Career : 1986 - 1989
Debut : Round 17, 1986 vs Essendon, aged 20 years, 46 days
Carlton Player No. 939
Games : 5
Goals : 0
Last Game : Round 22, 1989 vs Brisbane, aged 23 years, 91 days
Guernsey Nos. 51 (1986) and 14 (1987-89)
Height : 179 cm (5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 77 kg (12 stone, 2 lbs.)
DOB: 4 June, 1966
Another product of the Bendigo Football League (Carlton’s prolific recruiting zone throughout the nineteen-seventies and eighties) Dean Strauch came to the Blues from Golden Square in 1986. His father, Neville, was the Carlton zone coordinator for Bendigo at the time. Although he carried the same relatively rare surname, Dean was not related to Denis Strauch, who had played for the Baggers some thirty years prior.
A versatile midfielder or forward, Dean soon turned heads with a string of impressive games with Carlton’s Reserves side, and was selected for his senior debut on a big stage against Essendon on a Sunday afternoon at the MCG in round 17, 1986. In guernsey number 51, Strauch took up a place on a half-forward flank, alongside his captain, Mark Maclure, and the legendary Wayne “Dominator” Johnston. The Blues fielded a strong side on paper, but proved no match for a more cohesive Bomber combination that took control after half-time, and beat the Blues convincingly.
The following week, Strauch was relegated to the interchange bench for Carlton’s clash with Sydney at Princes Park, where he celebrated his one and only victory at senior level. He then played out the rest of the year with the seconds – although a leg injury ruled him out of the Blues’ triumphant Reserves Grand Final team. Even so, his first year in the VFL ended on a positive note when he was a clear winner of Carlton Reserves’ Best and Fairest award.
In 1987, Strauch switched to guernsey number 14, and strong pre-season form saw him included in the Carlton side that took on the ’86 Premiers; Hawthorn, at Glenferrie Oval in a Grand Final rematch in round 1. Dean shared the roving duties with Bernie Evans that afternoon, only to be overwhelmed by the Hawks’ tenacity and team-work to the tune of 45 points. That heavy loss apparently led to questions about Strauch’s commitment to elite level football, so shortly afterwards he was sent back home to Bendigo to play out the year and decide where his football future lay.
Back at Princes Park in 1989, Strauch was selected for the first game of the season – a narrow loss to St Kilda at Moorabbin – and the last; a six-goal thrashing by Brisbane at Carrara Stadium in round 22. In between, he remained a standout at Reserves level and regularly appeared in the newspaper best player columns. Unfortunately for Dean, that wasn’t enough to secure his future. He was delisted by the Blues at the end of that year, and returned to Golden Square.
In 1990, Strauch won the Nalder Medal as Best on Ground in the Ballarat Football League Grand Final. Although Golden Square was well-beaten by South Bendigo, Strauch kept the Bulldogs in contention for most of the game and kicked three goals in an inspirational solo effort.
Largely because of that brilliant performance, Strauch was given another chance in the VFL when he was picked up by Collingwood in the 1991 mid-season draft at pick 17. Dean’s former Carlton team-mate Fraser Murphy was also selected by the Magpies in that same draft. Happily, both Blues avoided sullying their reputation by playing again at senior level for the Purloiners.
Career Highlights1986 - 7th Reserves Best & Fairest
1986 - Reserves Best First Year Player Award
LinksArticles: The BIG Numbers
Blueseum Summary of Strauch's playing career | Strauch's Blueseum Image Gallery