Sixty years on, Carlton’s inaugural Coleman Medallist salutes Harry

“Turkey Tom” congratulates the 2021 Coleman Medallist.

FORMER Carlton full-forward Tom (“Turkey Tom”) Carroll – the Club’s inaugural Coleman Medallist for most goals kicked in the home and away period of League competition – has commended Harry McKay’s breakout season to earn the medal some 60 years after he completed the feat.

Wearing the No.22 of the famous Carlton full-forward of yesteryear in Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence, Carroll earned the medal retrospectively for his 54-goal return from 18 home and away matches at an average of 3.0 – in what was also his inaugural season with the club after joining from Ganmain in the Riverina.

“Wasn’t it great,” said Carroll of McKay’s medal victory from his home in Albury.

“Harry averaged three goals a game – 58 goals from 19 – and three a game is what I averaged in ’61.”

“I haven’t met Harry before as I can’t get down to Melbourne, but it’s wonderful that his achieved this milestone, just for the history. He was pretty much a lone hand without Charlie Curnow and Mitch McGovern there for the most part.”

Tom conceded to having “a few reservations” with McKay’s kicking for goal from the left forward pocket.

“He’s such a lovely field kick, and from the right forward pocket he’s good, but when he gets in the left pocket he hasn’t got an answer there has he? My answer would be for him to keep practising the drop punt more until he could perfect the banana, and for the club to get ‘Fev’ (Brendan Fevola) in as a goalkicking coach.”

Carroll actually opted for the flat punt throughout his 55 senior matches over three seasons at Carlton, during which time he took the Club’s goalkicking honours with 54 in 1961, 62 in 1962 and 27 in 1963.

“I reckon Jack Titus introduced the drop punt from close in – anywhere within 20-30 metres out, but until Peter McKenna came along – and he could kick it 50 metres couldn’t he? – the flat punt was used . . . and I used the flat punt all the time.

“They talk about the snapshot (kick around the corner) and how you get more foot on the ball. Well that was the flat punt. You got the full purchase because the side of the ball was at the right angle to the foot. The only thing I did differently was the angle kick from the right pocket – the banana – every now again.”

So named after John Coleman, the Australian Football Hall of Fame Legend who booted 537 goals in 98 senior appearances for Essendon, the Coleman Medal was first presented to former Richmond full-forward Michael Roach in 1981.

Aside from Carroll and McKay, former Carlton full-forward Brendan Fevola (who was unavailable for comment) is a two-time winner with 84 goals in 2006 and 86 in 2009.

In September 2001, the League recognised all leading goalkickers prior to Roach’s victory – from 1955 (the year after Coleman’s last match) to 1980 – and all including Carroll were named retrospective Coleman Medallists.

Winners prior to 1955 – at Carlton Mick Grace (45 goals, 1906), Ern Cowley (35 goals, 1918), Horrie Clover (54 goals, 1922) and Harry Vallence (72 goals, 1931) – were also named Leading Goalkicker Medallists, and in July 2004 medals were presented to their surviving families in a ceremony at the Melbourne Town Hall.

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