Hooked on the Colliwobbles

In the 30 years from 1959 to 1989, the Collingwood footy club reached the Aussie Rules football Grand Final eight times and lost them all – plus one other, in 1977, which was drawn. This led to a replay game the following week, which Collingwood lost! Collingwood’s amazing ability to lose Grand Finals led to the term the ‘Colliwobbles’ which was coined strangely enough by Lou Richards, himself a former champion Collingwood player. The term is bandied about with glee by supporters of the other footy clubs in the Australian Football League (AFL) – some even believe that it’s Collingwood’s given role in football life to lose Grand Finals.

The Colliwobbles finally ended when Collingwood eventually won an AFL Grand Final in 1990.

Geoff [“Jeff”] Hook, drew great cartoons for Melbourne’s ‘Herald-Sun‘ newspaper from 1964 – 1993. Many of his cartoons were about Melbourne’s footy, including Collingwood and their ‘Colliwobbles’. Like all “Jeff” cartoons, there is a small, elusive ‘hook’ to be found in each drawing – something we enjoyed doing as kids in the 1960s. His cartoons are reproduced here with his express permission. Go and have a look at many other ‘Jeff’ cartoons and artwork at his website: www.geoffhook.com



  • VFL (now AFL) team Collingwood had been defeated by Essendon in the Preliminary Final by 133 points.



  • After a successful season and a drawn Grand Final game the ‘Colliwobbles’ set in and Collingwood was defeated by North Melbourne but in true footy spirit they vowed to fight on.


  • Colliwobbles: A deep seated, infectious virus that has affected Collingwood Football Club since the late 1950s.

Some say the ‘Colliwobbles’ returned in 1992 after Collingwood club President, Allan McAlister’s racist faux pas as per the following article…..



An Aboriginal man says Collingwood’s performance in the AFL this season will be adversely affected by a tribal dance he did around Magpie president Allan McAlister yesterday. John Kelly, a member of the Walpiri people from central Australia, was invited to dance at a lunch held by the Darwin Press Club, at which Mr McAlister was guest speaker. Mr Kelly said Collingwood could expect a dose of the “Colliwobbles”.

We’ve put the curse so that him and the Collingwood Football Club will suffer this year, he said. The curse is current for just this year.

Mr Kelly said the ceremony was in response to comments Mr McAlister made on national television last month that Aborigines would be respected if they behaved like white people. Mr. McAlister later apologised, saying the comment had been “a slip of the tongue”.


Mr Kelly, wearing white body paint and leaves, “growled” through a didgeridoo, and mockingly held a spear as though about to plunge it into Mr McAlister’s chest. He then presented the didgeridoo and spear to Mr McAlister as gifts. Mr Kelly said later he had refrained from “pointing the bone” at Mr McAlister – an act said to cause death.

We wanted to let him know that we weren’t very happy about what he said. We had a chance to get him back, and we’ve got him back, Mr Kelly said.

Former AFL champion Maurice Rioli, a Tiwi islander member of the NT Legislative Assembly, said Mr McAlister would be judged on whether he followed through with his plan. Speaking on ABC radio, Mr Rioli said he discussed the racism issue at length with Mr McAlister while fishing on Darwin Harbour on Monday.

We certainly talked about his plans to stamp out racism, he said. Okay he has apologised, He can only be judged on what he promised. He said things that were unforgivable. I don’t know if it was a slip-up, but I’m prepared to give the man the opportunity to do something about his comments and to make up for the comments he made.

Mr McAlister told yesterday’s lunch that he hoped to organise a match between Collingwood and an “Aboriginal all-stars” side to be held every two years. “Perhaps we could call it the Maurice Rioli Cup,” he said.

Mr Rioli said the fishing trip had been cut short because some of the Collingwood party had become unwell in rough seas.

Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), Wednesday 12 May 1993


Note: Following the ‘curse’, Collingwood dropped from 3rd. on the ladder in 1992 to 8th. in 1993. [the International Year of Indigenous Peoples AND the year that Geoff Hook retired from cartooning at the ‘Herald-Sun] At the conclusion of their Round 4 game against Collingwood, St Kilda’s Nicky Winmar responded to two hours of racial vilification from the Collingwood cheer squad by declaring,


I’m black and proud of it!

while raising his jumper and pointing to his skin, an image which has since become famous. This was St Kilda’s first win at Collingwood’s ground, Victoria Park, in two decades.

Here’s a few more fab ‘Jeff’ footy cartoons. (Many thanks for the privilege of reproducing these: www.geoffhook.com)



  • Carlton’s opening performance in the 1978 season does not impress it’s supporters.


  • Australian Rules Football team, St. Kilda wins its first Grand Final and the Premiership for 1966. Their first Grand Final win after 70 years of participation. Score: St. Kilda 10.14 (74) defeated Collingwood 10.13 (73)



  • The Brownlow Medal, first awarded in 1924, is the most prestigious award and is given to the best and fairest’ player in each season of Australian Rules Football. Richmond Football Club had won it’s seventh VFL (now AFL) Grand Final Premiership against Carlton on 27th September, 1969 before a crowd of 119,165 spectators. The opening round for 1970 was arranged to coincide with a Royal Visit by Queen Elizabeth and that she would unfurl the Premiership Flag the following April 5. 1970. By special arrangement it was also the first game of Sunday Football ever allowed. Sadly for Richmond their opponents Fitzroy were the victors of the game.