Career : 1967 - 1979
Debut : Round 1, 1967 vs Fitzroy, aged 21 years, 255 days
Carlton Player No. 793
Games : 256
Goals : 424
Last Game : Grand Final, 1979 vs Collingwood, aged 34 years, 57 days
Guernsey No. 25
Height : 182 cm (5 ft. 11½ in.)
Weight : 89 kgs (14 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : August 2, 1945
Premiership Player: 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979
Leading Goalkicker : 1969, 1970, 1971
Captain: 1975, 1976
Captain-Coach: 1978, 1979
Best and Fairest: 1975
Carlton Hall of Fame
Team of the Century
AFL Team of the Century
Carlton and AFL Legend
In 1995, legendary player and coach Ron Barassi published his memoirs, which included three teams made up of (A) the best players he had played alongside, (B) the best players he had coached, and (C) the best players he had seen, throughout his celebrated career that began in 1953 at Melbourne. Only two individuals made all three teams, and both were from Carlton; Alex Jesaulenko, and John Nicholls. Nicholls is universally acknowledged as Carlton’s greatest ruckman and most influential player - but when it comes to sheer football ability; to that rare spark of match-winning genius that sets champions apart, the immortal ‘Jezza’ has had few peers.
Born in Salzburg, Austria to Ukrainian migrants who later emigrated to Australia and settled in Canberra, Alex played soccer and rugby at first, and was 14 before he discovered Aussie Rules. Only five years later, he was a star in the local competition for Eastlake. As soon as Carlton's scouts saw him, the Blues were very interested, but North Melbourne swooped first and signed him to play a number of games for them on match permits.
That was a rebuff, but Carlton's recruiters did not give up. After convincing Alex and his parents that Princes Park offered considerably more opportunities than Arden Street, a loophole was found in the regulations, and, much to the disgust of the Kangaroos, Carlton successfully contested North's agreement through the Australian National Football Council. In the summer of 1966, coach Ron Barassi welcomed Alex to Princes Park, where his form in training, and in the pre-season trial matches, was nothing short of sensational.
Jesaulenko (immediately dubbed ‘Jezza’) started his career in the Blues' first match of 1967, and went on to play in all 20 games that season, including two finals. Wearing the number 25 guernsey that became his icon, and playing mainly as a half-forward flanker, he kicked 34 goals, won Carlton's Best First Year Player Award, represented Victoria in that year's Interstate Carnival, and finished third in the Brownlow Medal count – some kind of debut!
In subsequent years the crowd roar of "Jezzzaaa!!" swelled from the terraces at every Carlton game. It was a golden era for the Blues, and Alex was soon the team's brightest star. A fabulous high mark, brilliant at ground level and dangerous around the goals, the real strength of his game was his versatility. Although his 183 cm and 83 kg build was more suited to the flank or the centre, during his career he played in every position on the ground except first ruck. And when he went to full-forward in 1970 he kicked 115 goals - still the only occasion that a Carlton player has slotted the "ton". On his way to that remarkable achievement, he scored 10.2 off his own boot in round six against Fitzroy.
Jezza played 256 memorable games for Carlton - none more so than the fabled 1970 Grand Final, where took his glorious "Mark of the Century" over Collingwood's Graham Jenkin. However, perhaps the match that demonstrated his freakish ability best of all came in July, 1972 against Essendon at Princes Park. Essendon held a four-point lead at quarter-time that afternoon, before a human cyclone in navy blue number 25 tore the game from the Bombers’ grasp in a few sensational minutes. A contemporary report from the game said; “In just eleven minutes in the second quarter, Carlton wizard Alex Jesaulenko kicked six goals, in a show-stopping demonstration of football magic.’
‘Few, if any, more devastating bursts of play have been seen in the long history of football at Princes Park. Essendon players literally seemed to be mesmerised by Jesaulenko, as he flew, wriggled, jinked, dodged, escaped and wove his way through packs of parked Bombers, as if he were Houdini himself.” Finishing off one of the most dominant individual quarters of football ever played, Jezza then set up another couple of goals (to David McKay and Brent Crosswell) in the Blues total of 12 straight for the quarter.
During his remarkable playing career, Jesaulenko was a star in four Carlton Grand Final victories; 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1979. He was Carlton’s leading goal kicker in 1969 (66 goals), 1970 (115) and 1971 (56), Best & Fairest in 1975, captain in 1974 and 1975, and captain-coach in 1978 and 1979 – a truly outstanding record.
Then in 1980, after an acrimonious split with the club in the wake of President George Harris’ removal, Jezza was cleared to St Kilda. He played a further 23 games as captain-coach of the struggling Saints, until the injury toll on his aging body forced his retirement, eight games into the following season.
Jezza’s defection had been resented in some quarters at Princes Park, but by 1987 relationships were on the way to being restored when Alex was inducted into the Carlton Hall of Fame. Two years later in 1989, he came back to the fold as senior coach of the Blues when sacked Robert Walls was dumped part way through the season. He held the position until the end of 1990, and a couple of seasons later, briefly coached VFA club Coburg.
The Carlton Football Club won a record sixteenth VFL/AFL Premiership in 1995, and in September of the following year there was jubilation again at Princes Park when “Alexander the Great” was named on a half-forward flank in the AFL's Team of the 20th Century. In May 2000 he was an automatic selection in the Blues’ Team of the Century, and eight years later - well past the appropriate time, according to all Carlton supporters - he was officially sanctioned as an AFL Legend.
Then, in June 2014, during celebrations marking Carlton's 150th year of VFL/AFL competition, Jezza was officially recognised as one of the five greatest Blues of that time, alongside John Nicholls, Stephen Kernahan, Bruce Doull and Stephen Silvagni.
FootnotesIn Jesaulenko’s sensational first year at Carlton in 1967, he polled 15 Brownlow Medal votes – more than any other Blue. Meanwhile, over at Fitzroy, another outstanding first-year prospect; 17 year-old John Murphy, also topped his club’s votes. Four decades later in 2006, John Murphy’s highly-talented son Marc made his debut for the Navy Blues.
1966 Anslie downs Eastlake in Rules semi finalAlex's Eastlake was beaten in the second semi final.
To read the Canberra Times' report, and see a photo of young Alex taking a screamer, click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107889405
1966 Mr. Football of the ACTALEX JESAULENKO (Eastlake)
"The 'Mr. Football' of the ACT. Alex is capable of rising to great heights. A quick thinker and an unselfish teamman he does not know the meaning of defeat." (Canberra Times 09 July p35)
Alex Jesaulenko would finish second in the 1966 ACT Mulrooney Medal with 14 votes, 5 behind the winner.
1967 Club deputation on JesaulenkoEastlake on a technicality had refused a clearance for Alex. President George Harris and club secretary Gerald Burke went to Canberra in March to sort out the problem.
Jesaulenko was already at Carlton playing in practice matches.
To read the Canberra Times report click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107033189
Video Clips Of Alex Jesaulenko:Jezza's Legendary Screamer Over Jerker Jenkin
Jezza's Amazing Hanger Versus Richmond
Jezza Takes A Screamer For Victoria
Milestones50 Games: Round 17, 1969 vs Geelong
100 Games: Round 3, 1972 vs South Melbourne
150 Games: Round 8, 1974 vs Footscray
200 Games: Round 2, 1977 vs Fitzroy
250 Games: Round 12, 1979 vs Geelong
100 Goals: Round 16, 1969 vs South Melbourne
200 Goals: Round 16, 1970 vs St Kilda
300 Goals: Round 8, 1972 vs St Kilda
400 Goals: Round 19, 1976 vs St Kilda
Career Highlights1967 - Terry Ogden Memorial Trophy: Best First Year Player Award
1967 - 3rd in Brownlow Medal Count
1968 - Premiership Player
1969 - 5th Best & Fairest: won on countback
1970 - Arthur Reyment Memorial Trophy: 2nd Best & Fairest
1970 - 3rd in Brownlow Medal Count
1970 - Club's Leading Goalkicker
1970 - Premiership Player
1971 - Club's Leading Goalkicker
1972 - 4th Best & Fairest
1972 - Premiership Player
1973 - 10th Best & Fairest
1974 - Equal 7th Best & Fairest
1975 - Robert Reynolds Memorial Trophy - Best & Fairest Award
1975 - Australian Football Media Association Awards | AFLMA Most Valuable Player
1978 - 6th Best & Fairest
1979 - 9th Best & Fairest
1979 - Premiership Captain / Coach
LinksArticles: Big Name Recruits to Carlton | The 1970 Prelim | 1979: Goodbye Jezza and George | Folklore: Jesaulenko, You Beauty! | Carlton's Magnificent Seven
Australian Football website's 2016 excerpt from 'Champions,' an article by Ben Collins called "Jesaulenko You Beauty!"
Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Jezza | Career Breakdown for Jezza | Jezza's big goals hauls | Coaches | Jezza's Blueseum Image Gallery