ALEX Boyle, Carlton’s resident full-back in eight senior matches through 1953 and ’54, has died at the age of 88 after a long illness.
Considered the logical successor to the premiership-winning full-back Ollie Grieve, Boyle joined the Club from Oakleigh having earned a reputation in VFA circles as a dashing defender of renown. Prior to 1949, he’d played for rival Association club Frankston where his on-field prowess was identified by Carlton’s 1938 premiership captain-coach Brighton Diggins.
In football terms, Boyle was hot property. On June 25, 1952, The Argus reported that Oakleigh had finally relented in clearing Boyle, who’d stood out of the game for the opening 10 games of that season out of frustration in not earning a Carlton clearance.
The Devils’ move meant that Boyle’s new club had acquired what The Argus correspondent noted was “one of the most sought after VFA footballers for years”.
“Two other League clubs – South Melbourne and Footscray – were anxious to secure the services of Boyle,” the writer observed.
“Footscray tried to sign him in 1950, 1951 and again early this season. South Melbourne failed to obtain permission from Oakleigh to interview him in 1950. Boyle trained at Carlton four years ago and the club unsuccessfully sought him last year.”
Former Blue Alex Boyle. (Photo: Boyles Studio)
Named at full-back between Bruce Comben and Brian Molony, the 23-year-old Boyle completed his senior debut in Dark Navy against Footscray in the opening round of season 1953 – the same game in which a future Brownlow Medallist John James turned out for the first time.
Inaccuracy in front of goal cost Carlton the four points that Saturday afternoon – 7.18 (60) to the Bulldogs’ 9.11 (65) – and Boyle did not represent the team again that season.
On the Wednesday after the match, Boyle’s name appeared in The Argus beneath the headline PROBLEM FOR BLUES.
The unnamed reporter noted that the chief worry facing Carlton selectors was finding a successor to Boyle at full-back.
“Boyle leaves on an overseas business trip this week and may not be available again this season,” the correspondent wrote.
This week, Boyle’s son Phil revealed the circumstances behind his father’s sudden departure.
“Dad got a lucrative offer to be foreman for the construction of a cantilever crane on Christmas Island,” Phil said.
“They used to load phosphate onto ships by hand over there and Dad, who was a structural engineer, arranged for the crane to shovel it out.”
Boyle wore the guernsey No.5 of Sam Petrevski-Seton into the Footscray match and then the No.6 of Kade Simpson through a further seven senior appearances in ’54 – the last of them against Geelong in Round 18 at Kardinia Park.
Later cleared by the club, Boyle took up the role of senior coach for Pearcedale in the then Mornington Peninsula Football League in 1955.
“Dad took on a series of coaching jobs throughout in country Victoria and he was captain-coach of Narrandera Imperials in New South Wales,” Phil said.
“He played on into his mid-30s but he copped a crook hip which meant he didn’t go to watch many Carlton games later on. I can only remember a couple of occasions where he went along to watch, but having said that he always followed Carlton with interest and Carlton was his team.”
Boyle was the 662nd player to represent the Carlton Football Club at senior level since the VFL’s foundation season of 1897.
Two of Boyle’s old Carlton contemporaries, Ron Robertson and Peter Webster, remembered Boyle, but acknowledged that after 65 years, memories of their former teammate are all too fleeting.
In terms of the character of the man, Boyle’s son Phil, who was putting the finishing touches to his father’s eulogy when contacted for this story, offered the following:
“Dad was intelligent and hard-working. For more than a dozen years he worked seven days a week because the family store was burnt out up at Narrandera, we lost a lot and when Dad came back he was fighting to get back on top again,” Phil said.
“He wasn’t one for detail. He didn’t watch a movie or read a picture book. If it wasn’t real he wasn’t interested. As I say in my eulogy, he was a real man – an old fashioned sort of person in that way. Life was tough growing up, his parents broke up and I think he was loyal to all his friends because of that.”
Alexander (Alex) William Boyle died peacefully in Frankston Hospital on July 29. He was a husband to Catherine and formerly Pat (deceased), father to Bruce (deceased), Mal and Phil, step-father to Michael and Kristy. He was also a much-loved grandfather and great grandfather.
A celebration of Boyle’s life will be held at the Rosebud Funeral Chapel, 123 Jetty Road, Rosebud, on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, commencing 2.30 pm.
Happy 50th birthday to Andrew McKinnon.
Debut: Round 1, 1989 vs Footscray, aged 20 years, 247 days
956th Carlton Player
Last game: Round 22, 1990 vs Fitzroy, aged 22 years, 35 days
Guernsey No. 47 (1989 – 1990)
DOB: 28 July, 1968
Andy McKinnon came to Carlton from outer-eastern Olinda as a solidly built, promising rover-forward, and spent almost two seasons with the Blues’ Reserves team before gaining senior selection in 1989.
After showing promise in his first dozen games, he suffered a serious foot injury that prematurely ended his career in just his second year.
McKinnon was a Premiership Player at Reserves Level in 1990.
1986 – George Armstrong Medal – U/19’s Best & Fairest Award
1985 – 2nd U/19’s Best & Fairest
1988 – 2nd Reserves Best & Fairest
1989 – 2nd Reserves Best & Fairest
1990 – 5th Reserves Best & Fairest
1990 – Reserves Premiership Player
IF ever a photograph best reflected the “Bound By Blue” ethos it’s this one – a photo, recently captured at Ikon Park, of the Club’s players and officials past and present rubbing shoulders with the President Mark LoGiudice, senior coach Brendon Bolton and the Carlton players of today.
The image was taken at a meet-and-greet which followed a training session at the old ground last Saturday morning. Amongst those sharing the moment were premiership players Warren Jones, Andy Lukas, Alex Marcou, Ian Robertson, Sergio Silvagni and Geoff Southby, together with assistant coach David Teague and the outgoing Head of Football Andrew McKay.
Other former players sharing the moment with Murphy, Cripps, Curnow, Kreuzer and co. included Leon Berner, Vin Cattoggio and Bob Crowe, together with reserve-grade players Max Dixon, Greg Kazuro and Tony Zoanetti.
Long-serving club property stewards Ken Kleiman and Wayne ‘Bulldog’ Gilbert were amongst the many Old Dark Navy Blues lending their support to the club, not because it was up, but because it was down – a statement of solidarity from those whose love for Carlton only intensifies with the passing years.
Happy 40th birthday to Jim Plunkett
Debut: Round 5, 2001 vs St Kilda, aged 22 years, 276 days
1044th Carlton Player
Games: 37 (Carlton)
Last Game: Round 21, 2003 vs Hawthorn, aged 25 years, 27 days
Guernsey No. 40 (2001 – 2003).
DOB: 26 July, 1978
Jimmy Plunkett was a small right-footed inside midfielder with the ability to find the ball. Wearing the #40, Plunkett would come to Carlton through the Rookie Draft, after being delisted by the Bulldogs after 10 games through 1999 and 2000.
Plunkett, a red-head, would play 15 games in 2001 including a magnificent 34 possession game against the Crows in the finals. With 22 kicks and 12 handballs, Plunkett – or simply “Jimmy” or “JP” as he was known, was dynamic as the Blues crunched the Crows with Whitnall and Lappin also starring. Although we lost to the Tigers in the following week, Plunkett’s performance was eye-catching and we thought we had stolen a centreman through the Rookie List.
Plunkett played 18 games in 2002, with a number of high possession games (up to 24 on 3 occasions), although he had a few low ones also.
Plunkett did not have the size or pace of your standard AFL player, he earned the ball through burrowing in and out of packs. Good with his hands, Plunkett also had a limited kicking distance.
Incoming Coach Pagan did not seem to see the merits of Jimmy in 2003, keeping him in the VFL for all but 4 games (2 as a late replacement), and when he was selected for Carlton, he received minimum game time and had minimal impact. Plunkett would continue to perform at VFL level, but he was the sort of player who was caught with the ball so often – through getting it in the first place but not getting rid of it quick enough. Plunkett was released at the end of 2003.
In 2004 Plunkett and Blues teammate Andrew Eccles played with VFL club North Ballarat.
Off the field, Plunkett was also famous for starring in the “Avagoodweegend Mr Walker” Aerogard commercials in the 1980s as the little boy with former Test Fast Bowler Max Walker.
Plunkett was originally recruited from Montmorency.
2001 – 4th Reserves Best & Fairest
Bob Crowe meets Liam Jones – Carlton’s keepers of the No.14.
BOB Crowe last laced a boot for Carlton in 1964. On Saturday, for the first time in 54 years, the spritely former Carlton half-back flanker returned to the old Princes Park ground, resplendent in his dark navy blue blazer.
That blazer, a Solway standard for players back then, fitted Crowe like the proverbial glove. As the 82-year-old quickly reminded – “I played at 11-stone-four and I now weigh in at 11-five”.
Originally recruited to the Club from Mentone on the sayso of the then Mentone coach and dual Carlton premiership player Jim Baird, Crow’s tenure with Carlton lasted 11 seasons – and these were happy times both on and off the field for him.
“Looking around the ground now, I remember where the Robert Heatley Stand once stood. They used to put a dance on underneath and there’d be a barrel on,” Crowe recalled.
“They were good days.”
Crowe joined Carlton in 1954, the year after training with Melbourne under Norm Smith’s watch. Why the move? Put it down to the persistence of the then Carlton captain Ken Hands and a teammate Ron Robertson, who repeatedly and vociferously mounted the Carlton case.
Round 17, 1954 – the match with Fitzroy at Princes Park – coincided with Crowe’s first senior appearance. Curiously, Crowe’s 129th and final game would also involve the Lions – and to quote Crowe, “I also did my knee against Fitzroy, running down the race at Brunswick Street”.
“The race was like an old suburban dirt road – potholes and everything,” Crowe recalled of the place where he came to grief before the opening bounce in the 10th round of ’59.
“I played for a quarter with pain killers, but the knee was a bloody mess and in those days a cartilage injury meant a major operation. I remember I was a week in hospital, a week at home and a week at work. I resumed training with the stitches still in and I reckon I played in about seven weeks.”
Crowe finished up at Carlton in late ’64 at around the time of Ron Barassi’s landmark appointment as senior coach . . . “but that was of my own choosing”.
As he said: “I was living at Dandenong and I ended up playing a year there, but I never played again”.
Fifty-four years on, Crowe came back, only this time accompanied by his wife Judith, son Simon, his three grandchildren Sarah, Grace and Xavier and his daughter-in-law Jane – who captured these wonderful images for posterity on a day in which the Club’s past players were invited to a post-training meet and greet.
Together with the clan, Crowe posed by the No.14 locker into which his name is etched. Later, he renewed acquaintance with one of his old Carlton contemporaries Sergio Silvagni. Together they fought the good fight in the losing grand final of ’62 (“one game too many” given the drawn preliminary final with Geelong), the same year Crowe joined John Nicholls in representing the Big V.
Bob Crowe and his family in front of the No.14 locker.
Bob Crowe catches up with Sergio Silvagni as Jacob Weitering listens intently.
For Crowe, ‘Big Nick’ was Carlton’s best, although he often wonders what might have been had a barrel-chested bloke from the Riverina hung around.
“We had a bloke here named Des Lyons, a centre half-forward from Barellan,” said Crowe. “Now he only played a couple of games and he got homesick, but in my opinion he would have been the best of the best.”
At training’s end, Crowe was introduced to today’s keeper of the No.14 Liam Jones with whom he enthusiastically compared notes. Crowe, you see, was relocated from forward to back by the then coach of the day Ken Hands, just as Jones was more recently repositioned by Brendon Bolton – inspired decisions in both instances.
Bob Crowe meets Marc Murphy and Matthew Kreuzer.
“I remember playing forward and the ball wasn’t coming down much,” Crowe said.
“I eventually said to Jack Wrout ‘Give me a game on the backline’, ‘Handsy’ put me back there and it actually worked out quite well, because it usually follows that if a player has played forward he’s got a fair idea what the backman’s doing.”
Crowe and his loved ones filed out of the old ground, having completed their sentimental journey. For Crowe, timing was everything, for he wanted to lend the Club his undying support when it was most needed – and as he said, “It’ll turn around . . . it always does”.