Official Website of the Spirit of Carlton Past and Present
10Mar/110

Carlton Towns: Launceston

Australia's third oldest city, Launceston is of course the home to Boag's Brewery. You might not know that it was also the first Australian city to be serviced by undergound sewerage and the first to be lit by hydroelectricity. It has also been home to men who crossed the Tasman to play footy for the mighty Blues. We highlight a few here ...

Stan McKenzie

A tall, versatile player from Launceston, Tasmania, Stan McKenzie spent just one season with Carlton Football Club in our Premiership year of 1914. He played 14 consecutive matches for the Blues, before losing his place in the team on the eve of that years’ Grand Final. Twelve months later, he died of illness while on active service with the AIF in Egypt.

He was outstanding in the centre, or as a follower in the Launceston Blues’ 1909 and 1913 NTFA Premiership teams, and also represented Tasmania in the 1911 Carnival in Adelaide. In the summer of 1912-13, he completed a unique double when he scored an impressive 59 runs for the Tasmanian cricket team in a match against the touring English Test squad in Launceston.

Stan’s credentials attracted many of the VFL teams to his door, but it was his former Launceston team-mate, George Challis, who eventually convinced him to join the Old Dark Navy Blues in 1914. McDonald was given the number 27 guernsey for his debut match against Geelong at Corio Oval in June. Named in a forward pocket, Stan joined a daunting attack that included Vin Gardiner at full-forward, George Topping in the other pocket and Challis at half-forward. Geelong weren’t ready to be intimidated however, and downed the Blues by 31 points in a high standard match.

Back in Melbourne, as the call to arms in defence of the Empire echoed across the country, Carlton recovered from some early setbacks to finish minor premiers over South Melbourne, Fitzroy and Geelong. Then the Blues leapt to favouritism for the Premiership with an emphatic 20 point victory over Fitzroy in one Semi Final. All that was then required was for the Blues to beat South Melbourne in the Final.

Alas, that didn’t happen. Showers swept across the MCG all match, and the Bloods adapted better to the conditions to beat Carlton by 19 points in a scrappy affair. Had South Melbourne finished as minor premiers, the 1914 Premiership would have been headed to the Lake Oval. But The Blues exercised their right under the VFL rules of the day, and challenged South Melbourne to a Grand Final rematch.

Stan McKenzie had been hardly sighted in the Preliminary Final, although he did manage one of Carlton’s three goals from a half-forward flank. On the Thursday night prior to the Grand Final, Stan and winger Frank Triplett paid the price of that defeat, and were left out of the team. Alf Baud and George Calwell were named in their place, and Carlton turned the tables in a thriller to win our fourth flag by six points.

Soon after that bitter-sweet game, Stan enlisted in the First AIF as a medical orderly. He spent some months tending to Australian casualties on the Gallipoli Peninsula, (where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant) and late in 1915 was posted to the 2/2nd Clearing Hospital at Alexandria, Egypt.

While serving there, he suffered a severe attack of appendicitis and, although the best possible medical facilities were on hand, Stan died on December 8, 1915.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Stan+McKenzie

Pat Farrelly

A tall, well-credentialled ruckman-forward from Launceston, Tasmania, Pat Farrelly played seven games and booted seven goals in his one season at Carlton in 1937. The following year he was 'swapped' to South Melbourne for Brighton Diggins, who stood out of football for twelve months before becoming Carlton's captain-coach, and leading the Blues to the 1938 Premiership.

Somewhat ironically, Farrelly made his senior debut for Carlton against South Melbourne at the Lakeside Oval in round 12, 1937. Playing in the ruck and resting at full-forward, he booted two of the Blues' seven goals for the match. His best return of four majors came a fortnight later, in Carlton's round 14 victory over Melbourne at Princes Park.

Farrelly was cleared to South Melbourne in 1938. The Swans used him almost exclusively as a tap ruckman, so he added just one more goal to his career tally. In 1939 he moved on to VFA club Camberwell for greater reward, and played there until he enlisted in the Australian Army in 1941. Throughout World War II, Farrelly served on home soil as a signaller.

He returned home safely, and later found work on the Melbourne waterfront through his former Carlton team-mate and close friend, Jim Francis. A long and peaceful life ensued, until August 6, 2007, when Patrick Stanley Farrelly passed away at the age of 94.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Pat+Farrelly

Robert Dutton

After three years with Launceston in Tasmania, where he had played in a Premiership side and won a club Best and Fairest, 'Major' Dutton came to Carlton in 1979. His 192 cm frame ran out in the Carlton number 17 guernsey for his only game in season 1981.

His second and final League appearance was with Hawthorn - against Carlton in Round 14, 1982. The Hawks won by 34 points that day, but Carlton had sweet revenge by knocking them out of that year's Preliminary Final before beating Richmond for yet another flag. Dutton parted ways with the Hawks at the end of the season and played for Clarence (Tasmania) in 1983.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Robert+Dutton

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14Feb/110

Carlton Towns: Benalla

Today the players head off to Benalla for a two day AFL community camp. No doubt current Carlton player Jarrad Waite will enjoy visiting his old home town. He is not the only product of Benalla to play for the Blues.

Jim Flynn

Captain twice in Carlton’s glorious Premiership treble of 1906, ’07 and ’08, James Edward ‘Jim’ Flynn was a skilful, versatile player for the Blues, and a dynamic on-field leader whose fine career stretched into his late thirties.

Born in Benalla in northern Victoria, Flynn began his VFL senior career aged 25 at Geelong in 1897 he also played for Benalla District, Collingwood in the VFA and Canterbury. In seven seasons with the Pivotonians, he racked up 72 games and 22 goals without experiencing finals football. Meanwhile, Carlton’s similar lack of success led to the master-stroke appointment of former Test cricketer Jack Worrall as club secretary. In fact, Worrall was to quickly become the game’s first coach – responsible for every facet of the team’s performance.

Worrall’s single-minded determination to lift the Blues from the doldrums had him scouring the country for football talent, and Jim Flynn was one of his prizes. Promised a real shot at football glory by Worrall, Flynn agreed to swap clubs and arrived at Princes Park in 1903.

Although not particularly tall at 179 cm, Flynn was an intelligent and versatile ruckman who was always looking for ways to counter larger opponents. A natural athlete with a good spring and sure hands, he often sharked the taps of his opponents by feigning to jump for the ball, but intercepting it himself.

In Flynn’s first season, Carlton climbed from sixth on the ladder to third, and Jim’s impact was such that he was appointed vice-captain for the following year - to fellow ex-Geelong ruckman Joe McShane. Then, when McShane stepped down at the end of 1904, Jim Flynn was his popular successor. Flynn's debut was incidentally Carlton's 100th game in the new VFL league.

From: www.blueseum.org

Max Howell

Max Howell came down to Carlton from Benalla in 1948, setting himself the big task of breaking into the Blues’ reigning VFL Premiership team. A 26 year-old centreman with good pace and a raking kick, he eventually got the chance he craved in round seven, when incumbent wingman Fred Fitzgibbon was ruled out by injury. Howell was selected as Fitzgibbon’s replacement, and lined up against Melbourne at the MCG.

Howell’s second season never really got going. While Carlton set about redeeming themselves, he ran around with the Reserves again until round 12, 1949, when he made the first of his three senior appearances - all of them as 20th man in games prior to the finals. In September, Carlton fought their way through to another Grand Final, only to destroyed by a rampant Essendon.

Howell fronted up for his third year with the Blues in 1950, and seemed to get off to a promising start when coach Percy Bentley gave him an opportunity as first rover in round one – another test against Melbourne at the MCG. Max celebrated his first (and only) career goal that day, but the Demons proved too good again, and won by 20 points.

Victory eventually came Carlton's way the following Saturday afternoon at Princes Park, when Ray Garby and Ken Baxter both kicked five goals in a high-scoring mid-table clash against North Melbourne. Howell played at half-forward in a 16-point win, but didn’t trouble the scorers.

Perhaps happy to go out on a winning note, Max retired from elite level football after that game, and headed back to the bush.

From: www.blueseum.org

4Feb/110

Carlton Towns: Castlemaine

About 120 clicks northwest of Melbourne, the town of Castlemaine boasts nearly 7000 residents, but back in the gold rush days of the 1850s it could boast that it had a bigger population than Melbourne. Those days are long gone, as is the majority of the gold. However, over the years the Carlton Football club has found more than a few of their own golden nuggets in the form of fine players.

Warren Jones

Warren "Wow" Jones added more than his share to the rich tapestry of the Carlton Football Club in his 92 games for the Blues between 1978 and 1985. Perhaps best remembered for the myth that grew from his nickname, Wow was a heavily-tattooed giant at 200 cm and 102 kg - but one whose forbidding appearance hid a surprisingly gentle nature off the field.

Jones was born in Wellington New Zealand, before growing up in Queensland. He learned the Australian game with Morningside Football Club, and later moved south to Castlemaine in central Victoria. When Carlton recruited him, he was a match-hardened 24 year-old whose determination and ruck skills - especially his palming of the ball to his rovers – made him the ideal back-up for Mike Fitzpatrick. Jones was handed the fabled number 2 guernsey, and didn't disappoint. During his eight seasons with the Blues, he represented Queensland in 1979 and played in seven finals, including his finest moment; the 1982 Grand Final. In an epic match, Wow was one of the keys to Carlton's upset win over Richmond when he almost single-handedly took on and subdued the Tiger ruck duo of Mark Lee and David Cloke.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Warren+'Wow'+Jones

Adrian Bassett

Adrian Bassett was a lightly-built and pacey left-footed defender who was one of two players drafted by Carlton from VFA club Coburg in the 1990 VFL Pre-Season Draft. The other was Tim Rieniets, who like Bassett, had been a dominant force in Coburg’s 1988-89 Premiership double triumph over Williamstown. Bassett was taken at selection 13, and Rieniets at number 27.

When Bassett was drafted by the Carlton, it was his second stint at the Blues. He had previously played with the U/19's and Reserves but had been delisted, the Blues had drafted him from Castlemaine (he had previously played with Campbell's Creek). His move to Southport (QLD), and then to the Phil Cleary led Coburg gave him the experience and confidence for another crack with Carlton.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Adrian+Bassett

Stephen Oliver

The highlight of his brief career was surely the Round 14 game in 1993 away to West Coast. An early injury in the game to 'Sticks' Kernahan provided Oliver with a rare chance to start out of the goalsquare, and he showed Carlton fans what the hype was all about. He dismantled the premier backman of the competition at the time, Glenn Jakovich, with a display which highlighted his aerial prowess and eye for goal. Two of his nine marks for the day were out and out 'screamers,' whilst he kicked two goals and provided assists for another two.

The game is also remembered for another vintage display from Greg Williams (30 possessions, 3 goals) and the last-minute, boundary line set shot from Eagle wingman Chris Mainwaring which struck the post. The one-point victory to Carlton over the reigning premiers would go a long way to establishing the team as genuine finals contender.

Alas for the Blues, Oliver had had enough of city life and the grind of commuting to Melbourne for each training session, and so decided to stay home in the bush for good. In 1995 he took up the role as playing coach for his beloved Castlemaine.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Stephen+Oliver

Peter Hall

Peter rounded off his career at Carlton in 1974, playing another 11 games before he and fellow fringe dweller Lance Styles were cleared to West Australian club Subiaco, as part of the wheeling and dealing to get champion ruckman Mike Fitzpatrick to Princes Park. But after only a brief stay in the west, Hall returned to Victoria and graduated from Monash with majors in Mathematics and Psychology. He then accepted an offer to captain-coach prominent LaTrobe Valley club Traralgon for the 1976 season, while also beginning a new working life in the provincial centre as a secondary school teacher. His new adventure in the bush was to prove spectacularly successful.

At Traralgon, he twice won the league’s Best and Fairest player award, while coaching his team to the 1978 and 1980 Premierships. He then switched clubs to Morwell, and took the Latrobe Valley Tigers to another flag in 1985.

In 1988 – on the back of his high profile and sporting success – he stood for election to Parliament as a National Party candidate and won his seat with a comfortable majority. Since then, he has risen to hold a number of senior positions with the Nationals – in particular, as Party Leader in the Legislative Council, holding the shadow portfolios of Education and Resources and Environment. On election to Government in November 2010, Peter was appointed Minister for Higher Education and Skills and Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Peter+Hall

Arthur Cummins

Arthur Cummins’ short playing career was remarkable on two counts. First, because he was a member of Carlton’s original VFL team, and second because his seven consecutive games were played against seven different opponents at seven separate venues.

Born in Castlemaine in central Victoria in 1876, Arthur Edward Cummins was already established at Princes Park by 1897, when the Blues defected from the Victorian Football Association to become one of eight foundation clubs in the Victorian Football League.

The VFL played its opening round of matches on Saturday, May 8, 1897. Carlton met Fitzroy at the Brunswick Street Oval, with Cummins in a forward pocket – apparently as an optional marking target alongside our fast-leading full-forward Wally O’Cock. However, that strategy wasn’t successful. Fitzroy were too good all over the ground and won by five goals. In succeeding weeks, as the Carlton Football Club took its first faltering steps on the long road to eventual glory, defeat followed defeat. In round four against Geelong at Corio Oval, Cummins had a rare moment of joy when he slotted his only career goal, and a fortnight later celebrated his one victory as a Blue when Carlton beat St Kilda by 11 points in a torrid encounter at the Junction Oval.

His seventh and last game provided another first for Cummins when he took part in Carlton’s debut match on the hallowed turf of Princes Park on June 22, 1897. Inspired by the occasion, the Blues put up one of their best performances of the season, before falling to Collingwood by four points in a high-quality encounter.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Arthur+Cummins

26Jan/110

Carlton Towns: Maryborough

Nestled on the Pyrenees Highway a couple of hours North West of Melbourne is the idyllic city of Maryborough. The 8000 inhabitants these days enjoy a life surrounded by wonderful gold rush era architecture, it is indeed a town of good taste. In fact such good taste that they have their very own Princes Park. Do yourself a favour and visit  this beautiful ground next time you are in town.

http://www.visitmaryborough.com.au/

This town has been more than generous in terms of supplying football talent to the Blues. Only one name needs mentioning, Nicholls. Many say he is the best Carlton player of all time. This would be doing a disservice to many other fine players including Horrie Clover who have had the rare honour of being a Maryborough Blue.

John Nicholls

One of the truly great players in the history of VFL/AFL football, and the man widely regarded as the finest ruckman ever to play the game, John Nicholls led the Carlton Football Club to two Premierships as captain, and a third as captain-coach, in a celebrated playing career spanning 18 seasons.

‘Big Nick’ was a skilful and inspirational on-field leader, as well as a fierce protector of his team-mates. He played his first senior match before his eighteenth birthday, and was retired – against his will - by the Carlton committee just 17 days before he turned thirty-five. In between, his career was packed with glory, controversy, heart-break, and just about every individual and team honour the game could provide.

It all began for John Nicholls in 1956, when Carlton won a tussle with Geelong to recruit his older brother; Don. The Nicholls boys hailed from Maryborough in central Victoria, where Don was a star centreman, and his bigger, barrel-chested brother was already playing senior football at the age of fifteen.

Don Nicholls adapted quickly to life in Melbourne, and to VFL football. Fifteen solid games in his debut season won him Carlton’s Best First-Year Player Award, and focussed attention from a number of other clubs on his 17-year old sibling. In the summer of that year, John joined Don in Melbourne, where he eventually gave in to the urgings Carlton coach Ken Hands, and agreed to play for the Old Dark Navy Blues

By any criteria, his career record is simply outstanding. In his then VFL-record 331^ games, he was a proud member of three Carlton Premiership teams; in 1968, 1970 and 1972. Captain of the club in 1963, 1969, 1970 and 1971, he was captain-coach in 1972, 1973 and 1974. He won our Best & Fairest award a club record five times (in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1967) and was a Victorian state representative on no fewer than 31 occasions. No other player in the history of the game has worn the big white vee so consistently, and with such distinction.

In September 1996, Big Nick was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame as one of the inaugural Legends of the Game. At the same time, was one of six Carlton greats selected in the AFL's Team of the 20th Century. When Carlton Football Club announced our Team of the Century in May, 2000 he was the obvious and unanimous choice to lead the ruck, and from 2004, the Blues' Best & Fairest player of each year has been awarded the John Nicholls Medal.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=John+Nicholls

Gary Higgins

Gary Higgins was recruited from Maryborough / Maryborough Rovers and wore guernsey #29, he played 7 games for Carlton after debuting in Navy Blue in Season 1975.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Garry+Higgins

Les Johnson

 

Johnson played 29 games for Carlton commencing in Season 1927. He kicked 13 goals for the Blues. Johnson wore guernsey #5.

Johnson was both born, and recruited from Maryborough.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Les+Johnson

Horrie Clover

Horace “Horrie” Clover was Carlton’s star centre half-forward of the 1920’s; a high flying, long-kicking champion who enjoyed a stellar career with the Old Dark Navy Blues, then went on to be one of our longest-serving administrators. But even before he took the field for Carlton, Clover had to conquer the odds on the battlefields of France in World War 1.

From Maryborough in central Victoria, Horrie enlisted in the 1st AIF in September 1915. After basic training, he embarked for France with reinforcements for the 7th Battalion in January of 1916. Soon pitched into the horrors of trench warfare, he fought and survived until September of that year, when he was transferred to a machine gun company and promoted to the rank of Corporal.

On Christmas day, 1916, Horrie was struck down with acute appendicitis. He was evacuated to a field hospital for emergency surgery, where the doctors discovered that his appendix was gangrenous and that his life was in danger. He was immediately transferred to London for specialist treatment, and months of recuperation. Pronounced unfit for further front-line service, he was repatriated back to Australia in August 1917, and honourably discharged in May of the following year – six months before the Armistice.

Having recovered, and keen to have a crack at senior football, Clover trained with Richmond and Melbourne before Carlton gave him an opportunity at VFL level. And how he delivered! In his first match in 1920 – ironically, against Richmond - he kicked four goals from centre half-forward, and hit the post three times! By the end of his first season at Princes Park, Clover was one of Carlton’s drawcards. Former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies was just one of the many Carlton fans who were captivated; “he was the most artistic of high marks, unforgettable at half-forward,” said Menzies.

Horrie could kick a football, too. A balanced, deceptively quick mover, he was a glorious running drop-kick for goal. Playing against Richmond again at Princes Park in July, 1921, he let fly with a monster kick that was later measured at 86.26 metres – that’s 94 yards, 2 feet in imperial terms! And there are numerous other instances where he roosted the ball more than 70 metres. In round 12 of 1921, he slotted 13 goals in a game against St Kilda; a club record which still stands today

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Horrie+Clover

Don Nicholls

Although his career was largely overshadowed by the exploits of his champion brother John Nicholls, Don Nicholls was himself a stylish centreman who played a creditable 77 games for the Blues in six seasons at Princes Park.

Nicholls first attracted interest from VFL clubs when he starred for his home side Maryborough in 1955. Eventually, he was faced with the choice of joining either Geelong or Carlton, and to the everlasting gratitude of every Blues’ supporter, Don chose Carlton. He arrived at Princes Park in early 1956, and wore guernsey number 12 in his senior debut (as nineteenth man) in a heavy defeat by Melbourne in round 2 of that year.

The following week, against St Kilda at the Junction Oval, Nicholls started the match in the middle of the ground and did well, as the Blues beat the Saints by 22 points. From then on he was a regular in a Carlton side that was in finals contention mid-season, but stumbled through the last few games and missed the finals by just two points. Nevertheless, one of the real positives to come out of that disappointing year was the steady emergence of Nicholls, who played 15 solid games, kicked five goals and collected Carlton’s Best First Year Player award.

Don’s bright start to his VFL career soon focussed the recruiting spotlight on his younger, taller and heavier brother, John – who had moved to Melbourne to live with Don, but was still travelling home to play senior football with Maryborough each weekend. After inviting the youngster to training, Blues’ captain Ken Hands was convinced that the ‘other’ Nicholls had a bright future in VFL football – all he needed was confidence in his own ability.

History has since proven that Hands’ assessment was spot-on. The Nicholls boys teamed up in Carlton’s senior team for the first time against Hawthorn at Princes Park in round one of 1957, and, although the Hawks handed out a football lesson, John Nicholls began a magnificent career that would ultimately include 331 games, three Premierships, and just about every team and individual honour that the game could bestow

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Don+Nicholls

Bob Jacobson

Bob Jacobson’s father was born in Finland, but his son was given a typically Anglo-Saxon name and grew up to embrace the national game of his family’s adopted land. In 1903, at just 18 years of age, Jacobson travelled from his home in Maryborough in central Victoria to play eight games of VFL football for the Carlton Football Club, under the autocratic coaching of Jack Worrall.

Jacobson made his debut for the Blues on a half-forward flank against Collingwood at Princes Park in round 1, 1903. While Carlton ran out comfortable winners, Bob didn’t make it onto the score sheet that afternoon, or in the following weeks when the Blues destroyed Essendon and St Kilda by 21 and 78 points respectively. Worrall banished Jacobson to the back pocket after that, and he managed only six more appearances before he was given his marching orders after another big victory over Essendon in round 10.

At least Jacobson went out on a high – that defeat of the Same Old was built on a superb defensive effort that kept Essendon scoreless for the first half, and eventually restricted them to 2.2 (14) for the whole match. More than 105 years later, that miserable return still stands as Essendon’s lowest-ever score against the Blues.

In the years after departing from Princes Park, Jacobson married and took up work as a clerk. When World War 1 began in 1914, it appears that he was deemed to be in a reserved occupation – one that was vital to keeping civil order – and so was prevented from enlisting for active service. But as casualties mounted and more and more men were needed, regulations steadily relaxed, and in December 1917, Bob was finally accepted into uniform.

He marched into Broadmeadows army camp a week or so before Christmas, only to almost immediately fall seriously ill. Sent to hospital, he was assessed as unfit for further duty, and discharged in January, 1918.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Bob+Jacobson

Russell Ohlsen

Originally from Maryborough / Royal Park, Russell "Autumn Leaves" Ohlsen played 47 games and booted 25 goals for the Blues in four seasons (1975 to 1978). He played his best football as a ruck-rover, but was unable to cement a regular place in the side. Perhaps best remembered for his extensive tattoos, he was later cleared to Collingwood, where he was part of their losing teams in 1979 (suffering a broken jaw at the hands of Trevor Keogh) & 1980.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Russell+Ohlsen

Bert Boromeo


An imposing, yet controversial figure in his all-too-brief career at Carlton, Albert ‘Bert’ Boromeo was only eight days short of his 27th birthday when he played his first match for the Blues in 1919. For reasons unexplained, he took to the field that day at Princes Park in a pair of street boots, but; "he gave decided promise, and looked every inch the footballer", according to former Carlton coach Jack Worrall, who was reporting on the match for The Argus newspaper.

A powerfully-built, natural athlete who stood 184 cm and tipped the scales at 89 kg, Boromeo had been a star follower-forward at Maryborough in central Victoria before finally agreeing to have a belated crack at VFL football with the Blues. He was a vice-like mark and a thumping kick, and his bulk and strength made him near-impossible to dislodge in any contest.

Boromeo played finals football in four of his five seasons at Princes Park, first as a follower, and later as a dangerous partner to Carlton’s champion centre half-forward Horrie Clover in attack. He quickly became a reliable big-occasion player and was chosen to represent the VFL in interstate matches each year from 1920 to 1922. But his finest moment came in the 1921 Grand Final against Richmond, when he was a unanimous choice as Best on Ground for the vanquished Blues.

Continuing a disappointing sequence of finals losses, Carlton fell to Essendon by five points in the 1922 Semi-Final, then went into decline the following year and dropped right out of contention. In August 1923, Carlton played Essendon again in round nine at Windy Hill. The Blues turned in a shocker to be thrashed by 11 goals, and that result triggered a sensational series of incidents that ended Boromeo’s career at Carlton.

http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Bert+Boromeo

20Jan/110

Carlton Towns: Bacchus Marsh

Inspired by the Spirit of Carlton's recent trip to Kukerin, home of Ross Ditchburn, we will present each week a profile of a country town and the players that they have provided for the Carlton Football Club.

 

Bacchus Marsh is a leafy relaxed town 50km west of Melbourne, home to superb fruit and veg and some excellent pubs. This town has been a great one for providing players for the Carlton Football Club. The most famous of which was the legendary Harry 'Soapy' Vallence. Other players from the town include Jack Skinner, Keith Shea, Les Carr, Les Watkins and the great Ollie Grieve. Premierships, leading goalkickers, best and fairests and a legend, we have a lot to thank the town of Bacchus Marsh. Read on to find our more about each of these past players for the mighty Blues.

Harry Vallence

Henry Francis 'Soapy' Vallence is a true legend of the Carlton Football Club, and one of the most prolific goal scorers of all time. In a stellar 204 game VFL career between 1926 and 1938, he kicked 722 goals - a club record that stood for more than fifty years, until it was eventually bettered by another champion, Stephen Kernahan, in 1997.

Vallence came to Princes Park as a 20 year-old from Ballarat League side Bacchus Marsh. At 183 cm and 80 kg, the lean youngster soon impressed, and was nicknamed 'Soapy' because he was a slippery customer when the ball hit the ground - especially in wet weather. He was also a powerful, accurate kick and a brilliant high mark. The name stuck, and he wore it proudly throughout his career.

He made his debut for the Blues in 1926, wearing guernsey 22, and soon won a regular place in the team as a creative half-forward. Then in 1929 he was offered a chance at full forward, and never looked back after he topped Carlton's goal-kicking list with 64 majors. In 1931 he was the club (and the League's) top scorer with 86 goals, and in 1932 had his best return with 97. Only Geelong's George Moloney did better that year with 109.

On four separate occasions Soapy kicked 11 goals in a match, and two of those games were finals; the first Semi in 1931 and the Preliminary Final in 1932. He was a renowned big-occasion player, and never went missing when the contest was fiercest. In eight of his twelve seasons with the Blues, he was our major goal-scorer, as well as a standout performer in each of his five appearances for the Victorian state side.

In 1937 Soapy's form tapered off, and he was dropped to the seconds. Thinking his time at Carlton might be up, he agreed to join VFA team Williamstown. But Carlton's new coach Brighton Diggins wouldn't hear of his star leaving, and talked Soapy into staying just one more year. It was a wise decision for all concerned. Regaining confidence and touch, Soapy had another stellar season. He slotted another 81 goals as the Blues won their way into the 1938 Grand Final, and beat the strong favourites Collingwood by 15 points. Carlton's game plan - which included playing Vallence wide on one half-forward flank, and bombing the ball long to stand-in full forward Ken Baxter - unbalanced Collingwood, and the final score flattered them.

A familiar and popular face at Princes Park for many years after his playing days were through, Harry "Soapy" Vallence was honoured as one of nine foundation members of the Carlton Hall of Fame in 1987. Barely four years later, on July 25, 1991, he passed away peacefully at the age of 86.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Harry+Vallence

Click this link to see a Harry Vallence image gallery featuring pictures from his family collection.

Jack Skinner

Another quality footballer whose career at Carlton was prematurely ended by military service in World War II, Jack Skinner was recruited from Bacchus Marsh, the same club that provided Carlton with star forwards Harry Vallence and Keith Shea (he also played for neighbouing team Darley). He started out as a speedy half-forward flanker, before evolving into a clever and hard-running centreman whose third and last season at Princes Park was his best.

Prior to Skinner’s first senior game in 1939, Carlton selector Horrie Clover claimed that Jack was the fastest man over ten to twelve yards (11 metres) to have trained with the club. Skinner was also originally a right foot kick, but changed to his left when he found that it brought him greater distance. This obviously helped his cause, because he was the only new recruit to force his way into Carlton’s team for the opening round of 1939, on the day when the Blues unfurled their previous year’s Premiership pennant, before taking on South Melbourne at Princes Park.

Skinner played his debut match at half-forward - alongside Jack Wrout and Paul Schmidt – and the reigning Premiers thrashed the Swans by 9 goals. As the season progressed, Carlton often seemed hungry for more glory - but defeats by Richmond in both of our meetings, as well as a couple of other shock losses mid-year, saw the Blues tumble out of finals contention to a disappointing fifth-place finish by year’s end.

In September 1939, just as the VFL final series got underway, Australia was drawn into its second major conflict in a generation. Great Britain had declared war on Germany, so her dominions had followed suit. Within weeks, Skinner, and many thousands of other young Aussies volunteered for military service – just as their fathers and older brothers had done in the Great War of 1914-18. Jack joined the Militia, whose primary duty was the defence against invasion of Australia’s mainland.

Over the following five years, Jack soldiered on in the service of his country. He rose to the rank of Corporal, and was finally discharged in June, 1946 – almost a year after the end of World War II, and nine months after Carlton defeated South Melbourne in the 1945 ‘Bloodbath’ Grand Final.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Jack+Skinner

Keith Shea

A brilliant, gifted footballer who played his first senior match for Carlton before his 18th birthday, Keith Shea was a valuable member of Carlton’s 1932 Grand Final team, and a star for the Blues in the harsh years prior to World War II. After an all too brief stay at Princes Park, he was lured to Western Australia at the peak of his career.

Shea was recruited from Bacchus Marsh as a junior prodigy. Although lightly-built, his wiry frame was deceptively strong. He was quick, beautifully balanced, very capable overhead, and kicked long off his preferred left foot. Still just 17 years old, he forced his way into the Carlton senior side half-way through the 1932 season, and only injury kept him out from that day on.

Remarkably, Shea played under different captains in each of his six seasons with the Blues. In order, they were Colin Martyn (1932), Frank Gill (1933), Maurie Johnson (1934), Charlie Davey (1935), Jim Francis (1936) and Ansell Clarke (1937). Amidst the deprivations of the Great Depression - indeed, because of them - VFL football continued to draw huge crowds throughout the thirties, and players were comparatively well paid. Therefore, places in every team were highly prized and hotly contested.

In just his eighth game for the Blues, Shea announced his arrival with a slashing performance on a half-forward flank against Richmond in the 1932 Second Semi-Final. Although the Tigers won comfortably in the end – by four goals – they couldn’t subdue the youngster in navy blue guernsey number 8. Shea’s creativity, accurate foot-passing and two opportunist goals made him a thorn in Richmond’s side all day.

A player whose career flamed brightly yet briefly across the fabric of the Carlton Football Club, Keith Shea tragically died of cancer on February 27, 1951. He was just 36 years old

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Keith+Shea

Les Carr

Wearing guernsey #34, Carr played 9 games after debuting in Season 1947.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Les+Carr

Les Watkins

Les Watkins played a single game for Carlton, running out in Navy Blue in 1938. Watkins would debut in the same game as Arthur Sanger in the #18 Guernsey. Sanger went on to wear that same Guernsey for the rest of his 117 game career at Princes Park. Watkins also managed to kick a goal in this game.

Watkins was born in Heathcote and recruited from Bacchus Marsh

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Les+Watkins

Ollie Grieve

Throughout our long and proud history, the Carlton Football Club has traditionally produced exceptional full-backs. For seven seasons immediately after World War II, Carlton’s champion custodian of the goal square was Oliver Kelvin ‘Ollie’ Grieve – a brilliant, close-checking defender who was a glorious high mark and a powerful, driving drop-kick.

Grieve came to Princes Park from his home town of Bacchus Marsh in 1942, but managed only six matches in his debut season before his football career was interrupted while he served his country in war. Already a reservist, he was called up by the Australian Army in July 1942, and spent the next three and a half years in uniform. Gratefully unscathed at the war’s end, he came home to anchor the defence in the Blues’ 1947 Premiership team, and twelve months later, finished runner-up in the 1948 Brownlow Medal.

With Grieve settled in at full-back and the equally brilliant Bert Deacon at centre half-back, Carlton’s defence was the launching pad of the Blues’ magnificent, last-gasp Premiership triumph in 1947. Trailing Essendon by five points inside the last minute of the Grand Final, Carlton’s captain Ern Henfry pumped the ball long out of the centre to a contest at half-forward. The ball spilt from the pack and was pounced on by flanker Fred Stafford, whose neat left foot snap went sailing between the posts to give Carlton an astonishing victory by one point.

However, perhaps the one game that stamped Ollie Grieve as one of the greats of his era was Carlton’s humiliating defeat by Essendon in the 1949 Grand Final. Spearheaded by their sensational full-forward John Coleman, Essendon thrashed the Blues by 73 points. One report from that match said (in part); ’by half time, star players on each side had been singled out and roughed up – with the exception of Coleman – who Grieve was beating on sheer ability.’

Coleman had started the game needing six goals to crack 100 for the season. However, by the last change Grieve had been heroic in keeping the Bomber star to only two successful shots at goal from a mountain of opportunities. Still, Essendon were ten goals up and in complete control. Throughout the last quarter the Bombers thought only of getting the ball to Coleman by hand or by foot, and in the end, he achieved his dream when he punted through number six with only a minute or so left on the clock. Coleman got his reward, but Ollie Grieve won universal admiration for his grit and determination against enormous odds.

The following year, Grieve took up an appointment as playing coach of Bendigo League club Eaglehawk, and later rounded off his playing days with Sunraysia club Irymple. Some years afterward he moved to Perth, where he passed away prematurely at the age of 58 in February, 1978. In 1994, Ollie Grieve was remembered with deep affection when he was inducted into the Carlton Hall of Fame.

From: http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=Ollie+Grieve