Carlton Reserves Career : 1961-1964
Reserves Games : 17
Reserves Goals : 25
Night Games : 2
Night Goals : 1
Guernsey Nos. 45 (1961-62) and 31 (1963-64)
Height : 179 cm. (5 ft. 9 in.)
Jim ‘Sleepy’ Sullivan was a talented footballer from Coburg who never quite made the grade in the VFL because of his laid-back attitude to training and preparation. He spent four seasons playing Under 19 and Reserves football at Carlton and North Melbourne from 1961 to 1964, before heading back to his original club to become a VFA star.
Born locally in 1942, Sullivan came to Carlton’s notice when he won the Gillon Medal (VFA Under-19 Best and Fairest) at Coburg in 1960. He joined the Blues the following year, and immediately showcased his potential by finishing equal second in the Under 19 Best and Fairest. He was promoted to the Reserves list in 1962, but never really demanded elevation to the senior team – because he was a relaxed character who wouldn’t let the game rule his life, and happily accepted the consequences.
The highlight of Sullivan’s time at Carlton came in 1963, when he played two post-season Night Premiership matches for the club, including a Semi Final loss to Footscray in which he kicked one of Carlton’s four goals. Then in May, 1964, Jim transferred to North Melbourne, in the hope of gaining a senior berth there. It wasn’t to be however, and when the 1965 football season began, he was back at Coburg.
Generally playing in the centre, but equally effective as a ruck-rover or half-forward flanker, Sullivan became one of the Lions’ lynchpins. He won the 1967 Liston Trophy (for best player in the VFA 1st Division) by the big margin of 11 votes, and that brought a lucrative offer from WAFL front-runners Claremont – an offer that Sullivan couldn’t resist.
But after just one unsatisfactory season in the west, ‘Sleepy’ requested a release and came back to Coburg in 1969, to find the Tigers had nose-dived to 2nd Division in his absence. Intent on lifting the club back into the upper echelon of the Association, Sullivan won the 1969 Field Trophy (for best player in 2nd Division) and played an outstanding game in the centre when Coburg defeated favourites Box Hill by 30 points in the 1970 2nd Division Grand Final.
Sullivan then crossed to Diamond Valley Football League club Reservoir-Lakeside, and continued playing until injury forced him into retirement in 1973. In early 2000, ‘Sleepy’ was selected in the centre in Coburg’s Team of the Century, alongside two other ex-Blues in Lance Collins and Tim Rieniets. He is a member of the Coburg Hall of Fame. http://coburgfc.com.au/hall-of-fame/