Career : 1981
Debut and Only Game : Round 7, 1981 vs Melbourne, aged 23 years, 212 days
Carlton Player No. 893
Goals : 0
Guernsey No. 17
Height : 192 cm (6 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 89 kg (14 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : October 9, 1957
Evidence would suggest that Tasmanian ruckman-forward Bob Dutton may have been unlucky when he joined Carlton in 1981, in that the Blues at that time were almost invincible, and there wasn’t an obvious place for him in the team. Already on the way to winning three VFL flags in four seasons between 1979 and 1982, Carlton’s ruck division of ‘Percy’ Jones, Mike Fitzpatrick, Warren ‘Wow’ Jones and David McKay was the envy of every other club, so Dutton was always going to find it tough to displace any of them. Then again, he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities.
When he was recruited from the Launceston Football Club in 1979, 'Major' Dutton was already a Premiership player, as well as that year’s Best and Fairest. Having accepted a two-year contract at Carlton, he was allocated guernsey number 17 and started his AFL career in 1980 with the Reserves. Early on, Dutton’s coach Serge Silvagni sent him to full-forward, and the big bloke was something of a revelation. Four times during the year, “Major’ used his strength and reliable right boot to kick five goals or more in a match, with a best of eight majors against North Melbourne. He finished the season as the Reserves’ leading scorer with 47 goals, and was a popular winner of the Best First Year Player award.
By early 1981, it seemed only a matter of time before Dutton was called into the seniors, especially after his 7 goals against Collingwood Reserves in round 6. Sure enough, the following week he was promoted for the game against Melbourne, but by his own admission, had a shocker. Although the Blues won by 40 points, Bob couldn’t get near the football and didn’t trouble the scorers. He was promptly dropped back to the seconds, and took up where he had left off. While Carlton seniors swept through the finals to claim the Premiership, Dutton kept kicking goals in the lower grade, and his aggregate of 51 majors made him the Reserves’ top scorer for the second time. He was also voted Reserves Best Clubman – but that wasn’t enough to save him from the chop and he was delisted at years’ end.
Meanwhile, Hawthorn was one of many clubs casting an envious eye over the Blues’ list, and they threw Dutton a lifeline with a one-year contract in 1982. With the Hawks, Dutton’s fortunes were similar to his experience at Carlton – he played consistent football with their seconds, and earned promotion for the crunch game against Carlton in round 14 – but again didn’t have an impact. He was omitted the following week, and delisted by the Hawks at the end of the season.
By 1983, Dutton had returned to Tasmania, where he joined the Clarence Football Club and gave them the benefit of his VFL experience by leading their ruck division in an emphatic TFL Grand Final victory over Glenorchy. Two years later he went back to the north of the Island State to finish off his career with Launceston, and was the Blues’ leading goal-kicker in 1988 and 1989.
In 2000, ‘Major’ was named on the interchange bench in Launceston’s Team of the Century. As of 2013, he was operating a successful Food Service Distribution Business in Launceston.
Career Highlights1980 - 4th Reserves Best & Fairest
1980 - Reserves Best First Year Player Award
1980 - Reserves Leading Goalkicker (47 goals)
1981 - Reserves Best Clubman Award
1981 - Reserves Leading Goalkicker 51 goals (3rd in the competition)