Career : 1927
Debut : Round 4, 1927 vs Geelong, aged 25 years, 353 days
Carlton Player No. 438
Games : 2
Goals : 1
Last Game : Round 5, 1927 vs Hawthorn, aged 25 years, 360 days
Guernsey No. 23
Height : 182 cm (5 ft. 11 in.)
Weight : 79 kg (12 stone, 6 lbs.)
DOB: 1 June, 1901
A journeyman defender who played at three of the VFL’s foundation clubs over a six-year career between 1924 and 1929, James Joseph Leo Shanahan came to Princes Park when he fell out of favour at Collingwood in 1927.
A handy half-back flanker or back pocket, he was born in Guildford, Western Australia in 1901. Later, his family moved to Horsham in western Victoria, where Shanahan grew up immersed in Australian football, and received a thorough grounding in the code playing in the strong local league.
After Collingwood recruited him in 1924, he represented the Magpies on 42 occasions over three years until the end of the 1926 season. But when his opportunities at Victoria Park began to dry up in his third season, he went looking for another club, and was welcomed in at Carlton.
Shanahan’s first match for the Blues - in round 4, 1927 - was a real baptism of fire, when Geelong thumped the Blues by 46 points at Corio Oval. The Pivotonians’ tough and capable former captain Lloyd Hagger had a day out at full-forward, bagging 11 goals. Right in the firing line in a back pocket, Shanahan could do little to stem the tide, but at least he had the satisfaction of getting one back when he followed his opponent into Carlton’s forward line, and kicked an opportunist goal himself – the first and only one of his career.
Carlton bounced back one week later to hand out a 44-point hiding to Hawthorn at Princes Park, in a game notable for the debut of future Carlton captain Maurie ‘Mocha’ Johnson. Shanahan had an easier time of it and kept his opposing rovers under control all match – even so, he was then omitted from the team for the round six clash against Richmond, and never played for Carlton again.
In 1928, Shanahan bobbed up at his third VFL club, Fitzroy. He soon settled in, and notched up another 27 games over three seasons before eventually retiring in 1929, with a total of 71 VFL matches and four goals to his credit. Five years later, aged 43, he volunteered for service with the RAAF in World War II, and spent more than two years in various ground support roles.
James Shanahan would also have a run with VFA club Camberwell.
After the war, Jim lived with his family in Moonee Ponds for many years, before passing away in September, 1985 at the age of 84.