Carlton greats gather for Life Members Luncheon

Greats of yesteryear gathered for the annual Carlton Life Members Luncheon on the eve of the 2024 season.

FORMER players and officials united by Navy Blue through the past eight decades of Carlton Football Club history have turned out in record numbers for what was the annual Life Members Luncheon at Kew Golf Club.

In what was a rare gathering of genuine Dark Navy royalty at the weekend, former Carlton premiership coaches, captains and players broke bread with former Presidents and officials in a gathering which attracted a total of 121 Life Members.

Present in the room was everyone from former Carlton premiership captain and coach John Nicholls, who completed his senior playing debut back in the opening round of 1957, through to Ed Curnow, the Club’s most recent retiree in the penultimate home-and-away game of 2023.

Carlton Premiership Captains Mike Fitzpatrick and Stephen Kernahan were also there – and joining Kernahan in his capacity as former President were fellow former Presidents Ian Collins and Mark Lo Giudice. Life Members who had passed away since last year’s Luncheon were also acknowledged – notably Ron Barassi, Dr. Don Hall, Ted Hopkins, Vivienne Kerr and Harold Mitchell (the latter having been advised of his Life Membership not long before his death).

“It’s very nice to be part of a community of ex-players when you’ve finished as a footballer. They are good people to be around,” said Curnow, who is now embarking on a career with Lorne as senior playing coach.

“I sat next to ‘Wow’ Jones who was very good to listen to . . . very entertaining. I think I need him down at Lorne footy club this year to straighten out a few of the players.

“It was also exciting to see Bruce Doull in the room, as well as old teammates Heath Scotland, Chris Judd and Brad Fisher.

“For me it was a pleasure to be part of a really unique experience. It made me realise there’s something bigger than just playing football.”

The Life Members Luncheon, now in its sixth year, continues to build – in no small part due to the welcome acceptance of house rules that there are no speeches, nor raffles or auctions.

“We started in 2019 and this event has become bigger and better,” said former Carlton Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gough, who together with Frank Brosnan, Sharon McColl and Shane O’Sullivan convenes the Luncheon as part of his role with the Life Members committee.

“The attendees cover those admitted as Life Members from the ’60s to the current day, and it’s a great cross section of Carlton people,” Gough said.

The committee, with the support of the club, recently championed the recent installation of Life Members boards on the wall by the foyer inside Gate 6 at IKON Park.

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