|Full name||Gordon Richard James Coventry|
|Date of birth||25 September 1901|
|Place of birth||Diamond Creek, Victoria|
|Date of death||7 November 1968 67)(aged|
|Place of death||Diamond Creek, Victoria|
|Original team(s)||Diamond Creek|
|Height||183 cm (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||85 kg (187 lb)|
|Representative team honours|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1937.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Gordon Richard James Coventry (25 September 1901 – 7 November 1968) was an Australian rules footballer who played for Collingwood Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL).
Accorded "Legend" status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame, Coventry was the first player to play 300 VFL games, the first to kick 100 goals in a VFL season, the only player ever to head the league's goal-kicking list in five consecutive seasons, and the first to player to kick 1000 VFL goals, with his career total of 1299 VFL goals serving as a VFL/AFL competition record for over 60 seasons.
The eighth of the ten children of Henry Coventry (1862-1948),and Jane Henrietta Coventry (1863-1940), née Spencer, Gordon Richard James Coventry — known as "Nuts" to his family (said, by some, due to his having a disproportionately large head as a child) — was born on 25 September 1901 at Diamond Creek, Victoria.
He married Christabel Violet Lawrey (1902-1991) on 28 February 1925.They had four children: two sons, George Gordon (b.1925), and Graham (b.1945), and two daughters, Betty Lois (b.1928), later Mrs. Alexander David Denney, and Margaret Shirley (1930-2006), later Mrs. Charles James Banks.
Three of his brothers served in the first AIF:John Thomas "Jack" Coventry (1893-1950), Hugh Norman "Oak" Coventry (1895-1916), who was (posthumously) mentioned in dispatches for "gallant devotion to duty as volunteer stretcher bearer, carrying the wounded" on 9 August 1916, and had been killed in action while serving with the First AIF in Pozieres, and Thomas Coventry (1897-1970), who was wounded in the arm and foot in action in France in 1916.
Another older brother, Sydney Andrew Coventry (1899-1976), also played for Collingwood at the same time as Gordon.
While working as a miner at Queenstown, Tasmania, and playing football for the Miners' Football Team (as its captain), in Gormanston, Tasmania in 1920,Syd was approached by St Kilda and invited to play for them in 1921. Syd moved to Victoria, and influenced by Gordon, began training with Collingwood (rather than St Kilda) in the 1921 pre-season; however, in May 1921, "an application by S,A, Coventry for transfer from Miners' (Tasmania) to Collingwood was refused [by the Victorian Football League Permit Committee]".
Having served 12 months out of football, Syd was cleared "from Tasmania to Collingwood" on 26 April 1922.He went on play in 227 VFL games for Collingwood (1922–1934) and 27 representative games for the VFL (1922–1934), captain Collingwood for 144 games (1927–1934), win the Brownlow Medal in 1927, and serve for three years as the non-playing coach of Footscray (1935–1937), before returning to Collingwood as an administrator, serving as its vice-president for 11 years (1939–1949), its president for 13 years (1950–1962), and its patron from 1963 until his death in 1976.
Gordon and his brothers and sisters attended the Nillumbik State School (No.1003), at Diamond Creek.While still at school, he began working on his father's fruit orchard.
Although a very reliable right-foot kick, he was equally able to use his left foot accurately and effectively when needed — see, for example, his left-foot goal, under pressure, for Victoria, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in the 7 August 1933 match against South Australia at the 1933 ANFC Carnival in Sydney in the recently recovered newsreel footage of the match.
The "broad-backed and sticky-fingered" Gordon Coventrydid not possess the phenomenal skills of his predecessor at Collingwood, Dick Lee, or the aerial prowess of his successor, Ron Todd, but relied on tremendous strength and a vice-like grip when marking the ball, a combination that made him almost unstoppable once he had front position.
Gordon played his early football for Diamond Creek Football Club in the new Heidelberg District Football League (HDFL) (a competition which began after World War I), and had quickly established himself as a champion centre half-forward. In 1920, Gordon was invited to train at Collingwood.
The three significant officials involved with that invitation, who were anticipating Collingwood's need to find a suitable replacement for the at-the-time injured Dick Lee, who was nearing the end of his career,were Ernest William Copeland (1868–1947), John James "Jack" Joyce (1860–1945), and John James "Jack" Peppard (1878–1940). Although Dick Lee had played in Collingwood's first eight matches in the 1920 season, he had only scored 17 goals; and, also, due to an injury sustained in the 26 June 1920 match against South Melbourne, he missed the next seven matches, returning in the season's last home-and-away match on 4 September 1920 — in the interim, Collingwood tried various permutations of forward lines to cover for the loss of Lee, centred on the selection of Ern Utting (five matches), Tom Wraith (one match), and Tom Drummond (one match), at full-forward over that time.
Gordon Coventry played his first senior game for Collingwood at the age of 18 against St Kilda on 14 August 1920. He played on the half-forward flank, kicked one goal, and although "not particularly impressive … [he] showed that he can kick well".As one of Collingwood's four inexperienced players given a run that day (the others were Les Lobb, Len Ludbrooke, and Roy Outram), Gordon played his second match, again on the half-forward flank, which was also Dick Lee's return match, in the last home-and-away round of the season, against South Melbourne, on 4 September 1920.
Then, just 18, and in his third match, Gordon played at centre half-forward in the Collingwood team (with Dick Lee at full-forward) that beat Fitzroy 4.17 (41) to 3.5 (23), at a muddy, rain-sodden MCG, in the 1920 Semi-Final on 11 September 1920. And then, once more at centre half-forward (with Harry Curtis replacing the injured Lee at full-forward), in the Collingwood team that beat Carlton 12.11 (83) to 8.11 (59) in the 1920 Preliminary Final on 25 September 1920, his nineteenth birthday. Then he played at centre half-forward, in the team (with Curtis at full-forward) that lost to Richmond 7.10 (52) to 5.5 (35) in the 1920 Grand Final on 2 October 1920 (Gordon kicked 3 goals).
In 1921, his second VFL season, he was selected in a representative VFL side to play against a combined Bendigo team on 6 August 1921, but did not play (due to influenza).
He was unable to play in the last home-and-away rounds of the 1921 season due to his illness, although he was able to resume training.
Unexpectedly, he was selected as a last minute replacement for Mal Seddon,who had declared himself unfit to play on the morning of the match, as a consequence of the injury to his thigh that he had sustained at the preceding Tuesday's training session in a collision with Percy Rowe. Gordon played at centre half-forward (kicking 3 goals) in the team that lost to Carlton 9.11 (65) to 7.10 (52) in the 1921 Semi-Final on 1 October 1921.
He played the entire 1922 season playing on one half-forward flank, scoring 42 goals, with his brother, Syd, playing on the other.
In 1923, with Dick Lee having retired at the end of the 1922 season, Gordon (by this stage a 34-game veteran) moved to full-forward, and was the club's leading goal-kicker that season, with 36 goals. He soon became one of the league's most prolific an consistent goal-kickers. He was Collingwood's best and fairest player in 1933. He was Collingwood's leading goal-kicker for 16 consecutive years, and the league's leading goal-kicker on six occasions (five of which were in consecutive years, 1927-1931). He kicked Collingwod's only two goals in the lowest-scores-ever VFL Grand Final in 1927, with Collingwood, in atrocious conditions, defeating Richmond 2.13 (25) to 1.7 (13). He was the first player to kick 100 goals in a VFL season (which he did in 1929, 1930, 1933, and 1934), kicked a total of 1299 goals in VFL football, and 100 goals in VFL representative teams. His tallies included:
Gordon played in 31 finals matches in his 18-year career — including the drawn Semi-Final match against Melbourne on 15 September 1928 (the first drawn finals match in VFL history), and 10 Grand Finals, five of which were won by Collingwood (1927-1930, and 1935).
In the 1928 VFL Grand Final he kicked a league record 9 goals, in a match in which Collingwood beat Richmond 13.18 (96) to 9.9 (63), perhaps due to Collingwood's drawn Semi-Final with Malbourne, and the consequent full replay the following week, which meant that Richmond had a two-week break, rather than the originally scheduled one week.
Gordon missed Collingwood's 1936 VFL Grand Final victory due to disqualification. It was the only time he had been reported in his entire VFL career. He was found guilty of striking Richmond defender Joe Murdoch in the torrid match against Richmond on 1 August 1936.Coventry had a crop of painful boils on his neck; and, when Murdoch repeatedly struck his neck, Coventry retaliated.
Gordon was suspended for eight matches, and Murdoch for four;and an appeal, by Coventry, against the severity of the penalty was unsuccessful. At the time, Coventry announced that he was retiring from VFL football. He later relented; and, having served the eighth and last match of his suspension in the first week of the 1937 season, he played in 19 matches, and kicked 72 goals in 1937, his final VFL season.
Gordon was made a Life Member of the Collingwood Football Club in 1932.
|Caricatures and Cartoons|
| Gordon Coventry,|
in The Herald, 14 August 1925.
| G. Coventry,|
in Table Talk, 25 August 1927.
| G. Coventry,|
in The Herald, 30 April 1928.
| G. Coventry,|
in Table Talk, 30 August 1928.
| "Nuts" Coventry,|
in The Herald, 2 August 1929.
| Gordon Coventry,|
in The Referee, 30 July 1930.
| Gordon Coventry,|
in The Herald, 28 May 1934.
| Gordon ("Nuts") Coventry,|
in The Age, 30 July 1937.
| Gordon Coventry,|
in The Age, 27 September 1937.
Coventry retired after the 1937 season, the first player to play 300 VFL/AFL games, winning his sixth league leading goal-kicker award, and his 16th consecutive club leading goal-kicker award. Coventry also represented Victoria on 25 occasions for a total of 100 goals.
He was the first player to kick 100 goals in a VFL season (which he did in 1929, 1930, 1933, and 1934), and he kicked a total of 1299 goals in VFL football: a record that stood for more than six decades — until it was broken by Sydney Swans player, Tony Lockett, in the match against Coventry's former club, Collingwood, on 6 June 1999.
After leaving Collingwood, Coventry coached Collegians in the VAFA for a number of years.
Coventry died on 7 November 1968 (of heart disease) at his property in Diamond Creek, survived by his wife and four children.
In 2009, The Australian nominated Coventry as one of the 25 greatest footballers never to win a Brownlow Medal.
In 1996, Coventry was an inaugural inductee of the Australian Football Hall of Fame and was elevated to "Legend" status (as the fourteenth "Legend") two years later.
In 1998 he was named at full forward in Collingwood's "Team of the Century".
On 24 November 1999 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
The Gordon Coventry Trophy is awarded to Collingwood's leading goalkicker each year.The southern end of the Docklands Stadium is named the "Coventry end". When the Southern Stand at the MCG was built, a gate/entrance was jointly named after Coventry and brother Syd.
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