ROSE, Bob | 07/07/2003

ROSE, Bob | 07/07/2003

ROSE, Bob | 07/07/2003Magpie legend dies - BOB Rose, one of the greatest players in Collingwood's history, died of cancer last night. He was 74.

A legendary figure at Victoria Park, Rose last night was lauded by the football community, led by Magpies president Eddie McGuire.
"Bob was everything the Collingwood Football Club holds dear to itself,"McGuire said.

"He was a man of tremendous courage and skill as a player. He earned the love of his teammates and his teammates and the undying respect of his opponents.

"His opponents had nothing but the greatest respect for him for the way he played the game.

"He was tough and strong and courageous; he was a great Collingwood man.

"And later on he showed what sportsmanship and grace under pressure was all about in the hardest of circumstances on the receiving end as coach of the club when we lost the '64 Grand Final by four points and '66 by a point, and giving up the lead at half-time to lose to Carlton in 1970."

Rose was first diagnosed with cancer about eight weeks ago and was extremely ill during the past three weeks.

"Yet he still came to the football,"McGuire said.

"He dragged himself off his sickbed for the Collingwood-Western Bulldogs game (10 days ago) because the Robert Rose Cup, named in his son's honour, meant so much to him.

"He was delighted that the Magpies won, even though he had a great love and respect for the Bulldogs from his time there as a coach and Robert as a player.

"But he was delighted that his grand-daughter Sally presented the Robert Rose Cup to Nathan Buckley, a player that many people have commented on is probably the closest player to looking like Bob on the ground, and his playing style."

Robert, who became a quadriplegic in a road accident 30 years ago, died four years ago.

McGuire said Rose always maintained his dignity and integrity.

"More important than all of the above he showed us all what it was to be man of integrity with the way he looked after his two boys, Peter and particularly Robert, and his wife Elsie,"McGuire said.

"They have left an indelible mark on our club on what it is to be a fantastic human being.

"It's a tremendous legacy to leave behind for any organisation.

"And it's no fluke that his name is on the Social Club at Collingwood, that it's the Bob Rose Stand because that was the stand that meant everything to the Collingwood people.

"Bob Rose leaves the club having played with distinction, coached with distinction, and having been a vice-president in our 1990 premiership year."

Former Magpie captain Des Tuddenham said Rose was more than just a great player.

"He was a wonderful man Bob Rose - the best,"Tuddenham said.

The former Collingwood strongman became emotional as he described the effect Rose had on his life.

"I love Bob Rose . . . he gave me the opportunity to achieve what I achieved in my football career,"he said.

"You would never question Bob Rose's integrity . . . he was a superman."

AFL operations manager Andrew Demetrio said the football world was in mourning.

"Obviously we are deeply saddened by Bob Rose's passing and our condolences go out to his family,"he said.

"He was one of the greatest ever to play our game and we have enormous respect for Bob and his family and what they contributed to football."

Collingwood's 1990 premiership captain Tony Shaw, who wore Rose's number 22 jumper, said it was a great tragedy.

"He was a great bloke. I don't think anyone, from the opposition, to old players, to his teammates, ever had a bad word to say about him,"Shaw said.

"He was a man's man and a real gentleman. I was lucky enough to wear his number 22, and I knew all about the tradition of the club.

"To get his number 22, was just something else.

"He coached me while I was at Collingwood and to have worn his number gives me a good feeling inside. He was just a gem."

Rose played 152 games and kicked 214 goals between 1946-55.

Recruited from country club Nyah West, Rose was probably the greatest rover of his era and was also tough and skilful.

He won the Magpies best and fairest in 1949 and between 1951-53.

One of the VFL's best players never to win a Brownlow Medal, Rose was runner-up to Essendon's Bill Hutchison in 1953.

He retired because of injuries in 1955 and coached country club Wangaratta before returning to Collingwood as coach in 1964 to succeed Phonse Kyne.

Rose coached the Magpies to the end of 1971, and then coached Footscray from 1972-75, taking the Bulldogs to the finals in 1974 for the first time in 12 years.

He was Footscray coach to the end of the 1975 season and then made a brief comeback as Collingwood coach in 1985 before handing over to Leigh Matthews in 1986.

Bob Rose


A legend for every era

DOWN in journalism's jockstrap department, where the liniment fumes tend to concentrate the mind and close out the wider world, we often judge our subjects through the narrow prism of their deeds.

How high, how long, how far, how many kicks, how many premierships; it's a concise, simple and time-honoured method of assessment of human achievement which gains favour by the day as an increasing volume of sophisticated statistics flood the minds of coaches, competitors and fans.
However, there are a few rare individuals who deserve their contributions to be examined on a broader scale. One is Collingwood legendary player and coach, Bob Rose, who died yesterday, aged 74.

I wasn't lucky enough to see Rose play and build his reputation as the most complete Collingwood player of the post-war era. I was too young to watch him win four Copeland trophies, play for Victoria on 15 occasions, finish second to Bill Hutchison in the 1953 Brownlow Medal and round off the season by playing a pivotal role in the club's 12th premiership.

I was just a toddler when he kicked seven goals against North Melbourne one day before retiring injured at half-time; as I was when, in another game against the Shinboners, he needed a police escort to get off Arden St after a blood-curdling clash with home team hero, Les Foote, and, when in his final VFL game, he was knocked into October by Melbourne captain Noel McMahen in the 1955 Grand Final.

All I could do was read the history books and the likes of famous Sporting Globe writer, Hec de Lacy, who described him as "the greatest team-booster in football". Or Essendon's immortal full-forward John Coleman who put him in a bracket with AFL Hall of Fame legend, Hutchison, as the finest rovers he had ever seen.

But for all these wondrous images conveyed by glowing words and grainy black-and-white pictures, I much prefer my own memory of Rose, one that takes no account of all those facts and figures and romantic tales of bruised, bloodied heroism and infinite skill.

It is of a proud, upright man with a ruddy face, dressed impeccably in his black Collingwood blazer, crisp white collar and black tie, strolling through the pre-game crush, pushing his wheelchair-bound son, Robert, to a viewing slot on the concrete terrace at any given ground.

As the club vice-president, Rose's attendance was inevitably required each week before the game up behind the glass at a club luncheon. Schmoozing with sponsors wasn't ever a favoured pastime, let alone when Collingwood was playing. But he would do his duty cheerfully and then return to his son's side in time for the bounce of the ball.

For more than two decades it was the same for Rose, from the day his son was rendered a quadriplegic in a car crash in 1974 and he promised to himself that he would be there for him for the rest of his life.

It was not an idle promise.

After the game, you would find Rose again at his son's side in the middle of the social club crush. As Robert and his mates analysed the game to death, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, his father would be there quietly in the background, piloting the wheelchair out of tight squeezes on stairways and discreetly pushing him off to the men's room at the required intervals.

For 25 years, until Robert died in 1999, Rose maintained the same routine with the same cheery, unfazed disposition week in and week out. And what we saw on Saturdays was only a glimpse of the unwavering dedication that went on every day in the lives of Bob and his wife, Elsie in trying to make their crippled son's life as warm and comfortable as possible.

Far beyond his brilliant record as a footballer, which was sufficient to dazzle anyone in his midst, it was the humanity of the man that always struck those blessed with the good fortune to have known Rose.

It revealed itself in so many forms, and was the common theme in so many tributes over the years, including those from opponents, team-mates and the players he coached in his successful but famously flag-less period as Collingwood coach.

When Rose left coaching without a premiership, having led Collingwood into three Grand Finals in 1964, 1966 and 1970 and having lost all three by a total of 15 points, many of his players felt sorrier for the coach than they did for themselves. A typical reaction came from the Magpies' brilliant full-forward, Peter McKenna, who played in the 1970 team that collapsed from the seemingly-impregnable position of 44 points ahead at halftime.

"That was the one we should have won. I felt so sorry that we, as a group, didn't win one for Bob Rose. He was such a good guy. I admired him so much,"he said.

Rose spent most of his career in football being admired and he dealt with it with a humility and modesty fashioned in his childhood environment at Nyah West, near Swan Hill, in Victoria. He was imbued with a work ethic that went with the territory as the eldest of seven children growing up alongside four adults -- his uncle and grandmother lived there with his parents, Bert and Millie, as well -- in a small, fibro cement house in post-depression country Victoria.

Before he was out of short pants, he grew and sold vegetables to help the family income. He left school at 15 to take a job working with his uncle, trailing behind a horse and its scoop as it cleaned out the local irrigation system. While he did not shirk his commitment to his new life as a laborer, his passions were a long way from the dust-filled water channels of the Mallee.

They were fired on the gravel football fields in the Mid-Murray League and in the makeshift boxing ring set up in the dining room of Harry Shaw's Grand Hotel in Nyah West. "After everyone had eaten dinner we would clear a few tables away and get stuck into the fight game,"Rose would recall years later.

It was the start of something grand for Rose, who first came to Melbourne in 1945 as a 16-year-old to fight at the West Melbourne stadium under Shaw's patronage. Rose and several other boys would travel down in Shaw's Chevrolet on the day of the fight and then travel back home on the same night.

Rose soon became the rising star of the group, winning that first fight and a three-pound trophy and going on to win nine out of ten bouts he had in that first year. At the same time as he was attracting interest as a promising lightweight, news of his football talent had spread from the West Melbourne fight crowd to Victoria Park, where he was invited to train on one of his trips to Melbourne.

His first run there brought some startled looks, not so much for his talent as his appearance. Rose had borrowed a guernsey from his uncle, which was moth-eaten. He also brought along the boots he wore each week at home. They had leather bars rather than stops nailed to the soles to provide some purchase on the gravel grounds. But on the lush turf of Victoria Park, all those boots did was give a few laughs to seasoned Magpies.

"Blokes like Lou Richards still rubbish me over the way I looked that day,"he remarked 25 years later.

By the end of the session, though, he was well and truly in the Magpie fold, signing for the club that night and receiving the seal of approval from the legendary coach, Jock McHale, who told him gruffly: "you'll be all right, Rose."

There was perhaps no greater understatement expressed at Collingwood. After McHale, Rose would go on to become the most revered figure at Collingwood and the name, above all others, would be seen as synonymous with the club that has always believed itself to be the greatest, even if its post-war record proves otherwise.

Through 152 games, between 1946 and 1955, Rose inspired reverence from his own and trepidation from outsiders, with his mix of sublime skills, which included speed, evasion, breathtaking ball control and deadly passing, and a natural aggressive streak, which allowed him to fight way above his weight in his football contests.

While his natural talent with the ball was respected by all, it was his courage and ferocity in seeking it which always attracted the most colourful observations.

"He was tough, ruthless and nasty. He was also very efficient at disposing of an opponent,"said the Essendon captain, Jack Clarke, when explaining why he regarded Rose as the toughest player he'd seen.

While it was generally accepted he was born with this quality, Rose spoke often about his first game with the reserves, in 1946, as a defining experience.

His opponent was the the one-time Magpie great, Alby Pannam, who, by this late stage in his career, was making a quid as playing-coach of the Tigers' reserves. "I learned more about League football in that game than I would have learned in the next three years. Alby hung on to me, stood on my toes, kneed me in the belly, gave me a physical thrashing. After that I realised what League football was all about,"he said.

Having departed the VFL, with a loss and an unceremonious farewell from the Melbourne skipper in the 1955 Grand Final, Rose, at 27, went bush in search of a better life for his young family, financially and environmentally.

He played and coached successfully at Wangaratta Rovers for seven years, winning two premierships, before returning to Collingwood as a vice-president in 1963 and then, a year later, as coach when he chosen ahead of reserves coach Neil Mann for the job vacated by Phonse Kyne.

If ever there was a period in which a man's inner qualities would be laid bare for all to examine, it was Rose's first coaching stint at Collingwood.

In his first season, his team lost the Grand Final by four points, stung by a wandering Melbourne back pocket who snapped a last-minute goal. Then in 1966, the Magpies lost by a point to St Kilda, beaten by a scrubby, hurried kick for a behind, and then, the worst of all, the unprecedented reversal in the 1970 Grand Final, a game that virtually handed Carlton bragging rights over Collingwood for a generation.

It was on this day that Rose was seen to crack in public for the first time, wiping away tears in the middle of the ground after the final siren, as current Magpie coach Mick Malthouse did on the same stage 32 years later.

In his later years, when questioned about the mental courage of his players, Rose would never deflect blame. "It's my fault. I was the coach. I had the ultimate responsibility,"he said many times.

But occasionally he would expose his inner-most thoughts, as he did in an interview in 1979. "I don't blame the players or myself for those grand final losses,"he said. "I spent many hours trying to patch up weaknesses. For years our recruiting was bad. We had not recruited well since the war. If we had we would have won the 1964 and 1966 premierships, and others too.

"We had the chance to get some great players -- Kevin Neale, Dick Clay, Daryl Griffiths, John Sharrock and Neil Balme -- but did nothing. With a bit of effort and a couple of hundred quid we could have got them all.

"Collingwood had plenty of money but hung on to it. I could not get the message across that it was no use having lots of money in the bank if you are anything less than premiers.

"The philosophy of 'give them a pair of socks and a Collingwood guernsey and they will be glad to play with us' went out before the last war. But you could not tell that to the Collingwood hierarchy."

Drained and unwanted at Victoria Park, Rose moved to Footscray in 1972 to coach for four seasons before returning to his old job at Collingwood in 1985, at a time of dire need.

By then Collingwood had no money and was heading towards bankruptcy. While he filled the coaching role in 1985 (the team finished seventh) Rose's most important contribution at this time was, along with then-president Ranald McDonald, convincing the newly-retired Hawthorn captain, Leigh Matthews, to join the club as his assistant in 1986.

Rose stepped aside after a disastrous start to the 1986 season, allowing Matthews to take over and begin the reign that brought, in 1990, the ultimate glory Rose had pursued so valiantly for so long.

"This was his personal sacrifice to give the team a fresh start. This kind of selfless action is why Bob is one of the most liked and respected people in football,"Leigh Matthews observed recently.

That's the thing about Bobby Rose. He was always there; for his players, his club, his family, and his son, Robert.


Rose more than a great player

THE football world last night paid tribute to Collingwood legend Bob Rose.

Former Magpie captain Des Tuddenham said Rose was more than just a great player, and to watch Rose on the football field was to see genius in action.
"Its a really sad night, he was a wonderful man Bob Rose - the best,"he said.

Tuddenham became emotional as he described the effect Rose had on his life.

"I love Bob Rose . . . he gave me the opportunity to achieve what I achieved in my football career,"he said. "You would never question Bob Rose's integrity . . . he was a superman."

Rose's life was marred by tragedy. A car crash in 1974 left his son Robert a quadriplegic, cutting short a promising football and cricket career and eventually cutting his life short.

Tuddenham said his former coach's attitude to adversity inspired all those around him.

AFL operations manager Andrew Demetriou said the football world was mourning a great son: "He was one of the greatest ever to play our game and we have enormous respect for Bob and his family and what they have contributed to football."

Collingwood's 1990 premiership captain Tony Shaw said it meant everything to him to wear Rose's number 22 on his jumper.

"It's just a great tragedy. He was a great bloke. I don't think anyone, from the opposition, to old players, to his teammates, ever had a bad word to say about him,"Shaw said. "He was a man's man and a real gentleman.

"He coached me while I was at Collingwood and to have worn his number gives me a good feeling inside. He was just a gem of a bloke."

St Kilda's Allan Jeans shared a historic moment with Rose as opposing coaches in the 1966 Grand Final.

Jeans said the one-point loss suffered by Collingwood that day showed more about the man than all his football achievements.

"It was pretty hard to get beat by a point in a Grand Final, but to do the things he did that day was pretty impressive,"he said.

"He approached me in his moment of great despondency and shook my hand . . . his conduct was always the best in adversity."

Collingwood, Richmond and Sydney coach Tom Hafey said he rated Rose one of the best players of all time.

"He won four best-and-fairests by the time he was 26.

"He was as hard as goats' knees but we all loved him. He was just a beautiful man."

Kangaroos chairman and longtime AFL/VFL administrator Allen Aylett said Rose was a champion on and off the field.

"The way he has conducted himself through his life and football career, in overcoming many disappointments, with such a positive spirit and very pleasant personality, showed what a fighter he was,"he said. "People won't ever forget those qualities."

Bulldog legend Doug Hawkins compared Rose to Mr Football himself, Ted Whitten.

"He had an aura about him, a bit like EJ (Whitten) that demanded respect - not that he wanted it - but you just knew he had earned it."

David Parkin, a premiership captain and coach with Hawthorn before winning flags with Carlton, said it was a privilege to have known Rose.

"He was one of those half dozen blokes where you knew you were in the presence of greatness,"Parkin said.

Collingwood backman Simon Prestigiacomo said the players would dedicate their performance against Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday to Rose.

He said he was proud the last two games Rose saw were convincing Collingwood victories.

"Every time he came down to the club he really cared about everyone and was very passionate about everything.

"He really listened to you, even when I was very young. "The boys knew he was coming to some of the games (recently) and we really wanted to do it for him."

"It is going to be a pretty upsetting week, but hopefully we can have a big one for him."


Cancer claims Collingwood legend Bob Rose
By Jake Niall,
Nabila Ahmed
July 08 2003

Regarded as one of the game's greatest rovers, Collingwood's Bob Rose is seen here in full flight in June, 1953.
Picture: The Argus

Nathan Buckley took a small group of Collingwood players to Cabrini Hospital last Wednesday to visit the dying Bob Rose. Some knew little about him, but left that evening with a better understanding of why Rose was so revered at Collingwood.

Rose, arguably Collingwood's greatest postwar player and certainly its most loved figure, died early yesterday evening at home after a short struggle with cancer. He was 74.

A measure of just how revered he was at Collingwood and in the wider football community was the response last night from former clubmates and adversaries.

Ron Barassi, who coached against Rose in the famous 1970 grand final, was devastated when told by The Age that he man he idolised as child had died. "Footy just lost one of its greatest people. He was a dashing player, the most unlucky coach and a superb human being,"he said.

Graeme Jenkin, who played under Rose that day, broke down and cried at hearing the news. "To me, he was everything. He was my first senior coach. He was tough and he loved Collingwood."

Rose had not played since the '50s, and few of today's players had even seen the players he coached, yet he remained an inspiration.

He was a rare person in football: a man who transcended club loyalties, an icon of the much-despised Collingwood, yet admired by all who came into contact with him.

He was a champion footballer who played in the Magpies' 1953 premiership side but was luckless as a coach. His Collingwood sides lost three grand finals by an aggregate of 15 points - to Melbourne in 1964, St Kilda in 1966 and, most famous of all, to Carlton in 1970 after leading by 44 points at half-time.

"I've never spoken to him about it,"Barassi said last night. "He was very gracious. He was a very good loser and honourable. "

To other, more self-absorbed souls, these defeats may have been crushing blows.

But not to Rose, who understood genuine hardship and whose own tragedy gave him perspective.

Rose was widely known outside football for his devotion to his son Robert, a brilliant young cricketer and footballer who became a quadriplegic after a car accident in 1974 and died four years ago.

The story of Bob's sacrifice for Robert was inspiring to many, including his other son, Peter, a renowned literary figure in Melbourne, who wrote the award-winning book Rose Boys."

An emotional Collingwood board meeting was told of Rose's grim prognosis in May by his younger brother Kevin.

Just days later, young Magpie Rhyce Shaw, a member of another great Collingwood family, had the initials "BR"emblazoned on the back of his No. 22 jumper - Rose's old number - for a game against St Kilda.

Rose is survived by Elsie, his wife of 53 years, and son Peter. Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said there would be a family funeral, and, after consultation with Rose's family, a memorial service later in the week.

By Jake Niall,
Nabila Ahmed
July 08 2003

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