Dave McCulloch’s 80th

Happy 80th birthday to Dave McCulloch.

Playing Career: 1959 – 1961
Debut: Round 1, 1960 v Richmond, aged 22 years, 189 days
Carlton Player No.: 730
Games: 17
Goals: 6
Last game: Round 11, 1961 v Geelong, aged 23 years, 262 days
Guernsey No. 3 (1960 – 1961).
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 92 kgs
DOB: October 12, 1937

Dave “Flint” McCulloch
McCulloch played 17 games for Carlton commencing in Season 1960, kicking 6 goals. He wore guernsey #3. McCulloch shared his debut with Des Lyons in Round 1 of his debut year.

Dave returned to the family farm at Glenthompson (located on the Glenelg Highway between Ballarat and Hamilton) in country Victoria, where he still lives and works today.

McCulloch wore guernsey No. 43 whilst playing with Carlton reserves in 1959.

Anthony Franchina’s 40th

Happy 40th birthday to Anthony Franchina.

Career: 1997-2003 (On list until 2004)
Debut: Round 20, 1997 vs Geelong, aged 19 years, 309 days
1020th Carlton Player
Games: 105
Goals: 26
Last Game: Round 22, 2003 vs North Melbourne, aged 25 years, 324 days
Height: 176cm
Weight: 78kg
Guernsey No. 45 (1996 – 2003).
DOB: 11 October, 1977

Anthony Franchina, who wore #45 in over 100 games for the Navy Blues, was a 176cm tagger who was on the list between 1997 and 2004. A hard at it type, he was probably more famous for taking opponents out of the game than any possessions or goals he scored himself. But in the end, Franchina is probably satisfied with that, having racked up 100 games and as of 2007, being the only Blue to have his name on the #45 locker.

He was originally a ‘Supplementary List’ player for the Blues, before being drafted from that list in 1996. His original club was Newlands-Coburg, he had the unique ‘honour’ of playing for two TAC teams, the Preston Knights and the Calder Cannons. This may have occured when there was a realignment of boundaries after the Calder Cannons was entered into the TAC Cup competition.

Franchina will forever be linked to Saints great Nicky Winmar, who blew up at him in a game at the MCG in Round 20, 1998.

Franchina was a constant in the team from about 1999-2002, with 24 games in our oh-so-close performance in 2000, 17 in 2001 (restricted by foot and hamstring injuries at either end of the season, keeping him out of both finals) and 20 in our maiden wooden spoon year of 2002. Come 2003 and the introduction of Denis Pagan, Franchina would find his opportunities more limited, managing only 13 games, spending a lot of them on the bench and never managing double figure possessions, while playing a number of games in the VFL. In 2004 he didn’t play a senior game, playing most of the year in the VFL but also missing a number of weeks with a thumb injury. A dedicated trainer, Franchina was often seen in 2004 attempting to help out our Irish recruits after training.

Franchina was delisted at the end of 2004. He went on to play with North Ballarat in the VFL, before joining the Carlton affiliated Northern Bullants for Season 2006.

In 2007, Franchina – in conjunction with former Blues Corey McKernan and Justin Murphy – would feature in a little bit of football press once more when they were selected as the Carlton-linked on-ball grouping for Heidelberg in the Northern Football League (formerly known as the Diamond Valley FL). In 2009, he and Justin Murphy played together in a premiership with the Heidelberg FC. Franchina would end up playing in three premierships and claimed a best and fairest with Heidelberg, mid season in 2011 he transferred to EFL club Balwyn, Pascoe Vale (2012), Mornington (2013 – 2015) and Eaglehawk (2016) in the Bendigo FL. In 2018 Franchina headed to EDFL club Tullamarine.

Varied sources often refer to players as ‘getting the most out of themselves’ as a cop out comment but in this case every last drop of effort was given in order to allow diverse talents to flow. Playing for Carlton his skill set was to close down opponents, which he did well, however should he have played elsewhere his rugged on field nature and superior fitness could have seen him become a long-term regular mid-fielder. His family are loyal Carlton supporters.


50th game in Round 20, 2000 against Essendon
100th game in Round 15, 2003 against West Coast

Career Highlights

2000 – 9th Best & Fairest
2000 – Most Improved Award

Dick Vandenberg’s 70th

Happy 70th birthday to Dick Vandenberg.

Career : 1966
Debut : Round 13, 1966 vs St Kilda, aged 18 years, 287 days
Carlton Player No. 788
Games : 3
Goals : 2
Guernsey No. 8
Last Game: Round 15, 1966 vs Essendon, aged 18 years, 301 days
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 80 kg (12 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : October 9, 1947

Richard ‘Dick’ Vandenberg played three consecutive games and kicked 2 goals for Carlton in 1966. A tall rover-forward, he was recruited from Robinvale, and allocated guernsey number 8 in the second year of Ron Barassi’s tenure as captain-coach of the Blues.

After making a good impression at Reserves level through the first half of the season, Vandenberg was given his chance with the senior side in round 13, 1966 when seventh-placed Carlton hosted second-placed St Kilda at Princes Park. That day – not for the first time – the Blues caused quite a boilover in beating the Saints by 16 points.

It was a magical occasion for the 18 year-old Vandenberg, who years later was to say; “How well I remember it. They had Baldock at centre half-forward, Stewart in the centre, Murray at full-back, Synman at centre half-back and Ditterich in the ruck. We had a bloke called John Nicholls – who beat the lot of them.” *

Vandenberg shared the roving duties with Adrian Gallagher – who capitalized on Nicholls’ dominance and was almost as influential. The following week, Gallagher and Vandenberg combined again in Carlton’s emphatic win over Fitzroy, and they were together for a third time against Essendon at Windy Hill in round 15, when the Blues were brought crashing back to earth by a 7-goal defeat.

Vandenberg was one of the casualties from that defeat, and he spent the remainder of the season with the Reserves – before being told that his services were no longer required. He headed back home to northern Victoria, and over the succeeding years built a successful business as a chartered accountant, based in Swan Hill.

Some 30 years later, the Vandenberg name was seen again at Carlton when one of Dick’s distant cousins – the similarly-named Richard Vandenberg, trialled briefly at Reserves level in 1997. Richie was not picked up by the Blues, so he joined VAFA club University Blues, and it was from there that he was spotted and drafted by Hawthorn.

Between 1998 and 2007, Richie Vandenberg played 145 games for the Hawks, and captained the club.

* From: Robert Lane

From left; Ron Barassi, Dick Vandenberg, Alex Jesaulenko, Brian Kekovich, Dennis Munari, Ron Auchettl.

Des English’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Des English.

Career : 19801987
Debut : Round 4, 1980 vs South Melbourne, aged 22 years, 193 days
Carlton Player No. 884
Games : 104
Goals : 6
Last Game: Grand Final, 1986 vs Hawthorn, aged 28 years, 353 days
Guernsey No. 27
Height : 178 cm (5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 85.5 kg (13 stone, 7 lbs.)
DOB : January 22, 1956
Premiership Player : 1981 & 1982

Another in a long line of courageous, reliable and tough back-pockets for the Blues, Des English was a valuable contributor in three Carlton Grand Final teams, including the 1981 and ’82 Premiership sides. One of the most respected players of his era, he was, sadly, forced into premature retirement when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

English came to Carlton from Bendigo League club Eaglehawk in 1980, following in the footsteps of champion rover Rod Ashman. Like “Ashy”, Des had also won the Two Blues’ Best & Fairest award, and was a regular Bendigo League representative, usually at half-back. At Carlton he found a niche in the back pocket, and began consolidating his place in one of the league’s power teams.

Carlton finished the 1980 home and away season in second place, but lost both finals matches in successive weeks. It was a bitterly disappointing end to a bad year for the Blues, only compensated by the belief that this team was much better than its results might indicate. The core group at Carlton knew that they had the talent and the drive to win another Premiership – all they needed was the opportunity.

Under a new coach in David Parkin, that opportunity wasn’t long in coming. Carlton played brilliantly all season in 1981, topping the home and away ladder on percentage over Collingwood, then going on to beat the Magpies by 20 points on Grand Final day. The Blues’ defence, boasting the names Doull, Hunter, McKay, Harmes and Perovic, was topped off with the emergence of Des English. At 178 cm and 88 kg, Des was solid enough to handle any physical pressure, and tall enough to fill a variety of defensive roles. A safe mark, cool under pressure and an accurate disposer of the ball, he won new fans each week with his rock-solid consistency.

In 1982, Des won his second Premiership medal when Carlton triumphed again over their other traditional rival, Richmond. The free-scoring Tigers started warm favourites in that year’s decider, but with captain Mike Fitzpatrick supreme in the ruck, and Bruce Doull impassable at half-back, The Blues won their fourteenth flag by 18 points. Two Premierships in his first three seasons was a dream come true for English. The 26 year-old was in the best form of his life, and a fixture in one of the great football teams.

While still a powerhouse, Carlton went off the boil somewhat in seasons 1983, ’84 and ’85. The team still made the finals in all three years, yet couldn’t progress past the Elimination or Semi Final stage. In this era English was reported and suspended for the only time in his senior career, losing 2 matches in the Qualifying Final, 1984 for striking Hawthorn’s Dermott Brereton. Meanwhile, Carlton’s finals performances in these years spelt the end of his tenure for coach David Parkin, who was replaced by former Blues’ champion Robert Walls.

Walls’ equally demanding, yet less intense coaching methods clicked immediately with the Carlton list. Aided by some astute recruiting and trading of players, the Blues finished third after the home and away rounds, before winning both their semi-finals to set up a Grand Final showdown with Hawthorn. One of only six survivors from Carlton’s 1982 Flag side, English was named at half-back for the Grand Final, but spent just about all match in his customary spot on the last line. As always, he gave his all, but the Blues were overwhelmed by a great Hawthorn team that ran out easy winners.

Only a matter of weeks after that defeat, the Carlton Football Club was shocked to learn that English had been diagnosed with leukaemia, bringing a sudden end to his 104-game, 6-goal career in Carlton’s guernsey number 27. Immediately, the club, sponsors and supporters rallied around Des and his family. There was widespread determination to do everything possible to help a good mate get through his toughest challenge, while the coach and every player dedicated themselves to win another flag “for Des.”

Carlton kicked off season 1987 impressively, sitting second on the ladder after five rounds, when another blow sent the club reeling. This time, it was a major car accident involving emerging champion Peter Motley, who was critically injured when his car hit another head-on. Thankfully, “Motts” survived, but like Des, he had played his last game of League football.

That second tragedy bound the Blues tighter, and they swept into the ‘87 final series on top of the ladder. A hard-fought, 15-point Semi Final victory over Hawthorn followed, setting up a rematch with the Hawks on Grand Final day. Despite their previous loss, it was generally believed that Hawthorn’s stellar lineup would be too good for the Blues, but this proved not to be the case.

Fired by an impassioned pre-game address from coach Walls, Carlton kicked away to a handy early lead which was never seriously challenged, and ran out clear winners by 33 points in front of a crowd of almost 93,000 fans. Amid the jubilation and relief immediately after the siren, the Blues ran in a group to the players’ race to ensure that Des English and Peter Motley were among the first to hold the Premiership Cup. It was surely one of the most emotional of Grand Final moments.

Happily, Des’s condition went into remission in the months after that famous victory, and he was eventually able to resume normal family life. Still in robust good health, he is always a popular figure at team reunions and club functions more than 40 years after his last game.

Bendigo All Stars Team (1972-1997).
In 1997 the Bendigo FL compiled their best team for players originating from the BFL VCFL zones for the period from 1972 – 1997, English was named in the back-pocket in that team.


Before switching to guernsey number 27, English wore No.54 throughout his 1978 season with Carlton Reserves.
In 1989, Des took up a role as a specialist coach at Footscray, under Mick Malthouse.


50 Games : Round 7, 1983 vs Sydney Swans
100 Games : Round 21, 1986 vs Footscray

Career Highlights

1979 – 4th Reserves Best & Fairest
1981 – 5th Best & Fairest
1981 – Premiership Player
1982 – Premiership Player
1983 – 3rd Best & Fairest
1983 – Night Premiership Player
1984 – 8th Best & Fairest

Robert Dutton’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Robert Dutton.

Career : 1981
Debut and Only Game : Round 7, 1981 vs Melbourne, aged 23 years, 212 days
Carlton Player No. 893
Goals : 0
Guernsey No. 17
Height : 192 cm (6 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 89 kg (14 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : October 9, 1957

Evidence would suggest that Tasmanian ruckman-forward Bob Dutton may have been unlucky when he joined Carlton in 1981, in that the Blues at that time were almost invincible, and there wasn’t an obvious place for him in the team. Already on the way to winning three VFL flags in four seasons between 1979 and 1982, Carlton’s ruck division of ‘Percy’ Jones, Mike Fitzpatrick, Warren ‘Wow’ Jones and David McKay was the envy of every other club, so Dutton was always going to find it tough to displace any of them. Then again, he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities.

When he was recruited from the Launceston Football Club in 1979, ‘Major’ Dutton was already a Premiership player, as well as that year’s Best and Fairest. Having accepted a two-year contract at Carlton, he was allocated guernsey number 17 and started his AFL career in 1980 with the Reserves. Early on, Dutton’s coach Serge Silvagni sent him to full-forward, and the big bloke was something of a revelation. Four times during the year, “Major’ used his strength and reliable right boot to kick five goals or more in a match, with a best of eight majors against North Melbourne. He finished the season as the Reserves’ leading scorer with 47 goals, and was a popular winner of the Best First Year Player award.

By early 1981, it seemed only a matter of time before Dutton was called into the seniors, especially after his 7 goals against Collingwood Reserves in round 6. Sure enough, the following week he was promoted for the game against Melbourne, but by his own admission, had a shocker. Although the Blues won by 40 points, Bob couldn’t get near the football and didn’t trouble the scorers. He was promptly dropped back to the seconds, and took up where he had left off. While Carlton seniors swept through the finals to claim the Premiership, Dutton kept kicking goals in the lower grade, and his aggregate of 51 majors made him the Reserves’ top scorer for the second time. He was also voted Reserves Best Clubman – but that wasn’t enough to save him from the chop and he was delisted at years’ end.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn was one of many clubs casting an envious eye over the Blues’ list, and they threw Dutton a lifeline with a one-year contract in 1982. With the Hawks, Dutton’s fortunes were similar to his experience at Carlton – he played consistent football with their seconds, and earned promotion for the crunch game against Carlton in round 14 – but again didn’t have an impact. He was omitted the following week, and delisted by the Hawks at the end of the season.

By 1983, Dutton had returned to Tasmania, where he joined the Clarence Football Club and gave them the benefit of his VFL experience by leading their ruck division in an emphatic TFL Grand Final victory over Glenorchy. Two years later he went back to the north of the Island State to finish off his career with Launceston, and was the Blues’ leading goal-kicker in 1988 and 1989.

In 2000, ‘Major’ was named on the interchange bench in Launceston’s Team of the Century. As of 2013, he was operating a successful Food Service Distribution Business in Launceston.

Career Highlights

1980 – 4th Reserves Best & Fairest
1980 – Reserves Best First Year Player Award
1980 – Reserves Leading Goalkicker (47 goals)
1981 – Reserves Best Clubman Award
1981 – Reserves Leading Goalkicker 51 goals (3rd in the competition)

Rohan Brown’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Rohan Brown.

Career: 1983
Debut: Round 1, 1983 vs Richmond, aged 25 years, 175 days
906th Carlton Player
Games: 2
Goals: 1
Last game: Round 2, 1983 vs Footscray, aged 25 years, 182 days
Guernsey No. 30
Height: 192cm
Weight: 89kg
DOB: 2 October, 1957
Born in October 1957, Brown would be 26 before he would get to play his first game of VFL / AFL footy in 1983. It would be his first of two, providing 1 goal, for the 192cm Blue who wore the number 30 on his back. Brown shared his debut with Bruce Reid.

Brown was recruited from Old Melburnians in the Victorian Amateurs.

Family reclaims precious Deacon artefact

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media

 Seventy years after the late Bert Deacon’s best and fairest, Brownlow and Grand Final-winning season for Carlton, the Deacon family has reclaimed a timber-cased mantel clock awarded to him by the Club in 1947.

The art deco clock was presented to Deacon in the year he tied for what was then the Robert Reynolds Trophy (now John Nicholls Medal) with the then club captain Ern Henfry. The clock carries a silver-plated plaque upon which are inscribed the following words;


Equal Best & Fairest


Won by

Bert Deacon

The inscription on the mantel clock.

According to the Carlton Annual Report of that year, only the trophies to Deacon and Henfry were presented in that year, along with an award to Jack Bennett for Most Consistent Player.

As the then secretary Harry Bell reported: “Apart from the two above-mentioned trophies your Committee decided to suspend all other club awards, as in their opinion the 21 players in the Final games had contributed equally in bringing the flag to Carlton, and therefore they felt that all should share equally in the other trophies, with the result that at the Annual Meeting, each of the remaining 18 players will be presented with a trophy to mark the winning of the premiership”.

For almost 60 years, the clock sat on the mantelpiece in the loungeroom of the Deacon family home at 146 Wood Street, Preston. According to Bert’s son Bob, “the clock was there from the time Dad and Mum built the house in 1950 until the day we moved after Mum died about seven years ago”.

Deacon’s mantel clock.

In clearing the house after the death of their mother Jean, Bob and his older brother Brian resolved to share items with family friends. An old friend of Jean’s from Kerang was given the mantel clock, but recently on-sold it to a dealer in Moonee Ponds. The dealer then arranged for the clock to go under the hammer through an auctioneer in Woodend last Sunday, by which time the Deacon boys were alerted.

“You give the item away in good faith and you don’t think any more of it – and then you get an email the Friday before the sale with an image of the mantel clock in the auction room,” Bob said.

“Brian and I weren’t happy that the item had ended up in an auction house and we initially thought the clock might have been stolen until we did a bit of investigating. The auctioneer to his credit was going to withdraw the item until it was determined the clock hadn’t been stolen so I then instructed him to bid on the Deacon family’s behalf, and it’s such a relief that the item is now back with the family.”

From 1942, Bert Deacon represented the Carlton Football Club in 106 senior matches through a ten-year career interrupted by war. On January 3, 1974, he died of a heart attack in Balnarring, and at the time of his death officiated as Carlton secretary.

The famous Bert Deacon in action for Carlton.

It’s not the first time that Bert’s prized football artefacts have been lost to the Deacons. The coveted Brownlow Medal was stolen from Jean’s purse (together with her father’s war medals) in a kitchen break-in while she was gardening out the front of the Wood Street home. None of the medals were ever recovered, and a Brownlow replica is now in the keep of Brian’s son.

Bob proudly protects the VFL certificate awarded to his father for winning the prized football trophy – and now the mantel clock.

So what will become of the item? According to Bob, it will be offered as a perpetual trophy to the winner of the Bert Deacon Golf Day tournament, which has been held at Flinders on the Wednesday between Christmas and New Year since 1950.

“If the golf day folds, the clock will again be returned to the family,” Bob said.

“But for as long as it’s in circulation, Dad will be remembered.”

Peter Smith’s 70th

 Happy 70th birthday to Peter Smith.

Career : 19681970
Debut : Round 2, 1968 vs Richmond, aged 20 years, 211 days
Carlton Player No. 803
Games : 38 (15 at Carlton)
Goals : 33 (10 at Carlton)
Guernsey No.: 37 (1968 – 1970)
Last Game : Round 17, 1970 vs Fitzroy, aged 22 years, 306 days
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 87 kg (13 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB : 22 September 22, 1947

The son of legendary Melbourne coach Norm Smith, Peter Victor Smith was an outstanding schoolboy footballer at Melbourne Grammar School, and a disciple of the Demons’ inspirational captain, Ron Barassi. A key forward with all-round skills, he was a promising goal-kicker who made his senior debut for Melbourne at the age of 18 in 1965.

Shortly beforehand, Barassi had shocked the football world by defecting to Carlton as captain-coach, and in 1968 – after 23 games and 23 goals for Melbourne – Smith joined his former mentor at Princes Park. Playing his first senior match for his new club against Richmond in round 2 at the MCG on Anzac Day, he underwent a tough initiation when the Blues were held to just one goal for the entire match, and humiliated by 46 points. In scant consolation, Smith kicked Carlton’s only major in the third quarter.

From that point on, however, Barassi’s team clicked into gear and won 16 of their next 20 games – including two finals – to snatch the Blues’ first Premiership for 21 long seasons with a grinding Grand Final win over Essendon. Smith played 10 matches for the year, but his cause wasn’t helped by the emergence of Brian Kekovich – who held the full-forward post for most of the season and was highly effective in the finals. And a 4-week suspension for striking Collingwood’s Con Britt – incurred in round 7 – halted Smith’s progress at precisely the wrong time.

On his return to the side in round 12, Smith was sent to half-back, where it was soon obvious that he was far more suited in attack. The problem however, was the riches the Blues were accumulating when it came to options up forward. Although Kekovich’s career was prematurely ended by a back injury in 1969, Alex Jesaulenko was ready to step in, and Crosswell, Robertson, and Walls were all capable alternatives.

Smith’s career at Carlton petered out over 1969-70, as he found it increasingly difficult to force his way into one of the greatest of all Carlton teams. He wore his number 37 guernsey for the last time at senior level at Waverley Park in July 1970, when the Blues beat Fitzroy by 10 points on the way to a miraculous Grand Final triumph over Collingwood in September.

In 1971, Smith was cleared to Port Melbourne in the VFA, where he became the Borough’s first-choice full-forward, and averaged 70 goals a season in his first three years. Then in late 1973, Port Melbourne approached rivals Coburg, seeking a clearance for ex-Collingwood star Mick Erwin, who was interested in the position of captain-coach with the Borough. Eventually, a deal was done involving a straight swap of Smith for Erwin, with spectacular results for the Lions.

Coburg lost only one 2nd Division game in 1974 – to Waverley in round 4 – as Smith went on a goal-scoring spree. In the last round of the home and away season, he booted 13 goals against Mordialloc, followed by 12 in the second Semi Final against Waverley, and eight in the Grand Final against the same opponent. Coburg won the flag in a canter, on the back of Smith’s huge aggregate of 121 majors – a feat that saw him join Bob Pratt, Lance Collins and Jack Titus as the only Coburg players to kick 100 goals in a single season.

Elevated to 1st Division in 1975, Coburg showed that they were a worthy side by making the finals again, with Smith contributing another 82 goals at full-forward in his last season.


Peter is the most successful of all of Carlton’s eight Smiths – despite only playing 15 games in Navy Blue. The full story of the Carlton ‘Smiths’ is explained within an Blueseum exclusive article, available here.

Peter Smith is a second cousin of seventies Blues dynamo Wayne Harmes.

Career Highlights

1963 – U/19’s Best in Finals
1969 – President’s Trophy – Best Clubman
1969 – 4th Reserves Best & Fairest
1969 – Reserves Best in Finals Award
1970 – 5th Reserves Best & Fairest