29 January 1956 (age 67)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 82d
Last game: 23y 208d
Height and weight
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 79 kg
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Best remembered for his long, weaving run and goal during the last quarter of the replayed 1977 VFL grand final, an exploit that is tattooed into the brains of every Collingwood supporter of sufficient age, overall Phil Manassa achieved somewhat less in the game than might have been anticipated. A star junior who was a dual All Australian at under 16s level he never became more than an average player in the VFL. Nevertheless, all league footballers boast some commendable attributes, and Manassa was no exception:
He was not a graceful footballer by any means, but he was effective. Burly of build but possessed of fair pace, Manassa was a hard man to stop when he built up a head of steam. He approached the ball aggressively and did not shirk physical confrontations, believing if the ball was there to be won then nothing else mattered. He had a fanatical will-to-win and a desperation in his play that was twice rewarded with the club’s ‘most determined player’ award. A booming kick and a safe mark, he was always creating options for his teammates. Even in defence his was an aggressive, attacking approach, and he was never content with merely playing safe.
In 1979 Manassa played just 10 games and there were rumours that his liking for a drink and a smoke did not sit well with clean-living coach Tom Hafey. Whatever the reason, Manassa’s VFL career was over at the age of just 23. He carried on playing for another dozen or so years, including a couple of years with Devonport in the NWFU and four in the NSWAFL with Western Suburbs.
Nowadays the name of Phil Manassa is part of the furniture of the AFL in that every season the scorer of the league’s goal of the year is awarded the Phil Manassa Medal.
Author - John Devaney