Career : 1933 - 1945
Debut : Round 4, 1933 vs Essendon, aged 22 years, 135 days
Carlton Player No. 497
Games : 187
Goals : 58
Last Game : Round 5, 1945 vs St Kilda, aged 34 years, 134 days
Guernsey No. 32
Height : 175 cm (5 ft. 9 in.)
Weight : 71.3 kg (11 stone, 3 lbs.)
DOB : January 5, 1911
Premiership Player 1938
Victorian Representative 1935
In a story of triumph and tragedy, Robert James (Bob) Green carved out a fine senior career with the Blues, and was among Carlton’s best players in the 1938 drought-breaking Premiership victory over South Melbourne. But just four years after the last of his 187 matches at Princes Park, he was tragically killed when he was run down by a car while attempting to board a tram near his home.
Bob was the younger brother of Jack Green, who preceded him at Princes Park for an 86-game career between 1929 and 1933. Born in Carlton, he was recruited from Ascot Vale CYMS, and wore guernsey number 32 throughout his thirteen seasons with the Navy Blues. While Jack was an elegant and straight-kicking key forward, Bob was an aggressive, skilful wingman with inherent pace. He tackled hard, was brave and instinctive, and always dangerous around the goals.
Bob and Jack were team-mates in 10 senior games for the Blues in 1933, although Bob was overlooked for a place in the side that lost that year’s first Semi Final to Geelong. To Carlton’s chagrin, Jack crossed to Hawthorn the following year, while Bob stayed on at Princes Park to establish himself in a strong Carlton squad that was destined to be a regular finalist over the next decade.
By 1935, Bob had matured into one of the elite wingers of the VFL, and was reunited with Jack when both brothers were selected in the Victorian state team that defeated South Australia by 19 points in August. A little over one month later, he experienced the thrill of his finals debut, when Carlton clashed with Richmond in a Semi Final in front of 50,000 fanatical fans at the MCG. Carlton began that game as favourites, but Richmond maintained their renowned pressure football right to the final bell, and their seventh successive September victory over the Blues came with a 21 point margin.
After that setback, Carlton had to wait until 1938 for another tilt at finals glory, when inspirational captain-coach Brighton Diggins took the Blueboys to the top of the ladder in just his second season in charge. And this time, there was no upset and no bitter disappointment. Carlton demolished first Geelong, then Collingwood in succession to claim our longed-for sixth Premiership at last. Bob Green was one of Carlton’s stars in that hard-fought final series, and his long goal just before half-time in the Grand Final triumph over arch rivals Collingwood gave his team impetus at precisely the right moment.
In the afterglow of that first flag for 23 years, Carlton slipped to fifth place in 1939. By September of that year, football had well and truly been pushed off the front pages of Australian newspapers, as Europe plunged toward another major war. Like many other VFL players, Bob was already a member of the Australian Militia (or Army Reserve) when war was declared, so he was among those fortunate enough to be able to continue playing football while still fulfilling their military obligations.
Carlton went all the way to the Preliminary Final again in 1941, only to lose a bruising encounter to Essendon. In 1942, Bob was called away for duty after making just one appearance for the Blues in a big loss to South Melbourne at Princes Park. He came back in 1943 to shore up Carlton’s defence in a back pocket, and in 1944 coach Percy Bentley sent him to a half-forward flank, where his tenacity and experience brought him 24 goals in 16 matches.
Green was honoured with the vice-captaincy to Bob Chitty in 1945, but played just five more games before announcing his retirement at the age of 34. His last match in navy blue was an 11-point victory over St Kilda at Princes Park in round 5, 1945. Bob was then appointed captain-coach of East Brunswick in the Sub District League. In his debut season of 1946, he took them all the way to a Grand Final showdown against Richmond United, only to be beaten by three points by in a thriller.
Less than three years later, on the evening of May 7, 1949, Bob and his wife Molly were about to board a tram in Plenty Road, Preston. As the tram slowed to a halt, the couple started to step out onto the road when Bob saw a car coming at excessive speed. He immediately turned to push Molly back from danger - but cruelly, tripped on the kerb and fell straight into the vehicle’s path. He was grievously injured, and died in hospital the next day without regaining consciousness.
A loving husband, the father of two young children, and a treasured son from a large family, Bob had devoted 13 years of his all-too-brief life to the Carlton Football Club. His loss was keenly felt, and mourned deeply by everyone involved with the Navy Blues.
Round 5, 1936 vs Footscray
100 Games: Round 2, 1939 vs Geelong
150 Games: Round 18, 1941 vs Melbourne
Tragedies in Blue | Guernsey #32 - Bobby Green and Bret Thornton
Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Bob Green | Green's Blueseum Image Gallery