Career : 1924 - 1925
Debut : Round 2, 1924 vs Essendon, aged 26 years, 130 days
Carlton Player No. 393
Games : 21
Goals : 10
Last Game : Round 13, 1925 vs Essendon, aged 27 years, 227 days
Guernsey No. 7
Height : 173 cm (5 ft. 8 in.)
Weight : 72.5 kg (11 stone, 6 lbs.)
DOB : 24 December, 1897
Another in a long list of talented footballers from the Island State, Stan Trebilco arrived at Carlton in 1924 as a proven star from Ulverstone in Tasmania. But his time at Princes Park spanned less than eighteen months, and he went back home the following year with a lot of good football left in him.
Trebilco began his senior career with Ulverstone in 1914 as a 17 year-old, and it wasn’t long before supporters of the club realised that the dark-haired youngster was something special. A graceful, elusive mover who always seemed calm under pressure, he was an exceptional mark for his size, and a long, accurate kick on the run.
Before Stan’s career really got going however, World War 1 intervened. So with his parent’s assent, he signed on with the AIF in February, 1916, and just over a year later was in action in France as a gunner with the Australian field artillery. Throughout the next two and a half years, he took part in most of the important offensives on the Western Front, where he was promoted to the rank of Corporal. Remarkably unscathed by his experiences, he returned to Tasmania in 1919 and resumed his footballing exploits with the Robins.
By 1923 Trebilco was captain of Ulverstone, and the North West Football Union’s outstanding player. A tenacious, stay-at-home centreman, he controlled the middle of the ground week after week, and it was no surprise when he won the competition’s Best and Fairest award, the Cheel Medal. Topping off a perfect year for Stan, the Robins went all the way to the Grand Final, and beat Latrobe to claim their fifth Premiership.
Although he turned 26 a few days before Christmas 1923, Trebilco’s ability hadn’t gone unnoticed on the other side of Bass Strait. Carlton was just one of the VFL clubs that sounded him out about a move to the mainland, and eventually convinced him that he had the skills and athletic ability to succeed at elite level.
Carlton sorely needed quality recruits in 1924. Just three years beforehand the Blues had been narrowly beaten in a Grand Final by Essendon, and since then had gone into steep decline. With the weight of much expectation, and the prestige of number 7 on his back, Trebilco made his debut for Carlton against Essendon at Princes Park in round 2, 1924. Playing in the centre, with Newton Chandler and Harry Bell as his wingers, he was a fine contributor in a hard-fought match that ended in a draw.
Thereafter, Stan played the next fourteen matches straight – either in the centre or on a half-forward flank. He kicked ten goals, and was awarded the Brownlow Medal vote as best on ground in one game. But overall, it was a bad year for the Blues. A drastic slump in form mid-season, and a serious illness suffered by champion forward Horrie Clover robbed the team of any momentum, and we ended the season a disappointing seventh on the ladder.
Carlton began 1925 in the same situation as the previous year. Fielding a team that included eight new recruits, and a new playing coach in Paddy O'Brien, the Blues were thrashed by 38 points by South Melbourne at the Lake Oval in round one. Trebilco played in the centre as usual that afternoon, but then missed a month of games through injury. He came back into the team for round 6, and probably earned the Brownlow vote again when he almost single-handedly drove his team to victory over Richmond at Princes Park in round 7.
However, by round 12 of that bleak year, the Blues had managed only four wins, and when Essendon added to the despair with another hiding at Windy Hill in early August, Trebilco had had enough. He told Carlton that he would not be going on, and ended his VFL career still four months short of his 28th birthday.
Stan returned to Tasmania in 1926, but not to Ulverstone. Instead, he joined North West Football Union newcomers Burnie Tigers as captain, and within a few short years had become a club legend. He won the club’s Best and Fairest in his first season, then took on the dual role of captain-coach and was a prime mover in the Tigers’ famous 1927-28 Premiership double. He retired as a player after the second of those flags, but stayed on as coach through until 1929.
A decade later, Stan served two terms as President of the Tigers whilst Tasmanian football was in recess for the duration of World War II. A Hall of Fame inductee at Ulverstone, and a revered figure throughout northern Tasmania, he passed away at the age of 78 on March 26, 1976.
FootnotesThe Advocate in Burnie January 1924 wrote about Stan's departure for Carlton.
To read the article, click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article67121871
The Advocate in January 1950 paid tribute to Stan for his football and athletic abilities.
To read the article, click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69201261