Official Website of the Spirit of Carlton Past and Present
31Jul/110

Past Player Birthdays: 31st July

Richard Dennis

Career : 19871991
Debut : Round 2, 1987 vs Collingwood, aged 20 years, 247 days
Carlton Player No. 943
Games : 57
Goals : 40
Guernsey No. 3
Last Game : Round 21, 1991 vs St Kilda, aged 25 years, 9 days
Height : 185 cm (6 ft. 1 in.)
Weight : 82 kg (12 stone, 13 lbs.)
DOB : 31 July, 1966
Premiership Player 1987

Like his fellow West Australian Peter Sartori, Richard ‘Rocky’ Dennis was a boom recruit for the Blues whose career was derailed by a serious injury before it really got going. A courageous and versatile forward from East Perth, Dennis arrived at Princes Park in 1987 amid big expectations, and played in a Premiership team in his first year. Then, mid-way through his second season, one of his knees gave way, and from then on he was never quite the same player again.

Dennis stepped into the spotlight in Perth when he starred for the Royals as a teenager during 1985-’86. At 185 cm his strong marking allowed him to play as a key forward, although his agility at ground level made him more suited to a flankers’ role. Carlton believed that he could develop into a real attacking weapon alongside Stephen Kernahan and Sartori, and so presented him with the number 3 guernsey recently made famous by the Blues’ 1981 and ’82 Premiership captain Mike Fitzpatrick.

Dennis made a dream start to his new career, celebrating a win over Collingwood on debut at Waverley Park, and quickly establishing a regular place in a powerful Carlton line-up. Quick for his size and a good distributor of the ball on his preferred right foot, his form was so consistent by July that he was selected in the WA State of Origin team that met Victoria at Subiaco, and was narrowly beaten in a superb contest.

Spiro Kourkoumelis

Career : 1981 - 1986
Debut : Round 17, 1981 vs Melbourne, aged 17 years, 359 days
Carlton Player No. 897
Games : 62
Goals : 56
Last Game : Round 6, 1986 vs Sydney, aged 22 years, 277 days
Guernsey Nos. 49 (1981) and 28 (1982-86)
Height : 180 cm (5 ft. 11 in.)
Weight : 89 kg (14 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : 31 July, 1963

Had he played in any other era in Carlton’s history, the man with one of the longest names in the game; Spiro Kourkoumelis, would surely have played more than 100 senior matches for the Blues. Spiro was unlucky in that he emerged at Princes Park during Carlton’s golden decade of 1979 to 1987, when a star-studded playing list took the Old Dark Navy Blues to five Grand Final appearances and four Premierships. However, that success also restricted the opportunities for a group of very capable players like Kourkourmelis, who didn’t always get the opportunities his talent deserved.

After being recruited from local club Princes Hill in 1979, Kourkoumelis was part of Carlton’s Under 19 flag side later that same year. Still just 16 years old, he represented Victoria in the elite Teal Cup interstate competition in 1980, and by 1981 was knocking on the door of senior selection at Carlton after a series of eye-catching matches with the Reserves. Meanwhile, his younger brother Peter had joined him at Princes Park, and was in the midst of his handful of games with the Under 19's. The problem for Spiro however, was that he was competing for a midfield-forward role in the Blues’ senior team against the likes of Barry Armstrong, Jim Buckley, David Glascott, Wayne Harmes, Ken Sheldon, Wayne Johnston, Greg Wells - and at least three or four others.

Kourkoumelis wasn’t a gazelle on the field, but his ball-gathering ability and disposal were first-rate. He was an ideal link-up player through the middle of the ground, and always a threat around the goals. Eventually, an injury to Wells provided the opportunity Spiro had been craving, and he was named to make his senior debut in the centre for Carlton against Melbourne at Princes Park in round 17, 1981 – six days before his 18th birthday. Wearing guernsey number 49, he got away to a dream start, too, by kicking a goal with his first kick, after receiving a gift handball from ‘Bomba’ Sheldon in front of the Heatley Stand. Carlton went on to destroy Melbourne by 73 points that day, on the way to the 1981 Premiership. However for Kourkoumelis, it was to be his one and only senior match for the season.

Warren McKenzie

Career: 1985-1990
Debut: Round 12, 1985 vs Footscray
930th Carlton Player
Games: 67
Goals: 43
Last game: Round 22, 1990 vs Fitzroy
Guernsey No. 45
Height: 190cm
Weight: 86kg
DOB: 31 July, 1964
Premiership Player: 1987

Warren McKenzie played 67 games from 1985 kicking 43 goals. McKenzie wore the number 45 guernsey for Carlton. He was recruited from Mooroolbark, this was in the the Carlton zone in the Eastern Suburbs.

McKenzie played in Carlton's 1987 Grand Final victory over the Hawks. Prior to that victory, he and fellow Blue, Shane Robertson played in three straight losing Grand Finals for the Blues, they were 1984 and 1985 Reserve Grand Finals, and the 1986 Senior Grand Final.

In 1988, Warren McKenzie suffered a serious knee injury mid-season, that ruled him out of the remaining part of the season. It also took him a while to get going the follwoing year after this serious setback.

After 1990, McKenzie was transferred to the Swans where he played for a further 2 seasons. Carlton traded McKenzie for the No.2. pick in the National Draft so that they could secure James Cook.

After two years in Sydney, McKenzie packed his bags at the end of the 1992 season and headed back to Victoria. He later lined up for VFA Club Sandringham for the 1993 season.

Thanks to the Blueseum for player bios and pics.

7Apr/111

The Spirit of Carlton Business Directory

The Spirit of Carlton is proud to announce the introduction of our new Business Directory.

Expose your business to passionate blues supporters. Being part of our premium online business directory will ensure your business is associated with a strong network of past players, supporters and fellow businesses. Become a member of the Spirit of Carlton Business Directory today.

 Just $250 for non past players or $100 for past players for one year on the directory.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM

24Jan/113

Father and Son Academy Training

Today marks the beginning of another exciting initiative of the Carlton Football Club and the Spirit of Carlton with the inaugural Father and Son Academy Training program. This program is a chance for possible future father and son prospects to become better acquainted with the club, to see how the players train, how team meetings are conducted, listen to some Carlton greats speak, and do some skills sessions with Carlton football staff.

The children are split into a younger group and an older group who each participate for two days at the club  during the week. The program for the younger children is aimed more at familiarisation and fun. The older group get advice on diet, training, goal setting and presentation from previous father son players on what they might expect.

Each group will get the opportunity to mix with the current players and hear the stories of how current players such as Chris Judd made the transition from junior footy to senior footy.

This is a wonderful initiative from the club that strengthens the bonds of community and family within the club which are so important. Not all these boys will get the opportunity to play for Blues but they will always be part of the Blues family.

Stay tuned later in the week for more news from the Academy.

28Nov/100

Oh What a Lovely Pie Me Boys!

Those of us of a certain vintage would remember well the old Four 'n' Twenty pies commercial with greats such as Jack 'Captain Blood' Dyer and Ted 'Mr Football' Whitten. It is a rollicking tune with a group of footballers on a bus. On the way back from Kukerin while watching the 1979 premiership DVD, Bob Lowrie must have looked around the bus we were travelling in and had some flashbacks to this great old ad. So an idea was born and the 'Spirit of Carlton' singers belted out their own rendition of the ad on a stop somewhere between Wagin and Dumbleyung.

Senior statesman of the group Ken Kleiman took up the Jack Dyer role with gusto and Geoff Southby and David McKay provided great leadership in the singalong. If any Four 'n' Twenty executives read this article and wish to use the Spirit of Carlton singers for any future advertisements just get your people to talk to our people.

27Nov/100

Personal Messages About Men’s Health

During the recent road trip by the Spirit of Carlton to Kukerin in West Australia three past Blue champions gave their own personal accounts of their own issues with men's health. Ross Ditchburn, Ken Hunter and Geoff Southby each provide honest, heartfelt and humorous account of issues surrounding depression and prostate cancer. Recommended viewing for anyone currently effected by these issues.

26Nov/100

The Kukerin Kick Off

Legends abound around our great brown land about the country kid who 'could kick a bag of spuds over a wheat silo'. This folklore is ingrained, it is a part of who we are and is a unique aspect of the Aussie rules dominated parts of the country, in particular the wheat belts.

Every year the Royal Hotel at Mirrool holds a competition to see who can kick a footy over the local wheat silo. This was won famously by Billy Brownless in 1987.

So it was little wonder that when looking out of the Kukerin pub at the goliath that is the 80,000 ton capacity Kukerin wheat bin, an idea crossed the minds of the tired, parched and bedraggled Spirit of Carlton boys.

"Can we kick a footy over that?"

So it was with a spirit of adventure that Ken Hunter and Richard Dennis trecked across the road the next day. Hamstrings were stretched for fear of breaking, the locally procured Burley ball was tested for proper inflation and shape. A strong cross breeze was coursing across the flat dry wheat fields.

This was no small task, Richard had not kicked a full sized footy for at least two years, Ken wanted the glory but not an injury.

... to prove champions never die wondering both men succeeded in defeating the Kukerin Wheat Bin, Richard with a flat punt and Ken with a lovely left footer.

So the challenge is now out there, for the boys of Kukerin, to become a man the Kukerin Wheat Bin must be cleared. In fact people Australia wide should flock to Kukerin to take on the challenge and video tape it for prosperity. Can you kick a footy over the Kukerin wheat bin?