The Collingwood Football Club today stands as the most famous, most revered and – to some – the most loathed sporting club in the country. But this is a club that started from the humblest of origins: conceived by local residents, politicians and business leaders of one of the poorest and most despised areas of Melbourne in the late 1800s, as a means of lifting both the spirits of the locals and the reputation of Collingwood itself.
The journey from suburban laughing stock to AFL powerhouse has been a remarkable one – and one worth celebrating. In 2017, as Collingwood turns 125, that's exactly what we'll be doing. Most of the celebrations will focus around the weekend of May 6-7. For it was on May 7, 1892, that the newly formed Collingwood Football Club played its first ever official senior game of football. That game, ironically enough, was against the team that would go on to become our fiercest rival, Carlton. So it is only fitting that our 125th anniversary game – to be played on Saturday 6 May – will once more be against the Blues.
The Magpies lost that first game, but for once the result wasn't the main thing. All that mattered was that, after nearly three years of struggle following the rejection of its first applications, the Collingwood Football Club had become a reality, and was pitting itself against famous names like Essendon, Melbourne, Geelong and South Melbourne.
Nobody expected much of Collingwood in those early days. The boys from the slums were expected to do little more than make up the numbers.
But boy, were our critics surprised. In just our first season, we had the biggest membership of any club in the VFA. We won our first flag in just our fifth season. We were the youngest club asked to join the breakaway Victorian Football League.
This combination of rapid on-field success and fanatical off-field support quickly made the Magpies the biggest and most influential footy club in the competition. And while on-field success has waxed and waned over the years, we've still won a mighty 15 VFL/AFL flags, produced some of the game's greatest champions and been at the heart of many of its biggest stories.
So use 2017 as a good excuse to celebrate Collingwood's remarkable story. Come to the game on Saturday May 6, the party that night or the Family Day at Victoria Park the next day. Look out for other, smaller, functions during the year too. Buy the book, or some other memorabilia. Share your own memories via the club's website and social media, and our special history website Collingwood Forever. And check back here at the 125th hub for all the latest news and happenings around our anniversary.
Happy Birthday Collingwood!