Bob Rose (footballer)

Robert "Bob" Rose (7 August 1928 – 7 July 2003) was an Australian rules footballer and coach in the VFL. He is widely regarded as the greatest player ever to play for Collingwood.

Bob Rose
Personal information
Date of birth (1928-08-07)7 August 1928
Place of birth Victoria
Date of death 7 July 2003(2003-07-07) (aged 74)
Place of death Melbourne, Australia
Original team(s) Nyah West
Height 178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 74 kg (163 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1946–1955 Collingwood 152 (214)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1964–1971 Collingwood 168 0(111–55–2)
1972–1975 Footscray 089 00(42–45–2)
1985–1986 Collingwood 025 00(10–15–0)
Total 282 (163–115–4)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1955.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

Playing career

A Collingwood legend, he has had achievements of the many including the greatest honours for a club, and in the VFL/AFL. From country club Nyah West, Rose debuted in 1946. He was a genuine all-round sportsman, who was looking down the path of a professional boxing career, but decided to play the game of football. Rose was courageous in the midfield, and was very skillful on both sides. His honours included four best and fairest awards, was a leading goalkicker in a premiership season, including All-Australian honours. Rose however didn't win the Brownlow Medal despite being up in the mix on several occasions, coming second in 1953. Rose also, as an icon of the club, never was given the role as captain due to the strong leaders playing for the Pies.

Rose played in 3 Grand Finals, in years 1952, 1953 and 1955, including one premiership, in 1953. Injuries had got the better of him though, and retired in 1955 after 152 games, and kicked 214 goals, with the losing Grand Final being his last match.

Rose was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996. He was selected as the centre in Collingwood's Team of the Century, and the AFL Players Association's annual award for Most Courageous Player, struck in 1991, is named in Rose's honour.

Coaching career

In 1956 Rose was appointed Captain-coach of Wangaratta Rovers, Rose had moved to Wangaratta to open a sporting goods store. He led the Wangaratta Rovers to premierships in 1958 and 1960. Rose was the Leagues leading goalkicker in 1960. Rose was also the Leagues Morris Medal winner in 1958 and 1960.

Rose returned to the VFL in a coaching capacity, taking over from Phonse Kyne in 1964 as Collingwood Football Club coach. He led the side to the Grand Final in 1964, 1966 and 1970, losing each time by a handful of points. He continued to coach Collingwood until 1971 (apart from one game in 1967 when Neil Mann, who later became his successor as coach, took the reins), before coaching Footscray Football Club between 1972 and 1975. His final stint as coach of Collingwood was in 1985 and 1986, where he held the reins for a brief period before Collingwood's severe financial crisis and poor form on the field led to his resignation in favour of Leigh Matthews.[1] He continued to remain around the club behind the scenes right up until his death.

In 2009 The Australian nominated Rose as one of the 25 greatest footballers never to win a Brownlow medal.[2]


Rose died at Cabrini Hospital after a short battle with cancer on 7 July 2003. A small group of Collingwood players, including Nathan Buckley, paid a visit to Rose in the final week before his death. Rhyce Shaw was the man who wore Rose's no.22 during the time of illness, and would occasionally have initialed B.R above the number in dedication to Bob.


In 2006, a memorial statue of Rose was unveiled outside the main entrance of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre, the home of the Collingwood Football Club. Present at the unveiling was the widow of Rose, Elsie Rose, and son Peter Rose, an accomplished poet and novelist.


On his relationship with Collingwood supporters:

"The first practice game I played I couldn't find the right gate to get into the ground. I was there about two hours before anybody else. One of the really strong things was about my third year of playing for Collingwood, and I walked into the ground at about 11 o'clock, to watch the reserves play. (By this time I was in the seniors.) And I just saw all these Collingwood supporters. It was a cold, middle-of-the-winter, rainy day, and they had taken up every seat available in the ground, and it was mainly standing room in those days. And I thought then, it really hit me, that these people are there to support people like me, all the players, so it was a real lesson that I would, and I swore to myself, that I would never let the people down, that I would give 100% all the time. And it was really an inspiration to me..."

On his first day of training at Victoria Park aged 18:

"So when we got to Melbourne on the Thursday, he took me out to Collingwood, and I trained out there for the first night and that was unbelievable. I was 15 at the time, and to be with the Lou Richards and Colliers (the Colliers had finished playing, but they were always at the Club) Phonse Kyne and those great players, Fothergill, I could hardly believe it, and I was in some pretty shabby old gear because the war had just finished and things were pretty tough in Nyah West, so yes, Lou Richards and the boys have let me know over the years about that silly-looking green and white guernsey that I was wearing, with motheaten holes in it. But it was really a bombshell to be able to run out on to the nice green grass, because droughts were pretty prominent in the Mallee at that time, and we were almost playing on clay grounds..."


  1. Gordon, Michael and Linnell, Gary; ‘End of Era as “New Magpies” Fly the Nest’; The Age, 15 April 1986, p. 1
  2. The Australian Archived 27 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, 22 September 2009, retrieved 2009-09-22

Further reading

  • Strevens, Steve. Bob Rose: A dignified life. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2004. ISBN 1-74114-465-5
  • Ross, John (1999). The Australian Football Hall of Fame. Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 115. ISBN 0-7322-6426-X.
  • Rose, Peter (2001). Rose Boys. Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-639-8.
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