Paul Bower’s 30th

Happy 30th birthday to Paul Bower.

Career : 20062012
Debut : Round 21, 2006 vs Collingwood, aged 18 years, 230 days
Carlton Player No. 1096
Games : 70
Goals : 5
Last Game : Round 17, 2012 vs Western Bulldogs, aged 24 years, 196 days
Guernsey No. 18
Height : 192 cm ( 6 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 87 kg (13 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB : 9 January, 1988

Another player whose career was dogged by injury, West Australian Paul Bower was recruited from the Peel Thunder Colts in the WAFL by Carlton at selection 20 in the 2005 National Draft. A few weeks beforehand, he had been named at centre half-back in the Under-18 All Australian team, and seemed an ideal fit for a club desperately short of tall defenders. In a six-year career with the Navy Blues Bower went on to play 70 games, highlighted by a top-ten placing in the club’s Best and Fairest in 2009, and finals appearances in 2009-10.

On arrival at Princes Park Paul was allocated guernsey number 18 and cooled his heels for the first half of 2006 with the Northern Bullants. Before long, his pace and aerial skills made his promotion to the AFL inevitable, even as the first of many trips to the medical room with a knee strain delayed his senior debut until the second-last game of the year. In a real baptism of fire, Bower began on the bench for the Blues’ clash with Collingwood at the MCG, and endured a Magpie onslaught. Despite a moment of joy when he kicked his first AFL goal, his team was thrashed by 44 points.

Worse still was to come the following week, when the Sydney Swans delivered a coup de grace to Carlton’s season, hammering the dispirited Blues by 92 points at the SCG. One of the very few positives to come out of that awful drubbing was that Bower spent almost the whole game shadowing one of Sydney’s stars in Michael O’Loughlin, and restricted the dangerous Swan to two of Sydney’s 21 goals.

After spending the early part of 2007 back in the red and white colours of the Bullants, Bower was recalled for round 7, but had minimal impact in another defeat by Collingwood. Omitted again until round 14, he came back with a new determination to take the opposition on at almost every opportunity. Gradually building in confidence, and showing poise in those heart-in-mouth moments, Bower kicked a beautiful goal in round 17 on the run from 50 metres, and began racking up some impressive stats. In Carlton’s last game of the year against Melbourne, Paul gained a career-high 21 disposals and set himself up for a big 2008. His efforts were recognised when he was presented with Carlton’s Past Players Encouragement Award at season’s end.

Season 2008 began on an enormous high at Princes Park when former West Coast champion Chris Judd, arrived to assume the captaincy of Carlton for five seasons. By then, Bower was one of the Blues’ first-choice defenders, and he began his third year of AFL football with a career-high 10 marks and 19 disposals in round 2 against St Kilda. A fortnight later, in a gleefully-celebrated round 4 victory over Collingwood, he kept the Magpies’ gun forward Travis Cloke to 9 possessions and 1 goal while gathering 20 disposals and 8 marks himself. In what loomed as a breakthrough year for the young man with a Maori tribal tattoo on his left arm, the big scalps kept being taken and the good games continued until round 10, when his luck ran out and he damaged a shoulder joint in a fierce tackle by a Geelong opponent. He was sidelined for a couple of months by that injury, but eventually returned to play in Carlton’s impressive come-from-behind victory over Brisbane in round 21.

All the promise of the previous three years came to fruition for Carlton in 2009, and the Navy Blues stepped up into finals contention again for the first time in eight long seasons. Bower had his most consistent and injury-free year, racking up another 20 home and away games, and soaking up the nervous excitement of his first Elimination Final, against the Brisbane Lions on a fine Saturday night at the Gabba. The young Blues led the home side by four goals at three-quarter time in that enthralling contest, but ran out of legs in the last 15 minutes and were narrowly beaten by 7 points.

When season 2010 got underway, Bower’s career seemed to have stabilised on an upward curve, only for quadricep (thigh) muscle injuries that had plagued him throughout 2007-08 to strike again. Forced into a late withdrawal from Carlton’s team that travelled to Brisbane for a rematch with the Lions in round 2, he battled through the first half of the year to play only four matches. By round 16 he had regained his place in the side, but noticeably wasn’t the same adventurous playmaker that we had seen the previous year. Still, he was an important cog in Carlton’s plans for the finals, and earned his place in the side that suffered a second successive gut-wrenching Elimination Final loss – this time by 5 points – to the Sydney Swans at ANZ Stadium.

Heading into 2011, Paul enjoyed a trouble-free preparation and played well in all five NAB Cup and NAB Challenge matches. He was looking a certainty for selection in round 1, until only a few days before the launch of the season, when another quadricep tear ruled him out of action again for three months. In June, with Carlton camped in the top four on the ladder, he made yet another comeback when he was selected as the Blues’ substitute for the round 12 clash against Brisbane at Docklands, but by late July had managed only two more games and finished the year running around in the low-pressure environment at the Bullants.

During post-season trade week, Bower’s name was bandied about as a probable delisting or trade, however that didn’t happen and he saddled-up for pre-season training again in 2012, under a modified program to strengthen and condition his problem thighs. After getting through without any more setbacks, he seemed on the way back to claiming a regular senior berth when he was selected in a back pocket for Carlton’s much-anticipated round 1 clash with Richmond on the opening night of the season at the MCG. From then on, Bower’s fortunes mirrored those of his team – an excellent start was followed by mid-season jitters, then empty despair.

After round 3, Carlton were flag favourites. Terrific wins over Richmond, Brisbane and Collingwood had the Bluebagger brigades already looking forward to September – until a limp-wristed loss to Essendon and the beginning of a long list of injuries combined to wreck those aspirations. Bower was one of five omissions in the aftermath of that awful loss to the Bombers, although he was quickly recalled for a pedestrian win over GWS at Docklands in round 6. After that he was in and out of the side for the next couple of months – usually playing from the bench. He was given chances up forward on a couple of occasions, but by July it was obvious that his days as one of Carlton’s first-choice defenders were numbered.

Paul played his last game for Carlton in an 18-point over the Western Bulldogs at Docklands on a Saturday night in round 17, 2012 before again finishing off the year with the Northern Blues. Then in early October – to nobody’s real surprise – the club announced that his services were no longer required. He nominated for the National Draft, but failed to find a home at another AFL club, and soon afterward returned home to WA with Peel Thunder.

When reviewing Bowers’ career, it is hard not to conclude that apart from one excellent season in 2009, Blues fans never got to see him at his best on a consistent basis. His body let him down far too often, and his 70 AFL matches stand as a tribute to his persistence as much as his talent.

Career Highlights

2007 Past Players Encouragement Award
2009 7th Best and Fairest

Peter Halsall’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Peter Halsall

Career: 1978
Debut: Round 3, 1978 Aged 20 years 99 days
Carlton Player No.: 875
Games: 2
Goals: 2
Last Game: Round 4, 1978 Aged 20 years 106 days
Guernsey No. 35
Height: 179cm (5′ 10½”)
Weight: 74kgs (11.8)
DOB: 6 January, 1958

Recruited from Pascoe Vale and then Paramount, he later graduated from the U/19s; wearing guernsey #35 and standing 179cm in height, Halsall played 2 games and kicked 2 goals for Carlton after debuting in 1978. His senior career consisted of two consecutive rounds and under two different coaches.

Halsall wore No.53 in 1976 and 1977 when he played with Carlton’s reserves team.

Career Highlights

1977 – 3rd Reserves Best & Fairest
1978 – 5th Reserves Best & Fairest

Jake Edward’s 30th

Happy 30th birthday to Jake Edwards

Playing Career: 2008 – 2009
Debut: Round 1, 2008 vs Richmond, aged 20 years, 74 days
Carlton Player No. 1 108
Games: 5
Goals: 4
Guernsey 37 (2006 – 2009)
Last game: Round 15, 2008 vs St Kilda, aged 20 years, 187 days
Height: 192cm
Weight: 88kg
DOB: 6 January, 1988

Edwards was drafted with pick #36 in the 2005 National Draft, taken as a bottom aged player for that draft. A footballer of great lineage, his father is Allan ‘Butch’ Edwards, his grandfather Arthur Edwards, and his great grandfather Frank ‘Dolly’ Aked Sr, all of whom have played at senior VFL/AFL leavel.

Edwards would play most of the 2006 season for the Northern Blues up forward, and was named as an emergency for Round 22 of his debut year, a fine effort for the young man. A bulked up Edwards would show promise for the Bullants, again up forward, in 2007, before being injured in Round 6. Thereafter, it was a tough slog from their on in for Edwards, as he failed to find any form whatsoever on his return from injury, but he persevered and was retained by the Blues for 2008.

With a number of recruits for 2008, there seemed to be some competition for spots but an early injury to Brad Fisher gave Edwards an opportunity, and in the last 2 practice games of the pre-season he kicked 2 bags of 3 to demonstrate an ability to support Fevola up forward, and still snag a goal or 3. These performances were enough to see Carlton Coach Brett Ratten announce Edwards’ debut selection for Round 1 of the main season, a disappointing game for many, but one in which young Edwards’ would take 8 marks and demonstrate beautiful hands as a leading forward. Edwards would also kick his first goal in the AFL in the first quarter of his debut, a dribble kick from a loose ball 2 metres out! He would follow up the next week against St Kilda and kick another goal.

Jake was dropped after the St Kilda but earned a recall for the Round 9 victory against Fremantle. Jake played a very good game where he picked up 12 disposals, 9 marks and a goal. He returned for 2 games mid-season, but after a season at the Bullants in 2009, was advised that he would be delisted come season’s end, after 5 games in Navy Blue. Edwards was then invited to train with the Western Bulldogs over summer in hope of gaining a spot onto their 2010 playing list, but did not get picked up at the Kennel. He then headed to the Ballarat League to play with Darley. Edwards signed on to play with VFL Club Port Melbourne in 2011, where he was a member of their premiership side.

Carlton recruited Edwards from the Western Jets U/18’s, he had previously played at Melton.

Mick McGuane’s 50th

Happy 50th birthday to Mick McGuane.

Career : 1997
Debut : Round 1, 1997 vs Essendon, aged 29 years, 92 days
Carlton Player No. 1012
Games : 155 (3 at Carlton)
Goals : 129 (1 at Carlton)
Last Game : Round 3, 1997 vs Adelaide, aged 29 years, 105 days
Guernsey No. 31
Height : 186 cm (6 ft. 1 in.)
Weight : 94 kg (14 stone, 11 lbs.)
DOB : 29 December, 1967
At times during the 1990’s, Carlton’s recruiting of seasoned players from other clubs almost became an obsession. True, at times it was a worthwhile exercise, bringing to the club the likes of Greg Williams, Earl Spalding, Dean Rice, Matthew Hogg, Brad Pearce and Matthew Lappin. But for every recruiting hit, there was often a miss – like Collingwood’s veteran Premiership star Michael McGuane. A two-time Best and Fairest and a revered figure at Victoria Park, McGuane had asked the Magpies for a two-year contract extension in 1996, only to be knocked back. At 29, he felt he wasn’t finished, and so requested a trade.

With memories of his exploits against the Blues over the previous decade still fresh, the Carlton match committee gambled that McGuane still had some good football left in him, and he was picked up in return for selections 19 and 65 in the 1996 National Draft. The Magpies used those picks to select Brent Tuckey and Brad Cassidy, who between them played 24 games – not a great number, but still considerably more than the three senior matches McGuane was to manage for his new club. Some time after his departure, Collingwood coach Tony Shaw admitted that he knew McGuane was no longer capable of playing AFL football, but that he “allowed Carlton to find out the hard way”.

Certainly McGuane’s brief sojourn at Princes Park was a failure, but there is no denying that beforehand, he had been one the great players of his time. Recruited by Collingwood from Sebastopol on the southern outskirts of Ballarat, he became one of the hardest-running and creative mid-fielders in the game. After starring in Collingwood’s 1990 Grand Final victory over Essendon, he won the Magpies’ Best and Fairest in 1992 and ’93, and was selected as an All Australian in ’92. In round 2, 1994 at the MCG, he kicked Goal of the Year against the Blues, charging off half-back and taking seven bounces in a jinking solo run, before snapping truly from 30 metres.

Soon after arriving at Princes Park however, McGuane attended training in an intoxicated state, and was involved in a punch-up with one of his rivals for a place in the seniors, Matthew Hogg. The Carlton committee took a dim view of the incident, and for a while, his future at the club appeared in jeopardy. Many felt that he was lucky to escape with a fine and a second chance. A few weeks later, McGuane wore Carlton’s number 31 guernsey for the first time in a match for Premiership points, against Essendon on Easter Monday, 1997. Starting from the interchange bench in front of a massive first round crowd of 82,000 at the MCG, he kicked an opportunist goal late in the game, but apart from that, was rarely sighted as the Blues went down by 7 points. Round 2 was also played on a Monday – a night game at the MCG against North Melbourne – and again, he was hardly noticed.

The following Sunday afternoon at Princes Park, Carlton celebrated the opening of the new Legends Grandstand by running out onto the field in a controversial sky blue strip, under a lucrative sponsorship deal with confectionery maker M&M. A host of stars like Williams, Kernahan, Silvagni, Christou, Pearce and Brown were missing that afternoon, and the Blues trailed after each of the first three quarters. But urged on by a roaring home crowd, the team rallied, and with a dramatic last quarter surge, turned a 14-point deficit into a five-goal victory. Among the casualties from the game was McGuane, who broke down with a serious groin muscle tear that ended his season. He never played AFL football again, and retired at year’s end.

Before that happened however, Carlton coach David Parkin asked his high profile recruit to stay involved by working as one of his assistants. Later, Parkin was to agree with ex-Collingwood Premiership coach Leigh Matthews in saying that McGuane was remarkably astute, with the potential to coach at the highest level. And it didn’t take long for that opinion to be tested, because in 2000 McGuane accepted the senior coaching position with Tasmanian club Burnie. In just his second season, the Hawks went through the year undefeated, to claim their first-ever Northern Tasmania Football League Premiership.

In 2000, McGuane took up his first coaching appointment with Tasmanian club Burnie. In 2001, he led them through an undefeated season, culminating in a premiership. McGuane then returned to Victoria to coach Gisborne in the Bendigo Football League for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons. In 2002 all three teams he coached (Under 18s, Reserves and Seniors) won their Grand Final. The seniors won again in 2003. In 2005, McGuane was appointed a part-time scout at Richmond by coach Terry Wallace, but jumped to St Kilda the following year after securing a full-time coaching appointment under Grant Thomas. After Thomas was sacked at the end of the season, McGuane decided to quit.

McGuane then coached the Balwyn Tigers seniors team in the Eastern Football League Division 1 in 2007. He came to the club at a tough time as they move into the highly rated EFL competition 1st Division. McGuane’s coaching saw Balwyn into the finals in their first year in the competition. Season 2008 saw McGuane take the reins as Senior Coach at the Keilor football club in the EDFL where they were the eventual premiers. In 2016 Mick again took Keilor in the grand final for his 2nd premiership cup as coach. Mick will again take the reins at Keilor in 2017 for a 11th consecutive season as coach.

As far as his football career is concerned, Mick McGuane will always be remembered as a Collingwood star. As for his brief and barren stay at Carlton, it is perhaps best forgotten by all concerned.

‘He loved Carlton with all his heart’

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media


A great epoch in 20th century Carlton history has ended with the passing at 91 of dual Premiership player and coach Ken Hands.

Hands died peacefully last night, surrounded by his son John and daughters Janet and Robyn. That morning, he was farewelled by his protégé and fellow ruckman John Nicholls, Carlton’s greatest player.

Recruited from amateur club North Geelong, Hands’ lifelong association with the football club commenced in the closing days of the Second World War.

The last man standing from both the victorious 1945 “Bloodbath” and ’47 Grand Final teams, Hands represented the old dark Navy Blues in 211 senior appearances between ’45 and ’57 – the latter season as Nicholls’ on-field mentor.

Regrettably, Hands had no real memory of the infamous ’45 Grand Final with South Melbourne at Princes Park. South’s Jack ‘Basher’ Williams saw to that.

Ken Hands B&F Image
Ken Hands won Carlton’s Best & Fairest award in 1953. (Photo: Carlton Media)

But the late Carlton half-back Jim Clark was an eyewitness, and forever blamed Williams for igniting the powder keg – despite Williams’ protestations that the lanky kid in the No.1 guernsey “must have suffered sunstroke”.

“I hate saying this about ‘Basher’ because he was a good guy, but he king-hit Ken Hands. That was the first moment of violence. ‘Handsy’ was just a kid who, in the future, was to have a wonderful career, and he coached Carlton,” Clark once said.

“Ken was in his first year, he was only 19 and ‘Basher’ hung one on him and dropped him. I can still see Rod McLean and one of the other senior players carrying him in. It must have happened just before half-time for me to see that.”

A club Best & Fairest in 1953 and Victorian captain/coach in 1954 and ’57, Hands assumed the Carlton Senior Coaching position from Jim Francis in 1959 (which acrimoniously ended the pair’s lifelong friendship) and he commandeered his players to the 1962 Grand Final before vacating the position to Ron Barassi.

Though he made way as coach on the cusp of the ’65 season, Hands’ place in Carlton history was already assured – and along the way he was rewarded with his naming in the club’s Team of the 20th century as Deputy Vice-Captain (and as resting ruckman to Nicholls), induction into its Hall of Fame and subsequent elevation to Legend status.

Hands 46 Image
Ken Hands in action, 1946. (Photo: Supplied)

Two years ago, Hands paid his old club a very special visit to view a display of his items of memorabilia amassed over his stellar playing career. He had availed his glorious collection of memorabilia to the football club – some 70 years after he completed his senior debut at Princes Park, against St Kilda in the 5th round of 1945.

Hands approved of the showcasing of the old No.1 Carlton woollen long-sleeve guernsey (which he inherited from the ’38 Premiership player Frank Anderson) worn through 200 senior appearances for the mighty Blues.

“I had to stand out in ’44 because I was tied to Geelong. I was 18 when I first played in ’45 and I was the youngest then,” said Hands in recalling how it all began.

“In those days I was still living with my family in Highton, about five miles out of Geelong. I used to ride a bike to Geelong station, catch the train up to Melbourne to play, then catch the train home that night. I did that for five years and never missed a game.

“I remember all the khaki in the crowd towards the end of the ’45 season. Our soldiers were returning from the war and at Princes Park the club arranged a spot for them on the hill – there were no seats then – so they could watch the Carlton games for nothing.”

In October 2016, Hands celebrated his 90th birthday in the company of John and Don Nicholls, both of whom he helped recruit some 60 years before.

“In those days the coach, the captain, the secretary and a few others used to do the running around Victoria trying to sign players,” Hands once told this reporter.

“I can recall going up there not long after Don had won the best and fairest in the Ballarat League when he was 14 or 15, and that’s who we went up to sign.

Ken Hands with Marc Murphy 2013
Ken Hands with current skipper Marc Murphy, 2013. (Photo: Carlton Media)

“We were at the Nicholls farm outside Primrose talking to the boys’ father when John and Don got off the bus. I can still see John now with his short pants and great big tree trunk thighs and I can remember saying to Perc Bentley, ‘God, have a look at him!’ And the old man said, ‘Well, if you get one you’ll get them both’.”

John and Don followed Hands down the race and onto Princes Park in the opening round of 1957, in what doubled as ‘Big Nick’s senior debut – and the latter learned much from the then Carlton ruckman and captain as he revealed in a previous interview.

“Apart from his coaching, Ken showed me by example what a good captain should be; of the advantage it was for a team to have a strong leader – a ruckman for preference, but a leader who set an example, who will protect the players, who will kick that valuable goal when needed and will give the necessary lift to a side. Certainly Hands did this,” said Nicholls.

“In his years as coach, Ken taught me the importance of the use of the body in marking duels and ruck duels, and how to go about getting your body between your opponent and the ball.”

Hands’ beloved second wife Janet died in 2016 He is survived by his daughters Janet and Robyn son John, and grandchildren Alistair, Callum and Louise.

“To us, Dad was Dad, a loving father and grandfather,” John said. “His legacy at Carlton will live forever as will the name and reputation in the business world, but to us he was just our loving and generous Dad and Pa.

“He loved the club and could never have imagined going anywhere else, even when presented with the opportunity. Dad loved the Carlton Football Club with all his heart.”

A private funeral for Ken Hands will be held in the ensuing days, with a “Celebration of Life” planned for early 2018 (details to be confirmed).

Wayne Johnston’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Wayne Johnston.

Career : 19791990
Debut : Round 3, 1979 vs Essendon, aged 21 years, 101 days
Carlton Player No. 877
Games : 209
Goals : 283
Guernsey No. 7
Last Game : Round 18, 1990 vs Footscray, aged 32 years, 229 days
Height : 180 cm (5 ft. 11 in.)
Weight : 79 kg (12 stone, 6 lbs.)
DOB : 19 December, 1957
Premiership Player: 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987
Best and Fairest: 1983, 1986 (Equal)
Night Premiership (Captain): 1983
Leading Goalkicker : 1980 (51)
Captain : 1984 – 1985
All Australian 1987
Team of the Century
Carlton Hall of Fame
Carlton Legend

A brilliant, hard-running, aggressive mid-fielder in four Carlton Premiership teams, Wayne Johnston was a player ahead of his time. Years before athletic endurance and absolute intensity became prime requirements of a league footballer, Johnston; ‘The Dominator’ carved his name with capitals into the history of the Carlton Football Club. An outstanding big-occasion player, he was absolutely ruthless in his pursuit of victory.

Originally from Wandin North in Melbourne’s outer-eastern suburbs, Johnston’s path to glory at Princes Park was not a smooth one. Recruited by VFA club Prahran as an 18 year-old in 1975, ‘Johnno’ was a star half-forward for the Two Blues from his first game, and this led to an invitation to join pre-season training at Carlton in 1978. But by his own admission, his first experience of the physical demands of league football caught him out. Rejected as lacking the will to play at elite level, he was sent back to Prahran, somewhat humiliated and with a burning desire to prove his doubters wrong.

Sure enough, Johnston’s ball-winning ability and raking left foot spurred Prahran into the VFA finals again in 1978. He was outstanding when the Two Blues accounted for Preston in a classic ’78 VFA Grand Final, and for the third year in a row, Johnston finished among the top three in Prahran’s Best and Fairest award. In his 68 games at Toorak Park, Johnno steered through 173 goals – an effort that three decades later would win him a place in Prahran’s Team of the Century. More importantly, his confidence and single-minded determination were vindicated when representatives from the Melbourne Football Club came calling, with an invitation to join the Demons.

Before that could happen however, Johnston needed a clearance from Carlton. Alerted by Melbourne’s interest, the Blues decided to take one more look at him during the 1979 pre-season. And so, in the first scheduled practice game, Johnno was matched against another VFA rising star; Coburg’s Phil Cleary. By half-time on that Saturday afternoon at Princes Park, a rampaging Johnston had booted four goals, and Cleary’s dream of playing VFL football had been shattered. Melbourne was told to go fly a kite, and Wayne Johnston became a Blue.

Carlton began their 1979 VFL Premiership campaign by comfortably beating Essendon at Waverley Park in late March. Johnno played on his preferred right flank, (alongside Mark Maclure and Trevor Keogh) in a team still smarting from their semi-final defeat by Collingwood the previous year. Robbert Klomp, Alex Marcou and Peter Francis also started their careers in that match, and all four debutantes were destined for Premiership glory.

Johnston was a consistent contributor throughout that fairytale first season at Princes Park. Steady more than spectacular, his tackling, shepherding and hunger for the contest quickly won him many admirers. Carlton lost only three times on the way to securing the minor Premiership, and set up an eagerly-anticipated Grand Final clash with Collingwood by comfortably accounting for North Melbourne in the second semi final.

When Johnno and his team-mates burst through Carlton’s banner to the roar of more than 112,000 fans at the MCG on Grand Final day, 1979, he was playing just his 20th game of VFL football. Sodden by days of rain, the centre of the ground was a quagmire that turned the game into a contest of will rather than skill. Collingwood held the ascendancy early, and were five goals up mid-way the second term, before Blues’ captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko – until then, unable to break free of Magpie Kevin Morris in the centre – turned the match by switching places with his dynamic back pocket Wayne Harmes.

Inspired by Harmes’ tenacity, the dominance of Mike Fitzpatrick in the ruck, and the hard-running of Johnson and wingman Peter Francis, Carlton fought their way back into the game to lead by four points midway through the last quarter. It was then, just as Jesaulenko was carried off with a broken ankle, that Harmes’ brilliant chase, dive and swipe at the ball in a forward pocket provided an opportunist goal for rover Ken Sheldon. Desperately tired, yet inspired, Carlton hung on to win by five points. Harmes won the Norm Smith medal, and Wayne Johnston celebrated a Premiership in his debut season.

Unfortunately, the euphoria surrounding that 12th flag for the Blues lasted only a matter of weeks. In October of 1979, the club was plunged into turmoil by a boardroom revolt that resulted in club President George Harris being voted out of office at an extraordinary general meeting of members. Harris’ strongest ally; Alex Jesaulenko left too, forcing the club into a snap decision to appoint recently-retired Premiership ruckman Peter ‘Percy’ Jones as our new senior coach.

‘Percy’ took the talent-laden Blues to second place on the ladder, before successive finals losses by big margins brought a shocking end to Carlton’s season. Jones was promptly shifted sideways to the match committee, and replaced by 1976 Hawthorn Premiership coach David Parkin. Meanwhile, Johnston was coming off an impressive second year. He had rarely missed a game, and finished up as Carlton’s top scorer for the season with 51 goals.

The Johnston-Parkin era got off to a delayed start in 1981. Injury kept Johnno on the sidelines until early June, and he was still not back to peak fitness by the time the home and away rounds concluded with the Blueboys as minor Premiers yet again. Carlton then thumped Geelong by 40 points in the second Semi-Final (with flankers Johnston and Peter Bosustow each contributing three goals) and booked another Grand Final showdown against Collingwood.

This time, the MCG surface was firm and dry when the central umpire bounced the ball in front of another packed house on Grand Final day. In typical fashion, both sides attacked the ball-carrier ferociously in the opening exchanges – one of which saw Johnston steamrolled by magpie Rene Kink. It took Johnno some time to recover from that big hit, but when he gathered the ball off the pack and his long bomb bounced through in the second term, he made sure Kink was the first to know about it. Never slow to dish it out, Johnno also broke the jaw of his tagger, Graeme Allen, in an off the ball incident.

Rain began falling at half time. From then on, with captain Mike Fitzpatrick controlling the ruck, and defenders Bruce Doull and Ken Hunter holding sway across half-back, the Blues steadily wore Collingwood down. Nine points adrift at the last change, Collingwood had nothing left in the tank, and only Carlton’s inaccuracy kept the final margin to 20 points. Bruce Doull was a worthy Norm Smith Medallist, as Princes Park erupted in celebration of our thirteenth VFL flag.

Sometime during the following weeks – details are sketchy as to the exact date – a moment occurred that led to one of the most apt football nicknames of all being bestowed on Wayne Johnston. Late one evening at a popular inner-city nightclub, a group of Carlton senior players came upon him, sitting at a table with no less than four attractive young women. ‘Having a good night, Johnno?’ someone asked. Looking up with a huge smile on his face, Wayne replied; ‘Boys, I’m dominating here.’ From that night on, he became The Dominator – on and off the field.

By coincidence, Johnston hit his straps in 1982, living up to his nickname and helping to drive the Blues into yet another finals campaign. Carlton wound up third on the ladder, and began the defence of their Premiership title with an electrifying first Qualifying Final victory over Hawthorn. Just five points up at half time in a tight contest, the Blues smashed the Hawks with a devastating burst of eight goals after the 20-minute mark of the third quarter, and won easing up by 58 points.

The only drawbacks to that great win were the reports and subsequent suspension of Peter Bosustow (for 1 week) and Johnston (2 weeks). This meant that if Carlton was to beat minor Premiers Richmond in the following week’s Semi-Final, Johnston would be ineligible for the Grand Final. However, that was not to be. Richmond had devised a means of slowing down Carlton’s run-on game, by scragging, blocking and holding on to the Blues’ playmakers. They gave away numerous 15-metre penalties, and it wasn’t great to watch, but their method worked. They beat Carlton by four goals, and sat back to watch while Carlton and Hawthorn met in another do-or-die Preliminary Final.

In that third tough elimination match in succession, Carlton bounced back to conquer Hawthorn once more, thanks in no small part to the heroic effort of stand-in full back Rod Austin. He was knocked cold in the first five minutes, but ‘Curly’ recovered to blanket Hawthorn’s spearhead Leigh Matthews for the rest of the match. Carlton won by five goals, and earned another crack at the Tigers for the ’82 flag. Tragically, Austin came out of the game injured was and ruled out of the decider, but Johnston proved he was fit and ready to return.

Even before the first bounce of the ball on Grand Final day, the mind games began when Carlton coach David Parkin sent 22 men (two more than allowed at the time) out onto the field. All of them stayed on the ground throughout the pre-game ceremonies, and it wasn’t until the teams were making their way to their positions that Frank Marchesani and David Clarke disappeared up the race – leaving Johnston and Jim Buckley in their places.

Johnston was just sensational in those early hectic minutes. First, Mark Maclure gathered the ball off the pack, and dished off to Johnno who ran into an open goal for the perfect start to the Blues. A minute later, Johnston’s fierce tackle on Richmond’s Alan Martello caused the ball to spill to Harmes, who slotted through Carlton’s second from a tight angle. And when Rod Ashman added a third major from a free kick, the Blues were 19 points up.

Just then, a fierce hailstorm swept across the ground, and an all-in brawl erupted on the outer wing. Richmond’s Jimmy Jess crashed into Ken Hunter and knocked him senseless, and Martello ended Carlton spearhead Ross Ditchburn’s day with an accidental kick to the back of the head. Johnston took the resulting free kick to boot his second goal for the term, but at quarter time the margin was back to four points and Carlton was two men down.

Those injuries, and the constant rain, forced Parkin to reshape his team. He sent defender Robbert Klomp to full-forward, called Bosustow off the bench onto a forward flank, and gave Johnston the tough task of quelling Richmond’s dangerous centreman Geoff Raines. From then on, although erratic in front of goal, the Blues gradually asserted their authority – despite the distraction of a female streaker who ran on to the ground midway through the third term.

An impregnable defence and a winning ruck were the keys to surely one of the Carlton Football Club’s greatest victories. Val Perovic, Bruce Doull, Wayne Harmes and Ken Hunter (who bravely returned to the fray during the second quarter) were all superb down back, while ‘Wow’ Jones and Mike Fitzpatrick held sway around the stoppages. But in the eyes of most observers, the most influential player on the field was Wayne Johnston. The Dominator made his name on that memorable afternoon, by cutting Raines right out of the match, and posing a constant threat himself to the Tiger defenders. With an ounce of luck he would have kicked five goals, and there wasn’t a Bluebagger watching on who wasn’t gobsmacked when Johnno missed out on the Norm Smith Medal. That honour going instead to Richmond’s Maurice Rioli.

Carlton began a period of constant success over Richmond from then on; thrashing the Tigers by ten goals in round one of 1983, and following up with another emphatic victory over them in the Grand Final of the Sterling Cup – a knockout competition held at Waverley Park on Tuesday nights during the regular season. Johnston captained the victorious Blues on that cold night in July, and caused a lot of mirth when he made his televised victory speech with his mouthguard still in place!

But after that minor triumph, Carlton’s inconsistency – we managed four wins and four losses with margins of 50 points or more in 1983 – condemned the Blues to a fifth-place finish, and a 33-point Elimination Final defeat by Essendon. Carlton’s brave attempt at three flags in a row had failed, but at least there was some consolation for the Dominator a few weeks later, when he was a deserving winner of his first club Best & Fairest award.

Mike Fitzpatrick retired after the 1983 season, and Johnston knocked back a big offer from Collingwood to take on the role of the Blues’ next captain. He held the post for two years while Carlton continued as a regular finals contender, but couldn’t progress past the Semi-Finals. In 1986 he relinquished leadership of the team to Mark Maclure, just as Carlton announced an agreement to swap coaches with Fitzroy. After five seasons and two flags with the Blues, David Parkin went to Brunswick St, and three-time Carlton Premiership player Robert Walls returned to Princes Park to take the reins of a team very much still in flag contention.

With his playing list strengthened by the likes of Craig Bradley, Stephen Kernahan, Peter Motley, Mil Hanna, Jon Dorotich and others, Walls took the Blues into yet another Grand Final in his debut year, only to run into a committed Hawthorn team that struck back from its Second Semi-Final defeat by the Blues in the best possible way. With their full-forward Jason Dunstall rampant, the spirited Hawks triumphed by 42 points. A fortnight later, Johnston won his second club Best and Fairest in a tie with star South Australian recruit Craig Bradley.

Happily for Carlton, revenge on the Hawks wasn’t long in coming. Under new captain Stephen Kernahan, the Blues marched into the 1987 finals on top of the ladder, and firmed into Premiership favouritism with another 15-point second Semi-Final win over the gang from Glenferrie. When Hawthorn beat Melbourne (with a goal after the siren) in the Preliminary Final, it set up a rematch of the previous years’ flag decider.

Construction works at the MCG restricted the ’87 Grand Final crowd to just under 93,000, on a day that saw the temperature soar past 30 degrees. Even before the first bounce, those fans were treated to yet another sensational opening quarter from the Dominator. Ruck-roving to Justin Madden, he was given a free kick when he pointed out to the umpires that Hawthorn had too many men inside the centre square. A minute later, he goaled from a free kick, then was reported for high contact when he crashed through Hawthorn’s rugged wingman, Robert DiPierdomenico. Next, he ran onto a spillage at half-forward and launched a long bomb that sailed through for his second goal – giving the Blues some real momentum. Hawthorn fought their way back into contention at half time, but the fresher, fitter Blues handled the tough conditions better after that, and ran out 33-point winners. Carlton’s centre half-back David Rhys-Jones won the Norm Smith Medal, and Wayne Johnston joined a select group of four-time Premiership players for the Blues.

The Carlton-Hawthorn rivalry continued into 1988. Hawthorn were minor Premiers, ahead of Collingwood, Carlton, West Coast and Melbourne. In the first week of the business end of the season, Carlton thrashed Collingwood in the Qualifying Final at the MCG. Playing in the centre, Johnston beat three opponents and was clearly Best on Ground.

Next up, the Blues faced Hawthorn in the second semi on a wet and windy day at Waverley – and Wayne Johnston’s finals campaign ended with a massive hit from Hawthorn’s Gary Ayres. Johnno left the field with three broken ribs, and the Hawks ran out winners by 21 points. Without their Dominator, the Blues suffered a shock loss to Melbourne in the following week’s Preliminary Final, ending the year in bitter disappointment.

Although there were ongoing concerns about his fitness, Johnston saddled up for his eleventh season in 1989. Carlton began the year with successive losses to Footscray and St Kilda, before making the trek down the Western Highway to Geelong in mid-April. Early in that match, Johnston was lined up and ironed out again – this time, by Gary Ablett. His ribcage suffered further damage, and he missed another five weeks.

Johnno didn’t make it back until the round eight match against Collingwood, at Waverley in late May. Heavily strapped and playing in defence, he bolstered a team that obviously lacked passion, and lost by five goals. By June, Carlton’s committee had lost confidence in Robert Walls, and sacked him halfway through his third year. Alex Jesaulenko then stepped back into the coaching role he had vacated a decade earlier. In mid-July, Johnston succumbed to his injuries, and didn’t play a senior match again that year.

The Dominator soldiered on into 1990, but by mid-season it was obvious that age and wear had taken their toll on his battered body. Eventually, Carlton’s match committee took the unenviable step of telling him that his time was up, and one of the great Navy Blue careers ended in round 18 at the Western Oval in August. Carlton handed the Bulldogs a 31-point defeat that day, in an appropriate farewell to a champion. Simon Minton-Connell starred for the Blues with eight goals, while Johnno showed flashes of his class and was named among his team’s best players one last time.

Often described as Carlton’s greatest-ever finals performer, Wayne Johnston collected even more accolades in the years after his retirement. Following on from his four Premierships as a player, two Best and Fairest awards and two seasons as captain of the Blues, he represented Victoria three times in interstate matches, and was an All Australian in 1987.

He was elected to the Carlton Hall of Fame in 1991. At the end of the decade, he was selected on a half-forward flank in Carlton’s Team of the Century, and is one of an elite group of just ten great players so far named as Legends of the Carlton Football Club. Perhaps his career was summed up best by David Parkin, who once said of the Dominator;

‘‘He had an enormous capacity to pump himself up and get the best out of himself when it mattered. He had a fire in his belly – a passion for the contest like few other players’

Post AFL, Johnston had stints as captain-coach with SANFL club Sturt, then Sebastapol in the Ballarat League. In 1993, he was lured to the Brisbane club Kedron-Grange, where his great mate Jim Buckley was working part-time as the football manager. At the time, the Redlegs were under the direction of another former Blue in Neil Gaghan, who ended up resigning three weeks into the season due to work commitments. Johnston stepped up for one last season as playing-coach, before retiring for good when he was told that the back problems he had been carrying for years required extensive surgery.


100 games : Round 2, 1984 vs Fitzroy
150 games : Round 21, 1986 vs Footscray
200 games : Round 14, 1989 vs Essendon

100 goals : Round 19, 1981 vs South Melbourne
200 goals : Round 15, 1984 vs Collingwood

Career Highlights

1979 – 8th Best & Fairest
1979 – Premiership Player
1980 – 8th Best & Fairest
1981 – Premiership Player
1982 – 4th Best & Fairest (on countback)
1982 – Premiership Player
1983 – Robert Reynolds Memorial Trophy: Best & Fairest Award
1983 – Night Premiership Player and Captain
1984 – 5th Best & Fairest
1986 – Equal Robert Reynolds Memorial Trophy: Best & Fairest Award
1987 – 2nd Best & Fairest
1987 – Best Clubman Award
1987 – Premiership Player
1988 – 3rd Best & Fairest

Peter Falconer 80th

Happy 80th birthday to Peter Falconer.

Career: 1962 – 1963
Debut: Round 1, 1962 v Geelong, aged 24 years, 144 days
Carlton Player No. 744
Games: 24
Goals: 33
Last game: Round 10, 1963 v Melbourne, aged 25 year, 213 days
Guernsey No. 36
Height: 169cm
Weight: 60kg
DOB: 28 November, 1937

Recruited by the Blues from Geelong, where he played 20 games in two seasons including his debut against his old team, Falconer was one of the smallest players ever to pull on a Carlton guernsey.

A nippy, diminutive rover who was a deadly snapshot at goal, he polled 11 Brownlow Medal votes in his first 14 games, and played in Carlton’s 1962 Grand Final loss to Essendon. But his form tapered in his second year, and he managed just ten more appearances before he was delisted.

Falconer was recruited by Geelong from Geelong Amateurs, he also had a stint with Seaford.

The Canberra Times September 21 1962, said of Peter Falconer that he is “the lightest man in the League.” (60kg – 9st 4lb)

Ricky McLean’s 70th

Happy 70th birthday toRicky McLean.

Career : 19661971
Debut : Round 9, 1966 vs Hawthorn, aged 18 years, 222 days
Carlton Player No. 785
Games : 19
Goals : 35
Last Game : Round 13, 1971 vs Essendon, aged 23 years, 230 days
Guernsey No.14
Height : 183 cm ( 6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 93 kg ( 14 stone, 9 lbs.)
DOB : November 8, 1947

The son of dual Carlton Premiership ruckman Rod McLean, Roderick “Ricky” McLean took after his father in that he played his football for keeps. A specialist full-forward who was six feet tall and built like the proverbial brick outhouse, McLean charged like a rhinoceros on the lead, and heaven help any friend or foe in his path. He was strong in the air, a generally reliable left-foot kick for goal, and loved nothing more than to intimidate his opponents. But as a consequence, he often ran foul of the umpires, and was suspended for a total of 30 matches during his career.

Coming to Princes Park in 1966 from Moonee Imperials, McLean wore guernsey number 14 for six seasons on Carlton’s senior list, yet managed only 19 senior matches in a stay limited by ankle and hamstring injuries, regular suspensions, and the presence of two other quality full-forwards in Brian Kekovich and Alex Jesaulenko. Although he played his best game for the Blues and booted 7 goals in his second-last match, he requested a clearance at the end of 1971 and joined Richmond the following year.

At Tigerland, McLean found ready acceptance, going on to play another 39 games and boot 103 goals. In the 1972 Carlton-Richmond Grand Final, McLean lined up at full-forward for the Tigers, but strained a hamstring running down the player’s race. He stayed on the ground, kicked two early goals, then tore the tendon again and was off the ground by half-time.

After finishing at Richmond, McLean took his VFL experience back to grassroots football and coached VFA club Sunshine. In 1977, he mentored Ascot Vale on Saturdays, then flew to Queensland to play in the State League on a Sunday. He also coached Riddell District club Sunbury in 1986.

Ricky’s talented nephew; Brock McLean, had played 94 games for Melbourne before he crossed to Carlton in a high-profile trade prior to the 2010 season. Brock wore guernsey number 7 in his injury-marred first year with the Blues, but swapped to number 14 in 2011 in honour of his uncle and grandfather.

Mark Athorn’s 50th

Happy 50th birthday to Mark Athorn.

Career: 19921993
Debut: Round 1, 1992 vs Brisbane, aged 24 years, 135 days
Carlton Player No. 975
Games: 30
Goals: 6
Guernsey No. 25
Last Game: Grand Final, 1993 vs Essendon, aged 25 years, 322 days
Height: 178cm
Weight: 76kg
DOB: 7 November, 1967

Look up the word ‘journeyman’ in the AFL Dictionary is a picture of Mark Athorn, sitting next to other 4-clubbers such as Stuart Wigney, Adrian Fletcher and Phil Carman. Athorn, who wore the number 25 for the Blues, played 17 games for the Dogs, 21 for Fitzroy and 15 for the Swans before coming to Carlton at the end of 1991, he had originally started out with Essendon U/19’s.

In 30 games for the Blues, the right footed tagger played some good football, but perhaps Athorn is more remembered for his tagging attempts on Michael Long in our unsuccessful 1993 Grand Final. Constantly bumping the dangerous Long, then at the height of his powers and pace, Athorn was trying hard to put Long off his game. But history shall record that Long, a champion Bomber, played a brilliant game to win the Norm Smith Medal and left Athorn in his wake.

According to our records, Athorn did not play another game for Carlton, his last club. Overall, Athorn would play 83 games of VFL / AFL footy.

Athorn was originally from East Keilor.

Career Highlights

1993 – Reserves Best & Fairest Award
1994 – 6th Reserves Best & Fairest