Career : 1937 -1938
Debut : Round 3, 1937 vs Melbourne, aged 24 years, 365 days
Carlton Player No. 533
Games : 8
Goals : 5
Last Game : Round 17, 1938 vs Melbourne, aged 26 years, 103 days
Guernsey No. 3
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 84 kg (13 stone, 3 lbs.)
DOB : 8 May, 1912
Born in neighbouring Clifton Hill, and recruited from Brunswick, Fredrick (Fred) Ayers was a fringe player at Carlton in the lead-up to the long-overdue 1938 Premiership. He made his senior debut for the Blues on his birthday, and played his first - and his last - VFL matches against Melbourne at the MCG.
A solidly-built follower forward, Ayers wore Carlton’s number 3 guernsey in a senior match for the first time on Saturday, May 8, 1937, when the Blues took on Melbourne in front of a huge crowd of almost 38,000 at the MCG. It was Fred’s 25th birthday that day, and one of his presents was the privilege of joining Charlie Davey and Ansell Clarke in the first ruck. Unfortunately, the match didn’t follow Fred’s intended script, because the Redlegs knocked over the Blues by six goals. Ayers played three more times in 1937, but was omitted after round six, and couldn’t reclaim a senior berth for almost a year.
When former South Melbourne Premiership ruckman Brighton Diggins was appointed captain-coach of the Blues in 1938, positive results weren’t long in coming. Five wins on the trot opened the season, sending Carlton to the top of the ladder en-route to the Blues’ sixth Premiership after a 23-year drought. Ayers was recalled to the senior team for three games in a row from round 6, only to then be omitted until the second-last match of the home and away season, when he was named as 19th man for another clash with Melbourne at the MCG.
The Redlegs defeated Carlton again that afternoon, maintaining their reputation as the Blues’ bogey team. Fred didn’t play again at senior level again after that, while Diggins’ boys went on to claim the flag with a well-planned and executed Grand Final victory over Collingwood.
Precisely a year after Brighton Diggins’ triumph at the helm of the Blues, Europe and the world was plunged into crisis when World War II began. Ayers enlisted in the 2nd AIF in April 1943, and served for eighteen months with an anti-aircraft unit. He survived the war, and came home to enjoy the peace and prosperity of post-war Australia until his passing - at the age of 78 – on August 18, 1986.
FootnoteThe Australasian May 12 1923 reporting on the Carlton vs Fitzroy match the previous Saturday (5th.) wrote;
"In the outer a boy named Frederick Ayers, of Carlton, fell from the fence and broke his leg, being admitted to the Melbourne Hospital for treatment."
Fred Ayers would have been just a few days off his 11th birthday, same person?