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Warren McKenzie

show_image.php?id=1636Career : 1985 - 1990
Debut : Round 12, 1985 vs Footscray, aged 20 years, 319 days
Carlton Player No. 930
Games : 88 (67 at Carlton)
Goals : 56 (43 at Carlton)
Last Game : Round 22, 1990 vs Fitzroy, aged 26 years, 32 days
Guernsey No. 45
Height : 190 cm (6 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 86 kg (13 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : 31 July, 1964
Premiership Player 1987


Before Warren McKenzie was allocated guernsey number 45 by Carlton in 1983, two club champions – Trevor Keogh and Rod Austin – had briefly worn the number at the dawn of their careers. In turn, McKenzie was to wear it in 67 senior matches over six seasons for the Blues, and it can fairly be said that he squeezed everything possible out of his ability. “Macka’ played in five Grand Finals – three in Reserve grade, and two for the Seniors – for a famous Senior victory in 1987, and a Reserves flag in his last match in navy blue. Delisted in 1990, he finished his AFL career with two seasons in Sydney.

McKenzie joined Carlton’s Under-19 squad in 1983, after being recruited from eastern suburbs club Mooroolbark. A tall, agile utility who was handy anywhere on the ground (or in the ruck) he enjoyed a successful debut season with the thirds, finishing top three in their best and fairest. Early in 1984, he was promoted to Carlton Reserves, going on to kick three goals in an infamous Grand Final against Melbourne. In front of a huge, vocal crowd, fights erupted before the opening bounce that afternoon, and eight players (four from each side) were reported before the Demons crushed the Blues by six goals.

McKenzie’s promise was confirmed midway through 1985, when he was called into Carlton’s senior side for the round 12 match against Footscray at the Western Oval. Starting from the bench, he was hardly sighted, but his coach David Parkin kept faith in him, and another nine games followed over the season. In just his fourth senior outing, against Melbourne in round 16, Macka was sent to full-forward after quarter time and kicked 4 goals, before the Senior season culminated in defeat by North Melbourne in an Elimination Final. Three weekends later, Warren was one of his team’s best players in his second-successive Reserves Grand Final, only to lose again when Hawthorn surged after half-time to edge out the Blues by 16 points.
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Carlton remained a force in 1986, and the depth of talent at the club made senior selection as difficult as ever. By August, McKenzie was back with the Reserves, playing consistently, but unable to earn promotion until a string of injuries intervened. Recalled for round 21, he grasped the opportunity and justified his place in the team right through to his first senior Grand Final, when Carlton met Hawthorn at the MCG in front of a seething crowd of more than 100,000. Again, Warren began the game from the interchange bench, but after that was only sparingly used as the Blues failed to hold the rampaging Hawks and were hammered by 42 points in McKenzie’s third successive Grand Final defeat.

The following season of 1987 panned out in similar fashion, but with a much happier conclusion. After three games early in the year, Macka was dropped back to the Reserves for ten long weeks. Recalled in early July, he played consistently for the rest of the season, as Carlton strung together six wins on the trot to qualify for another Grand Final clash against Hawthorn. The MCG baked in the hottest Grand Final on record, and 92,000 fans saw the Blues exact sweet revenge on the Hawks with a 33-point victory. Midway through the last quarter, with the game all but won, Macka out-marked two opponents, then goaled from 40 metres. And when he lifted the Premiership Cup at last, all the pain of the previous three years was cast aside.

Having enjoyed a relatively trouble-free career to that point, McKenzie began 1988 with renewed confidence - until the football gods turned nasty and he damaged a knee. Sidelined for the best part of twelve months, he played mostly in defence after that, avoiding the necessity to constantly twist and turn. In round 15, 1989, a thrilling last-minute victory over Collingwood marked Macka’s 50th game, and by the end of 1990 he had added a further 17 matches to his tally. Carlton finished a mediocre eighth that season, before winning another Reserves Premiership with a dominant last quarter in the Grand Final against Melbourne. At full-back, McKenzie anchored a disciplined defence, keeping the Demons goalless in the last quarter as Carlton came from behind to win by 18 points.

Then, only a week or so later, Carlton sprung a surprise – announcing that they had agreed to trade McKenzie to the Sydney Swans in exchange for National Draft pick number 2 (later used to recruit Tasmanian James Cook). Typically, and without much fanfare, Macka landed in Sydney early in 1991, and went on to give the Swans loyal effort in another 21 matches over two seasons. When his contract expired, McKenzie chose not to stay in the Harbour City. Instead, he relocated again to Melbourne, and completed a fine career with two seasons of VFL football with the Sandringham Zebras.

In 2014, Warren's son Reece McKenzie was drafted at pick 77 by Richmond. Reece spent two seasons on the Tigers’ list without managing a senior game, before being released at his own request.

!!!Milestones
50 Games : Round 15, 1989 vs Collingwood

Career Highlights

1983 – Under-19 3rd Best & Fairest
1987 - Senior Premiership Player
1990 - Reserves Premiership Player

Articles: The BIG Numbers

Blueseum: A summary of McKenzie's playing career | McKenzie's Blueseum Image Gallery

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