When Coleman played this game on 5 September 1953, he was four shy of his goal-kicking century, his 4th in only 5 seasons. However, having spent the latter part of the week bed-ridden with the flu, Coleman’s poor physical condition was obvious, The Argus reporting his appearance as ‘ashen and gaunt [and] palpably unfit’.
Kicking only a solitary goal for the game, a below-par Coleman, a tough opponent (Herb Henderson) and a howling gale on the day, all conspired to end Essendon’s season, bowing out of the finals race with an eight point loss. As Bombers players trudged from the ground, no-one could have guessed at the time that the 24-year-old goal-kicking ace had just played his last final. This was game number 92 of a career that ended six games later with an untimely knee injury sustained in Round 8 of 1954.
This film includes some of the clearest footage of Coleman in action, particularly in slow motion. Although Coleman was not playing his best, he clearly remains the central subject of this newsreel ‘highlights package’. Coleman aside, the discovery of the reel is also memorable for Footscray/Western Bulldogs supporters who tasted their team’s first ever finals victory.
Despite visible splices in the film, this was probably as complete as what was originally screened back in 1953. Given that the two newsreel companies of the day – Cinesound and Movietone – both filmed in black-and-white, and rarely more than a minute’s worth of each season’s Grand Finals, this footage shot on vibrant 16mm kodachrome colour film stock is one of the highlights of the NFSA’s diverse sporting film collection.