At the recent Spirit of Carlton luncheon celebrating the 1987 premiership another reunion was also taking place. This was between Ken Hands and Bill Redmond, the only two surviving senior players from the 1947 premiership year, Ken is the last surviving player of the grand final itself. On the day of the lunch Bill arrived early with his son Phil. Unknown to Bill his son knew that Ken Hands would be attending but kept it secret from Bill as a surprise on the day.
When Ken arrived the two old pals greeted each other warmly and began to reminisce about their time together at the Blues seventy years ago. No doubt one of the shared memories was the day the 1947 premiership flag was unfurled before the second round of 1948 in a game at Princes Park against Fitzroy. Both Ken and Bill appear in the following photograph.
In 1947 both Ken and Bill were playing for the same spot in the team and it was a decision late in the season which in the end determined which of them who would play in the 1947 Grand Final. This story is explained in the following excerpt from Tony De Bolfo’s article from March 14th.
Asked how close he was to getting a call-up for the 1947 Grand Final, famously won with Fred Stafford’s goal seconds before the final siren, Redmond believed he was within a whisker.
“In those days there were 19 home and home games, but prior to the 17th game, and it was recorded in the newspaper, the selectors couldn’t decide on the centre half-forward – Hands or Redmond – as Ken wasn’t playing so well at the time,” Redmond recalled.
“When I arrived at the ground for that game, (Carlton President) Ken Luke came up to me and said: ‘Look Bill, we’re nearing the finals, we’re sticking with Ken . . . ’. I actually appreciated the fact that he told me face to face.
On Grand Final day, Redmond took his place in the grandstand with teammate Ken Hopper, the best man at Redmond’s wedding, to see the Blues prevail by a point in sensational circumstances at the MCG.
The day wasn’t without its drama for Redmond, or, more to the point, his father.
“After I left early to go to the game, my father got a telegram forwarded to me by (Carlton Secretary) Harry Bell stating ‘Bring your bag to the Melbourne ground’,” Redmond said.
“My father grabbed the bag, got on his pushbike and rode from our house in Dawson Street West Brunswick to (teammate) Kenny Baxter’s grocery in a side street off Sydney Road in East Brunswick – but the first I heard about it was when Ken Hopper and I went into the Carlton rooms after the game and I saw my bag.
“There might have been doubt on one player, and for memory Bert Deacon came off late that game, and though I never got the full story I must have been pretty close. I only wish I’d kept that telegram, but I didn’t think much about it in those days.”