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Harry Sullivan         Very good, too late...

Harry Sullivan


Career : 1950 - 1954
Debut : Round 18, 1950 vs South Melbourne, aged 18 years, 139 days
Carlton Player No. 646
Games : 31
Goals : 16
Guernsey No. 2 (1950) and No. 3 (1951 - 54)
Last Game : Round 13, 1954 vs Melbourne, aged 22 years, 99 days
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 82.5 kg (13 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : April 8, 1932
DOD : February 5, 2017





Harry Sullivan joined Carlton from Brighton Technical School in 1949 at the age of 17, and played in our Under 19 Premiership side in that same year. Over the next two seasons he made his way up through the Reserves, and was selected for his senior debut in round 18, 1950, when Carlton finished off a dismal year by getting the points against South Melbourne by two goals at Princes Park.

By then, the strongly-built youngster was looked upon as a likely replacement for Carlton’s champion centre half-forward Ken Baxter, who was due to retire at season’s end. But as Sullivan’s potential couldn’t be properly assessed until he had played more games at the top level, he was sent to the key forward post in round 6, 1951 and stayed there throughout the season.

By the end of that year, there was no denying that Sullivan’s all-round skills were quite good – the problem was that as a key forward, he just didn’t kick enough goals. His first 15 matches produced only 12 majors, with a best haul of two. He was briefly tried in defence in 1953 - with unspectacular results - and although his season ended on a bright note when he was a member of that year’s Reserves Premiership team, it seemed as though his future at Carlton lay as a spare parts player and a regular bench-warmer. Quite understandably, Harry wasn’t happy with that situation, especially when he wasn’t selected in the seniors again after round 14, 1954, so later that year he requested a clearance to Collingwood for the 1955 season.

Harry's first season at Victoria Park was much like those that came before; 10 games, 5 goals and regular demotion to the seconds. But in early 1956, someone had the bright idea of giving him an opportunity at full-back, and a star was born. On the way to 78 games and immortality among the Collingwood legions, Sullivan anchored the Magpies' defence in their 1956 Grand Final loss to Melbourne. Two years later, he was there again when Collingwood famously defeated the Demons to deny them four flags in a row, and Sullivan became a Collingwood legend. Cool under pressure, near-impossible to shake off, and renowned for his ability to punch the ball from his opponent’s grasp at precisely the right moment, Harry also represented Victoria in 1958.

In a decision that surprised and disappointed everyone at Victoria Park, Sullivan retired from VFL football in 1960 at the age of 28, due to the pressures of his burgeoning business interests.

Harry Sullivan died on February 5, 2017.

Career Highlights

1949 - U/19's Premiership Player
1949 - U/19's Best and Fairest
1953 - Reserves Premiership Player
1954 - Reserves Captain


Articles: The Fish that Got Away

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Harry Sullivan | Sullivan's Blueseum Image Gallery

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2002 VFL Rd 2 - Willy just best Blues.
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1987 - Peter McConville cartoon (12/08/87).

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