John Beckwith

Image DOB: 16 September 1932
Died: 29 May 2024

Debut: Round 1, 1951 against Essendon at Windy Hill
Last Game: Grand Final 1960 against Collingwood at MCG

From: Black Rock

Number: 30 (1951-1960)

Premiership Player - 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960
Grand Final team member 1954, 1958
Best First Year Player - 1951
Team of the Century back pocket
150 Heroes selection
Life Member - 1960
MFC Hall of Fame - 2001

Games: 176
Goals: 19
Career Statistics

WinsDrawsLossesWinning %

Statistical categories led
Most games in jumper 30

The son of one game Fitzroy player Wally Beckwith attracted interest from several league clubs after captaining Black Rock to the Federal League Under 18 premiership without losing a game, and winning the league best and fairest in a landslide before turning 17. Available to any club as he lived in an area not covered by any club's zone, Beckwith was pursued by most league sides. After appearing at Essendon training in September 1949, he signed for Melbourne the game month but didn't join the club for another year as his father didn't want him to enter league football until he was older.

Beckwith debuted in Round 1, 1951, initially playing in the centre before being switched to defence. In a year with 19 debutantes, his performances earned the Best First Year Player award. In his second season, Beckwith continued to make cameo appearances up the ground and registered the last eight goals of his career. He went goalless in his last 144 games.

Finding his place in Melbourne's back pocket, Beckwith became a master of tactically kicking the ball out of bounds. The club was so concerned about a crackdown on the ploy that they asked journalists not to write about it. Despite only three wins in 1953, Beckwith was given a consistent play award, and noted in that year's annual report for regularly beating bigger opponents.

The Demons rapidly improved in 1954, making a surprise run to the Grand Final. Melbourne lost, but Beckwith was one of his side's best players. The next year they went one better, and after overcoming a pre-season injury and work commitments that saw him flying in from Adelaide to play the early rounds, he was again named Most Consistent Player. In 1956 he played in a premiership, and was Best and Fairest runner-up.

Promoted to captain in 1957, Beckwith and 21-year-old vice captain Ron Barassi formed the youngest leadership team in the VFL. At half time of that year's Semi Final, Melbourne trailed by 48 points and Beckwith launched a defiant rendition of the Grand Old Flag. His side nearly pulled off a miracle comeback, before earning a rematch with Essendon by winning the Preliminary Final. Beckwith nearly missed the Grand Final, forced to pass a late fitness test for a groin injury before playing. He won his first Best and Fairest that year.

In 1958 Beckwith was selected by Victoria but withdrew with injury and never played for his state. He captained his side to another Grand Final but this time Melbourne was beaten. They won another flag in 1959 and with the introduction of a premiership cup that season Beckwith became the first Melbourne captain to lift it. For the first time in years he had trouble with and requested to play Seconds in
Round 15 to prepare for finals.

In 1960 Beckwith handed the captaincy to Ron Barassi and became his deputy. Despite only playing 16 games for the season thanks to a broken hand in Round 11, he was third in the Best and Fairest before retiring from VFL football with five premierships.

Beckwith's nephews Andrew and Duncan Kellaway played for Richmond.

1951 15111
1952 1782
1953 1602
1954 1700
1955 1700
1956 20013
1957 21013
1958 18011
1959 1903
1960 16015


First game: Round 16, 1967 vs Fitzroy at MCG
Last game: Round 22, 1970 vs Carlton at MCG

In 1960 Beckwith joined Colac as coach, leading them to two premierships and two losing Grand Finals in five years. At the end of 1965 he missed the Richmond job recently vacated by Len Smith, and declined an offer to take charge of Geelong as he was moving back to the city. Instead, he returned to Melbourne as an assistant to Norm Smith in 1966.

Beckwith coached his first senior games at the end of 1967. He took charge of the second half of Round 15 when Smith suffered chest pains, and was officially in control of the final three matches of the season. As the Smith glory era faded away, Beckwith's side struggled through his three year stint as senior coach. At the end of 1970 he was replaced by former teammate, and two-time Reserves premiership coach Ian Ridley.

Family at other clubs

May have temporarily returned to Black Rock in July 1951

Age - 02/09/1949, 10/09/1949,
09/04/1955, 18/09/1957
02/07/1958, 08/08/1959
27/10/1965, 17/11/1965
Herald - 10/08/1949
Sporting Globe - 27/08/1949
Argus - 19/04/1951
AFL Record - Round 11 1999
melbournefc.com.au - 31/05/2024
Boyles Football Photos
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Wikipedia profile

Created by Supermercado. Last Modification: Wednesday 17 July 2024 22:17:15 AEST by Supermercado. (Version 65)

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