Revisiting the Rounds pt.2Author: Warren Tapner - Published Wed 03 of Feb, 2010 10:51 AEDT - (30381 Reads)
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SOAPY’S ROUNDDuring the first decade of the 21st century, the AFL successfully marketed our game by giving various weeks of the football season themes like “Heritage Round”, “Rivalry Round”, “Indigenous Round” and so on. But as far as the Carlton Football Club is concerned, round 6 of each year should be “Soapy’s Round” – because of the goal-kicking feats of Carlton’s great full-forward of the 1930’s; Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence.
Beginning in 1926, ‘Soapy’ kicked 722 career goals in 204 matches, including a dominant period between 1933 and 1938 when he roosted 7 goals (or more) four times in round 6. In order, they were; seven against Melbourne in 1933, seven against North Melbourne in 1934, eight against the Shinboners once more in 1935, and another seven against Melbourne in 1938.
Only Ken Baxter (seven against St Kilda in 1946, and six against Essendon in 1948) and Brendan Fevola (six against St Kilda in 2007, and eight against Hawthorn in 2009) have come close to matching Soapy’s efforts.
TWO GREAT DOUBLE ACTSIn fact, Carlton supporters were starved of big individual scores in this round during the first 30 years of the VFL. No Bluebagger had notched more than five goals in a sixth round game, until the first Saturday afternoon in June 1929, when the Navy Blues played Fitzroy at the Brunswick St. Oval.
Carlton’s two key forwards, Jack Green and Horrie Clover, were sensational against the Maroons that afternoon, taking mark after telling mark, and landing goals with clinical precision as the Blues won by 59 points. Green finished with eight majors at full-forward to set a new club record for the round, while Clover’s dominance of the match at centre half-forward – and his six masterful goals from set shots – made him the unanimous choice as Best on Ground.
Forty-one years later, against the same opponent, but playing at Princes Park, fans of both sides were treated to a fast, open and skilful contest. Carlton’s better accuracy from 32 scoring shots brought up 23.9 (147), while Fitzroy landed 15.20 (110) to lose by 37 points. The difference between the teams was Carlton’s potent forward pairing of Alex Jesaulenko – who kicked 10 superb goals – and Syd Jackson, whose pace and precision drop-kicking brought him another six.
THREE FAMOUS WINS (ALMOST)Carlton’s first-ever victory in a VFL match came in round six in the foundation year of the new competition, over St Kilda at the Junction Oval in June, 1897. Follower-forward Sam Chapman was a star throughout that game and booted four goals, while the 11-point margin lifted the Blues off the bottom of the ladder. Happily, we stayed there for the remainder of the season.
Almost a century later, in 1992, the same two teams met again in Match of the Day at Princes Park, jockeying for a place in the top three on the ladder. By half-time however, Carlton was deep in trouble, trailing by 22 points and seemingly at the mercy of St Kilda’s powerhouse full-forward Tony Lockett. Carlton lacked spark in attack, while ‘Plugger’ had kicked six goals in the first half, and seemed hungry for more.
During the main break, a worried Blues coach David Parkin rang the changes, sending Jon Dorotich from centre half-back to full-back on Lockett, and captain Stephen Kernahan from the goal square out to centre half-forward. He then roused his troops with a passionate address, demanded a big lift in the second half, and it worked. His team – sparked by an inspiring 15-minutes of football from the ‘Rhino’; Luke O'Sullivan, who kicked four goals for the quarter – came roaring back into the contest, and slammed on seven majors to one to lead by 13 points at the last change.
At full-back, Dorotich had quelled Lockett, and Kernahan was beginning to pose real problems for a tiring Saints’ defence. In a see-sawing last term, St Kilda threw everything into the contest, but with their spearhead blunted and few options to call on, they never regained the lead and lost by eight points in a game fondly-remembered by all those Bluebaggers on hand to see it.
Eighteen seasons later, in 2009, a resurgent Carlton played the reigning Premiers Hawthorn at the MCG, facing a huge test for a young Blues outfit on the rise. In a match packed with highlights, the Hawks clawed their way to a narrow lead by the main break, then were reeled in by a tenacious Carlton. Both sides had dominant key forwards in Jarryd Roughead, who kicked eight goals for the Hawks, and Brendan Fevola, who would have kicked nine for Carlton had his last shot for goal – with 20 seconds remaining – not kissed the inside of the right-hand goal post. The goal umpire raised one flag, and Carlton fell short by 4 points in front of 69,000 hyped-up fans.
BIG NAME DEBUTSChampion full-back Ollie Grieve played his first match for Carlton in round 6, 1942, and was followed by three other notable custodians of the goal square in Gerald Burke (1953), Wes Lofts (1960) and Rod Austin (1972). Adrian Gallagher, who with John Nicholls and Sergio Silvagni formed the first ruck combination in the Carlton Team of the Century, played his first senior match for the Baggers against St Kilda in 1964. Others who have featured boldly in the history of the Blues after making their debut in round six include Jack Baquie (1909), 1914 Premiership captain Billy Dick (1911), and Tasmanian star Eric Huxtable (1930).
FOND FAREWELLSThe list of those who have played their last senior match for Carlton in round 6 is headed by former club captain Maurie Johnson in 1936. Allan Greenshields, nicknamed ‘Splinter’ because he spent many important matches sitting on the reserve bench, followed in 1949. Ian Nankervis, a lively rover who was Carlton’s top goal-kicker in 1964 retired two years later, and popular defender Ray Byrne left Princes Park in 1978 to join Collingwood – where he played in three losing Grand Final teams. Other notable contributors to finish up after this round include third-generation Premiership player Scott Howell in 1985, handy utility Spiro Kourkoumelis in 1986, and the greatly-missed potential champion Peter Motley, whose short but impressive career was ended by a near-fatal car crash in 1987.
NOT SO MEMORABLE MILESTONE MATCHES...Highly popular two-time Premiership defender Jim Clark played his 150th VFL game for Carlton in this round, against Melbourne in 1951. At the time he was the youngest Blue to achieve the honour, but Melbourne spoiled the occasion when they toppled the Blues by 20 points.
In Round 6, 1977, triple Premiership player and 1987 flag-winning coach Robert Walls ran out onto Waverley Park to play the 200th match of his superb career against Collingwood – only to suffer one of the worst hidings of his entire time at Princes Park. The Magpies destroyed Carlton by 102 points, in our third worst defeat to date in this round - exceeded only by losses to Melbourne in 2004 (105 points) and Essendon in 1985 (109 points).
Another three-time flag winner; strong-marking and versatile Peter McConville, brought up his 100th match against Geelong in 1983, but he too, was left lamenting when the Cats came out on top by ten points. We then had to wait until 1990 for club legend and future President Stephen Kernahan to be honoured in the appropriate way, with a 30-point victory over North Melbourne in ‘Sticks’ 100th senior game.
In 2006, Blues midfielder Heath Scotland brought up his 100th AFL match, playing against his former club in front of a huge crowd at the MCG on a Sunday afternoon. Sadly, Heath’s big day maintained an unfortunate tradition, and the Blues were thumped by 72 points.
BIG NICK SPLITS THE BIG STICKS AT LAST...In one of the all-time great football careers, Carlton legend John Nicholls wore his iconic Number 2 guernsey in 328 games for his beloved Blues, and steered through an impressive total of 307 goals. What is not so widely known however, is that – somewhat incredibly - Big Nick had played 38 games before he scored his first major, against Hawthorn at Glenferrie Oval in round 6, 1959. In the same match, Nicholls’ equally-revered ruck partner, Sergio Silvagni, kicked six goals at full-forward.
MUIR’S MAYHEMAny overview of round six would not be complete without mention of the bizarre antics of St Kilda’s volatile Robert Muir during Carlton’s sensational game against the Saints at Princes Park in round six, 1984. At his best, Muir was a dynamic footballer, but his quick temper and lack of self control made him a time bomb. And shortly after half time in that match – just as the Blues launched another trademark third quarter onslaught – Muir exploded.
He lashed out at anyone nearby wearing navy blue, and when field umpire Kevin Smith ran in to try to calm the situation, Muir responded with a hail of abuse, before spectacularly hurling his mouthguard to the turf. He was eventually ushered off the ground by St Kilda officials, on report for threatening the central umpire, abusing a goal umpire, head-butting Carlton’s Bruce Doull, and striking his former St Kilda team-mate Val Perovic. At the following Tuesday night’s tribunal hearing, Muir was found guilty of all charges, and his VFL career ended when he was suspended for twelve matches.
Oh - and Carlton won the game by 14 points, with Wayne Johnston best on ground, and boom WA recruit Warren Ralph kicking six goals at full-forward.
In continuing our look back through the round by round exploits of the Carlton Football Club, we find that week seven has traditionally been the domain of individual players, rather than a stage for team heroics. Winning and losing margins have been relatively modest at this point of the season throughout Carlton’s history, and we haven’t yet won - or lost - by more than 90 points. Still, there has been no shortage of highlights, goal feasts, or future great players on debut for the Old Dark Navy Blues. We begin this review of round seven, by recalling the very first time Carlton played a VFL match for Premiership points at Princes Park.
A HOME AT LASTIn 1896, after years of wandering the district in search of a permanent home, the Carlton Football and Cricket Clubs finally succeeded in obtaining a grant of ten acres (4 hectares) of land from Melbourne’s Board of Land and Works. The area was known as the Carlton Recreation Ground, Princes Park, and the opportunities it provided were a major factor in Carlton’s decision to join the breakaway VFL in 1897. Following months of volunteer labour by players, supporters and friends, the ground officially opened on a holiday Tuesday; June 22, 1897 – round seven of the season, with a much-anticipated game against Collingwood. The Purloiners (as they were then briefly known) won by 4 points in a spirited contest, and one of the great sporting rivalries was born.
BIG RECRUITSThe sizeable list of players who have worn the navy blue guernsey for the first time in round seven includes many all-time greats, like dual Premiership star Frank ‘Silver ‘ Caine in 1905, future club captain Ansell Clarke (1929), inspirational leader Bob Chitty (1937), Brownlow Medallist Bert Deacon (1942), ruck-rover of the century Sergio Silvagni (1958), “Mr Elegance,” John Goold (1963), two-time Premiership ruckman Justin Madden (1983), full-back of the century Stephen Silvagni (1985) and Brownlow Medal-winning centreman Greg Williams (1992).
‘SOAPY’ SCUTTLES THE SAINTSBetween 1932 and 1938, the easy way to terrify any St Kilda supporter was to casually say; “Guess what? Soapy’s playing Saturday.” Because in five of those seasons, Carlton’s champion full-forward Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence led the Blues to crushing round 7 wins over the Saints, by an average of 56 points per game. In order, they were; 1932 (64 points), 1933 (65 points), 1934 (58 points), 1936 (53 points) and 1938 (39 points). Soapy banged through eight goals himself in the first of those matches, and five in each of the other four, for a total of 28 majors - averaging better than five per game.
WINNING BY PLENTYCarlton’s biggest-ever win in the seventh game of the season came in 1976, when our lanky key forward Robert Walls kicked 10 goals as the Blues smashed Richmond by 71 points at Princes Park. That victory broke a record that had stood since 1912, when a very even Carlton combination had hammered the Tigers by 69 points on their home turf. Prior to that, way back in 1908, Carlton had destroyed Geelong at Princes Park by 67.
NOT SO BIG LOSSESSince the formation of the VFL in 1897, the Blues have contested more than 110 round seven VFL/AFL games, and lost by 60 points or more only five times. Sad to relate, Port Adelaide inflicted our worst loss in 1998, when their emerging full-forward Warren Tredrea had a day out. He kicked eight goals, and Carlton was beaten by 89 points. Richmond stirred up a hornets’ nest in 2005 when they knocked us over by 85 points (they have been paying for it ever since) while Essendon haven’t been able to improve on the 80-point hiding they dished out to us way, way back in Round 7, 1901. The only other heavy defeats in this round were delivered by South Melbourne at the Lake Oval in 1970 (by 77 points) and by West Coast at Subiaco in 1994 (66 points).
SHARPENING UP THE SPEARHEADApart from Robert Walls’ double-figure haul of goals against Richmond in 1976, Carlton’s other forwards have kicked 7 majors (or more) only four times in this round. Soapy Vallence’s eight against St Kilda in 1932 is a standout, as is Paul Schmidt’s haul of seven against Melbourne in 1941. Warren Ralph booted another seven to skittle the Demons in 1984, and Brendan Fevola rounds off the top tier on our goal-kicking honour board to date, with his seven goals against Essendon at the MCG in 2006.
BARASSI’S COMEBACKCarlton’s 1968 Premiership coach Ron Barassi sprung a surprise in round 7, 1969 when, after six months out of the game, he pulled on his number 31 guernsey for one last clash against his former club, Melbourne. Two reasons prompted Ron’s decision; the first because he needed one more appearance to clock up 50 matches for the Blues, and thereby ensure that any sons that might arrive in the future would be eligible to play for Carlton under the father-son rule, and secondly, because it was the perfect way to finish off a great playing career at both clubs.
Both sides were fired-up by the occasion, and the game was a willing battle for a once-only honour. Although Barassi limped off the field early in the third quarter with a torn hamstring and took no further part in the game, the Blues still came out on top by 30 points. Later, two other popular Carlton Premiership players in Neil Chandler (1974) and Fraser Murphy (1991) also finished their careers in round seven.
MILESTONE MATCHESThe first of five illustrious Blues to reach a career milestone in round 7 was former club captain Ernie Walton, in 1903. Ernie became the first Blue to play 100 VFL games that afternoon (in Carlton’s 105th game), although the occasion was soured somewhat by a 24-point defeat at the hands of Melbourne at the MCG.
Club legend Craig Bradley played his 100th match against Essendon at Windy Hill in 1990, and his team honoured him with a 20-point win. When beanpole ruckman ‘Harry’ Madden ruled the stoppages in his 200th game against Sydney in 1993, Carlton wound up victors by 44 points. Ten years later, in 2003, the Blues lost to St Kilda by 12 points at Docklands Stadium as Anthony Koutoufides celebrated game number 200, and Matthew Lappin chalked up his 100th match for Carlton after crossing from the Saints in 1999.
Alex Jesaulenko experienced yet another highlight of his epic career in round 7, 1978, in his debut outing as coach of the Blues. After taking the reins of an unsettled team that had won just one match for the year under the coaching of former St Kilda and Richmond champion Ian Stewart, and then club stalwart Sergio Silvagni, Jesaulenko faced one of football’s biggest challenges of that era – taking on fifth-placed Collingwood at Victoria Park. But Jezza inspired his Blueboys, and with ‘Percy’ Jones controlling the ruck, Bruce Doull rock-solid in defence, and rover Rod Ashman picking up disposals at will, Carlton got on top in the second term, and held on for yet another memorable win over the Magpies.
In round 7, 1997, Carlton defeated Richmond by 22 points at the MCG. By his own lofty standards, Blues captain Stephen Kernahan had a quiet afternoon and managed only two majors – however, when he kicked the first of them, he became Carlton’s all-time highest scorer – breaking the club record of 722 goals previously held by – of course, ‘Soapy’ Vallence.
HOW DID WE LOSE THAT?There have been few more atrocious goal-kicking efforts than that put in by the Carlton Football Club against Footscray in round 7, 1935 at the Western Oval. Although the customary breeze was blowing across the ground on that cool Saturday afternoon, conditions were no worse than normal at the home of the Dogs. Therefore, it’s hard to comprehend how a Carlton team that included Vallence, Denning, ‘Mickey’ Crisp and Charlie Davey could have fifteen - yes, fifteen - more scoring shots than Footscray, and still not win.
The Blues had kicked 3.14 (32) at half time and were on top all over the ground, even though Footscray led on the scoreboard with 6.3 (39). Carlton’s accuracy didn’t improve at all in the second half, and although we bombarded the goals right up until the final bell, the match ended up all square, with Footscray 12.7 (79) to Carlton’s awful 9.25 (79).
HOW DID WE WIN THAT?Round 7, 1995 was one of the early highlights in a dream season for the Old Dark Navy Blues, when a team seriously depleted by injury took on and beat one of our main rivals for the flag in the match of the round. The undefeated Blues and third-placed Bombers faced off in front of 73,000 fans at the MCG, with Carlton the surprise underdogs after the withdrawal during the week of three key players. Captain Stephen Kernahan, match-winning centre square maestro Greg Williams, and dangerous forward Brad Pearce had all been ruled out of the match by injury. They were replaced by James Cook, Barry Mitchell and Dean Rice.
In that hard, enthralling contest, defences held sway for three quarters. Essendon seemed to be travelling like winners with a seven-point lead heading into the last term, before Carlton rallied, and lifted by the tenacity of midfielders Fraser Brown and Brett Ratten, swamped the Bombers in the last 15 minutes to snatch the match by eight points. As much as any, that terrific win over the Bombers went a long way toward strengthening Carlton’s self-belief on the road to our 1995 Grand Final triumph.
CARLTON’S EIGHTH GAMEAfter the first seven weeks in the foundation season of the Victorian Football League in 1897, the team from Carlton was doing it tough – even though we had put up a spirited effort to get within four points of one of the league’s front-runners in the previous week’s encounter against Collingwood. On that form, we were considered a big chance against Fitzroy on our home ground in game eight, but we crashed to defeat by 38 points, kicking just one goal for the entire match. Luckily, the Maroons were wildly astray with their shooting for goal, so while the final scores ended up at Fitzroy 5.17 (47) to Carlton 1.3 (9), it could have been a whole lot worse. Follower Sam Chapman sent through the Blues’ only major in the second quarter.
SMASHING THE TIGERSEleven years later, Carlton had been lifted from chumps to champions under the influence of super coach Jack Worrall, and were on the way to a glorious third successive Premiership. Richmond and University were both admitted to the VFL that year, and in round 8, 1908, the barnstorming Blues handed out a monumental 88-point thrashing to the visiting Tigers in our first-ever meeting at Princes Park. Carlton’s pocket-rocket full-forward Vin Gardiner kicked six goals to set up a sweet victory, which even now – a century later – still stands as the Blues biggest winning margin in the eighth game of the season. Next on the list is 1973 at the Lake Oval, when rover Brian Walsh kicked 8 goals and Carlton beat South Melbourne by 79 points, followed by 2001 at Princes Park, when we routed the Brisbane Lions by 74 points in their Premiership year.
HAVE A GOOD GAME, SON...When Harvey Laurence Dunn – better known as Harvey Dunn Junior – made his debut for Carlton in round 8, 1951, he became the first VFL Player to be recruited under the competition’s now familiar father-son rule. Harvey’s father, Harvey Louis Dunn, was a star rover-forward who had kicked 139 goals in 71 games for the Blues between 1924 and 1929. Harvey Junior was actually born in Carlton, and grew up following the Blues, but at the age of 17 his family was living in Flemington and he was thereby residentially bound to North Melbourne. The Shinboners were keen to sign the promising youngster, but Harvey had his heart set on playing for Carlton.
In 1949, knowing that the VFL was considering permitting the sons of those who had played 50 games or more to join the same club as their father, Harvey Junior ducked out of the limelight to join Box Hill (then playing in the Eastern District Football League, and coached by Dunn Senior) until the VFL finally ratified its new rule at the end of that season. Consequently, Harvey Junior was free to join Carlton in 1950 - where he promptly won the Under 19 Best and Fairest award, before claiming his own unique niche in the history of the game in round 8 of the following year.
TRIVIA TIMEHands up all those who can tell us where Carlton played Hawthorn in round 8, 1952. Princes Park? Glenferrie Oval? The MCG? Sydney, Hobart, Perth, Brisbane? Nope, you all got it wrong. It was Euroa. That’s right - picturesque Euroa, in Ned Kelly country in central northern Victoria.
As part of a VFL initiative to take Australia’s national game to the people, matches for Premiership points were scheduled far and wide across the continent that weekend, coinciding with the big interstate game at the MCG between Victoria and Western Australia. In the other matches, Essendon and Geelong travelled to Brisbane, Richmond and Collingwood to Sydney, Fitzroy and Essendon met in Hobart, Melbourne took on North Melbourne at Albury and St Kilda tackled Footscray at Yallourn.
Carlton’s match against Hawthorn drew an estimated crowd of 7,500 to the Euroa football ground, where they saw a slick Carlton team bounce out of the blocks with a seven-goal first quarter, then hold the Hawks at bay for an emphatic win by 37 points. At full-forward for Carlton, Jack ‘Chooka’ Howell thrilled the crowd with some skyscaping marks, and ended the match with eight terrific goals.
WAVE THOSE CALICOS, UMP!That haul of eight majors by Chooka at Euroa places him equal second overall on the list of individual scores for Carlton in round 8, behind the nine posted by club legend ‘Soapy’ Vallence against Footscray in 1933. Spectators at Princes Park on that fine afternoon certainly got their money’s worth, when they were treated to master class from two in-form full-forwards. Soapy’s big haul was actually outdone by the Bulldog’s boom Tasmanian recruit, Alan Rait, who posted a brilliant 10 goals despite Carlton’s comfortable 23-point win.
Sitting equal second on the Blues’ goal-kicking honour board for this round is 64-game rover Brian Walsh, who nailed 8 goals in Carlton’s previously-mentioned huge win over South Melbourne at the Lake Oval in 1973. Elusive forward Paul Schmidt notched up seven (and Jack Wrout added another five) in a heavy defeat for St Kilda in 1942, while Premiership captain Stephen Kernahan also kicked seven in a notable 33-point win over Collingwood exactly fifty years later.
RONNY GETS HIMSELF IN TROUBLEBy 1969, the passionate rivalry between Carlton and Richmond had never been more intense, so there was not the slightest doubt that the skill and courage of both sides would be tested to the limit at the MCG in round eight. The match was a wild and willing affair all right, and it provided one of the most amusing moments of the year.
As always, Richmond’s game plan was to hit the Blues hard and often, but they couldn’t shake Carlton’s concentration and the Blues were five goals up midway through the second quarter. It was then that a Carlton player was steamrolled, and lay prostrate as trainer Ron Vincent ran on to the ground to assist him. While Ron was trying to revive his charge however, Richmond ruckman and vice-captain Michael Patterson appeared on the scene and, standing over the pair, seemed to be questioning the Carlton man’s courage or resilience.
Patterson was 193 cm and 95 kg, and one of the game’s leading ruckmen. Vincent was probably just as heavy, but two-thirds Patterson’s height, and at least thirty years older – which is why, when the big Tiger’s words hit a nerve, Ronny could take no more. He snatched up the match ball, turned, and hurled it into Patterson’s face from only a metre or two away. Stunned, Patterson reeled back with both hands to his stinging face, and only the prompt arrival of field umpire Jeff Crouch prevented the situation from bubbling over. A few minutes later, as he helped carry his wounded player off the field, Vincent couldn’t resist giving Patterson a mouthful in return. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the matter, because umpire Crouch reported Ron, and the VFL tribunal took a dim view of his actions. He was suspended for 12 weeks, and became the first non-player in VFL history to be disqualified by the judiciary.
ADDING SOME QUALITYThe list of players to have made their debut for Carlton in round 8 includes the tragic, fondly-remembered Les Witto, who played his first match in round 8, 1926, and broke an arm in a game against Geelong six weeks later. Cruelly, Les contracted tetanus in the wound, and died in September of that same year. In 1936,‘Mick’ Price capped his journey up through the lower grades, making his first appearance in round 8 against North Melbourne on the way to Premiership glory with the Blues in 1938 and 1945. Another Premiership rover, Dennis Munari arrived in 1967, followed by two more future members of Carlton flag sides; Ted Hopkins in 1968, and Phil Pinnell in 1969. Former Saints utility Dean Rice injured a knee on debut in 1994, and waited almost a full season to play his second game. The sweat and pain of the recovery process proved worthwhile however, when he was one of the many stars of Carlton’s magnificent 1995 Grand Final victory.
SPOILING THE MAGPIE’S PARTYAny history of any round in any season would not be complete without reference to that greatest of all Australian sporting rivalries; between the Carlton and Collingwood Football Clubs. The long history of great clashes on the field and off, the controversies, feuds, passion, and downright hatred between us embroiders the very fabric of the game, and features vividly again throughout round 8. All that feeling was on display in 1970, when 55,000 fans trekked out to VFL Park at Waverley, for Carlton’s first match at the League’s recently-completed showpiece stadium. The Magpies were hot that afternoon, sitting on top of the ladder undefeated, and they beat the Blues by 23 points thanks to eight goals from their deadly-accurate full-forward Peter McKenna. Afterward, the Black and white army was jubilant, and let every Blue in earshot know about it. What they didn’t know then, was that ahead lay the 1970 Grand Final...redemption for Carlton, and utter devastation for the Woodsmen.
ROUND 9From the Carlton Football Club’s earliest days as a foundation member of the VFL, the ninth game of the season has seen drama, tragedy, spectacular individual performances, and records of all kinds. So in selecting the most memorable moments from more than a century of matches, the biggest problem we found was deciding what to leave out. Eventually, we came up with the following episodes; beginning with one of the greatest individual performances in the long history of our game, and ending with the funeral of Melbourne suburban football.
1927 – DUNCAN’S MATCHHe was born George Robert Alexander Duncan at Romsey, Victoria in 1900, but Carlton fans knew him simply as Alex Duncan - a powerful key position player who played 141 games for the Blues between 1921 and 1930. Alex’s best season was 1927, when he went within one vote of winning Carlton’s first-ever Brownlow Medal, and wrote his name into VFL folklore with a brilliant, match-winning effort against Collingwood at Victoria Park in round 9.
Carlton simply had to win that game to stay in finals contention, and Duncan’s glorious display from the first bounce had the press of the day stretching for superlatives. It was generally agreed afterward that he took at least 33 marks for the match, and was singularly responsible for Carlton’s upset victory by 12 points. One scribe wrote; ‘Never was there such a brilliant individual performance. Nothing could stop Duncan. He did not make one mistake for four quarters.’
Indeed, many Collingwood supporters were among the 30,000 spectators who gave Alex a standing ovation as he left the field afterwards on the shoulders of his Carlton team-mates, and the Magpies even had the match ball suitably mounted and inscribed in his honour. Because it featured one of the all-time great displays of individual skill and determination, the game has gone down in history as Duncan’s Match.
1898 – OUR ONE AND ONLY DRAWHad Carlton lost to the second-placed Melbourne Fuchsias in round 9, 1898, we almost certainly would have ended up with the dreaded wooden spoon. But urged on by a vocal home crowd at Princes Park, the Blues clung to a five-point lead at half-time in that vital game, and kept their advantage through until the dying minutes. It was then that Melbourne launched a brilliant attack from half-back, culminating in a mark dead in front of goal, only metres out. The resulting six-pointer tied up the scores, and when the final bell sounded shortly afterwards, the game ended up all square. More than 100 seasons later, that match still remains the only drawn result for Carlton in round nine.
1899 – STOP THAT TRAIN!On the morning of Saturday, July 8, 1899, two of Carlton’s key players; follower Len Morrison, and rover Pat Considine, were waiting on the platform at North Melbourne for a train to Spencer St (now Southern Cross station) looking forward to the journey to Corio Oval for the round 9 game against Geelong. But the locomotive didn’t stop – it steamed straight past the platform on its way to the city, and two dumbfounded Blues could only watch it disappear down the tracks. In those far-off days the next train was hours away, so Carlton was forced to make two late changes to the team, and lost to Geelong by 30 points.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURESThe first significant recruit to begin his playing career at Carlton in round 9 was former South Melbourne star Harvey Kelly, in 1907. A strong, long-kicking key forward, Kelly played in three successive Grand Finals for Carlton in 1907, 1908 and 1909 – winning the first two, and missing out by two points in the third.
Eventual club captain, coach, 1938 Premiership player and Hall of Fame inductee Jim Francis made his debut for the Blues in round 9, 1934. Full-back Peter Barry – who is remembered for a sensational incident in the last minute of the 1962 Preliminary Final replay, when he was paid a controversial free kick that saved the game for Carlton – played the first of his 77 senior matches in 1958. Popular defender Graeme Anderson (1961) and rugged forward Ricky McLean (1966) are others to have worn the Old Dark Navy Blue for the first time in this round.
Conversely, former club captain Maurie Beasy played his last match for Carlton in a desperately close 1-point defeat by Footscray in round 9, 1958. Tough little midfielder Darren Hulme had his career ended by a groin injury during Carlton’s 25-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in the corresponding round in 2004.
1921-VALE LYLE DOWNSCarlton’s feisty rover Lyle Downs knew he was tempting fate by continuing to play VFL football after his doctors warned him that his heart was not as strong as it should be. But like his cousin Tommy (who also played senior football at Carlton) Lyle loved the game and the rewards it brought him, and he couldn’t give it up.
On the evening of Thursday, July 7, 1921 - the week after Carlton’s good round nine victory over Collingwood - Lyle completed training, then collapsed and died of a massive heart attack in the change rooms at Princes Park. Thousands attended his funeral, and it was widely believed that his absence was a major factor in Carlton's defeat by Richmond in that year's Grand Final.
1926-CONSTERNATION IN LYGON ST.In round 9, 1926 even the cold weather and incessant rain couldn’t keep the crowds from flocking to Princes Park for the match of the day between ladder-leaders Collingwood, and fourth-placed Carlton. Despite the conditions, it was a hard-fought and skilful game that eventually went to the more accurate Blues by 21 points. Afterwards, as the thousands streamed out of the ground, a stationary tram boarding passengers in Lygon St was hit by another that came up from behind on the same tracks and couldn’t stop. Both vehicles were packed, and the collision caused mayhem and dozens of injuries.
1930-OUR YOUNGEST BLUECarlton’s two youngest-ever senior players were both 16 years and 200 days old on debut, and both wore guernsey number 16. Ted Pollock set the benchmark when he played the first of his 43 games for Carlton in round 9, 1930. Forty-six seasons later, Ted was joined on his niche in club history by a cocky kid from Kyneton named Jim Buckley, beginning a great career that would eventually bring him three Premiership medallions, a club Best and Fairest, and a place in the Carlton Hall of Fame.
SOAPY, SOS, THE BUZZ & CO.Champion spearhead Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence regularly traumatised opposition full-backs in round 9, with his nine goals in Carlton’s 80-point demolition of North Melbourne at Arden Street in 1931 still standing as a club record. He backed that up with another bag of seven majors against the Shinboners in the corresponding game in 1938, when the final margin was 50 points.
Few players in the history of the game have been more spectacular or dangerous on their day than Carlton’s 1981 West Australian import Peter Bosustow - as he demonstrated by running riot against South Melbourne at Princes Park in consecutive round 9 matches in 1981 and ’82. In the first of those, ’The Buzz’ tore holes at will in the Swans’ defence, taking mark after spectacular mark and kicking eight big goals as Carlton won by 99 points. He was at it again the following season too, only this time he was joined by Wayne Johnston in a goal-kicking romp that had Princes Park jumping with joy. Bosustow kicked six, and Johnston five, as the Blues smashed the Swans and set another club record with a 102-point victory.
Full-back of the Century Stephen ‘SOS’ Silvagni could also kick goals. ‘Son of Sergio’ was superb in booting eight against West Coast in round 9, 1992 at Princes Park, although the Blues faded badly in the last quarter of that match and were beaten by 24 points. Three other Blues have each kicked six goals in big round 9 wins over North Melbourne - clever rover Leo Brereton in 1960, club legend Alex Jesaulenko in 1968, and fair-haired, former St Kilda forward Rod ‘The Ghost’ Galt in 1978.
FAREWELL TO PRINCES PARKWhen Carlton played host to Melbourne at Princes Park on Saturday, May 21, 2005, the Demons survived a last-quarter surge by the Blues to win by 18 points. However, that game - and the result - were totally engulfed by the groundswell of emotion surrounding the last game of AFL football at the home of the Blues. After 109 consecutive seasons and a lifetime of fond memories for generations of Bluebaggers, the Carlton Football Club had agreed to play all future home games at either the MCG or Docklands Stadium from that point on. It was a decision supported by a majority of members and the wider football community, but to a lot of people it was still akin to a death in the family.
The club ensured that the occasion would be a memorable one, and a week of celebration and commemoration culminated on an unforgettable day. Our 16 Premiership Cups took centre stage, and a veritable who’s who of Blues champions were on hand to honour the proud history of our spiritual home. The ceremonies ended on a poignant note, with club legend John Nicholls walking from the field with the match ball raised high, and a united, emotional crowd roaring out our club song.
The rich tapestry of Carlton Football Club’s history in round 10 is embroidered with many great victories, plenty of goals, problems with umpires, and the sacking of a Premiership coach. Perhaps the most famous incident to occur at this point in the season however, came at Princes Park in 1976, when North Melbourne star Malcolm Blight launched a monster torpedo punt after the siren to sink the Blues by five points. So before we delve into all the other good stuff, let’s get that admirable, but somewhat painful episode out of the way first.
BLIGHT’S BOMBOnly seconds before the final siren in our home game against the Roos on Saturday June 5, 1976, Carlton was in front by one point when Blight was paid a mark, just forward of the wing on the city side of Princes Park. But before he could move the ball on, the siren sounded, and he was left with no option but attempt the near-impossible. “He’ll have to kick it 75 metres,” said commentator Lou Richards, and that’s exactly what Blight did. Purely as fans of the game, we had to admire his smooth, balanced run-up, and the sweet contact with his right boot that sent the ball barrelling high, and impossibly long - straight between the posts in front of the Heatley stand.
BILLY BLOWS ITWilliam ‘Billy’ Dick was literally a one-eyed Blue. Although blind in one eye, he rose to the captaincy of Carlton in 1914, and was widely regarded as our best player in that year’s great Grand Final victory over South Melbourne. Then in 1915, Dick was reported for striking Fitzroy’s Jack Cooper, and for using insulting language to the field umpire, during Carlton’s round 10 clash with the Maroons at Brunswick Street oval.
At the subsequent VFL hearing, the second count brought a reprimand, while the first charge resulted in a 10-week suspension that ruled Dick out of the 1915 finals. Carlton was incensed by the penalty, and vigorously appealed it - all to no avail. The League stood its ground, leaving Billy to watch from the stands on Grand Final day, when his Blueboys made it two flags in a row with an emphatic win over arch-rivals Collingwood.
GOALS GALOREBy 1942, three champion Carlton forwards; Horrie Clover, ‘Soapy’ Vallence, and Paul Schmidt, had all equalled our club’s round 10 goal-kicking record of 8 goals during home games at Princes Park. Clover did it first, collecting his haul against Collingwood in 1930, although it was Vallence who won that particular match when he steered through a pressure kick right on the final bell, to clinch victory by 4 points.
Two years later, Soapy joined Horrie on top of the round 10 honour board when he booted eight in Carlton’s 11-goal demolition of Essendon. Paul Schmidt then climbed onto the same pedestal in 1942, sending through another eight big ones in the Blues’ 28-point victory over Melbourne.
At the peak of his form, Carlton’s Captain of the Century; Stephen Kernahan, posted seven goals three times in this round - in 1990 against Richmond at the MCG, in 1992 against Essendon at Princes Park, and in 1994 at home again against Footscray. Three seasons prior to that, in 1987, Mark Majerczak joined one of football’s most exclusive cliques when he goaled with his first kick, while Carlton destroyed the Brisbane Bears by 103 points at Princes Park.
FIVE BY THREE - TWICEAnd just to add a little more garnish to that imposing record, two particular Carlton victories in round 10 have been made even sweeter by triple 5-goal hauls. The first time was in June 1948, when the Blues thrashed South Melbourne by 62 points at the Lake Oval. ‘Mulga’ Davies, Ken Baxter and Ray Garby reaped five majors each that afternoon, setting up a much-needed win that revived Carlton’s hopes of defending the 1947 flag.
We then fast-forward to 1995, when ‘Sticks’ Kernahan (who was returning from injury), Brad Pearce, and Mil Hanna all booted five when the Blues shattered Hawthorn by 102 points at Princes Park. That too, was a landmark victory that launched a club-record sequence of 18 consecutive wins for Carlton, including our magnificent 1995 Premiership.
BIG WINSWith all those goals being scored, Blues’ supporters have always had plenty of big victories to celebrate. Our most comprehensive win ever in round 10 came comparatively recently – in 2001, when Carlton held West Coast to only three goals and destroyed them by 119 points at Princes Park. Prior to that, we shattered Sydney by 116 points at the MCG in 1986, and a year later, thumped the Brisbane Bears by 103 when they ventured to Princes Park. All up, the Carlton Football Club has beaten opposition teams by ten goals (or more) seven times in this round.
UMPIRE KAIN COPS ITDuring the 1920’s, field umpire John Kain apparently lasted just one season in the VFL, and if the ruckus surrounding two of the games he controlled are any guide, it’s easy to see why. Some weeks before he was appointed to take charge of the Carlton-Melbourne match at Princes Park in round 10, 1927, newspapers had reported that umpire Kain had had a bucket of water tipped over his head by an irate spectator. But after the game at Princes Park finished in a 15-point win to the Redlegs, much worse was in store.
As the Blues mounted a spirited bid for victory from 21 points behind at three-quarter time, the home crowd was infuriated when umpire Kain didn’t see, or refused to pay, a blatant free kick near goal to Carlton winger Joe Kelly. Carlton fell short of victory, and a howling mob confronted the man in white. While police struggled to protect him, Kain was abused, threatened and pelted with stones and fruit. It took three attempts before he reached the safety of the change room, and observers were surprised that only one man was arrested during the melee.
ARE YOU BLIND, UMPIRE?Umpires were in the firing line again in round 10, 1934, after another wild and willing clash between Carlton and Collingwood at Victoria Park. Intermittent rain and a strong breeze made skilful play difficult, and in the third quarter, a huge brawl involving at least 20 players erupted. Police and officials from both clubs were required to break up the fight, and while numerous bookings resulted, both boundary umpires and one goal umpire were later suspended by the VFL for “dereliction of duty” because they did not report obvious offences by Collingwood players during the game. And in a foot-note to that match, future Carlton captain and Premiership player Jim Francis celebrated his first career goal that afternoon – then played 100 more times before kicking his second!
INS AND OUTSThe early VFL seasons saw a big turnover of players throughout each year, although there were, and continues to be, relatively few debuts and departures at Carlton at this time of year. The first prominent Blue to start his career in round 10 was George Topping; our elusive goal-sneak full-forward in Carlton’s 1906-07-08 Premiership teams. Norman Clark, one of the true giants of the club, arrived from South Australia in 1905, then we waited until 1962 to welcome popular clubman Cliff Stewart.
Remarkably, round 10 didn’t see the departure or retirement of a senior Carlton player of note until 1937, when Clen Denning took his considerable ability to the other side of Nicholson St and joined Fitzroy. Carlton’s reliable full-back in the 1938 Premiership team, Frank Gill, retired after this round in 1942, while the determined Andy Lukas (who changed his name from Lukimitis to further his career) also headed to Fitzroy in 1973. Former West Coast Eagle Matt Clape - who was such an offensive weapon for Carlton throughout our 1995 Premiership campaign – retired in 1998, followed five seasons later by three-time Best and Fairest winner, Premiership star and future senior coach, Brett Ratten.
THE DEMISE OF ROBERT WALLSBy September, 1987, three-time Premiership player and former club captain Robert Walls was once again a hero at Princes Park, after coaching the Blues to that year’s flag. But sadly, the afterglow of that 15th flag win lasted less than a season. While the Blues ended 1988 third on the ladder, and crushed Collingwood in the Qualifying Final, we then lost to Hawthorn and Melbourne in successive weeks and crashed out of contention. Walls was disgusted by those two defeats, and let every member of the senior squad at Carlton know about it.
But rather than rallying the team, such criticism was deeply resented by a number of key players, and they simply switched off. Therefore, by half-way through 1989, Carlton had won only two games – and when the struggling Brisbane Bears kicked a last-minute goal at Princes Park in round 10 – courtesy of controversial forward Warwick Capper - and beat the Blues by 3 points, breaking point was reached. Walls was abruptly sacked, and replaced by another Carlton legend in Alex Jesaulenko.
DISHING IT UP TO THE DOGSFinally, surely few of Carlton’s many wins in round 10 have been more inspirational than our ten-point triumph over the Western Bulldogs at the MCG on Sunday, June 3, 2007. Coming as it did on the heels of the bleakest five years in our history, it was a rallying point for the club, and one of our first steps towards a return to finals football in 2009.
What made that win so gratifying for so many Bluebaggers was that this time, coach Denis Pagan opted to take the Bulldogs on at their own style of game, banking on the class of Carlton’s young brigade to seize their chance. The glimpse of the future provided by the likes of Bryce Gibbs, Marc Murphy, Jarrad Waite, Andrew Carrazzo and Kade Simpson lifted every True-Blue’s spirits that Sunday afternoon at the MCG, as we downed one of the League’s front-running teams by ten points in a quality contest. Adding to joy and satisfaction of a memorable day, hard-running defender Bret Thornton celebrated his 100th senior game, while Bryce Gibbs was rightfully nominated for the NAB Rising Star award.
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