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Collingwood great Murray Weideman passes away

A stylish, athletic player, Weideman became more renowned for his physical brutality and attack on the man. He was a robust physical presence, able to hit packs hard for a mark and lay a shirtfront or a shepherd in a manner that made the opposition aware he was around.

“He was an inspiring leader and a great protector of his teammates,” teammate Thorold Merrett told the club website. “That dulled a lot of his own brilliant play but he was prepared to give up his own game to do it … we all benefited from it, but Murray suffered.”

He was Dermott Brereton before Dermott Brereton; players whose reputation for physical menace slightly overshadowed how very good they were as footballers. Both burst onto the scene as teenagers in premierships, played centre-half forward, had glamour and celebrity about them but were at core outstanding players.

Weideman’s reputation was forged not only in his 1953 premiership before he was yet an adult, in a season in which he started in the under-19s then moved through to the reserves before finally breaking into the seniors at the end of the year and holding his place through the finals – it was also built on his 1958 premiership effort.

Teammates carry Weideman off after Collingwood’s victory over Melbourne in the 1958 VFL grand final.

Teammates carry Weideman off after Collingwood’s victory over Melbourne in the 1958 VFL grand final.Credit:The Age

That year Collingwood were underdogs but set about roughing up Melbourne in the grand final. Weideman set the tone. Collingwood won the flag in a victory remembered as the Victory of ’58.

Weideman’s football CV is imposing. Two-time premiership player, centre-half forward in Collingwood’s team of the century, a three-time Copeland Trophy winner, captain of the club for three years, he played for Victoria, and was inducted as a member of the AFL hall of fame.

But the CV only sketches at the figure of The Weed.

He was a showman on and off the field. He was recruited to wrestling, when that was a sport or entertainment in Melbourne. It was waning in interest at the time, and the injection of a sporting star from the game’s biggest club sought to address its slide.

He married a beauty queen and was a regular feature in the newspapers.

He coached Collingwood for two difficult years, culminating in a wooden spoon in 1976 after which Weideman was replaced by Tommy Hafey.

Weideman died on Wednesday night after a long illness. He was 85.

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