Official Website of the Spirit of Carlton Past and Present

Larrikins and legends gather for book launch

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media

The Carlton players who took to the paddock through those four seasons of 1979-1982 were amongst the finest ever to don the Dark Navy – and yet they’ll be the first to tell you it’s about the friendships that endure long after the games are run and won.

So it was in this spirit of amity that the likes of Buckley, Johnston, Maclure, Perovic and Southby - men of stature one and all - gathered at the North Fitzroy Arms for the launch of Larrikins & Legends – The untold story of Carlton’s greatest era.

MC Mark Maclure at the launch. (Photo: Supplied)

A quick flick to the book’s contents page, and the chapter headings offer salient insight into a period in which the aforementioned played – from “Jezza’s Way”, “Scared to Lose” and “The Bluebirds”, through to “Going to the Lodge” and “Naked, Brutal Greatness”.

Author Dan Eddy’s entertaining tome, which chronicles this period of spectacular on-field success juxtaposed with off-field mirth and mayhem, not surprisingly attracted a healthy collection of football lovers who fondly remembered how it was.

Seasoned guests – amongst them the famed Channel 7 commentator Mike Williamson – were in the house as tales tall and true were told by Bartlett, Marcou, McKay and Sheldon et al.

Carlton premiership players Mario Bortolotto, Warren Jones, Jim Buckley and Val Perovic. (Photo: Supplied)

Restoring order was the then Carlton coach David Parkin, who to this day rates those teams under his watch - “the forgotten Champions” as they’ve been dubbed – on a par with the Brisbane, Geelong and Hawthorn juggernauts that followed.

To quote ‘Parko’ - “they played hard on the day and played hard in between”.

In endorsing Eddy’s much-researched digest, Parkin humbly noted that ‘Legends & Larrikins’ might have been the more apt title, given his reckoning that 27 legends and eight larrikins contributed to three grand final successes in those four years.

Maclure, a most capable multi-media performer who led from the front in 243 games through 13 seasons at Carlton, talked of what the culture calibrated in the days of Ron Barassi meant to him and his comrades from Bruce Doull down.

“The culture was set in a very simple way. It was all about continual improvement. That’s what it was for me,” Maclure said.

“This is not written in the book, it’s not featured on a wall in the room or anywhere else – it’s what we players remember of what was said to us by the players before us – players like David McKay, ‘Percy’ Jones, Alex Jesaulenko, Bryan Quirk and Gary Crane. All those guys who played under Barassi, who were taught, learned and carried on.”

Larrikins & Legends – The untold story of Carlton’s greatest era is published by Slattery Media Group and is available for $39.95 through all good bookstores including the Carlton Shop.

More By Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media


When Cyril fought for Carlton and country

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  

James Mann is justifiably proud that his grandfather Cyril Mann is forever remembered amongst the early trailblazers for Carlton’s Indigenous players – the second of its Indigenous XVIII after Alf Egan to complete his senior debut.

And it is to James that Carlton is indebted for alerting it to a photograph which serves to tell an equally-powerful tale, that Cyril also served his country through the Second World War.

For it’s a shameful reality of the time that while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were not classed or treated as Australian citizens, many like Cyril fought for their country in conflict, and many died.

“I never met my grandfather as he died very young, but my Pop used to tell me a lot of stories about him and show me the old footy records,” James said.

“I’m very proud to be able to say that Cyril Mann was my grandfather.”

Cyril’s wartime profile portrait is included in wartime records sourced by James through the National Archives of Australia. The images formed part of a document dated January 15, 1941 when Cyril Stanley Mann, then living with his wife Evelyn of 68 Rae Street in nearby North Fitzroy, formally enlisted for active service.

Cyril Mann played 42 games for the Blues. (Photo: Carlton Media)

Born in Carlton and recruited to the club from Silvan in the Yarra Valley, Cyril completed his senior debut for the old dark Navy Blues in the fourth round of 1939, against Footscray at the Western Oval. Named on a forward flank alongside Jack Wrout, Cyril booted a goal on debut as the visitors posted an emphatic 58-point win.

A maternal grandson of early Aboriginal activist William Cooper and nephew of the 1928 Stawell Gift winner Lynch Cooper, Cyril was a real eye-catcher. His inherent athleticism was noted by football scribes of the day, not the least of whom was Carlton’s first 200-gamer Rod “Wee” McGregor. A cartoonist perhaps paid Cyril the greatest compliment, captioning his drawing of the high-flyer with the words “Mann marks in positions unthought of by Nash, Todd and Pratt”.

Cyril continued to play while waiting for the call to arms. He was there in September ’41, (booting three and two goals respectively in Carlton’s second semi and preliminary final losses to Melbourne and Essendon on the MCG) and he managed another five senior appearances through 1942 before finally being called into uniform.

Though his military record reveals intermittent detentions for one or two run-ins with military authorities – and he was actually court martialled for an offence following his return from wartime service, Private Mann VX68975 served in the 2/23 Battalion, which helped defend Tobruk, before his discharge in April 1944.

Almost two years later, he saddled up for the Blues again, in what would be Carlton’s Peace and Victory Premiership of 1945. But for reasons unclear he managed just three home and away matches before calling it a day in May of that year.

Cyril Mann War Image
Private Mann VX68975, member of the 2/23 Battalion. (Images: Supplied)

Cyril never talked about his Indigenous heritage. When a heart attack claimed his life at just 45, stories of the Yorta Yorta went to the grave with him.

That happened in March 1964, when he was laid to rest in Preston Cemetery - a few kilometres north of the Carlton ground where the high-flying centre half-forward crafted a 42-game career either side of his wartime duties.

For all these years, Cyril’s Indigenous links were not known to either Carlton or the AFL.

Only in 2013, and with the assistance of his surviving daughter Karen Mann-Brooks, was Cyril’s connection with his people revealed - and it’s a truly splendid connection.

It was Karen who confirmed Cyril’s kindred link with the great William Cooper, who hailed from the Yorta Yorta territory near the junction of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers. William is remembered as the Australian Aboriginal political activist, much-respected community leader and genuine man of stature whose extraordinary lifetime achievements cannot be properly acknowledged in the limited space available here.

“It was only after Dad died that my great aunty Sally, William Cooper’s daughter, told us a lot of things,” said at the time.

“I don’t remember a lot about Dad because I was only eight when he died. But Mum used to talk a lot about Dad, that he played for Carlton and that he loved Carlton.

“And I do remember on my birthdays that he’d take me up Plenty Road to the shoe shop and he’d buy me two pairs of shoes. That was really good.”

Cyril furthered his playing career in the Association with Brunswick and, later, Port Melbourne. He earned the plaudits of The Association Football Recorder correspondent for “defeating Ron Todd in the air” and as the club’s reigning B & F starred at centre half-back when the Borough beat Sandringham in the ’47 Grand Final.

Cyril married Evelyn Pendelbury, a Fitzroy girl whom Karen suspects he met at a social on the night after a Carlton game, and together they raised three children – a son Keith and daughters Lorraine and Karen.

Four years ago, Karen and her husband Warren caught up with this reporter for a cuppa on High Street in Preston, not far from the old Mann family home at 16 Eisenhower Street, Reservoir, where she spent her formative years.

Karen’s love of the club for which her late father once played has not waned – the legacy of those happy times where she followed her mother to the old Carlton ground and in turn led her own children through the turnstiles there.

Then there’s her love for the people of the Yorta Yorta.

“I am proud of that Aboriginal link and I always tell everyone I have Aboriginal in me,” Karen said.

“Perhaps my father was a victim of the times and it was never spoken about, but you grow up now and it doesn’t matter what you are, does it?”

Cyril Stanley Mann

August 31, 1918 – March 3, 1964

Carlton player no. 548

Recruited from Silvan

Career 1939-1942 & 1945

Senior debut: Round 4, 1939 versus Footscray, aged 20 years, 255 days

Final game Round 3, 1945 versus Essendon, aged 26 years, 247 days

Guernsey No 25 (1939-40), 27 (1941 & 45) & 34 (1942)

Games 42

Goals 65


Carlton’s Indigenous VFL/AFL senior XVIII

Alf Egan – 36 games, 20 goals, 1931-1933

Cyril Mann – 42 games, 65 goals, 1939-1942 & 1945

Syd Jackson – 136 games, 165 goals, 1969-1976

Rod Waddell – five games, two goals, 1981-1982

Mark Naley – 65 games, 74 goals, 1987-1990

Troy Bond – 36 games, 26 goals, 1994-1995

Sean Charles – one game, 0 goals, 1998

Justin Murphy – 115 games, 105 goals, 1996-2000 & 2002-2003

Andrew Walker – 202 games, 139 goals, 2004 - 2016

Eddie Betts – 184 games, 290 goals, 2005 - 2013

Cory McGrath – 50 games, four goals, 2004-2006

Joe Anderson – 17 games, 0 goals, 2007-2010

Chris Yarran – 119 games, 90 goals, 2009 - 2015

Jeffery Garlett – 107 games, 183 goals, 2009 – 2014

Liam Jones – 18 games, 16 goals, 2015 –

Clem Smith – seven games, 0 goals, 2015

Sam Petrevski-Seton – nine games, five goals, 2017 -

Jarrod Pickett – five games, two goals, 2017 –


Remembering Maurie

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  

Former Carlton footballer Maurie Fowler, who completed an emotional return to the club just a few years ago, has succumbed to the insidious Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 70.

Diagnosed less than 12 months ago, Maurie was almost totally incapacitated by the disease with which Neale Daniher is currently grappling, and for which there is no cure. Maurie’s own struggle has since been touchingly told by Maurie’s stepdaughter, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton, by way of an article in the Herald Sun.

“My stepfather, Maurie Fowler, was diagnosed with MND less than a year ago and the progression of the disease was ferocious and unrelenting,” Kristen wrote.

“In the early hours of Monday morning he passed away. Mum was curled up beside him.

“Towards the end, Maurie could move only his right hand a little, with great effort. But his eyes followed everyone across a room and the day before he died he listened to Carlton win and he squeezed my hand as tight as he could when I promised him we would look after Mum.”

It’s more than 50 years since Maurie Fowler first donned the famous dark Navy Blue guernsey. It came in the opening round at Princes Park on Anzac Day 1966 against Richmond.

Recruited to the club from Kyabram in the Goulburn Valley, Maurie was one of three senior debutants for Carlton that day. Also named were Traralgon’s Max Thomas and Dalyston’s Ian Robertson, who would soon enough savour the grand final successes of 1968, ’70 and ’72 - as would Kevin Hall with whom Maurie shared the pine as 20th man for that match.

By the time he trudged from the field at Glenferrie Oval in the 9th round of ’66 against Hawthorn, Maurie had turned out for his eighth and final game, taking with him a lifetime of memories.

Five years ago, those memories were recently rekindled for Maurie on his return to the Carlton Football Club, to the place that was home for an all-too-fleeting moment of his sporting career. This reporter accompanied him on that sentimental journey of the old ground, one of the truly special moments in retrospect

Maurie’s Carlton homecoming meant much to him, so much so that in March last year he came back again – this time with his son Mark, Mark’s wife Lenny and their children Kayne, Caleb and Amy.

Together they were photographed by Maurie’s old No.29 locker – just as Maurie was in that maiden 2012 homecoming.

On that occasion, Maurie was prompted to reflect on his time at Princes Park and pen the following first-person account of what it was like to take to the field in the colours of Carlton.


I was so lucky to get a game for Carlton. The club could quite easily have turned its back on me between 1963 and ’66, but for each of those years Carlton gave me another chance.

I first came under the club’s notice as a centre half-forward in Kyabram’s Under 17 premiership year of 1960. I felt comfortable playing at centre half forward, but because I was too short for this position at Carlton I had to try and make it as a rover, which I found extremely difficult.

Carlton first invited me to try out in 1962, after I’d played two games for the Kyabram senior side as a 17 year-old. From ’62 until ’65 included I’d take my holidays in February/March, come to Melbourne to train, play in the practice games and be lucky enough to make the final training list each year… only to return to Kyabram.

In ’63 I was actually offered 12 senior games at Carlton under coach Ken Hands, no matter how I played. I refused, basically because I was worried about relocating to Melbourne and had doubts about whether I could actually make it as a rover. In retrospect, by not accepting Carlton’s offer to play in those 12 games I probably ruined my chances of a long-term League career.

When Ron Barassi was appointed Carlton Captain-Coach in 1965 I was tempted to move to Melbourne, but again I returned home, hopeful of playing in a premiership side with Kyabram. Kyabram had been defeated by Shepparton, then coached by Tommy Hafey, in the 1963, 64 & 65 Goulburn Valley Grand Finals and I dearly wanted to be around to experience Grand Final success.

But in 1966, together with three other members of Kyabram’s 1965 grand final players Dick Clay (Richmond), Ross Dillon (Melbourne) & Frank Fanning (Footscray), I made the move to Melbourne to try my luck.

Maurie Fowler, Carlton footballer, circa 1966.

Although I only played eight senior games and about 14 games in the reserves and considering I did not capitalize on the opportunity I had been given, I regard my time at Carlton as an incredibly exciting time in my life.

Barassi was one of three coaches during my time at Carlton, together with Hands and Jack Carney. I have to say that playing under Barassi was probably the highlight of my entire football career. In those days the only access a country kid had to any League footballer was by way of the back page of The Sun and there was this intrigue with Barassi. I always believed, even back in ’66 that ‘Barass’ would coach Carlton to a premiership(s).


I remember how apprehensive I was on that first night I went to training in 1962. As I was only 17, I used public transport to get to training from North Balwyn where I was staying with my cousin.

The late Allen Cowie, the Carlton secretary at the time, took me into the rooms and introduced me to some of the players. It was strange, because I knew all the players’ names, but no-one knew mine.

After these quick introductions I was invited to get changed and go out and train. I remember that I was so nervous that I struggled to run a couple of laps. I also remember wearing my Kyabram jumper (Essendon colours) with number 27 on the back and whenever I got the ball during training other players would call for me to kick to them by referring to me as “Essendon” or “27”. It was terrific when the practice games started and players began to remember my name. I was fortunate enough to show a bit of form in my first practise game and after that it was like I’d been at the club for a year or more.

It’s hard to convey the feeling I had when I heard I was selected to play in my first game in 1966 against Richmond. I still remember walking into the changeroom and opening locker 29 (my number) to prepare for that game. I looked to my left and beside me at locker 28 was the 6’6” Peter (Percy) Jones. To my right at locker 30 was strongman ‘Vinnie’ Waite and one up from him at locker 31 was Ron Barassi. I felt totally overawed and that “what the hell am I doing here?!!!” feeling was only accentuated every time I felt like a “nervous pee” and on the way to the toilet passed Serge Silvagni and John Nicholls who both had thighs bigger than my waist.

It’s nice to say that I was part of winning Carlton teams; that I kicked the winning goal against South Melbourne at Princes Park in 1966 and that I can still rattle off the numbers worn by the players in that year.

It’s also nice to experience a contentment and pride in later life, knowing my family and my grandchildren can say “my Dad/Pop played for Carlton”.


My time at Carlton provided me with an opportunity to experience a lifestyle largely supported and financed by football. I became a much-travelled player and for the next 15 years moved throughout south-eastern Australia thanks initially to my time there.

On leaving Prices Park, I, along with other ex-Carlton players Ian Nankervis & Bobby Lane, played with Williamstown in the VFA. After one season at “Willy”, which was also a great place, I was transferred in my employment to Shepparton where I played a season with Mooroopna in the Goulburn Valley League before going home to Kyabram.

I then embarked on a coaching career which took me to Palm Beach-Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Robinvale in the Sunraysia League, Hay (Mid Murray League) and Cobram (Murray League).

During my 13-year coaching experience the net return was 10 finals appearances for three grand finals, two premierships and one runner-up.


I doubt that I could adequately explain how I felt the day I returned to Carlton. The honest truth is that it was quite incredible to think that the club would be at all interested in me, and how I viewed my time at Carlton.

I guess I’ve always thought that because I only played eight games I was never really part of the club after 1966. For that reason, the Carlton experience has remained more a personal feeling of satisfaction for me.

But having returned, it became a bit more than that. Now I think of the “not so famous” guys who played for Carlton, who would get a huge kick out of going back to the club and being treated like I was.

I actually left feeling “important” and thinking (for the first time in my life) that no matter how many games I had played, I was a part of the history of the Carlton Football Club forever.

Maurie Fowler at the No.29 locker with son Mark, grandsons Kayne 11 and Caleb 9, granddaughter Amy 4 and Mark’s wife Lenny - March 5, 2016.

I was most impressed with all the facilities including the Membership Shop & Bistro and the player facilities are sensational.

My reaction to seeing my old No.29 locker was to immediately include Heath Scotland in my Supercoach & Dreamteam sides! That’s true, but seriously it was a terrific feeling.

With regards to me giving any advice to young guys trying to make it in League football today, to do so would probably make me a bit of a hypocrite because the advice I would give today would be the advice I should have given myself 50 years ago.

But if asked, I would have to say; “Your football career will be great for as long as you are playing but be aware that it won’t end there”.

“It will be with you for life.

“Your football career provides so many positive personal, social and emotional benefits/feelings for you all the way through”.

Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service to celebrate the life of Maurice John Fowler at the Ocean Grove Football Club, Shell Road, Ocean Grove, next Wednesday, May 17, commencing at 11.30 am, with a private cremation to follow.

The Carlton players will honor Maurie’s memory by wearing black armbands into Saturday’s match with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

To help in the fight against MND, please support the Cure for MND Foundation.

More By Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media


Bill’s ‘I was there the day’ moment

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media

The recent return of the lost 1947 Premiership pennant has elicited a healthy response from a solid cross section of supporters, amongst them the 89 year-old former Carlton footballer Bill Redmond who stood with the team on Princes Park the day the flag was first unfurled.

A resident of the old golf mining town of Bendigo, Redmond couldn’t hide his joy with the flag’s comeback. As he declared: “When I caught up with my friends from Probus on our regular walk, the first thing I said to them was ‘Did you hear the news? We’ve got the 1947 flag back’.

Redmond, an emergency for the ’47 Grand Final against Essendon, was amongst the 20 Carlton players who formed a guard of honour when the wife of then acting President Arthur Reyment completed the unfurling on the afternoon of Saturday, April 24, 1948 – just moments before the round two match with Fitzroy.

Other than Ken Hands, Redmond is the only surviving member who took to the field that day, some 69 years ago. Redmond identified himself as the third Carlton player from the left after the captain Ern Henfry and Bert Deacon in the photograph of the moment the flag was released. Redmond also remembered Frank Curcio and Allan “The Baron” Ruthven amongst the Fitzroy players respectfully observing the ceremony.

The first unfurling of Carlton's 1947 premiership flag. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Moments later, Redmond, took his place in a back pocket for the match against the Gorillas, one of his seven senior appearances for Carlton through 1947 and ’48.

Asked what he remembered most of the Fitzroy match, Redmond replied: “We got beat!”.

“I can remember carrying my Gladstone bag to the match, getting changed and being told to run out onto the ground for the unfurling of the pennant,” Redmond said.

“I was the youngest player in that team of course. I stood next to Deacon, who was probably as good a Carlton player as there was in my time there, although ‘Chooka’ Howell was a good player.”

Asked how close he was to getting a call-up for the 1947 Grand Final, famously won with Fred Stafford’s goal seconds before the final siren, Redmond believed he was within a whisker.

“In those days there were 19 home and home games, but prior to the 17th game, and it was recorded in the newspaper, the selectors couldn’t decide on the centre half-forward - Hands or Redmond – as Ken wasn’t playing so well at the time,” Redmond recalled.

“When I arrived at the ground for that game, (Carlton President) Ken Luke came up to me and said: ‘Look Bill, we’re nearing the finals, we’re sticking with Ken . . . ’. I actually appreciated the fact that he told me face to face.

On Grand Final day, Redmond took his place in the grandstand with teammate Ken Hopper, the best man at Redmond’s wedding, to see the Blues prevail by a point in sensational circumstances at the MCG.

The day wasn’t without its drama for Redmond, or, more to the point, his father.

“After I left early to go to the game, my father got a telegram forwarded to me by (Carlton Secretary) Harry Bell stating ‘Bring your bag to the Melbourne ground’,” Redmond said.

“My father grabbed the bag, got on his pushbike and rode from our house in Dawson Street West Brunswick to (teammate) Kenny Baxter’s  grocery in a side street off Sydney Road in East Brunswick - but the first I heard about it was when Ken Hopper and I went into the Carlton rooms after the game and I saw my bag.

“There might have been doubt on one player, and for memory Bert Deacon came off late that game, and though I never got the full story I must have been pretty close. I only wish I’d kept that telegram, but I didn’t think much about it in those days.”

Redmond, who turns 90 in May, is also remembered as Carlton’s inaugural recipient of the under-19 best-and-fairest award, first introduced on the cusp of the 1946 season.

Former Carlton player Bill Redmond. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

The 1947 premiership flag was last week returned to Carlton more than 25 years after it went missing. The treasured piece of club history, thought lost to the club since 1990, was handed in by a man known only as ‘Macca’, who had stored it in his shed on a property in the Victorian town of Eddington.

More By Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media


‘Carlton was everything’ to Alec

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media

Alexander (Alec) Spencer, who with his older brother Jack loyally served the Club in a variety of fundraising roles over many years, has died peacefully at the age of 96.

Spencer, just three months shy of his 97th birthday, was true Blue. As his son Michael said: “Carlton was everything to him”.

“I can’t tell you for sure where it all started, but Dad and Uncle Jack both grew up in Carlton because the family home was in Canning Street . . . and they were Carlton fans forever,” Michael said.

“When they grew older, Jack became a publican and moved around a bit, while Dad lived and worked in Fitzroy. He made electrical switch gear for Oliver J Nilsen Ltd, which owned radio station 3UZ, and he worked his way up to production supervisor.”

Jack’s involvement with Carlton can be sourced to the late 1950s and Brian recalled him later joining the newly-formed Carlton Football Club Social Committee - at the time the Club completed the stunning recruiting coup of Ron Barassi as captain-coach on the eve of the 1965 season. The committee comprised 16 members headed by the 1947 Brownlow Medallist Bert Deacon and oversaw the running of many and varied club functions, from dinner dances to pleasant Sunday mornings.

“Jack and my aunt (Joyce) were great fundraisers for the Club, and for years took care of the matchday raffles. Dad joined them not long after and when my uncle and aunt were killed in a car crash in West Brunswick, Alec took over.”

In 1986, Jack was honoured with Life Membership. When news was conveyed in the club’s annual report, the unnamed correspondent noted: “It would be impossible to calculate how much Mr Spencer and his loyal group of workers have raised for the club through many years”.

Just as Jack was honoured, so too was Alec honoured with Life Membership in 2005, again for years of selfless contribution. For the kid from neighbouring Canning Street, this was the pinnacle. As Michael recalled: “One of the greatest thrills of Dad’s life was to become a Life Member”.

In later years, Alec and his cohorts Frank Smith and Peter Sheedy completed many and varied tasks for the club’s merchandise department out of the old Carlton Shop to the rear of the Gardiner Stand. That shop carried Jack Spencer’s name in white letters on dark navy.

Alec Spencer was a true Blue. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Though Alec’s time at Carlton ended with the redevelopment of the Princes Park elite training facility, Michael spoke for all family members when he expressed gratitude to the Club “for keeping Dad going for so long”.

Alec Spencer, whose wife Mary predeceased him 2004, is survived by his children John, Michael and Vicki, granddaughter and three great grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Ern Jensen Funerals, corner of Bruce and Mary Streets, Preston on Thursday (March 16, 2017) commencing at 11:15 am followed by a private cremation.

Carlton players will wear black armbands in tribute to Alec’s memory when they take to the field for the 2017 season opener with Richmond at the MCG.

More By Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media


Found! ’47 premiership flag surfaces

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media

The original 1947 Carlton premiership flag, whose whereabouts have been unknown for the past quarter of a century, has been returned to the Club in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of that famous Grand Final victory.

The pennant, hard-earned when Fred Stafford’s last-gasp goal sunk Essendon by a point on that last Saturday in September at the MCG - has been handed in by a lifelong Carlton supporter called ‘Macka’ for the purposes of this story.

Macka’s tale of how he came to be in possession of the treasured ensign is as follows;

“My daughter was going to University, so I took out a 50-year lease on this old two-storey stable next to Ronald McDonald House at 34 Gatehouse Street. It was a place where one of the famous artists used to work during the war,” Macka said.

“I used to walk the dog every morning and night along there, and you’d always find stuff dumped in the laneways, like bikes and flags. I used to pick the stuff up and take it home.

“It would have been in the early 90s, maybe 1990, that I found a hessian bag with what turned out to be the flag and a few other things in it. I thought ‘That looks interesting’, so I grabbed it, threw it into the back of the ute and took it to my farm up the bush.”

According to Macka, the bagged flag sat in his shed gathering dust at Eddington on the Loddon River for the best part of 25 years, and why? Because he never cast his gaze into the bag.

“I never looked at it, nor thought about it,” Macka said.

“Why would you? Not for a minute would you think it’s a Carlton premiership flag.”

Only recently, after conducting a long overdue cleanout of the shed, did Macka realise what he’d actually turned up. As he said: “I rolled it out on the ground and said to myself, ‘That’s interesting. It couldn’t be, could it?’.”

Macka returns Carlton's 1947 premiership flag to Ikon Park. (Photo: Carlton Media)

Macka then confided in a Carlton mate Gary that he’d inadvertently souvenired the ’47 premiership flag, to which his mate replied: “Bulls..t”.

“So I took it over to Gary’s place and we laid it out, photographed it and forwarded the pic to the club,” Macka said.

What intrigued Macka was the piece of chord still encased in the lining of the pennant. Could it be the original chord pulled by the wife of the club’s then acting President Arthur Reyment when the flag was unfurled in front of the Alf. Gardiner Stand on Saturday, April 24, 1948?

The unfurling of Carlton's 1947 premiership flag at Princes Park. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

As to how the pennant first ended up in a laneway in Parkville, well, that’s anyone’s guess. One theory is that a patron from nearby Naughtin’s Hotel souvenired it from the club and later dumped the item after downing a few ales.

Whatever the case, Macka was only too happy to return the weathered flag, with its blue dye blotches, to the club, amongst whose ranks is the only surviving premiership player of 1947, the 90 year-old Ken Hands.

As Macka said: “What am I going to do with it?”.

“I’ve barracked for Carlton all my bloody life and Carlton is where the flag belongs,” Macka said.

More By Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media