Ken and Bill remember ’47

At the recent Spirit of Carlton luncheon celebrating the 1987 premiership another reunion was also taking place. This was between Ken Hands and Bill Redmond, the only two surviving senior players from the 1947 premiership year, Ken is the last surviving player of the grand final itself. On the day of the lunch Bill arrived early with his son Phil. Unknown to Bill his son knew that Ken Hands would be attending but kept it secret from Bill as a surprise on the day.

When Ken arrived the two old pals greeted each other warmly and began to reminisce about their time together at the Blues seventy years ago. No doubt one of the shared memories was the day the 1947 premiership flag was unfurled before the second round of 1948 in a game at Princes Park against Fitzroy. Both Ken and Bill appear in the following photograph.

In 1947 both Ken and Bill were playing for the same spot in the team and it was a decision late in the season which in the end determined which of them who would play in the 1947 Grand Final. This story is explained in the following excerpt from Tony De Bolfo’s article from March 14th.

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.”


Player’s precious scrapbook surfaces

An 88-year-old scrapbook, once the treasured possession of the 135-game former Carlton half-back Eric Huxtable, has been loaned to the Club by a family member.

Crammed with newspaper clippings, certificates and photographs from as far back as 1929, the scrapbook chronicles Huxtable’s football journey from Hobart to Melbourne, in a 14-season career interrupted by world war.

The scrapbook found its way to Ikon Park through The Carltonians’ former vice-president John Redmond, a neighbour of Huxtable’s daughter-in-law. Pages of the scrapbook have since been digitised and are now safely stored in the football club’s ever-expanding electronic archive.

The front cover of Huxtable’s scrapbook. 

One of the first footballers lured to Victoria from across Bass Strait, Huxtable’s football origins can be sourced to Hobart’s St Virgil’s College. At 15, he wore the green and gold of Tasmanian Football League club New Town at senior level and from the outset raised the eyebrows of the good judges – most notably Dan Minogue, who had coached Huxtable at Newtown in ’28.

Appointed Carlton coach the following year, Minogue arranged for the player’s transfer to Princes Park on the eve of the 1930 season and in the sixth-round match against Fitzroy at Princes Park, Huxtable donned the dark navy blue guernsey for the first time.

Through the 1930s Huxtable built on his handsome reputation as the mainstay of his team’s back six, whether Carlton or Victorian. He was amongst Carlton’s best in its narrow Grand Final loss to Richmond in 1932, and after a particularly stirring showing for the Big V, he was dubbed ‘Untouchable Huxtable’ by a South Australian scribe reporting the contest.

A clipping of a 1932 Grand Final report features on page 29 of Huxtable’s scrapbook. 

Rated by a journalist reporting for The Sun as “the most dashing half-back flanker in the game”, Huxtable was also named by the legendary Haydn Bunton snr. as amongst the top-10 players of the day in season ’36.

In April of that year, Huxtable sustained severe concussion when a car in which he was travelling and a motor lorry riven by Bill Ralston, the Coburg follower and Melbourne recruit, collided.

The Sun reported that following the accident, Ralston, who was unhurt, hot-footed it to the Carlton players’ room at Princes Park seeking help for Huxtable.

Affixed with sticky tape to one of the scrapbook’s yellowing pages is a 1938 VFL medallion awarded to those players who led the Blues’ drought-breaking Grand Final victory over Collingwood under captain-coach Brighton Diggins’ watch.

Included on page 60 is a 1938 VFL premiership medallion.

Cruelly, a broken thumb sustained through the ’38 home and aways severely impacted on Huxtable’s on-field fortunes in the run-home and ultimately deprived him of his place in Carlton’s first premiership team in 23 years. After aggravating the injury in the semi-final against Geelong – his last game for the Club – he was left to sit in the stands and watch on as his mates did the noble deed on that last Saturday in September.

But such was Huxtable’s standing at Princes Park that a premiership medal was cast for him – just a few months after he earned Carlton Life Membership.

Cleared to Yarram in 1939, Huxtable put his VFL nous to good use, captaining and coaching the Gippsland League team to a thrilling one-point win over Maffra in the grand final.

But he had little time to celebrate, for when the league disbanded due to the onset of world war the following year, Huxtable took up duties as captain-coach of Dimboola. Dimboola advanced to the 1940 Grand Final, but the outfit finished seven points adrift of Stawell.

Huxtable then enlisted with the RAAF, but while awaiting his call-up accepted an offer from his former Carlton teammate Joe Kelly, the newly-appointed South Melbourne coach.

At 33 years of age, Huxtable gave South valuable service in 22 matches through 1941 and ’42 – and a South team photo featuring Huxtable and the likes of Herbie Matthews, Jack Graham, ‘Gentleman’ Jim Cleary and ‘Basher’ Williams can be found in the scrapbook.

To round out his meritorious on-field career, Huxtable captained the RAAF Laverton team to the Southern States Premiership in 1942. Laverton won the contest 10.18 to No. TG’s 6.15, with VFL stars like Bob Green, Alby Pannam, Ron Todd and Jack Regan chasing the leather in the Grand Final held at Victoria Park – and a team photograph can be found in the old scrapbook.

A father to two boys and four girls raised with his wife Gwynneth whom he married in 1935, Huxtable’s sons Neil and Gary (Ross’s father) were recruited to Carlton under the father/son rule in 1953 and ’57 respectively, although neither managed a senior appearance.

Eric Huxtable died in Melton at the age of 81 in 1990. He is remembered by all his loved ones, who these days follow the fortunes of the old No.9 through its current keeper Patrick Cripps – when they’re not flicking the yellowing pages of a precious scrapbook.



2017 AFL Medalist Luncheon


12pm – 2:30pm


Footy card mystery solved?

THE identity of the mystery Carlton footballer featured on what’s believed to be the great Australian game’s oldest footy card may have finally been solved.

Standing arms folded in front of a mock bushland backdrop, the player – sporting dark navy top and knickerbockers, blue and white hooped socks and high-cut boots – appears on a hand-coloured card released by local photographers Paterson Brothers, which occupied a premises at 68 Lygon Street from 1887-1891.

The card was part of a lot that went under the hammer at Leonard Joel auction house in 2010 and acquired for $1000 by Carlton supporter Simon Davis.

A photo of what is believed to be the great Australia game’s oldest footy card. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

But the card, or ‘carte-de-visite’ to be more specific, has continued to raise more questions than answers.

“I’d really like to know who the player is and a little bit about his history,” Davis told this reporter back in 2012. “He’s clearly a Carlton player, he’s clearly in the Carlton uniform and the image can be sourced to between 1887 and 1891.”

Enter Pete McLean, a passionate Carlton researcher and regular contributor to The Blueseum website. McLean, a keen student of 19th century club history, believes he has identified the mystery man as Joe Rickards – one of three Rickards brothers to have represented Carlton. Joe is known to have chased the leather for the team between 1884 and ’86, which would suggest that the carte-de-visite could be older than initially thought.

Joe Rickards, 1884 (left). Could he be the Carlton player featured in the game’s oldest footy card (left)?

McLean came to the conclusion comparing the mystery man on the carte-de-visite with an image of Rickards photographed in Carlton’s touring party to Adelaide via the S.S. Adelaide in June 1884. The tourists took on South Adelaide, Adelaide Juniors, Norwood and Port Adelaide through nine days from June 21.

As McLean explained: “Last Sunday morning, I was sitting around r-reading the article about the unnamed Carlton player on the footy card and again thought about cross-referencing”.

“The thought did cross my mind as to whether the bloke in the card might be in the 1884 pic and lo and behold I saw Joe Rickards’ face. I said to my wife ‘Do you reckon he looks familiar?’ and she said ‘absolutely’.”

Carlton’s touring party to Adelaide, June 1884. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Though the mutton-chopped player featured in the carte-de-visite appears to be younger and leaner than the 1884 Rickards model, there are potent facial similarities.

Previously, the oldest known Carlton footy card featured Tommy Leydin, the club’s captain from 1887-1889. That card was published by the American firm Goodwin and Co., manufacturers of Old Judge cigarettes.

After the card was acquired by Davis, Melbourne card collector Damien Green conducted his own due diligence, but found the process a difficult one.

“I’ve searched for a means of classifying this card and it appears to come under the classification of ‘carte-de-visite’,” Green said at the time.

“A carte-de-visite is, in reality, a studio photo pasted onto a backing card that advertises the studio that produced them. I’m trying to get some more advice on whether it qualifies as a footy card, but I would think not at this point as these items were crafted for personal use rather than those specifically produced as a set then made available to the public.”

Regardless, the carte-de-visite in Davis’ collection is no less valuable according to Green, particularly if the subject featured is a Carlton footballer, quite possibly Rickards.

“If it’s a Carlton footballer it may be worth thousands of dollars because photographs of that period fade and this one appears to be in great condition,” Green said.

It is a fantastic piece of ephemera from an era where not too much photographic material has survived, especially the colourised variety.”

Bernie Evans’ 60th

Happy 60th birthday to Bernie Evans.


Career : 19861988
Debut : Round 1, 1986 vs Hawthorn, aged 28 years, 223 days
Carlton Player No. 933
Games : 185 (37 at Carlton)
Goals : 257 (45 at Carlton)
Last Game : Semi Final, 1988 vs Hawthorn, aged 31 years, 12 days
Guernsey No. 15
Height : 175 cm (5 ft. 9 in.)
Weight : 73 kg (11 stone, 7 lbs.)
DOB : 20 August, 1957

In the wake of Carlton’s loss to North Melbourne in the 1985 Elimination Final – the Navy Blues’ fourth successive finals defeat since 1982 – the club embarked on a determined recruiting drive that brought a number of high-profile recruits to Princes Park. One of the prized signings was former Sydney Swans Best and Fairest Bernie Evans, who was to be desperately unlucky not to play in the 1987 Premiership team.

A talented rover and a dangerous forward pocket, Evans had grown up in the South Melbourne area and won a VFA Premiership with Port Melbourne while still a teenager. In 1978 he was recruited by the Swans, and over the next eight seasons – during which the South Melbourne Football Club was transplanted to Sydney – Bernie remained one of the Southerners’ most consistent and popular players.

In 1981, after a somewhat bitter separation, the South Melbourne Football Club became the Sydney Swans. At first, the club was happy for Evans to live and train in Melbourne, where he was intent on maintaining his full-time job as a clerk on the Port Melbourne wharves. Each fortnight, Bernie flew to the Harbour City for home games, and the arrangement seemed to work well – especially when he won the Swans’ Best and Fairest in 1984, and started the following season in sensational fashion by kicking nine goals in the opening round against St Kilda.

However, when Tom Hafey was appointed senior coach of the Swans after their dismal season in 1985, he decreed that all of his players had to live and train together in Sydney. By coincidence, Evans had insisted on including a number of conditions in his contract – including the right to stay at home in Melbourne – and when he and the Swans hierarchy could not reach agreement, the news soon spread. Carlton was only one of a number of Melbourne-based clubs that offered Bernie a new home, before he eventually agreed to join his former Swans team-mate David Rhys-Jones at Princes Park.

By early the following year, Carlton’s recruiting net had captured the likes of Stephen Kernahan, Craig Bradley, Peter Motley, Jon Dorotich and Evans among others. Some of the Blues’ mainstays of the early eighties – players like Ashman, Sheldon, Buckley and Marcou – were too often suffering from poor form and injuries, so Evans was seen as a welcome injection of experience and hunger to perform in finals. Allocated guernsey number 15 (previously worn by another high-profile import in Val Perovic), Bernie enjoyed a solid pre-season and played his first game for his new club in the opening round of 1986 against Hawthorn at VFL Park, Waverley. The Hawks never let Carlton into the match and won by six goals that afternoon, with the defeat made even more costly when Evans and Mil Hanna both suffered long-term injuries. Hanna wrecked a knee in the first minute of the game, while Evans finished the match with a broken thumb that cost him nine weeks on the sidelines.

When he eventually returned to Carlton’s senior team in round 10, Bernie celebrated his 150th career game in emphatic fashion when the confident Blues destroyed Melbourne by a mammoth 116 points at the MCG. Three weeks later he starred by kicking five goals in a big victory over Richmond at Waverley, and in early September his switch of clubs paid off when he experienced the joy of victory in his first-ever final when the Blues beat Sydney in a Qualifying Final at the MCG.

Evans’ five-goal haul on the following weekend against Hawthorn in the second Semi Final helped propel the Blues into Premiership favouritism, but the Hawks shocked the competition and knocked over their cocky rivals by seven goals on Grand Final day to snatch the flag. The Blues were beaten by Hawthorn’s cohesion, and brushed aside by their aggression. Like all but a few of his team-mates, Bernie had a disastrous match and was hardly sighted.

However, once the raw emotion of that defeat had subsided, the determination to atone was a powerful motivation for everyone at Carlton. The Blues dominated the 1987 season to finish four points clear of Hawthorn on top of the ladder after the home and away rounds, and in a carbon copy of the previous year, met Hawthorn in the second Semi Final. The Blues won again, but to the dismay of Evans and the club, he was reported by a field umpire for striking Hawthorn ruckman Greg Dear.

“It was only a glancing blow,” Evans later recalled. “And Dear even told the Tribunal that he milked the situation to get a free kick. Missing out on playing in a Premiership side was a real kick in the guts.” Indeed, Bernie’s devastation on Grand Final day can only be imagined, as he watched the Blues destroy the Hawks by 33 points. The club rallied around Evans and ensured that he was included in all the celebrations, but the emptiness of that missed opportunity never really subsided.

Although Bernie played on into 1988, he found it hard to reach peak form until the latter part of the season. Even so, when the Blues made the finals for the eleventh year in a row, Evans was recalled to experience the thrill of finals football once again in a big Qualifying Final win over Collingwood. His last game came the following week in yet another Semi Final loss to Hawthorn, and his career ended on a positive note when he was voted Reserves Best and Fairest.

After leaving Princes Park, Bernie’s only later involvement in football was as an assistant to Tom Alvin when his former Carlton teammate coached VFA (now VFL) club Sandringham for a couple of seasons. Later, he ran a contract cleaning business and was a partner in the Cricketers’ Arms Hotel in his old stamping ground in Port Melbourne.


150 VFL Games : Round 10, 1986 vs Melbourne

Career Highlights

1988 – Reserves Best & Fairest

Aaron Hamill’s 40th

Happy 40th birthday to Aaron Hamill.


Career : 19962000
Debut : Round 15, 1996 vs Adelaide, aged 18 years, 327 days
Carlton Player No. 1010
Games : 92
Goals : 114
Last Game : Preliminary Final, 2000 vs Essendon, aged 23 years, 6 days
Guernsey Nos. 36 (1996-99) and 4 (2000)
Height : 184 cm (6 ft. 1 in.)
Weight : 87 kg (13 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB : 20 August, 1977

Even now, many years after he played his last game for Carlton at the age of 23, the dismay and anger at Aaron Hamill’s defection to St Kilda in 2001 still lingers at Princes Park. Whatever the real cause of his departure – variously reported as either a clash with club President John Elliott, the lure of a huge contract at St Kilda, or a combination of both – Blues’ supporters of that time still feel let down by Hamill’s decision. Especially in light of the effort the club put into his early development, the measures taken to enable him to play in the 1999 Grand Final, and his claim of being a staunch Blues supporter from his school days!

Growing up in Canberra, Hamill was a late bloomer who had been an outstanding junior basketball and rugby player, before he was taken under the wing of former St Kilda Premiership player Kevin ‘Cowboy’ Neale at Tuggeranong. Carlton recruited the strongly-built youngster with pick 79 in the 1994 National Draft, and nurtured him for the best part of two seasons before he was given an opportunity a senior level – playing in defence initially, and taking part in his first final series that same year.

When Carlton’s key forwards in the 1995 Premiership team, Stephen Kernahan and Earl Spalding, retired two seasons later, the club found their successors in Lance Whitnall and Aaron Hamill. Much like Spalding, Hamill evolved into a hard-hitting, pack-busting team player who ran and tackled hard to lock the ball into the forward half, while still being capable of big pack marks and long, generally accurate kicks for goal. He and Whitnall both showed glimpses of what was to come when the Blues demolished Geelong to win the 1997 Pre-Season Premiership, and Carlton supporters hailed them both.

By 1999 Hamill was firmly established at Carlton, and enhanced his reputation with a dominant display in our big Semi Final win over West Coast. A week later, the underdog Blues enjoyed one of our all-time great victories when we knocked over hot favourites Essendon in a cracker ’99 Preliminary Final – but at a cost. Hamill was reported for unduly rough play for using a knee against Essendon’s Dean Wallis, and outed for two matches by the AFL tribunal.

However, because he was such a vital part of Carlton’s game plan for the Grand Final clash with North Melbourne, the Blues appealed against Hamill’s suspension, and went to extraordinary lengths to argue the case. An expert in bio-mechanics was taken to the appeal hearing, along with the best advocate the club could find – and it worked. The suspension was quashed, Hamill thanked the club ‘for coming up with such a good story,’ and took his place in the Grand Final team. Sadly, it was all to no avail, and the Roos won the flag by 35 points.

A year later, after Hamill switched from guernsey number 36 to the iconic number 4 previously worn by ‘Sticks’ Kernahan, Carlton seemed back on track for a coveted 17th flag when we smashed Brisbane by a whopping 82 points in a Semi Final at the MCG. Hamill was unstoppable that afternoon, tearing holes in the Lions defence at will, and booting seven goals, while a young Brendan Fevola came off the interchange bench to slot four. But a serious hamstring tear suffered by Carlton’s champion full-back Stephen Silvagni damped down any celebrations, and Essendon went on to win the flag after tipping the weakened Blues out of contention in the Preliminary Final.

Although it wasn’t known for some weeks, that game brought the curtain down on Hamill’s career at Carlton. Amid whispers of a massive offer put to him by the Saints, Aaron alleged that Carlton President John Elliott insulted him at a post-season function, and so requested a release to St Kilda. The stunned Blues tried to mediate a compromise, but Hamill would not be swayed. He threatened to nominate for the pre-season draft if he wasn’t cleared by Carlton, and for a while things got quite messy.

Eventually, faced with the proposition of losing one of the stars of the game and getting nothing in return, Carlton agreed to a trade Hamill to St Kilda in return for pick 4 in the 2000 National Draft (used to select Luke Livingston) as well as fringe player Sam Cranage. The proceeds from that deal were disappointing for Carlton (between them, Livingstone and Cranage managed only 56 senior games) but if the contract offered to Hamill by the Saints was even close to what was claimed, St Kilda didn’t get their money’s worth, either.

Although he went on to play 98 times for the Saints, and captained the club under their quirky rotational system in 2003, Hamill’s best football was behind him by 2004. He missed all of 2007 through injury, and St Kilda’s best finish to a season while he was on their list was third in 2004.

Oh well…at least he had the courtesy to thank both clubs when he retired for good in 2007.

His departure to the Saints (for any number of reasons ranging from financial security to poor negotiation) left Carlton without a weapon capable of disguising age and allowing for one last shot at a Premiership prior to ageing bodies (Kernahan/Williams and co) retiring. With his reckless ‘hit’ on the football Aaron allowed for ‘smalls’ to crumb and ‘talls’ to find space. His intangible skills were however nearly lost to AFL football in general due to recurring hand injuries and a lack of self belief. Wayne Brittain is responsible for convincing Carlton to wait on his development.


50 Games: Round 8, 1999 vs Port Adelaide
100 Goals: Round 17, 2000 vs Hawthorn

Career Highlights

1996 – Past Players’ Association Encouragement Award
1996 – 3rd Reserves Best & Fairest
1997Pre-Season Premiership Player
1997 – State of Origin representative (ACT/ The Allies)
2000 – 7th Best & Fairest

More unpublished images of ’87 GF emerge

MORE never-before-seen photographs of the immediate aftermath of the 1987 Grand Final have surfaced on the eve of the 30th anniversary reunion of members of the Carlton premiership team.

The first four images captured moments after the final siren were featured on the Club website on Tuesday. A further nine photos, which surfaced this morning, were captured on the Melbourne Cricket Ground moments after the final siren signalled the Blues’ 15th premiership victory – 15.14 (104) to Hawthorn’s 9.17 (71) – on a sweltering last Saturday in September.

Featured among the glorious black and white images is a siren-time photograph of Tom Alvin, Craig Bradley, Stephen Silvagni and Peter Dean in wild embrace. Another, in which an exhausted, elated Wayne Johnston falls into the arms of the then physical education instructor Chris Jones, is set against the backdrop of the since-demolished Smoker’s and Olympic Stands.

Also featured is the jubilant Carlton coach Robert Walls, arm-in-arm with the then Stephen Gough, who this year announced his retirement after 17 years as CEO of the MCC and the stadium it manages, the MCG.

1987 premiership coach Robert Walls – together with 19 of the 20 who played their part in the victorious Grand Final team – will be in attendance for the Spirit of Carlton reunion luncheon on Friday and the matchday function at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The notable apology is Peter Dean, the 248 dual Carlton premiership player who is this weekend committed to coaching duties with Bullioh in the Upper Murray League second semi-final.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
Siren time, Grand Final day, Saturday, September 26, 1987. Peter Dean, Craig Bradley, Tom Alvin and Stephen Silvagni in wild embrace.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
Carlton premiership coach Robert Walls and Carlton football manager Stephen Gough acknowledge the crowd. To the left is club dentist Dr Don Hall.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
Dr Don Hall, together with Carlton Football Club directors Lloyd Bendall, Malcolm Payne and Kevin Hall, flank the Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke just prior to the presentations.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
Justin Madden savours the moment, having been handed his premiership medallion from the Rt Hon RJ Hawke. ‘Harry’ would later answer to ‘Rt Hon’ as a Victorian Parliamentarian.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
Carlton premiership captain Stephen Kernahan and coach Robert Walls hoist the Club’s 15th piece of silverware to the heavens.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
“Thanks Bob – now, where’s the club dentist?”. David Rhys-Jones acknowledges the crowd after being presented with the Norm Smith Medal.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
Wayne Johnston falls into the arms of Carlton physical education instructor Chris Jones, Mick Kennedy holds the trophy aloft, with fellow premiership players Tom Alvin and Stephen Silvagni featured in the frame.  

Best of Melbourne - West Living
The victory lap. “All Hail King Kerna”.

Best of Melbourne - West Living
The powerbrokers, from left: Fosters Brewing Group Limited CEO and Managing Director Peter Bartels, Carlton Vice-President and Match Committee Chairman the late Wes Lofts, President John Elliott, Carlton director John McIntosh, Carlton Vice-President and Executive Director Ian Collins, and former Carlton director John Minuzzo.