Benetti briefly appeared for the local Carlton Stars and represented Carlton in a single reserve grade match in 1955 - only to be recalled to the Parade team under the school rules of the day. He did not represent the Blues for the remainder of the ’55 season, but completed his apprenticeship in their reserve grade teams through 1956 and ’57.
Benetti earned a number of honourable mentions for his performances in the curtain-raisers, but his progress was interrupted by a foot ailment, which precipitated the removal of a right foot toe nail and the top of one toe of the left foot, which cost him many games in his second season.
He finally broke through in the third round of 1958, completing his senior debut against Geelong at Princes Park in the No.8 dark Navy Blue guernsey now worn by Matthew Kreuzer.
Benetti was named on a half back flank in that match, alongside Peter Webster at centre half-back and the late Denis Zeunert.
Webster, one of the few members of that particular team still living, remembered Benetti as a physically aggressive type.
“He was a very solid player. You’d probably say he was a good honest player and he was certainly hard at it,” Webster recalled.
John Benetti and first cousin Sergio Silvagni at an Old Paradians function in 2011. (Photo: Anthony De Bolfo)
Dubbed “Tank” by supporters for his tree-trunk thighs and fearless, straight-ahead style of play, Benetti earnt early praise. The journalist Damon Mills, in an article for Sports Novels in 1958 (which carried the headline “Benetti is Carlton’s atom bomb of the half-back flank”) wrote: “He (Benetti) thrilled with his relentless pursuit of the ball, a brilliant flying mark and a speedy clearing dash”.
According to football folklore, Benetti also earned the nickname "Troubles" over the journey, for making a habit of complaining to the club’s Chairman of Selectors Jack Wrout whenever he was omitted from the seniors.
But he will be remembered for gamely contributing to his team’s last line of defence in the losing Grand Final of 1962, and for being named amongst his team’s better contributors through that finals series.
And he also represented Victoria against South Australia the following year.
Benetti’s final game for Carlton came against the arch foe Collingwood in Round 16, 1965, on the occasion of Berkeley Cox’s 100th senior appearance.
On completion of his senior League career, Benetti joined VFA outfit Oakleigh as Senior Coach, and, later, VAFA A-Grade team Ivanhoe in 1972 and ’73.
A little known fact is that Benetti also helped build the since-demolished Olympic Tyres Scoreboard at the Garton Street end of Princes Park.
A massive stroke suffered years ago cruelly robbed Benetti of his speech and severely incapacitated him, but never dimmed his love for the game. He would often be seen as an interested spectator at Carlton matches, and in late 2010 gathered with his old schoolmates when Parade College’s greatest team of VFL/AFL footballers was named.
John Benetti is survived by his wife Irene, daughters Janine and Sue, and son Glen. Another son, Peter, died in early September.
Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised.
By Tony De Bolfo
Tom Simmons, whose football prowess at Princes Park in the post-World War II years of Henfry and Deacon was more than matched by his prodigious talents as a professional athlete, has died at the age of 84.
By the time he was recruited to Carlton from Northcote District juniors in Melbourne’s inner-city north, Thomas Edwin Francis Simmons’ reputation on the track preceded him. Standing six foot in the old measurement, he had taken the 100 and 200-yard championships of Melbourne Technical Schools, together with the high and long-jump titles, and had also triumphed in the 220-yard dash at the Inter-Technical schools championship at Olympic Park.
At Carlton, he would later combine football with cricket commitments, as would “Mick” Price and Jim Baird, his club contemporaries.
Simmons earned Carlton’s Best First-Year Player award in 1948 – the first of just two seasons at senior League level - during which time he alternated between half-back and half-forward.
Wearing the famous No.2 of John Nicholls, Greg Williams and (now) Troy Menzel, Simmons completed his senior debut barely a month after his 19th birthday. He would string together 27 senior appearances for the Blues through 1948 and ’49, having been adjudged their best first-year player.
Simmons’ rare litheness was on show in what was an all-too-brief League football foray. His impressive speed, long-kicking and high-marking, together with his insatiable appetite for the contest, made him a formidable foe. An old teammate, the late Laurie Kerr, said of Simmons: “He looked and performed like Mighty Mouse on the field”, and the noted field umpire Harry Beitzel rated the player a champion in the making.
Allan Greenshields, the 16-game Carlton Premiership player of 1947 who later pursued his career with St Kilda, is one of Simmons’ few surviving contemporaries.
“Tom was a good athlete. He had a very good body and a good pair of legs,” Greenshields, now 87, said.
“I went to St Kilda in mid-’49 and I reckon he was still there then. I remember him as a half-back flanker who got a few games and went well, although he got injured and couldn’t play anymore.
“But he was another player up against me, which is why I thought ‘I’d better get out here’. There were just too many blokes in for my position.”
Tragically, Simmons’ football career ended before it had effectively begun. In a pre-season practice match in 1950, he buckled with serious knee damage which later warranted two separate surgical procedures.
Simmons took on professional foot running as he completed a remarkable recovery, taking out the Terang, Ararat, Maryborough and Port Fairy Gifts as backmarker through the summers of 1950 and ’51. Clearly he could still run the straight lines.
But while he again committed to Carlton to help fill the void left by the recently-retired full-forward Ken Baxter, he was never able to emulate his footballing feats, although he did follow up as a field umpire in the sticks.
Simmons married his sweetheart Lorraine the following year, and later forged a successful career as an industrial chemist for companies such as Revlon and Estee Lauder. He and his wife raised a family of seven children, and he was a regular at Carlton games for many years long after his on-field career had ended.
A funeral mass for Tom Simmons is to be held just down the road from the old Carlton ground, at St. Carthage's Church, Royal Parade, Parkville, this Friday (October 11) from 11am.
A private burial is to follow.
The Simmons family very kindly provided photos from Tom's private collection to the Blueseum. Please CLICK HERE to see pictures from Tom's time at the Blues and his running career.
The Spirit of Carlton would like to extend its deep condolences to the family of Joan Baird. Joan was the much loved widow of dual premiership player, Jim Baird. Joan was a loved and respected member of the Carlton family and we all remember how proud she was when she accepted Jim's induction into the Carlton Hall of Fame in 2006. Joan was 88 years old.
The Funeral Service to celebrate the life of Mrs Joan Baird will be held at the Davies Memorial Uniting Church, 74 Venice St, Mentone, on THURSDAY (Aug. 29, 2013) at 1 p. m. A Private Cremation will follow - See more at: http://tributes.heraldsun.com.au/notice/1994054/view#sthash.qjAYBgOI.dpuf
By Tony De Bolfo
Jim Clark, one of Carlton’s last surviving members of the infamous “Bloodbath” Grand Final of 1945, has died in his hometown of Echuca at the age of 88.
Jim, who by the age of 22 had played his part in both the ’45 and ’47 Premierships, was also a three-time Victorian representative and, at 26, the winner of the ’51 Robert Reynolds Trophy for Club Champion.
By then, he was 161 games into his senior career and at the peak of his football powers. But he had played his last game for Carlton - the lure of a new house too great for him not to accept the position as captain-coach of Echuca.
Recruited to the club from Elmore on the Campaspe River, Jim’s links with Carlton were forged in 1943 - the year in which four of the club’s five former players paid with their lives in the field of combat.
One of them, Lieutenant James William “Jim” Park, was killed in the defence of a strategic Allied airfield in Wau, New Guinea. Less than five years previous, Carlton’s No.26 had quelled Collingwood full-forward Ron Todd’s influence in the 1938 Grand Final, and was a revered figure for those who followed, Jim Clark amongst them.
A wonderful raconteur, Jim’s understanding of the Park legacy was triggered by a faded sepia photograph, which hung from the old brick walls of what was once the players’ changerooms deep within the bowels of the Robert Heatley Stand.
The photograph, captured by a newspaper “snapper” at Princes Oval in the 1930s, swiftly earned iconic status. Taken from behind, the photograph featured Park completing an extraordinary chest mark, with his left foot planted firmly in the back of his hapless Melbourne opponent and his right leg extended outward to retain balance.
“We used to look at that photo, in the club, of a chap called Jim Park, who was a full-back for Carlton in the time of Rod McLean and those fellows,” said Jim in a final interview a few years ago.
“It was a famous photo of him taking a mark with his foot in the back of ‘Tarzan’ Glass, a ruckman. It was a famous one, published around the world it was.
“About a month after Jimmy Park was killed in the war, Mr Bell ,the secretary, came over to me in the clubroom and said ‘Jim, we’re going to take your number off you that you’ve got and give you Jimmy Park’s number,” Jim said.
“Talk about an honour. To be given Jimmy Park’s number out of respect for Jimmy Park was an honour that was hard to believe.”
Wearing Park’s No.26 like a badge, Jim took his place at half-back alongside Bert Deacon. Together they savoured the Grand Final triumphs of 1945 and ’47, and dealt with the disappointment of Grand Final loss in ’49.
The ’45 Grand Final - at which 62,986 people, many of them returned service men and women, somehow crammed into Princes Park to bear witness – has taken on mythical proportions with the passing of time and for the memorable observations of old-timers like Jim.
Only three players still live to tell the tale – Ken Hands, Alex Way and Doug Williams – but it was Jim who once declared: “Of ‘The Bloodbath’ I heard a fella say ‘I was at the wrong bloody war’”.
Fondly-dubbed “Racehorse”, Jim’s nickname probably had as much to do with his penchant for the equines as his fleet-of-foot athletic prowess.
“Jim Clark was always fond of the horses, even as a young man,” said Alan Bell, son of the then Carlton Secretary Harry Bell. “Back in those days there were only two phones at the club, one in the football club secretary’s office and the other in the cricket club secretary’s office. Quite often, just before a game, Jim Clark would come to my father and say ‘Mr. Bell, could I use your phone?’. And Dad would say ‘Yes, and put five bob on it each way for me too.’”
Jim’s loss to Carlton at the end of ‘51, together with the departures of fellow Premiership players Bert Deacon and Jim Baird, was truly felt. As was noted in the club’s 1952 Annual Report, “The loss of Jim Clark was a loss that could not be over-estimated and could have meant the difference between victory and defeat on several occasions . . . ”
And yet this most engaging of characters never forgot Princes Park or its people – the likes of President Ken Luke and Coach Perc Bentley – who were the Blues’ galvanising forces both during and beyond the dark years of wartime.
Jim, whose entire career was run and won under Bentley’s tutelage, once said of the man: “Loved him. Loved him”.
“He (Bentley) was a very prominent player in the times of ‘Skinny’ Titus and Jack Dyer,” Jim said. “I know I speak for all the players when I say he had the respect of every one of us. I never heard him swear in an address and he was always so supportive in his instruction. He was always encouraging.
“The same applied to Mr Luke. He was a great man. He was always a very hale fellow with us and I never heard an ill word from any one of the players who ever had any dealings with him.”
Jim last appeared for Carlton in a contest of further controversy – the Round 18 match of 1951 at Princes Park, in which the great John Coleman copped four matches for striking Harry Caspar – thereby depriving him of his place in the 1951 Grand Final and almost certainly costing the Bombers the chocolates.
On Saturday night, Carlton players will wear black armbands to honor the memory of Jim when they confront Essendon on the vast expanses of the MCG.
Predeceased by his wife Marg and son Gary, Jim Clark is survived by sons Lex, Greg, daughters Lesley and Jillian, and their families.
Jim’s funeral service will be held at Tobin Brothers, Bromley Chapel, 457 High Street, Echuca on Monday, August 26, commencing at 12.00 noon.
The funeral will leave at the conclusion of the service for burial at the Echuca Lawn Cemetery.
Deep condolences to the McIntyre family today after learning of the sudden death of Don McIntyre this morning at the age of 98.
Don played 100 games for the Blues and won the 1937 best and fairest, he was the last surviving member of the 1938 premiership team.
The end of an era for our club.
By Tony De Bolfo
A few hours before Vinny Waite’s boy Jarrad booted the first of seven goals for Carlton on the MCG on Friday night, 81 year-old Harvey Laurence Dunn - the first League footballer ever recruited under the father/son rule - lost his three-year battle with cancer.
Harvey died at Frankston Palliative Care earlier that Friday afternoon and there to say goodbye were those who meant the most - his beloved wife of 54 years Jill, daughter Melissa (who had jetted in from London the previous day) and sons Andrew and Neale.
“Dad was as close to perfect as a person could be. He was always interested genuinely in others, selfless to the extreme and never complaining, always positive,” Melissa said on behalf of Harvey’s family.
“My mother noted a song ‘Look Over There’ from the musical Le Cage Aux Folles and the line ‘someone puts himself last so that you can come first’ – that’s Dad in a nutshell.”
Just as family was everything to this most engaging of gentlemen, Carlton was truly family to Harvey also - and while his senior appearances for the team were confined to just nine games, blood ties have bound the Dunns to the Blues for almost 90 years.
For it was on the afternoon of September 6, 1924 in the 18th round match against Richmond that Harvey’s father Harvey Louis Dunn ran down the visitor’s race at Punt Road for the first of 71 matches over the next six seasons as a Carlton player.
A little over a quarter of a century later, Harvey junior was officially cleared to play for Carlton’s senior team in accordance with the newly-introduced father/son rule (eligibility was then 50 games-plus) on May 11, 1951. Next came Melbourne’s Ronald Dale Barassi (March 15, 1953); South Melbourne’s Hugh McLaughlin and Bob Pratt junior (April 15, 1953); Carlton’s NW Huxtable (April 17, 1953); and Fitzroy’s James Chapman (March 31, 1954), whose fathers all represented their respective clubs with great distinction.
Young Harvey set the record straight on his historic recruitment a couple of years ago, when he and this reporter, together with the club’s Video Production Manager Alison Smirnoff and The Age’s Rohan Connolly, paid a sentimental journey to 361 Pigdon Street, North Carlton - the Hawthorn-brick single fronted cottage in which Harvey was born.
“Many years ago there was an article in the paper that Ron Barassi was the first player recruited under the rule, but I was in fact the first. I also dispute the above date my clearance came through and I’ll tell you why,” Harvey said at the time.
“When the under 19s were up and running I was residentially bound to North because I lived in Flemington. I wanted to go to Carlton because of Dad so I applied for a clearance from North, but they wouldn’t give me one. Instead they asked me to train and I trained there for one night in 1949, but I didn’t want to go to North because I was Carlton-mad.
“Now my father knew there was a father-son ruling being considered at the League, so he advised that instead of me going to North in ’49 that I play for Box Hill, then in the Eastern District Football League.
Harvey Dunn Junior during his playing days. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
“During that year the League brought in the father-son rule, so in 1950 I transferred to Carlton and won the best and fairest in the thirds. I also played in the 1951 and ’53 reserve grade Grand Finals and we won them both.
“When I first went there Perc Bentley was coach of the seniors, Mick Price the reserves and Jim Francis the thirds. My Dad coached Box Hill in ’49 when I was there waiting for this clearance and he later got an offer to coach the Carlton thirds, which he did from 1953 to ’55. I know the thirds got beaten by a point in a Grand Final one year and I also know that Dick Pratt was playing when Dad coached.”
It’s three quarters of a century since Harvey and his family vacated the old Pigdon Street abode, well within walking distance of the old Princes Park ground.
Harvey was barely a toddler then, and it was only recently that he revisited the place where it all began way back in 1931.
“When Dad returned from the First World War he played for Carlton. He was a butcher who lived at 361 Pigdon Street North Carlton, near Bowen Crescent, about a three iron from the ground, and I was actually born in the front room of that house,” Harvey said.
“My family was in Carlton for the first 18 months of my life, but these were Depression days and, unlike today, there wasn’t much welfare . . . so families who couldn’t buy a house were faced with an opportunity to rent a property to Flemington, because things were pretty tough.”
While the Dunn family relocated to Flemington, father and son remained staunchly loyal to the Carlton Football Club. As Harvey said: “As a young kid I used to hear the roar of the crowd and when I went to Flemington I still walked up past the zoo to go to the Carlton ground”.
In his formative years at Carlton, Harvey struck up what proved to be a lifelong friendship with Carlton full-back, the late George Ferry. As Harvey said: “We met up in the thirds, I was best man at George’s wedding and I delivered the eulogy at his funeral service”.
Harvey donned the No.22 guernsey and completed his senior debut - the 650th Carlton player to do so - in the 8th round of 1951, against Collingwood at Princes Park. But unfortunately his appearances in the firsts were all-too-few.
“I felt I was playing pretty good football as a rover and I was getting some good reports all the time, but I don’t think I was getting too many good raps at selection,” he said.
“In 1954 I got an offer to return to Box Hill in the association for a few extra quid because I was getting on a bit. I won the best and fairest there in 1955, but after I married in ’59 I never played again.”
In the ensuing years, Harvey worked for Melbourne City Council and later managed Royal Park Golf Course. Until his health took a recent turn for the worse he was always up for a round on the Mornington Peninsula.
Over the years, Harvey made sporadic silent pilgrimages back to the house in Pigdon Street, where he was born more than three quarters of a century ago. The single fronted cottage with its cast iron fence is built right on the street, but Harvey, until recently, hadn’t mustered the courage to make contact with the kindly owner John McLaren for old time’s sake.
Harvey Dunn Jnr with a photo of his father. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
“Many times I’ve been tempted to knock on the door, but the owner would probably think of me as a bit silly to look around. If ever I mustered the courage to knock I’d make sure I brought my birth certificate with me, which states ‘born in 361 Pigdon Street, Carlton North’, Harvey said.
When John heard of Harvey’s interest a couple of years ago, he was only too happy to open up so that Harvey could set foot in the front room.
On that sentimental occasion, Harvey came to the house armed with his Dad’s old No.16 dark Navy Blue guernsey and an old scrapbook, bursting with faded sepia clippings of his father’s career and indeed his own career with Carlton. It was clear to see, as he flicked the pages of his glorious youth, that Harvey’s love for the club had not diminished.
“I don’t get to many Carlton games now, but I still follow the Blues from afar. I went to the farewell match at Princes Park and am still a member of the Carlton Past Players,” he said at the time.
“It was really good that Carlton pushed that rule. It was the only way I could play for the team for whom Dad played and for whom I supported since I was a kid.”
At Carlton, the likes of Graeme Anderson, Scott Howell, Peter Kerr, Stephen Silvagni, Jarred Waite, Lance Whitnall and Dylan Buckley were each bound by the father/son rule, just as Harvey Dunn was more than sixty years ago.
And the boy from Pigdon Street wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Harvey Laurence Dunn is survived by his wife Jill, daughter Melissa, sons Andrew and Neale, and grandchildren Siena, Blake, Fletcher and Charlie. He is also survived by his sister Gwen and son-in-law Mark.
Harvey’s funeral service is scheduled for 1.30pm this Thursday, June 13, at Mount Martha Uniting Church, 109 Bay Road, Mount Martha.