Jim Plunkett’s 40th

Happy 40th birthday to Jim Plunkett

 



Career: 2001-2003
Debut: Round 5, 2001 vs St Kilda, aged 22 years, 276 days
1044th Carlton Player
Games: 37 (Carlton)
Goals: 14
Last Game: Round 21, 2003 vs Hawthorn, aged 25 years, 27 days
Guernsey No. 40 (2001 – 2003).
Height: 179cm
Weight: 79kg
DOB: 26 July, 1978

Jimmy Plunkett was a small right-footed inside midfielder with the ability to find the ball. Wearing the #40, Plunkett would come to Carlton through the Rookie Draft, after being delisted by the Bulldogs after 10 games through 1999 and 2000.

Plunkett, a red-head, would play 15 games in 2001 including a magnificent 34 possession game against the Crows in the finals. With 22 kicks and 12 handballs, Plunkett – or simply “Jimmy” or “JP” as he was known, was dynamic as the Blues crunched the Crows with Whitnall and Lappin also starring. Although we lost to the Tigers in the following week, Plunkett’s performance was eye-catching and we thought we had stolen a centreman through the Rookie List.

Plunkett played 18 games in 2002, with a number of high possession games (up to 24 on 3 occasions), although he had a few low ones also.

Plunkett did not have the size or pace of your standard AFL player, he earned the ball through burrowing in and out of packs. Good with his hands, Plunkett also had a limited kicking distance.

Incoming Coach Pagan did not seem to see the merits of Jimmy in 2003, keeping him in the VFL for all but 4 games (2 as a late replacement), and when he was selected for Carlton, he received minimum game time and had minimal impact. Plunkett would continue to perform at VFL level, but he was the sort of player who was caught with the ball so often – through getting it in the first place but not getting rid of it quick enough. Plunkett was released at the end of 2003.

In 2004 Plunkett and Blues teammate Andrew Eccles played with VFL club North Ballarat.

Off the field, Plunkett was also famous for starring in the “Avagoodweegend Mr Walker” Aerogard commercials in the 1980s as the little boy with former Test Fast Bowler Max Walker.

Plunkett was originally recruited from Montmorency.

Career Highlights

2001 – 4th Reserves Best & Fairest

All roads lead to Carlton for Crowe

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media

Bob Crowe meets Liam Jones - Carlton's keepers of the No.14. - Carlton,Carlton Blues,AFL,Ikon ParkBob Crowe meets Liam Jones – Carlton’s keepers of the No.14.

BOB Crowe last laced a boot for Carlton in 1964. On Saturday, for the first time in 54 years, the spritely former Carlton half-back flanker returned to the old Princes Park ground, resplendent in his dark navy blue blazer.

That blazer, a Solway standard for players back then, fitted Crowe like the proverbial glove. As the 82-year-old quickly reminded – “I played at 11-stone-four and I now weigh in at 11-five”.

Originally recruited to the Club from Mentone on the sayso of the then Mentone coach and dual Carlton premiership player Jim Baird, Crow’s tenure with Carlton lasted 11 seasons – and these were happy times both on and off the field for him.

“Looking around the ground now, I remember where the Robert Heatley Stand once stood. They used to put a dance on underneath and there’d be a barrel on,” Crowe recalled.

“They were good days.”

Crowe joined Carlton in 1954, the year after training with Melbourne under Norm Smith’s watch. Why the move? Put it down to the persistence of the then Carlton captain Ken Hands and a teammate Ron Robertson, who repeatedly and vociferously mounted the Carlton case.

Round 17, 1954 – the match with Fitzroy at Princes Park – coincided with Crowe’s first senior appearance. Curiously, Crowe’s 129th and final game would also involve the Lions – and to quote Crowe, “I also did my knee against Fitzroy, running down the race at Brunswick Street”.

“The race was like an old suburban dirt road – potholes and everything,” Crowe recalled of the place where he came to grief before the opening bounce in the 10th round of ’59.

“I played for a quarter with pain killers, but the knee was a bloody mess and in those days a cartilage injury meant a major operation. I remember I was a week in hospital, a week at home and a week at work. I resumed training with the stitches still in and I reckon I played in about seven weeks.”

Crowe finished up at Carlton in late ’64 at around the time of Ron Barassi’s landmark appointment as senior coach . . . “but that was of my own choosing”.

As he said: “I was living at Dandenong and I ended up playing a year there, but I never played again”.

Fifty-four years on, Crowe came back, only this time accompanied by his wife Judith, son Simon, his three grandchildren Sarah, Grace and Xavier and his daughter-in-law Jane – who captured these wonderful images for posterity on a day in which the Club’s past players were invited to a post-training meet and greet.

Together with the clan, Crowe posed by the No.14 locker into which his name is etched. Later, he renewed acquaintance with one of his old Carlton contemporaries Sergio Silvagni. Together they fought the good fight in the losing grand final of ’62 (“one game too many” given the drawn preliminary final with Geelong), the same year Crowe joined John Nicholls in representing the Big V.

CroweFamily.jpg
Bob Crowe and his family in front of the No.14 locker.


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Bob Crowe catches up with Sergio Silvagni as Jacob Weitering listens intently.

For Crowe, ‘Big Nick’ was Carlton’s best, although he often wonders what might have been had a barrel-chested bloke from the Riverina hung around.

“We had a bloke here named Des Lyons, a centre half-forward from Barellan,” said Crowe. “Now he only played a couple of games and he got homesick, but in my opinion he would have been the best of the best.”

At training’s end, Crowe was introduced to today’s keeper of the No.14 Liam Jones with whom he enthusiastically compared notes. Crowe, you see, was relocated from forward to back by the then coach of the day Ken Hands, just as Jones was more recently repositioned by Brendon Bolton – inspired decisions in both instances.

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Bob Crowe meets Marc Murphy and Matthew Kreuzer.

“I remember playing forward and the ball wasn’t coming down much,” Crowe said.

“I eventually said to Jack Wrout ‘Give me a game on the backline’, ‘Handsy’ put me back there and it actually worked out quite well, because it usually follows that if a player has played forward he’s got a fair idea what the backman’s doing.”

Crowe and his loved ones filed out of the old ground, having completed their sentimental journey. For Crowe, timing was everything, for he wanted to lend the Club his undying support when it was most needed – and as he said, “It’ll turn around . . . it always does”.

Alex Marcou’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Alex Marcou.

 



Career : 19791986
Debut : Round 3, 1979 vs Essendon, aged 20 years, 268 days
Carlton Player No. 879
Games : 158 (134 at Carlton)
Goals : 165 (148 at Carlton)
Last Game : Round 11, 1986 vs North Melbourne, aged 27 years, 338 days
Guernsey No. 34
Height : 178 cm (5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 76 kg (12 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : 6 July, 1958
Premiership Player: 1979, 1981, 1982
Carlton Hall of Fame (2006)

Alexander Marcou was a member of Carlton’s fabled Mosquito Fleet of brilliant small men of the 1970s and ‘80s – a lightning quick, three-time Premiership rover renowned for his ball-handling skills and excellent goal sense. After being recruited from VAFA club Thomastown at the age of 18, he won Carlton Reserves Best and Fairest award in 1978, and the following year began his senior career.

Upon arrival at Princes Park in 1976, Marcou was allocated the Blues’ guernsey number 50 before switching to the number 34 previously worn by three-time Premiership star Ian Robertson. Like Robertson, Marcou would go on to win three flags, and as at 2016, his 134 games still stand as the club record for most appearances in this number. Of mixed Greek and Macedonian heritage, Alex grew up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and inherited his love of Australian football from his father, who at that time was a rusted-on Fitzroy supporter.

Although he was eligible to play at Under-19 level, Marcou started with Carlton Reserves and served a lengthy apprenticeship of 33 games over two seasons, primarily as a winger or centreman. His coach in 1978 was Carlton Legend Sergio Silvagni, and it was Serge who convinced the Blues’ match committee to include Alex in the senior team for the opening round of the 1979 season against Essendon at VFL Park. Three other first-gamers in Wayne Johnston, Robbert Klomp and Peter Francis were also included for that Saturday afternoon match, and all were destined for Premiership glory. Playing as second rover to Ken Sheldon, Marcou collected 15 disposals, 2 marks and 2 goals in an eye-catching debut. Carlton won by 21 points, and from that day on, Alex was an automatic selection in the Blues’ senior side.

Midway through that first fairytale season, in his 13th senior game, Marcou (already nick-named “Marcel” after the famous French mime artist Marcel Marceau) was named Best on Ground when he kicked five goals in the Blues’ big win over Richmond at Princes Park. By September, Carlton was two wins clear of North Melbourne on top of the ladder, and raging hot favourites to claim another flag when they met the Roos in the Second Semi Final at VFL Park. Marcou and Rod Austin warmed the interchange bench for much of that afternoon, before Marcel was unleashed and got busy with eight effective possessions. Carlton won convincingly, and marched straight into the against Collingwood.

A fortnight later, having played every game of the season for an excellent return of 34 goals, Marcel sat next to “Curly” Austin on the bench again on Grand Final day at the MCG, surrounded by an enormous crowd of more than 113,000. A boggy surface, cold wind and intermittent rain didn’t dampen the ferocity of the contest between the game’s greatest rivals, until some individual heroics by Wayne Harmes during time-on in the last quarter won the games’ biggest prize for the Navy Blues. Marcou was on the ground at the final siren, having had a shot for goal that just missed with his 12th possession After just 24 games, Alex had joined the exalted ranks of Carlton Premiership players.

Season 1980 saw upheaval at Princes Park when President George Harris was voted out of office in tumultuous circumstances. Former champion ruckman “Percy” Jones replaced Alex Jesaulenko as senior coach, but the Blues never really gelled as team before crashing out of the finals in straight sets. Marcou had another fine year (apart from spending a month on the sidelines with an ankle strain) and kicked 17 goals in 19 matches. Late in the season he was selected in the VFL squad for a match against a combined ACT team in Canberra. Alex did well and was named among the three best for the Vics, but in a huge upset, the home side won by 13 points. Back at Carlton, Jones was sacked at season’s end and replaced by former Hawthorn Premiership player and coach David Parkin.

Parkin’s methods and discipline took Carlton into the finals again in 1981, thanks in no small way to the Blues’ array of brilliant, versatile small men – the Mosquito Fleet of Rod Ashman, Jim Buckley, David Glascott, Trevor Keogh, Ken Sheldon and Alex Marcou. In the Second Semi Final against Geelong, Buckley and Marcou shared the roving duties and the Blues had so many stars in their 40-point victory that Alex’s 26 disposals, 5 marks and one goal wasn’t good enough to earn a mention among his team’s best five players. Two weeks later, Carlton took on Collingwood for the flag for the second time in three seasons, and triumphed by 20 points after trailing by 21 half-way through the third quarter. In front of another huge crowd of 112,000 at the MCG, Marcou started from the interchange bench, but was soon in the thick of the action, racking up 31 disposals and six marks on the way to collecting his second Premiership medal.

Alex enjoyed his most consistent and rewarding season the following year, when Carlton survived four consecutive tough finals to claim their third flag in four years. The Blues’ opponent in the 1982 Grand Final was their other great traditional rival, Richmond – who began the decider as strong favourites after cleaning up the Blues in a rugged Semi Final. As part of his game plan, Parkin ran three rovers in Ashman, Sheldon and Marcou, and all three became influential as the contest unfolded. With their team behind by 11 points at half-time, Carlton ruckmen “Wow” Jones and captain Mike Fitzpatrick seized the initiative in the second half and the Blues came storming back for a gritty 18-point win. That evening, amid the euphoria of a third flag win in four years by the Blues, Alex’s remarkable career statistics stood at 9 finals, three Premierships and 112 goals in 87 games.

Highlights kept coming for Marcel in 1983, despite a couple of muscle strains that cost him the odd game or two. In May, he played his first and only State of Origin game for Victoria against South Australia in Adelaide, in a famous match that produced an aggregate 43 goals and a 56-point victory to the Crow Eaters. In July, Alex celebrated game number 100 for Carlton with a 6-goal victory over Fitzroy at Waverley, before playing his 20th final when the Blues suffered a devastating Elimination Final loss to Essendon. Perhaps that was a portent of things to come, because in an all too common story, Lady Luck seemed to turn her back on Alex from that time on.

Having already suffered a series of persistent soft tissue injuries, Marcou had his jaw broken in 1985, and again in 1986. Over those two seasons he managed only 10 senior games, and his frustration was compounded when he was on track for a return to the senior side on the eve of 1986 finals, only to tear a hamstring. Before that injury his form with Carlton Reserves had been good enough to see him finish third in the voting for the Gardiner Medal (Reserves Best and Fairest) despite only playing half a season.

Carlton’s heavy defeat by Hawthorn in the ’86 Grand Final turned a blowtorch on the Blues’ roster of players, and indirectly ended Marcou’s career at Princes Park. When club secretary Ian Collins bluntly told Alex that his place in Carlton’s senior team could no longer be guaranteed, it prompted the 28 year-old to consider a fresh start another club. Mainly because a number of ex-Blues were already playing there, he eventually chose St Kilda, and Carlton did not stand in his way.

Alex’s first season with the Saints in 1987 saw him used at both ends of the ground, and his experience was invaluable in a young team. However, hamstring and calf injuries slowed him down in 1988, and when he fell out with his coach Darrell Baldock, he made the decision to retire at season’s end. In two seasons at Moorabbin, he had played 24 games and booted 17 goals.

Although finished with League football, Marcou wasn’t quite ready to hang up his boots for good, so in 1989 he signed on with VFA club Springvale, where he was coached by his dual Premiership team-mate Phil Maylin. In 1993, Marcou, Maylin and another Premiership-winning Blue in Peter McConville formed an organization called the VFL – Virtually Forgotten Legends – as a social club and support network for former players and officials. Later, Alex returned to Princes Park as an energetic member of the Past Players Association, and in 2006 he was inducted into the Carlton Hall of Fame.

Milestones

100 Games : Round 16, 1983 vs Fitzroy
100 Goals : Round 18, 1982 vs Footscray

Career Highlights

1978 – Reserves Best & Fairest
1979 – Premiership Player
1980 – Victorian Representative
1980 – 7th Best & Fairest
1981 – 10th Best & Fairest
1981 – Premiership Player
1982 – 7th Best & Fairest
1982 – Premiership Player
1983 – Victorian Representative
1983 – 6th Best & Fairest
1985 – 3rd in Gardiner Medal (VFL Reserves Best and Fairest)