940), p.1.
  4. ^ a b Roberts (1991), pp.62–68.
  5. ^ The other nine children were: Richard George Spencer Coventry (1888-1893), Henry William Spencer Coventry (1890-1973), Herbert Thomas Coventry (1891-1972), John Thomas "Jack" Coventry (1893-1950), Hugh Norman "Oak" Coventry (1895-1916), Thomas Coventry (1897-1970), Sydney Andrew Coventry (1899-1976), Grace Helena Coventry (1904-1986), later Mrs. George Ernest Ryan, and Ellen Emma Coventry (1907-1985), later, Mrs. William Andrew McDowell.
  6. ^ Gordon Richard “Nuts” Coventry, findagrave.com: photograph of the headstone of the grave of Gordon and Christabel; also Deaths: Coventry, The Age, (Thursday, 4 July 1991), p.20.
  7. ^ Collingwood Notables Database: Gordon Richard James ('Nuts') Coventry, 1901-1968, Collingwood Historical Society.
  8. ^ World War Two Nominal Roll: Aircraftman George Gordon Coventry (450635), Department of Veterans' Affairs; Rules Star's Son to Make Bow, The (Sydney) Sun, (Thursday, 12 April 1945), p.10; Eager to Carry On, The Sporting Globe, (Saturday. 29 March 1947), p.3.
  9. ^ Like Father . . ., The Age, (Tuesday, 2 March 1965), p.24.
  10. ^ Engagements: Coventry—Denney, The Argus, (Monday, 24 May 1948), p.7.
  11. ^ They are Engaged: Coventry—Banks, The Age, (Saturday, 5 November 1949), p.6.
  12. ^ Photograph of the plaque attached to the grave of Gordon and Christabel.
  13. ^ "The Coventry Boys", victoriancollections.net.au.
  14. ^ World War One Service Record: Private John Thomas Coventry (172), National Archives of Australia; Deaths: Coventry, The Argus, (Friday, 27 January 1950), p.11.
  15. ^ Army Form W.3121, dated 9 August 1916, collection of the Australian War Memorial.
  16. ^ Roll of Honour: Private Hugh Norman Coventry (3787), Australian War Memorial; World War One Service Record: Private Hugh Norman Coventry (3787), National Archives of Australia; Deaths: On Active Service: Coventry, The Age, (Saturday, 23 September 1916), p.7.
  17. ^ World War One Service Record: Private Thomas (3786), National Archives of Australia; Deaths: Coventry, The Age, (Monday, 23 March 1970), p.15.
  18. ^ Reynolds, L.F, "Prominent Personalities: The Coventrys of Collingwood, Table Talk, (Thursday, 9 October 1930), p.13.
  19. ^ Footy at the Gravel is cutting edge stuff, The Age, Sunday, 7 July 2002; The Miners' Football Team, Gormanston, Thirteen Years Ago, The Mercury, (Friday, 14 July 1933), p.5; Early Football: Syd. Coventry's Days at Lyell, The (Burnie) Advocate, (Wednesday, 12 July 1933), p.8.
  20. ^ Merrick, C., "Athletics: Sport an Pastimes: Football: Collingwood, The Advocate, (Thursday, 14 April 1921), p.26.
  21. ^ Football: Permits Granted, The Argus, (Saturday, 7 May 1921), p.20: In the evidence he gave to the committee, Syd admitted that he had "signed an interstate clearance form" to play with St Kilda in January 1921, and that, because the promised (by St Kilda) employment had not eventuated, he had returned to his family in Diamond Creek (rather than, that is, residing in St Kilda) — and, because Diamond Creek was in Collingwood's district, he wanted to play for Collingwood (Shock for Collingwood, The Herald, (Friday, 6 May1921), p.3).
  22. ^ It is also obvious that, with Diamond Creek Station and Victoria Park Station on the same train-line, Collingwood's location at Victoria Park was much more convenient than St Kilda's location at the St Kilda Cricket Ground, the travel to-and-from which would involve a far longer journey — from Diamond Creek to Flinders Street Station, and then, another train to the St Kilda Station, or a tram along St Kilda Road to St Kilda Junction.
  23. ^ Football: League Permits, The Argus, (Thursday, 27 April 1922), p.5.
  24. ^ Cemetery Tours, 18.8 Diamond Creek and District (Formerly Nillumbik), discoverytrails.com.au".
  25. ^ Trembath (2005).
  26. ^ Smith, Simon, "AFL, 1933: Wave the two flags!: Rare footage of AFL Goal-kicking Legends", The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia; see Victoria v South Australia, Australian Rules Carnival 1933 Newsreel on YouTube — Gordon Coventry (Victoria, No.5) features in the passage of play that commences at 0.50.
  27. ^ Taylor, P., "Games were Slow before the War", The Argus, (friday, 15 August 1952), p.7.
  28. ^ Ross (1996), p.130, quoting from an otherwise unidentified press report that Ross states is dated 2 September 1929; however, given that the quoted article also contains a reference to Albert Collier winning the Brownlow Medal (which was not decided until the evening of Wednesday, 4 September, and not reported on in the press until Thursday, 5 September) it would seem that the date attribution is mistaken.
  29. ^ 'Old Boy', "Gordon Coventry 14 Years Ago", The Argus, (Saturday, 8 September 1934), p.23.
  30. ^ After whom the E.W. Copeland Trophy, awarded to the "best and fairest" Collingwood player was named. (See also: Deaths: Copeland, The Argus, (Monday, 24 March 1947), p.2; Obituary: Ernest Copeland, The Mountain District Free Press, (Friday, 28 March 1947), p.7.)
  31. ^ After whom the J.J. Joyce Trophy, awarded to the third "best and fairest" Collingwood player was named. (See also: H.O.B., "Sportsmen We Have Met: "Jack" Joyce, Father of Collingwood, Player Whom a Duke Congratulated", The Sporting Globe,(Wednesday, 23 August 1922), p.1, and Death of Collingwood Sportsman, The Herald, (Saturday, 20 January 1945), p.11)
  32. ^ The brother of former Fitzroy and Essendon footballer Mick Peppard (see also: Deaths: Peppard, The Herald, (Saturday, 21 September 1940), p.6).
  33. ^ Because there were only nine teams in the 18-round 1920 VFL Competition (Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda, and South Melbourne), each team played 16 home-and-away matches and had 2 byes; and Collingwood had had its first bye on 12 June 1920, round 7.
  34. ^ 'Kickeroo', "Play and Players", The Herald, (Friday, 20 August 1920), p.3.
  35. ^ Football Team Selections, The Age, (Tuesday, 26 July 1921), p.8.
  36. ^ 'Old Boy', "Educational Football", The Argus, (Monday, 8 August 1921), p.7.
  37. ^ The League: Collingwood v. Carlton, The Argus, (Saturday, 1 October 1921), p.17.
  38. ^ Football, The Age, (Friday, 30 September 1921), p.7.
  39. ^ G. Coventry's Great Performance: Seventeen Goals 4 Behinds from 21 Shots, The Age, (Monday 21 July 1930), p.6.
  40. ^ New Record by Fanning, The Argus, (Monday, 1 September 1947), p.18.
  41. ^ Football Brawl: Richmond Trouble: Players Reported, The Argus, (Monday, 3 August 1936), p.9.
  42. ^ "Stop the Game!", The Argus, (Monday, 3 August 1936), p.18.
  43. ^ 'Forward', "League Players Disqualified, The Age, (Wednesday, 5 August 1936), p.18; Disqualified for Long Terms: G. Coventry, Eight Games: Murdoch Out for Four Matches, The Argus, (Wednesday, 5 August 1936), p.12.
  44. ^ Barclay, Bert, "Coventry Plea to League: 'Last Game'", The Herald, (Wednesday, 16 September 1936), p.1.
  45. ^ Coventry Out: Great Forward Retires, The Weekly Times, (Saturday, 15 August 1936), p.68.
  46. ^ 'Forward', "Football: Collingwood Annual Meeting: Leading Players Honored", The Age, (Tuesday, 8 March 1932), p.13.
  47. ^ "Wells", Gordon Coventry, The Herald, (Friday, 14 August 1925), p.12.
  48. ^ Reynolds, L.F, "A Victorian Carnival Team Octette", Table Talk, (Thursday, 25 August 1927), p.14.
  49. ^ "Wells", G. Coventry, The Herald, (Monday, 30 April 1928), p.3.
  50. ^ Reynolds, L.F, "Prominent Personalities: G. Coventry", Table Talk, (Thursday, 30 August 1928), p.17.
  51. ^ "Wells", "The Record Breaker — Wells's Latest Movie", The Herald, (Friday, 2 August 1929), p.15.
  52. ^ Richard Arthur "Dick" Ovenden, "Champion Goal-Kick", The Referee, (Wednesday, 30 July 1930), p.18.
  53. ^ Alex Gurney, "Alex. Gurney at the Collingwood Match", The Herald, (Monday, 28 May 1934), p.3.
  54. ^ Renn, "Gordon ("Nuts") Coventry of Collingwood", The Age, (Friday, 30 July 1937), p.14.
  55. ^ Renn Winds Up the Football Season, The Age, (Monday, 27 September 1937), p.7.
  56. ^ G. Coventry to Coach Collegians, The Age, (Friday, 25 March 1938), p.6.
  57. ^ Deaths: Coventry, The Age, (Saturday, 9 November 1968), p.47.
  58. ^ Gordon Coventry dies, 67, The Age, (Friday, 8 November 1968), p.28.
  59. ^ The Australian, 22 September 2009, retrieved 2009-09-22
  60. ^ AFL Legends".
  61. ^ Gordon Coventry: Australian Rules, Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
  62. ^ AFL End of season report, 2007

ReferencesEdit

GeneralEdit

"Gordon Coventry: as told to J.M. Rohan"Edit

External linksEdit