COLIN Tully's 92 games for Collingwood include two of VFL/AFL's most famous grand finals.
Unfortunately for Tully, he was on the wrong end of the result in both the memorable grand finals of 1966 (lost to St Kilda by one point) and 1970 (lost to Carlton after leading by 44 points at half-time).
In the next installment of the Time at the Top Series, Bendigo's Tully reflects on his Collingwood career and those two grand final disappointments.
LUKE WEST: Colin, can you start with a quick run down of your days at South Bendigo before joining Collingwood.
"I was originally a Sandhurst supporter, but back in those days they didn't have a fourths team.
"So I went to South Bendigo and started in the fourths, then into the thirds and then the seniors in 1964 and tied with Merv Smart for the best and fairest that year."
Do you recall how you came to the attention of Collingwood?
"Through that year in 1964 I had four or five clubs get in touch with me for a talk.
"Collingwood took me down for a weekend and it was a good set-up and I liked their attitude, so I signed with them."
What other VFL clubs had shown a bit of interest in you?
"Essendon and Geelong were a couple that I remember."
Why did you choose Collingwood over the other clubs?
"Probably because my dad was a Collingwood supporter.
"I was an Essendon supporter, but I didn't like what they said to me.
"They said they needed someone to come in and replace Jack Clarke in a year or so. Jack was my hero and nobody could replace Jack Clarke... I said to my family afterwards that I was nothing like Jack and never could be."
What do you believe was the best asset you took with you down to Collingwood?
"Probably my reading of the play, ground work and in those days I had a good leap for my height, so I could play a bit taller, but I lost a bit of that a few years later when I injured my ankle and had to start leaping off my right leg."
Is it right that you went down to Collingwood as a centreman and then became a defender later in your career?
"I played centre and wing and could swing around a bit. The year I played for Victoria in 1967 I think I played just about everywhere."
What are your memories of pulling on the Big V?
"We played Western Australia at the MCG first and then we played South Australia over at Adelaide."
GAME NOTES - Victoria beat Western Australia 20.15 (135) to 11.16 (82) on June 17.
Victoria was also too strong for South Australia, winning 11.19 (85) to 11.13 (79).
"That was an unbelievable experience to be playing with so many great players and the skill level was just incredible.
"Bob Rose coached the team and he was also my coach at Collingwood."
Who were some of the other players in that Victorian team?
"John Nicholls, Len Thompson, John Schultz, Darrel Baldock, Bobby Skilton, Royce Hart, Allan Noonan... the list just goes on and on."
Have you still got your Victorian jumper?
"Unfortunately not... I had that pinched. I've still got the blazer though."
So you were part of two of the most famous grand finals in the history of the game in 1966 and 1970.
Can I take you to the 1966 grand final first and the one-point loss to St Kilda. What immediately springs to mind when you think back to that day?
"It was obviously a good, tight game and I've never seen so many players exhausted after a game as there was that day.
"The St Kilda boys were jumping around after the final siren, but they weren't jumping high and most of us Collingwood guys were just sprawled out on the ground in exhaustion and disappointment."
What part of the ground were you at when Barry Breen kicked the point that put St Kilda in front late?
"I would have been up near the middle of the ground."
Losing a grand final is hard enough as is, but how much tougher is it to swallow when it's by one point?
"Well, if you lose by one point you may as well lose by 100 points.
"To be so close... there's so many things that happen over the course of 100 minutes with missed shots, kicks, marks. But that's just the way it is and you can't do anything about it - you've got to move on."
GAME NOTE - St Kilda won 10.14 (74) to 10.13 (73) in what remains the Saints' only premiership. Tully had 17 disposals and kicked one behind.
How did you play?
"I did OK. I played on Ian Stewart that day."
That's a big job playing against a triple Brownlow medallist.
"He was a brilliant player and a nice fella.
"But every Saturday you always had a big job. It didn't matter who you were playing, there was never an easy kick and you couldn't take anything for granted."
Could you narrow down one player to who was your toughest opponent when you were playing in the centre?
"I'd have to say Ian Stewart, but I remember one day when I had to tag Bob Skilton.
"I was fit, quite a few years younger than Bob, but I remember thinking, 'when is this bloke going to stop'.
"He stopped, put his hands on his knees and took a few deep breaths and I thought, 'you beauty'. But he only did that for 15 seconds and then he was off again. I was thinking, 'come on Bob, give it a rest'.
"So that was a hard day. Bob had so much respect from everyone with the way he played the game."
So the 1970 grand final against Carlton. Who did you start the day on playing in the backline?
"Up until half-time it was Bert Thornley and they made a change and brought Ted Hopkins on after half-time.
"I think Bert might have only touched it once in the first half, but to be fair to him, there wasn't much of the play down our end.
"We were 6.8 up at half-time, so we were dominating the play up the other end."
The game is well remembered for Cartlon's Ted Hopkins coming off the bench and kicking four goals in the second half. What are your recollections of that match-up?
"He kicked his fourth goal after I had been taken off the ground, but of the three he kicked on me, only one was my fault when I got on the wrong side of him.
"But the others... they just went handball mad. I think there's a stat where Carlton went from 18 handballs at half-time to 82 by the end of the game. That's what Ron Barassi (coach) told them to do and we got caught out."
What were you thinking at half-time when you're in the rooms and leading the grand final by 44 points?
"We were certainly playing well, but we had been kicking poorly at goal, which had cost us a bigger lead."
GAME NOTE - Collingwood kicked 10.13 in the first half.
"But in the second half they got their loose man going and were handballing from the backline all the way through.
"It was lust like an avalanche coming through."
How much of the second half did you play given it was back in the days that once you came off the ground that was it for the day.
"I played about one-and-a-half quarters after half-time."
How hard was it to have to watch the closing stages from the interchange and the game slipping away and not be able to have an influence out on the ground?
"It became one of the worst days of our lives for all of us.
"I remember going into a little room after the game with the coach (Bob Rose), Harry Collier the chairman of selectors, Tom Sherrin our president and everyone was just bawling... there wasn't much said at all."
GAME NOTE - After trailing by 44 points at half-time, Carlton staged a remarkable comeback to win by 10 points, 17.9 (111) to 14.17 (101). It would also be Tully's 92nd and final game for Collingwood.
Which loss hurts the most - the one-point margin in 1966 or blowing the half-time position of dominance in 1970?
"They both do, but I'd say probably the Carlton game in 1970 because of the way we'd dominated the first half.
"That year we'd played Carlton three times before and beaten them three times, but then in the big one that you work 10 months for, it all goes down the drain, so that really hurts."
That year we'd played Carlton three times before and beaten them three times, but then in the big one that you work 10 months for, it all goes down the drain, so that really hurtsColin Tully reflecting on Collingwood's 1970 grand final loss to Carlton
How often do you think back on those two grand finals?
"Every second day.
"I remember we had to go to Channel Seven about a week after the 1970 grand final to watch the replay to pick up a few things that we could take into the next year.
"We did that and I went home after that and since then I've only ever spoken to one other player about that grand final and that was for about 90 seconds.
"So that's how much it hurts... we just don't talk about it.
"Whenever we catch up at past player functions and golf days, we never talk about it."
I'll make sure never to ask you about it again.
Did you know when you walked off the ground that day in 1970 that it would be your last VFL game?
"I was slow anyway when I went down there, but I'd slowed down more and couldn't leap and it was getting harder and harder each year, so that was it and I headed off over to Claremont where Denis Marshall was coaching.
"I knew Denis because he'd played in those couple of state games too and I'd played on him against Geelong, so that was good."
You played your VFL career when it was a suburban Victorian-only competition. Which of those opposition grounds was your least favourite?
"Probably the Western Oval in Footscray if it was windy. Sometimes it would take you two kicks downwind to get from one end to the other, and then eight kicks to get it back the other way.
"So that could be hard work playing out there."
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