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A Star Suspended...

Alex Lang


Career : 1906 – 1910 & 1916 – 1917
Debut : Round 1, 1906 vs Melbourne, aged 18 years, 53 days
Carlton Player No. 195
Games : 105
Goals : 82
Last Game : Round 5, 1917 vs Richmond, aged 29 years, 88 days
Guernsey No. 18
Height : 175 cm
Weight : 72 kgs
DOB : March 12, 1888
Premiership Player 1906, 1907, 1908

A brilliant, elusive, three-time Premiership rover for Carlton in the first decade of the 20th Century, Alex “Bongo” Lang was at the centre of a match-fixing scandal during the 1910 final series, and suspended for five years at the peak of his career.

A local lad born in Carlton, Lang was playing brilliant football with Parkville Presbyterians when he was recruited by Carlton's manager/coach Jack Worrall in 1905, and quickly established himself in a star-studded Carlton team. With champions on every line, the Blues swept to consecutive VFL Premierships in 1906, ’07 and ’08. In 1909 The Australasian newspaper named Lang as the outstanding player of the competition.

Then, in September 1910 - just before Carlton was to meet South Melbourne in the second semi-final – the Carlton committee withdrew three players; Doug Gillespie, Lang, and Doug Fraser, from the team. No reasons were given publicly, but it was common knowledge that the club had received credible information that all three had been bribed to play poorly against the Bloods.

The VFL and Carlton launched separate investigations, and a drastically weakened Blues team went down to South by 12 points. However Carlton, as minor premiers, had earned automatic entry into the Grand Final. Their opponent would be Collingwood, who defeated South Melbourne in the preliminary final. In the lead-up to the decider, Doug Gillespie was exonerated by both enquiries, but Fraser and Lang were found guilty and suspended for five years. Gillespie returned to the Carlton team for the Grand Final only to suffer defeat by 14 points. For more on this scandal, click here.

Thereafter, Lang consistently denied that he was guilty of planning to play dead against South Melbourne. He conceded that an offer had been made to him, but always maintained that he had no intention of accepting it, because of his loyalty to the Blues. His words had a ring of truth to them. After serving his long suspension, Bongo returned to Princes Park to play again in 1916 and '17. He was a good contributor throughout, and one of our best in the 1916 Grand Final loss to Fitzroy.

Lang passed away on the 9th July, 1943 aged 55.

Milestones

50 Games: Round 13, 1908 Vs Collingwood
100 Games: Semi Final, 1916 Vs Richmond

Articles: Carlton's Hat-Trick Heroes | Doug Fraser and the Bribery Scandal of 1910

Blueseum: A summary of Lang's Playing Career | Lang's Blueseum Image Gallery

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