Official Website of the Spirit of Carlton Past and Present
19Mar/170

Daniel Harford’s 40th

Happy 40th birthday to Daniel Harford.

 

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Career : 2004
Debut : Round 1, 2004 vs Fremantle, aged 27 years, 8 days
Carlton Player No. 1071
Games : 9 (162 total)
Goals : 2 (69 total)
Last Game : Round 22, 2004 vs Collingwood, aged 27 years, 161 days
Guernsey No. 2
Height : 177cm ( 5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight: 82 kg (12 stone, 13 lbs.)
DOB: 19 March, 1977

Daniel Harford was a popular and classy centreman whose 9-year career with Hawthorn between 1995 and 2003 was something of a roller-coaster ride. He had represented Victoria in 1997, missed months of football in 1999 due to osteitis pubis, and eventually recovered to finish third in Hawthorn’s Best and Fairest award in 2000. Three years later however, Harford had been bumped down the pecking order at Hawthorn by the likes of rising young stars Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge. Concerned that a well-paid midfielder was spending more and more time in the Reserves, Hawthorn reluctantly put Harford up for trade – knowing that whoever took him would have to honour the terms of his existing contract.

Meanwhile, Carlton was doing all it could to recover from the disaster of 2002, when the club was heavily fined by the AFL and penalised by exclusion from the national draft for breaching the League’s salary cap rules. After some intense negotiation, Harford and his team-mate Brett Johnson (who was probably included as a sweetener, because of Harford’s contract) were secured by the Blues, in a surprisingly generous trade for Carlton’s draft selection number 51.

Consequently, no fewer than seven ‘retreads’ (former players from other AFL clubs) were in Carlton’s squad when the Blues travelled across the continent to meet the Fremantle Dockers at Subiaco Oval in round 1, 2004. Included in the team were Harford (on a forward flank) and Johnson (in the centre) wearing guernsey numbers 2 and 10 respectively. Not surprisingly, the Dockers handed out a 47-point hiding that afternoon, and served warning of another tough season ahead for Carlton.

Harford played eight more senior matches during that turbulent year, none of them in his favourite spot in the pivot - because Johnson seized his chance and proved a real surprise packet. Harford therefore had to be content with a role up forward for the Blues, using his experience and strong tackling to retain the ball in Carlton’s attacking half.

Harford’s best effort for his new club came amidst the wind and rain in round 19, against Essendon at the MCG. He revelled in the conditions, and his tenacity in gathering 17 possessions (and an important goal) were the keys to a surprise win over a team destined for a place in the finals. In the weeks when he wasn’t called up to play for the Blues, Harford was a welcome addition to Carlton’s VFL affiliate, the Northern Bullants. Playing in the centre for the Ants, he had a consistently good season, and was appreciated for the guidance and example he provided to the team’s younger brigade.

Harford’s one season for Carlton culminated in front of 60,000 people on a balmy Friday night at the MCG, when he began from the interchange bench against Collingwood in round 22, 2004. Both sides were out of the running for a finals berth that night, but turned on a typically-intense affair highlighted by the superb skills of Carlton’s Anthony Koutoufides. The Blues led by more than two goals with three minutes left on the clock, and only just survived a late rally by the Magpies to win by a solitary point.

After his retirement from AFL football, Harford took on a role in the football media as a commentator and television host, while continuing to play, and mentor Carlton's youngsters on their way up through the Bullants. At VFL level he was cut above the rest, as shown when he won the Bullants Best and Fairest award in 2006, and finished third in the voting for the VFL’s highest individual honour, the Liston Trophy.

In 2009 he moved on to coach of Eastern Football League club Balwyn, continuing in that role in 2010.

Prior to be recruited by Hawthorn, Harford had played for the Northern Knights U/18's, and before that St Mary's.

18Mar/170

Ross Ditchburn’s 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Ross Ditchburn.

 

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Career: 1982 - 1983
Debut: Round 8, 1982 vs Footscray, aged 25 years, 58 days
Carlton Player No. 902
Games: 28
Goals: 91
Guernsey No. 8
Last Game: Elimination Final, 1983 vs Essendon, aged 26 years, 169 days
Height: 192cm
Weight: 92kg
DOB: 18 March, 1957
Premiership Player: 1982
Leading Goalkicker1982
Best First Year Player1982

Ross "Farmer" Ditchburn was a tall, long-kicking forward from country Western Australia who topped Carlton’s goal-kicking list in 1982, played in a Grand Final, was knocked unconscious – and still picked up a Premiership medal. He spent just two seasons with the Blues, yet left his mark in 28 games that produced 91 goals.

In 1981, Ditchburn was the 24 year-old captain-coach of his hometown football club at Kukerin, in WA’s wheat belt south of Perth. His family were pillars of the local community and ran a large property outside the town. He had played WAFL football at Claremont, but by then Ross was a star of the strong local league; a powerful key forward with vice-like hands and a right foot that could, the locals said; “boot a bag of spuds over a wheat silo”.

One day, the Ditchburns had visitors – all the way from the other side of the country. Carlton coach David Parkin and Recruiting Manager Shane O’Sullivan had come to Kukerin with an offer that the big bloke found tough to resist, and that his parents encouraged him to accept. After tea and scones in the Ditchburn’s kitchen, Parkin and O’Sullivan left with the promise that Ross would be at Princes Park the following year.

The Blues were Premiers of the VFL in 1981, still Parkin was concerned that the team lacked a consistent, reliable full-forward, so he decided to give Ditchburn every encouragement to fill that breach in the ’82 team. Ross was allowed to find his feet in the Reserves for seven games, before making his senior debut – wearing jumper number 8 - against Footscray. Most fans were less than impressed with his early efforts, but Parkin never lost faith in his project player.

Then in round 15 against Melbourne, it all clicked for Ditchburn when he hit form at last. His 6 goals, 3 behinds from a dozen strong marks was a solid indication of his ability – and there was more to come. The following week against St Kilda, Blues’ fans went into raptures as Ditchburn dominated the game with a club record 12.2 from 14 shots in a best on ground performance. Carlton finished the gruelling 22 rounds of the home and away season in third place, then faced up to Hawthorn in the Qualifying Final.

After an even first half, Carlton blitzed the Hawks with 11.2 in the third quarter of that match. Ditchburn finished with six goals. Unfortunately for the Blues, Richmond handed out the same treatment to us the following week in the second-semi-final, kicking 6.6 to 2.0 in the first quarter to eventually win by 23 points. Therefore, in order to make their second successive Grand Final, the Blues had get over Hawthorn yet again in the Preliminary Final. This task was accomplished, but only after a torrid physical battle won by the ruck dominance of Carlton’s Warren 'Wow' Jones and captain Mike Fitzpatrick.

Richmond started strong favourites in the ’82 Grand Final, and from the first bounce employed their by then customary tactics of all-out attack on the man and the ball. Ditchburn was one of the early casualties. Late in the first quarter, he was accidently kicked in the back of the head by a Richmond defender, and the rest of the day was a blur as the Blues met fire with fire in one of our most courageous victories. Wayne JohnstonBruce Doull and Fitzpatrick were simply magnificent in Carlton’s gutsy 18 point win. To add to his Premiership medal, Ditchburn also collected the club goal-kicking award with a tally of 61 majors.

Season ’83 proved something of a letdown for both Ditchburn and the club. Late in the year Ross learned that his father had fallen ill and was struggling to cope with the demands of running their property. Coincidentally, his form tapered off and he began spending time back with the Reserves team. After discussions, Carlton agreed to release him at season’s end. His last game was that year’s Elimination Final against Essendon, which Carlton lost by 33 points.

Ross returned to the farm and the Kukerin Football Club, where he went on to play and coach for a number of years. Still running the family farm, he was elected as a Shire Councillor for Kukerin in 2004 (pictured below).

11Mar/170

Adrian Bassett’s 50th

Happy 50th birthday to Adrian Bassett.

 

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Career : 1990-1992
Debut : Round 1, 1990 vs Sydney, aged 23 years, 20 days
Carlton Player No. 964
Games : 31
Goals : 12
Last Game : Round 16, 1992 vs Brisbane, aged 25 years, 115 days
Guernsey No. 37 (1990 - 1992).
Height : 186 cm
Weight : 81 kg
DOB : 11 March, 1967

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.

Bassett was assigned guernsey number 37, and made his senior debut for the Blues against Sydney at Princes Park in round one of 1990. Playing at full-back alongside another first-gamer in Stephen Edgar, Bassett was given an early lesson in the pressures of VFL football when Carlton led the Swans by 45 points at half time, only to be over-run in the second half and beaten by five points.

Throughout the rest of a disappointing season, Bassett was shuffled through several positions; from the back pocket, to the wing and ruck-roving. His fourteen matches produced six goals and two or three eye-catching performances – particularly in round nine against Fitzroy at Princes Park. The field umpires awarded him three Brownlow Medal votes that day, for his slashing game across half-forward.

In 1991 the re-appointment of David Parkin as coach of the Blues (after a five-year absence) signalled a renewed commitment by everyone at Carlton. Two seasons of mid-table mediocrity was enough for the Blues – it was time to re-evaluate the playing list and go looking for some quality recruits. Bassett had another consistent year – settling on to a wing next to Craig Bradley, and playing 16 games for 6 goals – but the Blues slipped further down the ladder to wind up eleventh of the 15 teams.

The good news was that Carlton’s scouts and the football department had been active throughout the year, and 1992 would be remembered for the debut at Princes Park of quality recruits like Greg WilliamsAnthony KoutoufidesEarl SpaldingRohan WelshMatthew Hogg and Ron De Iulio.

Unfortunately for Bassett, an influx of players of this standard meant that he was among the casualties. Although he continued to play good football with the Carlton Reserves, from then on, his senior opportunities were severely limited. His only game with the firsts in 1992 came late in the season, when the Blues hammered the Brisbane Bears by 99 points in round 16 at Princes Park.

That turned out to be Adrian’s last match for Carlton, as he was sent back to the seconds the following week, and let go at season’s end. But at least his last game had been a pleasant memory, and he spent it running the wing at Princes Park alongside two of Carlton’s greats in Greg Williams and Fraser Brown.

Bassett wore No.54 in 1986 and 47 in 1987 whilst playing with the Blues reserves team.

Career Highlights

1986 - U/19's Vice-Captain.
1990 - Best First Year Player Award

3Mar/170

Ross Ousley’s 80th

Happy 80th Birthday to Ross Ousley

 

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Career : 1956 - 1958
Debut : Round 6, 1956 vs Richmond, aged 19 years, 77 days
Carlton Player No. 704
Games : 23 
Goals : 15
Last Game : Round 14, 1958 vs Geelong, aged 21 years, 144 days
Guernsey No. 33
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 80.8 kg (12 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB : 3 March, 1937

A versatile footballer from Bendigo League club Golden Square, Ross Ousley was still a teenager when he played his first senior match for the Blues in 1956. Over the next three seasons, he racked up 23 games and 15 goals, before crossing to the VFA and becoming one of the stars of the competition – at first with Port Melbourne, then later with Northcote.

Carlton’s recruiters were drawn to Ousley throughout the youngster’s fine season for Golden Square in 1955. Equipped with pace, courage and sure hands, he had emerged as a rangy ruck-rover for the Bulldogs, who surprisingly didn’t stand in his way when his clearance to Carlton was negotiated. By the start of the 1956 pre-season practice matches, Ross was at Princes Park - wearing guernsey number 33, and showing real aptitude as a fast-leading forward with Carlton Reserves.

Although the Blues began the year with two heavy losses, the team recovered to post six wins in succession, and by mid-season the boys from Princes Park were definite finals contenders. In round 6, Ousley was promoted to the seniors for the first time, warming the bench at Punt Road as 19th man until late in the last quarter against Richmond, and enjoying a six-goal win.

It was a similar scenario the following round. The Blues got home by one point over Footscray at the Western Oval, while Ross sat wrapped in a dressing gown until deep into the last term. Returned to the Reserves for a month after that, he didn’t make the senior team again until round 12, when Carlton played host to Essendon at Princes Park, and Ousley was named in the starting line-up at full-forward. In the first few minutes of that match, Ross kicked his first career goal off the ground in Carlton’s goal-square, and followed up with a second later in proceedings. After his team won by 40 points, coach Jim Francis singled out his young spearhead for particular praise, noting his tireless leading and good aerial skills.

Consequently, Ousley stayed at full-forward for six successive weeks - booting 10 goals, 18 behinds - and therein lay a problem. Although his all-round ability was certainly adequate, the length and accuracy of his set-shot kicking for goal was not. In the return match against Richmond at Princes Park in round 17, Ousley was held scoreless and a woefully inaccurate Carlton side scored 7.24 (66) to the Tigers’ 10.11 (71) – bringing to and end Ross’s tenure at full-forward.

Despite that set-back, Ousley persisted, and over 1957-58 elbowed his way back into the senior side to play a further 15 games. Most effective in the centre, he was also a capable stand-in key forward or flanker, and a popular clubman. He wore the white CFC monogram on his chest for the last time in round 14, 1958, when Carlton travelled to Geelong and handed the Cats a 16-point defeat at Kardinia Park; winding up his VFL career having played in 15 wins during his 23 matches.

In 1959 Ousley transferred to VFA front-runners Port Melbourne, where he was asked to shore up their defence at full-back and was something of a revelation. But the Borough were in the midst of a form slump, and after just two seasons, Ross headed back across town and signed to play with Northcote.

Languishing in 2nd Division, the Brickfielders were hell-bent on promotion and saw Ousley’s versatility as a crucial factor in their resurgence. And that is exactly how things panned out. Playing mainly in the centre, but influential anywhere on the field, Ross had a stellar year for the Green and Gold. They lost only twice in a season that culminated in a famous 15-point Grand Final victory over Dandenong, and heralded Northcote’s return to the top echelon of the Association.

In 1962, Ousley was appointed captain of Northcote, and led them through their first two seasons back in First Division.

Footnote

Ross had his mum to thank for his swift clearance to Carlton in 1956.
Golden Square had a ruling that Melbourne clubs had to pay for clearances.
Mrs. Ousley fronted Golden Square's committee and told them, "My son is better off in Melbourne." "He has a good job in Melbourne - and nothing here." Golden Square then relented.
A relieved Carlton secretary Colin Prosser said "Mrs. Ousley certainly came to the rescue for us. Young Ross is a definite prospect. He starred at centre half forward in the last practice game, kicking well with both feet."

1Feb/170

Stephen Edgar’s 50th

Happy 50th birthday to Stephen Edgar.

 

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Stephen Edgar

 


Career : 1990 - 1991
Debut : Round 1, 1990 vs Sydney, aged 23 years, 58 days
Carlton Player No. 965
Games : 14
Goals : 1
Last Game : Round 9, 1991 vs Richmond, aged 24 years, 106 days
Guernsey No. 9
Height : 175 cm (5 ft. 9 in.)
Weight : 76 kg (12 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : 1 February, 1967

Edgar was drafted from East Fremantle, WA with Carlton’s selection 7 in the 1989 National Draft. A lightly-framed defender with good all-round skills, he had represented his home state against a VFA representative team in 1988, and impressed enough at WAFL level with the Sharks to convince Carlton to pick him up.

Edgar played his debut game for the Blues against Sydney at Princes Park in round 1, 1990. Stationed in a back pocket alongside Adrian Bassett and David Kernahan, he was travelling alright at half-time, when his team led by 45 points - but after that, Sydney came roaring back to squeeze out the Blues by 5 points in a tight finish.

Edgar was one of those to lose his place after that debacle. He wasn’t able to force his way back into the seniors until round 18, but then played out the season on the last line of defence as Carlton wound up an inconsistent year ranked eighth on the ladder. When the finals got underway, the Blues’ seconds – with Edgar solid in a back pocket - brought some optimism back with a good win over Melbourne in the Reserves Grand Final.

Season 1991 brought David Parkin back to Princes Park for his second term as senior coach, replacing the great Alex Jesaulenko. Parkin wasted no time in evaluating the playing list, and one of the first to be put under the microscope was Stephen Edgar. In the first eight matches of the year, Edgar played in five different positions between half-forward and half-back. He kicked his one and only career goal in round 5, against Geelong at Kardinia Park, but it was soon obvious that he was too lightly-framed to hold a regular place in Carlton’s defence, and not quick enough to consistently play as a midfielder or forward.

After Carlton’s good win over Richmond at Princes Park in round 9, 1991 – highlighted by Simon Minton-Connell’s six goals at full-forward – Edgar would have a knee reconstruction which basically ended his time at Carlton. So sometime later he returned to WA and to East Fremantle, where he played on a half-back flank when the underdog Sharks beat favourites Claremont in the 1994 WAFL Grand Final.

Incidently, he was drafted by St Kilda in the 1992 mid-season draft but he dd not play a senior game with the Saints.

Career Highlights

1990 - Reserves Premiership Player

 

 

23Jan/170

Ben Nelson’s 40th

Happy 40th birthday to Ben Nelson.

 

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Career: 1997-2001
Debut: Round 3, 1997 vs Adelaide, aged 20 years, 80 days
1016th Carlton Player
Games: 40
Goals: 6
Last Game: Round 19, 2001 vs Adelaide, aged 24 years, 200 days
Guernsey No. 15
Height: 184cm
Weight: 92kg
DOB: 23 January, 1977

Ben Nelson was recruited from Sturt. The wearer of the #15, Nelson first came across to the Blues from the forming Port Power, joined by single-gamer Andrew Balkwill in a trade for Blue forward pocket Brent Heaver. Nelson looked impressive enough, the guy was a ball of muscle, had good pace and could kick it a mile. Tried mainly as a half back flanker or tagger, Nelson was solid but to be fair, at times, loose as a defender. His natural attributes kept him in or around the Carlton seniors for a number of years, playing a total of 40 games.

He played just the one game in 1997 (in light Blue), while Glandular Fever and hamstring problems would restrict him to just 7 games in 1998. A knee injury would delay his start to 1999 but he would go on to play every game from Round 6 onward, including the Grand Final. After playing 7 of the first 9 games of 2000, he would fail to gain further senior selection that year and only manage 4 games in 2001- all but one as a late replacement - before being traded to Adelaide (who he had played his first and last game for Carlton against) at the end of 2001 for David Gallagher. He went on to play another 12 games for the Crows in 2002, bringing him to a creditable 52 AFL games in total.

In 2007, at 30 years of age, Nelson came equal second in SA's Magarey Medal, behind North Adelaide's James Allan. Nelson would be equal second with two other Sturt representatives, Brant Chambers and Luke Crane.

In basketball such a player would be called a tweener and as such Ben Nelson was unable to acquire a regular ‘spot’ during his time with Carlton. Built like a rock Nelson was often excluded from weight work to prevent him from getting physically bigger as his motor already strained carrying such defined bulk about the field. A fine clubman Ben Nelson always placed team success ahead of his own gain. After leaving Carlton Nelson has enjoyed a fine career in the SANFL where his experience and leadership have been coveted by his team.

Career Highlights

1999 - The Past Players' Association Encouragement Award