This moment is the 10th of a virtual series presenting the Bombers' best 30 moments over 150 years, which fans can vote on for their chance to win prizes. Click here to view and vote, and see the schedule and prizes below.
After a captivating 98 games in red and black for 537 goals, John Coleman's promising career was cruelly ended when he dislocated his knee in round eight, 1954, against North Melbourne at Windy Hill.
Having kicked 14 goals against Fitzroy seven days earlier, the 25-year-old Coleman was entering the prime years of his career where, such was the fascination with the goalkicking champion, supporters were known to swap ends between quarters purely to watch him from close range.
Alas, as Coleman was carried from the field in agony on June 5, 1954, having kicked five goals for the day and 42 for the season, the unfathomable had happened: the career of the greatest goalkicker the game had ever seen was over.
Coach Dick Reynolds recalled of the incident, “God, I nearly cried. I’ve never seen a knee like it. I didn’t think a dislocated knee could go like that. I see the leg came down and the other part of it’s going three or four inches over [in the other direction].”
Reynolds also observed, “One of the most touching sights I have ever witnessed was the grief of small boys and girls when he was carried off to an ambulance. Both boys and girls had tears in their eyes when they saw him on the stretcher and called, ‘Don't worry, Johnny, you will get better’.”
Sadly, despite repeated attempts to test the injured knee, Coleman never fully regained the confidence or the desire to return to VFL football.
Despite only playing 98 games, Coleman’s remarkable feats as a player ensured that he would never be forgotten. In 1981, the VFL named its leading goalkicker medal the Coleman Medal, presented retrospectively to the leading goalkickers from 1955. In 1996, he was named an inaugural Legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame and selected at full-forward in the League’s Team of the Century.
Coleman’s 537 goals came at an average of 5.48 per game, still second only to another Legend, Hawthorn’s Peter Hudson (5.64). In 1997, Coleman was also selected at full-forward in Essendon’s Team of the Century and, when the club ranked its top 25 players of all-time in 2002, Coleman was chosen second behind Reynolds.
SCHEDULE OF MOMENTS
Round 1 (launching May 6) - 1872-1939
Round 2 (launching May 10) - 1940-1959
Round 3 (launching May 15) - 1960-1979
Round 4 (launching May 20) - 1980-1989
Round 5 (launching May 25) - 1990-1999
Round 6 (launching May 30) - 2000-2021
Round 7 (launching June 4) - Finals round
Round 1 – One 2022 merchandise pack, including an Essendon New Era Black on Black 9FORTY Snapback cap ($40) and an Essendon Heritage Bar Scarf ($30)
Round 2 – One Essendon Fibre of Football Scarf ($80)
Round 3 - One Essendon Football Club 150-year anniversary commemorative mosaic ($295)
Round 4 – One Essendon Football Club 150-year anniversary commemorative mosaic ($295)
Round 5 – One 2022 team-signed guernsey ($500)
Round 6 – One copy of the Red & Black Collection special 150th anniversary book ($329)
Round 7 – One copy of the Red & Black Collection special 150th anniversary book ($329) and one 2022 team-signed guernsey ($500)