His 25-year playing career, which began in the early 1960s, had many highlights, including winning MVP awards and scoring titles.
For many years he was a shoo-in as a member of Burin Peninsula and Newfoundland provincial all-star teams.
To really crystallize his “elite player” status, he has the distinction of being named as the provincial soccer Player of the Decade for the 1960s.
Collier first began playing with his hometown team at the young age of 15 and he didn’t stop kicking the soccer ball competitively until he reached the age of 40. In 1967, while taking an electronics technician course in St. John’s, he played with the Guards for a season, leading them to a first place finish as he captured the top scorer award in the St. John’s Football League.
During his playing days, the solidly built, 185-pounder could score goals with the best of them but he also excelled defensively.
Former Laurentian Reg Farrell, another soccer star in his day, describes Collier as “one of the classiest players of his era.”
He was a challenge to play against and a pleasure to play with, Farrell said.
“His ball control was exceptional — you’d think the ball was attached to him. Cool as a cucumber in his ball handling skills, he was a creative playmaker as well as a prolific goal scorer.”
Former player and coach of the Grand Bank GeeBees and Feildians Bill Matthews describes Collier as “being the centrepiece of Fortune soccer.”
He was a solid performer as well as a top-notch coach, Matthews said, adding the GeeBees were thrilled to have him play with Grand Bank for a season.
That year with the GeeBees, Collier emerged as the top scorer on the team and also was named as the team’s most gentlemanly and effective player.
The year 1971 brings back special memories for Collier.
It was the year that he, along with Max Hollett of Grand Bank and Wils Molloy of St. Lawrence, were invited to Camp Borden, Ont., for a tryout with Canada’s national soccer team.
Later that year he was a member of the provincial team that faced the national squad in an exhibition match on King George V pitch in St. John’s.
When the dust had settled, the score read 3-3. However, according to the 2,500 spectators who attended the game, the Newfoundland team should have won by several goals.
National team coach Frank Pike concurred when he said, “I was really impressed and surprised with the Newfoundland team’s play. They had an edge in play and I was surprised they didn’t score another goal or two.”
In that game, Collier scored a goal and set up another. Frank (Red) Fizzard of the GeeBees also tallied one and Ed Arnott of
St. John’s rounded out the scoring for the home team.
“We were as good or better than the National team players”, Collier said.
“The problem was we were not in as good shape conditionally as they were. Back then our problem was a lack of activity in the winter to keep in shape — there was no arena in Marystown or Fortune.”
Besides being billed as being the 1960s Player of the Decade, Collier is also a member of both the province’s Soccer Hall Of Fame and Sports Hall of Fame.
The biggest change in soccer over the years was the adjustment to move from the smaller playing surface to the larger pitches, Collier explained.
“That was why I attended all those coaching clinics so that I could teach the players the different roles they had on a larger field.”
It is interesting to note that Collier’s father, George “Nick” Collier, is also a provincial Soccer Hall of Famer. Nick Collier had a 20-year career back in the 1930s and 1940s.
Three years ago, Collier weighed in at 220 pounds. Since then he has lost 40 pounds and today tips the scales at 180, five pounds below his weight when he played soccer.
The 67-year-old says it’s all because “I now eat healthy and I walk 25 miles a week.”
Allan Stoodley of Grand Bank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He welcomes comments on this or any other article he has written.