Career : 1925 - 1929
Debut: Round 13, 1925 vs Essendon, aged 23 years, 152 days
Carlton Player No. 419
Games : 51
Goals : 18
Last Game : Round 18, 1929 vs North Melbourne, aged 27 years, 175 days
Guernsey Nos. 29 (1925-28), and 9 (1929)
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 85.3 kg (13 stone, 7 lbs.)
DOB: 9 March, 1902
Maurie Connell was a handy utility for the Blues over five seasons from 1925 to 1929. Born in Yarrawonga, he learned his football at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat, before moving to Melbourne for tertiary studies. While at Melbourne University, he came under notice with some dominant displays for University Blues, and this led to an invitation to play with South Melbourne in 1922. He made his VFL debut for the Bloods that same year, only to leave the Lake Oval after just that one appearance.
In 1925, he was playing good football with VFA side Brighton when Carlton convinced the 22 year-old that he was still capable of making an impact at elite level. Connell took up the Blues’ offer, and in August, turned out for his first match for his new club against Essendon at Windy Hill. He spent most of the game on the ball as a follower (or ruck-rover) as Carlton were steamrolled after quarter time and lost by 39 points.
In his second season he found it hard to claim a regular place in the senior side and managed just nine games - in the ruck, at half-forward or in a back pocket. The year did end on a high however, when, playing as a follower, he was named among Carlton Reserves’ best players in their ground-breaking Premiership victory (by 52 points) over Geelong.
Perhaps boosted by that performance, Connell clicked into the most consistent football of his career over the next two years, during which he was rarely out of the senior team. The Blues improved to make the finals in 1927 and ‘28, only to be knocked out of contention both times by Richmond. In the 1927 Semi-Final, Laurie lined up on a half-forward flank as part of a powerful Carlton attack that included Horrie Clover, Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence and Charlie Davey, but the Tiger defence held firm and Richmond won a thriller with a goal right on the siren.
In their rematch in 1928, Connell was asked to lead the Carlton ruck, and put in a spirited effort against great odds. It was a spiteful match, during which the Blues lost four men to injury, and Richmond romped away with a 53-point win. Carlton’s only consolation was that a fortnight later, our Reserves team beat Geelong again to complete a hat-trick of lower-grade Premierships.
Sometime after that second disappointment, Connell told the club that he was retiring from senior football, but changed his mind – or was persuaded to return – in the second half of 1929. The improving Blues were entrenched in the top rungs of the VFL ladder by then, so the only position available to him was in a back pocket, alongside to our emerging star full-back Frank Gill.
He played the last three games of the season on the last line – apparently, without setting the field on fire – then was left out of the Semi-Final team that beat St Kilda, and the Preliminary Final side that lost yet another cliff-hanger to Richmond when their champion full-forward Jack Titus snapped the winning goal right on the siren.
After that, Connell realised that his future opportunities would be limited, and so called it quits for a second and final time.
Connell passed away on the 4th February, 1975, aged 72.
Milestones50 VFL Games: Round 16, 1929 Vs Geelong
50 Carlton Games: Round 17, 1929 Vs Fitzroy