Official Website of the Spirit of Carlton Past and Present
13Jun/170

1987 Premiership Anniversary Luncheon Tickets Now on Sale

87 Lunch Flyer

31May/170

Stephen Silvagni’s 50th

Happy 50th birthday to Stephen Silvagni.

 

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Stephen Silvagni

 

show_image.php?id=26017
Career : 1985 - 2001
Debut : Round 7, 1985 vs Sydney, aged 17 years, 346 days
Carlton Player No. 927
Games : 312 
Goals : 202
Last Game : Semi Final, 2001 vs Richmond, aged 34 years, 107 days
Guernsey No. 1
Height : 194 cm (6 ft. 4 in.)
Weight : 99 kg (15 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : 31 May, 1967
Premiership Player : 19871995
Best and Fairest : 19901996
All Australian : 1988, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999
VFL AFL Team of the Century: Full Back
Team of the Century: Full Back
Carlton Hall of Fame: 1996
VFL AFL Hall of Fame: 2005
Victorian State Player: 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999
Mark of the Year: 1988
Carlton Legend

Track watchers at Carlton Football Club in the early 1980s would have noticed a young Stephen Silvagni eagerly helping out at most training sessions. Whether it was retrieving a footy from over the fence, kicking end-to end with the players, or even helping to serve up the after-training meal, the skinny, dark-haired son of assistant coach and club selector Sergio Silvagni spent much of his spare time at Princes Park.

It was a fabulous era for the Old Dark Navy Blues, and a time of inspiration for a young boy who would go on to forge his own magnificent career. Carlton claimed three Premierships in four years from 1979 to 1982, and Stephen's formative years were spent in the presence of some of the clubs’ all-time greatest players - including his own father. However, Sergio and his wife Rita deliberately kept Stephen's football education low-key. They insisted that his studies at Marcellin College had to come first, and restricted him to school football.

Even so, Stephen was talented enough to be selected for the 1984 Victorian Under-17 Teal Cup squad. That led to his inclusion in an Australian team that toured Ireland, and before too long Hawthorn was trying hard to recruit him. Under VFL rules of the day, Steve was zoned to the Hawks, and they had first call on him - unless Carlton exercised their rights under the father-son rule. Hawthorn forced the issue when they set a 48-hour deadline for Carlton to decide, and Blues Secretary Ian Collins didn't hesitate. Stephen became a Carlton player - on the minimum contract wage of the time.

"Serge was terrific in the way he allowed Stephen to develop naturally, rather than by force," Collins said later; "some kids who play footy at a young age either get sick of it, or resent it and want to do other things. Consequently they never fulfil their potential. But Stephen wasn't like that. There was balance in his life, which helped him in his football as well. There might have been mind games being played at the time of Stephen's signing, but there was never any doubt - he was always going to be playing for Carlton. Serge and Rita wouldn't have allowed him to go to Hawthorn, let alone encouraged him to go there."show_image.php?id=33587

Stephen believed that he would begin his career with the Under-19s at Carlton, only to be stunned when coach David Parkin informed him during pre-season training that he had been earmarked for an early senior debut. When he was presented with the number 1 guernsey that his father had worn in his wonderful 239-game career in navy blue, it was only a matter of time until Stephen made his senior debut against Sydney at the SCG in round 5 of 1985. By the end of that first year, he was still a skinny, gangly 18 year-old, but he had already been matched against some of the best forwards in the game as a half-back flanker or back pocket. He was a popular winner of Carlton's Best First Year Player award, and a very deserving AFL Rookie of the Year. Carlton finished fifth, and then abruptly sacked their incumbent coach David Parkin in favour of former club champion Robert Walls.

In 1986, Stephen's second year was derailed before it got going when he tore a hamstring in his first game, only to contract glandular fever during rehab. It was about this time that he was christened 'SOS' - for Son of Serge - by friend and team-mate Peter Dean, and the nickname stuck for the rest of his career. Meanwhile, Walls believed that the agile youngster might develop into a handy forward, and so sent him up the ground for his first senior match for the year against Hawthorn in round 12. The experiment was only partially successful however, because SOS finished the home and away rounds with just nine goals, and he was returned to defence before the Blues beat Sydney and Hawthorn in the first two weeks of the finals to book a place in the Grand Final as warm favourites against the Hawks.

At training on the following Thursday night however, Walls called Stephen into the coaches room and shocked the 19 year-old by telling him that he had been dropped from the Grand Final team in favour of Ken Hunter, who had recovered from injury. It was scant consolation, but SOS was to be included in the Reserves side that was also playing off for a flag, against Footscray.

Understandably, the young man was gutted, but he later said; "There were two ways I could have gone into the Reserves Grand Final - either throw in the towel, or give them something to think about. Fortunately, I took the latter option and went well in what was a winning Grand Final." He went well all right - playing at centre half-forward, he kicked five goals and was unanimously judged Best on Ground. Later that afternoon, Carlton lost the senior Grand Final by 42 points, with Hawk full-forward Jason Dunstall kicking six goals.

The shock of what Silvagni saw as a rejection by his beloved Blues was the spur to stardom for him in the ensuing years. Determined never to be left out of the senior side again unless injured, he dedicated himself to train as hard as anyone on Carlton’s list, and started running an extra three kilometre circuit of Princes Park before or after every training session. As his game evolved, SOS became the game's outstanding swingman - a rock-solid defender and a match-winning forward.

In 1987 Stephen played one his most memorable games when Carlton revenged their defeat of the previous year to beat Hawthorn for the Premiership. At just 20 years of age, SOS held the Hawks' stand-in full-forward Peter Curran to a solitary goal as the Blues triumphed by 33 points. In round 14 of 1988, playing at full-forward in the Match of the Round at the MCG, he used Collingwood's Craig Starcevich as a step ladder to take a sensational Mark of the Year. In 1990, he won Carlton's Best & Fairest award by 10 votes from club captain Stephen Kernahan, and polled 16 votes to finish third in the Brownlow Medal. Half-way through the next season however, in Round 14, 1991, SOS tore an ACL ligament in a knee and was sidelined the rest of season.

Back on track at the start of 1992, Stephen kicked 8 goals in Carlton's 24-point loss to the West Coast Eagles in round 9 at Princes Park. He starred again at Princes Park in round 16, 1993, booting a huge 10.6 as the Blues piled on 20 goals after half-time to beat Fitzroy by 86 points. Even so, by 1995 SOS was firmly entrenched as the premier full-back in the game, and his battles with the gun full-forwards of the time - Lockett, Dunstall, Ablett and others - were eagerly anticipated. While tall enough at 194 cm to cope with most opponents, at 99 kg he sometimes found himself out-muscled, so he had become master of the desperate late spoil. With his steely concentration, his exceptional balance and agility, he was the anchor of a daunting Carlton defence in a team that won 23 of its 25 games for the season - including the Grand Final.show_image.php?id=29318

In that wonderful '95 final series, the Blues played Brisbane, North Melbourne and Geelong to win the flag. Steve's opponents in that series - in order - were Daryl White, Wayne Carey and Gary Ablett. The collective return by these three against him was a miserly one (yes, one) goal. Topping off a stellar season, SOS was named 1995 All Australian for the first of three successive years, and in 1996 (after winning his second Best and Fairest at Carlton) he was sensationally awarded the full-back position in the AFL Team of the 20th Century. It was a huge honour, and one not without its controversy in some quarters.

Steve later said about that award; "It didn't really sink in until I was called up at the end of the night to join the legends who had already been named. I remember looking at the faces around me - the likes of John NichollsAlex Jesaulenko and Bruce Doull - wonderful players I used to watch as a kid, and thinking to myself, 'what's going on here? I'm twenty-eight and still have a bit of football left - I'm not finished yet.'"

And indeed he was not. With his stature in the game assured, Steve became much more a vital part of the on-field leadership at Carlton. His impassioned plea to his team-mates at three-quarter time in the 1999 Preliminary Final was one of the factors in the Blues glorious upset win over Essendon. And though Carlton lost that year's Grand Final to the 'Roos, SOS kept a rampant Wayne Carey to one major for the game and was clearly Carlton's best.

In 2000, a groin strain sidelined Stephen from the first four matches. In May, he and his proud dad shared the limelight at the announcement of Carlton's Team of the Century before a season of highs and lows culminated in a severe hamstring injury during the finals. The tendon was ripped from the bone and he was sorely missed on Preliminary Final day, when Essendon thrashed the Blues by 45 points.

Steve was still recovering through the 2001 pre-season, and although he was absent for three games early on, he was back to near top form when he played his 300th career game in round 11, 2001 against Richmond at the MCG. Carlton may have lost by 27 points that afternoon, but when the final siren sounded, the Tigers were herded to the visitor's race by their coach Danny Frawley. In a unique mark of respect by a traditional enemy, Frawley and his players formed a guard of honour and SOS was clapped from the ground.

Later that year, Steve's hip injury flared again. His doctors advised surgery, but he declined and soldiered on. In a strong finish to the home and away rounds, the Blues beat St Kilda and Collingwood decisively to book another finals berth, before meeting Geelong in round 22 at Princes Park. Although only pride was at stake, it was a spiteful match that the Blues won by 70 points. Late in the game, Geelong defender Darren Milburn crashed through SOS with a front-on shoulder charge as Carlton's champion flew for a mark. Out cold before he hit the ground, Steve was stretchered off the field, and Milburn's reputation was permanently blackened.

Two weeks later, Carlton's 2001 season and Silvagni's playing career ended with an 11-point loss to Richmond in a hard-fought Semi Final. SOS kept the Tigers' Matthew Richardson to a handful of possessions and two goals, before announcing that he was taking specialist advice to call it a day after 16 gruelling seasons. Tributes galore from friends and foes alike poured into Princes Park over the following days and weeks, with the words respect, skill and courage commonly used.

Stephen didn’t remain at Princes Park for long after his playing career ended, later saying, "I always felt if I wanted to stay in football, whether that was coaching, or administration or whatever other level, I needed to go outside Carlton for experience - and that's what I did.” Between 2002 and 2010 he filled various roles as an assistant coach at Collingwood, Sydney, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda, before earning the prestigious position of List Manager at Greater Western Sydney.

In June 2014, during celebrations marking Carlton's 150th year of VFL/AFL competition, SOS was honoured once more when he was officially recognised as one of the five greatest Blues of all time, alongside John NichollsStephen KernahanBruce Doull and Alex Jesaulenko. Having also won plaudits for guiding the Giants’ young roster through their first three seasons, Stephen then surprised and delighted Carlton supporters everywhere by accepting an offer to return home to Princes Park, and to take up a role similar to what he had done so well at the Giants.

"I always hoped there may be an opportunity I could come back.” said Stephen when the news broke in December 2014. “And when the club came knocking, it really did tickle my fancy. It's nice to be home. I love wearing the navy blue. I always have."
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Milestones

50 Games: Round 5, 1988 vs Collingwood
100 Games: Round 4, 1991 vs Melbourne
150 Games: Round 11, 1994 vs Fitzroy
200 Games: Round 12, 1996 vs Collingwood
250 Games: Round 2, 1999 vs Collingwood
300 Games: Round 11, 2001 vs Richmond

100 Goals: Round 16, 1993 vs Fitzroy
200 Goals: Round 17, 2001 vs Hawthorn

Career Highlights

1987 - Premiership Player
1988 - Mark of the Year
1988 - Victorian State Player
1988 - All Australian
1988 - 7th Best & Fairest
1990 - Victorian State Player
1990 - Robert Reynolds Memorial Trophy - Best and Fairest
1990 - Peter Sullivan Memorial Trophy (Most Carlton Votes in the Brownlow Medal)
1990 - All Australian
1993 - Victorian State Player
1993 - 5th Best & Fairest
1994 - Victorian State Player
1994 - 2nd Best & Fairest
1994 - All Australianshow_image.php?id=25991
1995 - Victorian State Player
1995 - 3rd Best & Fairest
1995 - Best Clubman
1995 - All Australian
1995 - Premiership Player
1996 - Victorian State Player
1996 - Robert Reynolds Memorial Trophy - Best & Fairest Award
1996 - All Australian
1996 - Carlton Hall of Fame
1997 - Victorian State Player
1997 - 4th Best & Fairest
1997 - All Australian
1998 - 8th Best & Fairest
1998 - Jim Stynes Medal (International Rules Series- Best Player for Australia)
1999 - Victorian State Player
1999 - 6th Best & Fairest
1999 - All Australian
2000 - 5th Best & Fairest
2001 - 6th Best & Fairest
2005 - VFL AFL Hall of Fame
2007 - Italian Team of The Century

 

 

29May/170

Bill Redmond’s 90th

Happy 90th birthday to Bill Redmond.

 

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Bill Redmond

 


Career : 1947 - 1948
Debut : Round 13, 1947 vs South Melbourne, aged 20 years, 44 days
Carlton Player No. 620
Games : 7
Goals : 0
Last Game : Round 5, 1948 vs Collingwood, aged 20 years, 352 days
Guernsey No. 2
Height : 182 cm (5 ft. 11 in.)
Weight : 80 kg (12 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : 29 May, 1927

Although he was a footballer of undoubted ability, Bill Redmond was also a victim of circumstance in that he wasn't able to fulfil his potential at VFL level. In his first two seasons at Princes Park, he rose from Best and Fairest with the Blues’ Under-19 squad, to being named as an emergency in Carlton’s 1947 Premiership team. But in 1948 a wrangle over his recruitment saw him leave the Navy Blues, and head off to a long and successful career in country football.

Born William George Arthur Redmond at North Melbourne in 1927, Bill grew up in inner-suburban Brunswick during the grim years of World War II. Football, cricket and his apprenticeship as an engineering pattern-maker occupied his teenage years, and he was outstanding at all three. By 1946 he had already played in the First XI at Brunswick Cricket Club before Carlton invited him to join their Under-19 team preparing for the inaugural season of the VFL Thirds competition.

Under their coach Jim Francis, the Blues youngsters made an impressive debut and qualified to play North Melbourne in the first-ever Under-19 Grand Final. Carlton was comfortably beaten, but at centre half-back, Redmond won the Ken Luke Cup as Carlton’s best player. A few days later, Bill and his team-mate Ron Dunn were voted joint Best and Fairest, and the following year Redmond was promoted to Carlton’s Reserves list and given the honour of wearing the Blues’ number 2 guernsey.

Carlton’s senior team finished on top of the ladder in 1947 and went on to beat Essendon by one precious point in a thrilling Grand Final. Earlier in the season, Redmond had come under notice for his poise in defence for the seconds, leading to his inclusion in the seniors for the first time in round 13, when Carlton hosted South Melbourne at Princes Park and won by 4 points. Bill was 19th man that afternoon, as he was a month later in his second match, when the Blues demolished St Kilda. He finished off a notable first year as a senior player by being nominated as an emergency for Carlton’s Grand Final team, but wasn’t required.

In 1948, Redmond established himself as a regular member of Carlton’s senior side from round one, when he lined up in a back pocket alongside champion full-back Ollie Grieve and went on to play the five games in succession. Then in mid-May, North Melbourne caused a stir by protesting to the VFL that Carlton had signed Redmond in contravention of the League’s zoning rules. Bill lived on a street in West Brunswick that was a boundary between the zones. “If you lived on one side of the road, you played for Carlton - and if you lived on the other side of the road, you were North Melbourne,” he explained many years later. Regardless, the VFL sided with the Shinboners, and revoked Redmond’s playing permit.

North Melbourne were intent on getting Redmond to Arden Street, and flatly refused to clear him to Carlton. In turn, the Blues dug their heels in, and the dispute dragged on until VFA club Williamstown stepped in, and trumped both clubs by offering to almost double his match payments. “We got three pounds a game back in those days, and Williamstown offered me five, so I went with them,” he said.

At Williamstown, Redmond played at full-forward in the Seagull’s 1948 Grand Final team that lost to Brighton. In 1950 he transferred to the Bendigo Football League club Eaglehawk, before joining North Bendigo in the Heathcote District Football League as captain-coach two years later. He was voted Best and Fairest in the HDFL in 1954, then switched to South Bendigo to star in their 1956 Premiership team.

On the move again, Bill was appointed captain-coach of Inglewood before the Blues won the 1958 Loddon Valley Football League Premiership. He then returned to South Bendigo as captain-coach of their seconds, and collected consecutive flags in 1959 and 1960. By 1963 he was at Bridgewater in the LDFL, where he won yet another Premiership – as well as finishing as the competition’s leading goal-kicker with 51 majors.

Eventually, after a varied and quite notable career, Bill retired at last in 1964, aged 37.

Footnotes

While Redmond was at full-forward for Williamstown in the 1948 VFA Grand Final, future Carlton star Keith Warburton was playing in the centre for Brighton.

During his time in Bendigo, Redman also played A Grade cricket for Golden Square and Sandhurst.

Career Highlights

1946 – Under-19 Best & Fairest
1946 – Ken Luke Cup (Best Carlton player in the Under-19 Grand Final)

 

 

28May/170

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.

MaclurePic
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.

BortolottoPic
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

27May/170

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 –

18May/170

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.

MY JOURNEY TO 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.

Maurie1966Pic
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).

THE MEMORIES

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”.

AFTER 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.

THE RETURN

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.

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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