‘Skinny’ to be there in spirit at Carrara

Unfortunately, Gold Coast resident – and Carlton cult hero – Matthew Lappin won’t be present in Round 23.

FORMER Carlton footballer Matthew ‘Skinny’ Lappin, thesedays domiciled in Queensland, had hoped to be at Carrara’s Heritage Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon to see his Blues potentially lock in a finals berth for the first time in a decade with victory over the Suns.

But football has ironically deprived him of that opportunity, as Lappin is the resident coach of QAFL outfit Surfer’s Paradise, which meets Aspley at the Hornets’ Graham Road Oval in Carseldine at 2pm.

“The timing isn’t great, but it is what it is,” Lappin said. “In any event our place on the ladder can’t change so I’ll have my phone handy in a corner of the coach’s box to keep tabs on what’s happening.”

Watching on from afar these past eight weeks, Lappin has been “blown away like everyone” with Carlton’s incredible metamorphosis.

“I didn’t see this coming,” said the Blues’ prodigiously-gifted 196-gamer. “It’s been a total 180-degree turnaround and a real credit to everyone involved who stuck fat and kept it together – and they’re playing a sustainable brand of football by the look of it.

“I’ve loved watching it and I’ve been pretty vocal about it on my Twitter account. They’ve kept building with the addition of the right pieces.”

Originally drafted by St Kilda at selection 40 in the 1993 AFL Draft, Lappin strung 55 games together before being traded to Carlton with selection No.58 (later used to draft Ian Prendergast) in exchange for its selections Nos.22 and 53 (later used to secure James Begley and Troy Schwarze) in 1998.

The Blues knew what they were getting with the prodigiously gifted Chiltern footballer, whose Carlton tenure would cover 196 games through nine seasons – amongst them the 1999 preliminary and Grand Finals – and would result in him earning All-Australian and international honours.

Following his on-field retirement, Lappin remained with Carlton as an assistant coach, and as a playing assistant coach with the Northern Bullants.  He served as Carlton’s forward line coach from 2008 until 2010 before completing four years as an assistant coach at Collingwood from 2011.

Lappin relocated to Queensland and in early 2015 was appointed Gold Coast’s Head of Development. In August of that year he again donned the boots, this time for the Suns’ reserve grade team as a result of the team’s player shortages due to injuries.

In 2018, Lappin pursued his coaching interests as Head Coach of Southport Sharks’ Junior AFL Academy before accepting the coaching role with Surfer’s Paradise, and as self-confessed sun-lover he considers he’ll be in Queensland for the long haul.

Carlton greats gather for launch of Blue Brilliance

Five members of Carlton’s feted 1972 premiership team came together for the launch of a new book.

FIVE members of Carlton’s feted 1972 premiership team, and a further member of the ’73 Grand Final outfit, have shared their reminiscences – both palatable and unpalatable – at the launch of a new book chronicling the team’s bitter rivalry with Richmond through those halcyon years.

Carlton’s ’72 premiership greats Peter Jones, Andy Lukas, David McKay and Geoff Southby, together with ’73 Grand Finalist Vin Catoggio, joined author Dan Eddy at the launch of his book Blue Brilliance in the 1864 Function Room at IKON Park.

1972 Carlton Premiership player Andy Lukas with his daughter Jo and grandchildren at the launch.

Eddy’s tome examines with forensic detail the stories behind the stories that in part tell the whole of the Carlton-Richmond enmity through a five-year period which took in three Grand Finals – most notably the ’72 Grand Final when the Blues booted a record score of 28.9, and the ’73 Grand Final when the Tigers’ brutality, coupled with the late losses through illness and injury to Carlton’s key midfielders Barry Armstrong and Trevor Keogh – chiefly contributed to “a hollow victory”, as McKay put it.

Dan Eddy launches Blue Brilliance at Ikon Park.

McKay, who bravely played out the second half of the ’72 Grand Final with a broken jaw, and Southby – who took no further part in the ’73 GF after being knocked out in the second quarter – were both recipients of Neil Balme’s indiscretions: indiscretions for which Balme was never suspended.

While Southby declared he was prepared to forgive but not forget after 50 years, McKay was less than forgiving.

“Just thinking about it now, in some ways the 1973 Grand Final was pretty much a hollow victory for Richmond. To do what they did to Geoff early in the game . . .  and to explain it away as ‘that was football back then’ is really a pretty weak excuse,” McKay said.

“That was nothing short of thuggery – and it wasn’t just the on-field guys responsible, it was the off-field guys who sent them out to do it. That was sanctioned by the club I’m sure and it’s pretty tragic when you think about it, that you’ve got to go to those lengths to win a football game.”

From left to right Vin Catoggio, David McKay, Andy Lukas, Geoff Southby and Peter Jones.

Lukas and Jones talked fondly of their experiences in ’72 – Lukas as a contributor to the win off the bench, Jones having turned in the best of his 249 games for Carlton as No.1 ruckman in his one-on-one with Craig McKellar.

Blue Brilliance is available at The Carlton Shop.

Blues’ Bendigo goalsneak Brian Walsh passes

Vale, Brian Walsh.

BRIAN Walsh – a member of Carlton’s 1973 Grand Final team, and the Club’s leading goalkicker and Best Clubman in the same year – has passed away in Bendigo after a long health struggle. He was 72.

Joining Carlton from Sandhurst on the eve of the 1970 premiership season, Walsh was amongst the Club’s solid intake of Bendigo Football League recruits in the days of zoning. While he would never savour premiership glory, he was part of a solid core of Bendigonians central to Carlton’s on-going on-field successes – Sandhurst’s Trevor Keogh, Geoff Southby and Paul Hurst; Golden Square’s Ray Byrne and Greg Williams; Eaglehawk’s Greg Kennedy, Rod Ashman and Des English; and South Bendigo’s Peter Dean.

When he signed on at 18 in late 1969, Walsh had just earned the Bendigo League’s Best and Fairest award, so the Carlton recruiters knew what they were getting. By the opening round of 1970 Walsh was ready to go, and together with his old Sandhurst teammate Hurst, he completed his senior debut under coach Ron Barassi’s watch.

Named alongside Alex Jesaulenko in a forward pocket for the season opener, Walsh contributed two goals to Carlton’s winning scoreline of 21.19 (145) – and ‘Jezza’ booted a lazy nine.

As a canny forward, Walsh played his part in many a Carlton victory and he knew where the goals were. In Round 8, 1973, against South Melbourne at the Lakeside Oval, he put eight goals over the umpire’s hat, and in Round 16, 1974, against Collingwood at VFL Park, he booted another seven – five of them in the second quarter.

Trevor Keogh, Carlton’s two-time premiership player and dual best and fairest, knew Walsh from their secondary schooldays.

“Brian was a couple of years younger than me, but we went to school together,” Keogh said.

“We were friends at Marist Brothers in Bendigo where we played school football and later at Sandhurst with others like Kevin Higgins, Kevin Sheehan and Geoff Southby. Our schoolboy teams were always pretty good, but not in the same class as Assumption.

“When we were playing juniors and seniors we’d go by bus to grounds at Echuca or Rochester. I reckon I played three years in the seniors and Brian played two. He won the Michelsen Medal for the Bendigo League in 1969, the same year he won the Sandhurst Best and Fairest. I was the B and F at Sandhurst in 1968 and Southby in ’70.”

Keogh remembered Walsh as “a very smart footballer” both in Bendigo and at Carlton.

“He wasn’t quick, but he was clever with his hands and feet, and he could kick either foot. He played close to the goals – he mainly played as a forward, with the occasional run in the centre,” Keogh said.

“He was a good bloke too.”

On the eve of the 1975 season, Walsh saw fit to change clubs. He made the short diversion to Windy Hill and tallied another 51 senior games through four seasons for Essendon.

Walsh ended his on-field career at Werribee, earning was crowned best and fairest in 1981 when he was also captain-coach.

On the strength of his friendship with former Carlton premiership player and coach Robert Walls, Walsh accepted a role as Walls’ assistant at Fitzroy, and coached the Lions’ reserve grade teams between 1982 and ’84.

He later gave something back to the Bendigo League, taking Golden Square to the premierships of 1988, ’89 and 2001 – and there would also be coaching stints with Wangaratta, Campbells Creek, White Hills and Kyneton.

In October 1997, Walsh was one of 19 Carlton players named in Bendigo’s 23-man VFL/AFL All Stars Team.

After 120 years, first images of former Carlton footballer surface

Images of one of the 115 Carlton previously without a known photograph has now been sourced.

PAT PELLY was Caleb Marchbank’s age when he donned the dark navy lace-up with chamois yoke for his eighth and final senior game for the Carlton Football Club.

That happened almost 120 years ago, in the 11th round match of 1904 against St Kilda at Princes Park, when Pelly, then 26, was named on a half-forward flank for that contest – and Jim Marchbank, the brother of Caleb’s great grandfather, took on ruck duties.

Seven weeks earlier, Pelly had completed his Carlton senior debut at Princes Park, ironically enough against the Saints, and in both instances alongside his cousin Jim Flynn. Fate would deal Flynn a greater hand, as he would lead Carlton to its inaugural VFL Grand Final victory as captain in 1904 – the first of a Premiership hat-trick under Jack Worrall’s watch.

Pat Pelly, Melbourne, circa 1904.

Pelly, as with Flynn, was recruited to Carlton from St. James (between Benalla and Yarrawonga). Together they would turn out for the local St James Football Club, whose President was George J. Coles. It was George who acquired his first retail business in St. James from his father George W. Coles, and his company, the Coles Group, would one day morph into the nation’s largest retail business.

Not much else is known about the life of Pelly, Carlton player No. 170 who died in Benalla at the age of 61 on February 20, 1939.

But it’s through the help of Jim Flynn’s descendants in Benalla that the club has for the first time sourced a portrait photograph of Pelly, 119 years after he last laced a boot for the old dark Navy Blues.

The photograph, professionally taken by a representative of Bourke Street’s Stewart & Company, is thought to have been taken around the time Pelly was chasing the leather for Carlton, and features a resplendent Pelly sporting a black tie. Another photo, supplied by the Flynns, captures the local St James team of 1909, featuring Pelly (third player standing from the right) and Jim Flynn (second player seated from the left) both wearing their treasured Carlton lace-ups. The fair-headed player wearing a cravat and seated to the right and front of Flynn as you look at that image is Gordon Green, a member of Carlton’s back-to-back Premiership teams of 1914 and ’15.

The St James team, 1909. Pat Pelly is the third player standing from the right, proudly wearing the old Carlton lace-up with chamois yoke. Seated second from the left, also wearing the Carlton lace-up, is Pelly’s cousin Jim Flynn, Carlton’s inaugural Premiership captain and three-time Premiership player of 1906, 07 and ’08. In front of Flynn and to his left sporting a cravat is Gordon Green, later a member of the Blues’ 1914 and ’15 Premiership teams.

Since its inaugural VFL season of 1897, the Carlton Football Club has been represented by 1236 footballers, of which 115 – Pelly included – was not identified by a single photograph.

Thanks to the Flynns, that number has now been whittled down by one.