|Rounds:||1 to 5||6 to 10||11 to 14||15 to 18||19 to 22|
Historically and statistically speaking, any team that plays the Carlton Football Club in round 11 of the season is setting itself for trouble. Down through the years, most of the Blues’ star forwards have hit their straps at this point, chalking up an impressive list of individual hauls while destroying opponents at home and away. There have been some fond farewells, and a warm welcome for a select group of future stars. We have seen some more milestones, too – as well as one or two embarrassments – but overall, yet more glory in the continuing saga of the Old Dark Navy Blues.
KICKING THE SWEEPTo demonstrate how dominant Carlton has been in round 11, consider this. Since the foundation of the VFL in 1897, our club’s three heaviest losses in this round have averaged a tick under 60 points, while the margin of victory in our three biggest wins averages 92 points. Our teams have won eleven matches by ten goals or more, including a whopping 100-point thrashing of St Kilda in 1978. That wasn’t so much a game as a celebration, and a fitting tribute to Rod Austin in his 100th senior match. Full-forward Peter Brown and agile ruckman Rod Galt terrorised the Saints’ defence from the first bounce that afternoon at Princes Park, and kicked six goals each.
St Kilda was also on the end of our second-biggest winning margin in 1927, when Carlton visited the Junction Oval and demolished the Saints by 91 points. Three Blues; ‘Soapy’ Vallence, George Gough and Harold Carter, kicked four goals each in that timely, percentage-boosting win. Forty-three years afterwards, champion Alex Jesaulenko was well on the way to completing his 100-goal season when he booted seven majors - and rover Adrian Gallagher added another five - in Carlton’s 85-point home ground win over Melbourne in 1970.
(NOT) LOSING BY LOTSConversely, the Navy Blues have suffered a ten-goal defeat in round 11 just once – at the hands of Collingwood at Waverley in 1971. Future Blue Peter McKenna kicked 8 majors for the Magpies on that Queen’s Birthday holiday Monday. Collingwood came out easy winners by 85 points, and Carlton finished the match with only 16 fit men. Our next-worst defeat was in 1955 at Punt Road, when Richmond’s stand-in full-forward Ray Poulter also booted 8 goals, and Carlton went down by 47 points to the Tigers. Prior to that, we had been beaten by exactly the same margin at the Lake Oval in 1913 by South Melbourne.
EARLY DAYS, HAPPY DAYS AND WINNING STREAKSCarlton’s first round 11 VFL match was played at Princes Park on July 17, 1897 against Geelong, and ended in a 50-point defeat. Yet only a decade later in 1908, the Blues were en route to a third successive Premiership by this stage of the season, after easily accounting for Melbourne by five goals. That was our 15th win in a row, and set a record that was to last for 87 seasons - until it was finally broken by the Mighty Blues of 1995.
In round 11, 1915 Carlton hosted South Melbourne at Princes Park, and won an intense, physical match by 10 points. We then remained undefeated for the rest of the year, and our tenth successive victory in that marvellous season was an emphatic 33-point triumph over Collingwood on Grand Final day.
STICKS, SOAPY, JEZZA & CO.Captain and centre half-forward of the century, Stephen Kernahan, set Carlton’s goal-kicking record for round 11 in 1994, when he booted nine of his team’s 20 goals against Fitzroy at Waverley. Carlton won by 55 points, but the game was equally significant in that it marked the debut of our 1995 Premiership weapon Brad Pearce.
‘Sticks’ Kernahan’s nine-goal effort places him above four other distinguished Blueboys who have kicked 8 goals in this round. In historical order they are; Frank Caine (1907), ‘Soapy’ Vallence (1936), Ken Hunter (1984) and Brendan Fevola (2009).
Seven Blues have produced seven-goal hauls; Horrie Clover (1928), ‘Soapy’ Vallence (1929), Ken Baxter (1947), Tom Carroll (1962), Alex Jesaulenko (1970), Craig Davis (1974), and Brendan Fevola – whose 50-metre, after-the-siren classic goal from the boundary line at Football Park in 2004 got the Blues home by 4 points. As well, Vallence, Carroll, Jesaulenko and Fevola have all registered separate round 11 scores of six goals during their careers.
A BAD DAY OUT WESTSome days, teams, like individuals, just can’t take a trick. Despite honest intent, grit and determination, all our efforts come to nothing. Such a situation occurred on a cold and miserable day at in June 1991, when Carlton travelled out to the Western Oval to play Footscray. Although the Blues got their share of the football for most of the game, and our defence stood firm throughout – we just couldn’t find the goals. With a minute left to play in the match, the scores read Footscray 8.9 (57) to Carlton 0.10 (10), and the Blues were on the brink of utter humiliation. But when we surged into attack one last despairing time, rover Mark Arceri was paid a priceless free kick thirty metres out from goal on a slight angle, and his shot brought up full points at last. It was a small consolation on a black afternoon for Carlton, as we registered our lowest score for 87 years, and our worst result ever against the Bullies.
FAREWELLS ARE NEVER EASYA diverse group of players have finished their careers at Carlton in round 11; most because of injury, and some to seek opportunity elsewhere. One of the prominent early departures came in 1908 when Dave Gillespie – twin brother of Premiership full-back Doug Gillespie, and a fine player in his own right – switched to VFA team Brunswick. After starring in a Premiership team with the ‘wicks in 1909, Dave volunteered for front-line service in World War 1 and was very seriously wounded. He was repatriated home for specialist care in 1916, but tragically, died of complications only a few months later.
Former Blues captain Charlie Davey was forced into premature retirement by a chronic knee problem in 1937, followed by club Legend and Brownlow Medallist Bert Deacon in 1951. Spectacular forward Keith Warburton (1955) and three highly-rated Premiership players in wingman Peter Francis (1981), defender Robbert ‘Clippity’ Klomp (1983) and rover Alex Marcou (1986) also finished up after this round.
ADDING A TOUCH OF CLASSSix top-shelf recruits are among those to have made their first senior appearance for Carlton in round 11. Four of them; Doug Williams (1944), Jim Buckley (1976), Peter Dean (1984) and Brad Pearce (1994) went on to play in Premiership teams for the Blues. The other two; Ryan Houlihan (2000) and Kade Simpson (2003), may yet get their chance to do the same.
MEMORABLE MILESTONE MATCHESSadly, Carlton wasn’t able to honour one of our favourite sons with a victory when Stephen Silvagni became only the fourth player in club history to reach 300 games in round 11, 2001. Playing Richmond at the MCG in front of 71,000 fans on that Sunday afternoon, the Blues were right in it for three quarters, before we ran out of legs and were beaten by 27 points. The Tigers and their coaching staff then formed a guard of honour as Silvagni left the field. It was a genuine gesture of respect from a traditional rival, and one that was widely appreciated by the Carlton faithful.
As previously mentioned, ’Curly’ Austin chalked up his 100th senior game for Carlton in a record win over St Kilda in this round in 1978, while in the corresponding match a year earlier, stalwart Blues Premiership defender Phil Pinnell celebrated his 150th game when Carlton comfortably accounted for Footscray by 49 points at Waverley. But undoubtedly the most celebrated round 11 milestone game of them all came in the year 2000, when former Carlton captain, Premiership player, three-time Best and Fairest and future coach Brett Ratten played his 200th match, and a magnificent athlete in guernsey number 43 for the Blues gave us all a glimpse of the future.
KOUTA CONQUERS THE KANGASFew players have been as dominant as Carlton’s Anthony Koutoufides was in season 2000, and there have been few greater individual games played than his slashing effort against North Melbourne at Princes Park in round 11 of that memorable year. Before that rematch of the previous year’s Grand Final, Koutoufides had been in superb form around the middle of the ground, so it was a real surprise when Carlton coach David Parkin asked him to play in defence and pick up North Melbourne’s champion forward Wayne Carey.
Well, Kouta not only blanketed Carey - he ran off him at every opportunity in the first half of that intense contest, and was primarily responsible for setting up Carlton’s narrow lead at the long break. Parkin then released the shackles, and gave Kouta free rein in the second half. He responded by taking the game by the scruff of the neck - kicking five great goals from 8 marks and 38 possessions - to drive the Blues home to a famous victory. Although he was sidelined by injury in the last three games of the season, Kouta’s super year was recognised by his peers when he was voted the AFL’s Most Valuable Player. Remarkably, the umpires didn’t share that opinion, and Carlton’s Adonis finished an astonishing five votes behind the winner of that year’s Brownlow Medal; Shane Woewodin of Melbourne.
Since 1897 and the birth of the Victorian Football League, head-to-head results in round 12 certainly favour the Carlton Football Club. Although it took thirteen years for the Bluebaggers to win a game by ten goals or more at this time, another 72 seasons passed before we suffered defeat to the same degree. Meanwhile, in this round in 1921, one of the greatest of all Carlton forwards set a goal-kicking record that stands to this day. Since then, there have been plenty of other incidents - some good, a few bad, and one or two merely amusing.
WHERE’S WALLY?One of Carlton’s early stars was Alfred Richard Wallace ‘Wally’ O’Cock, who won the Blues’ goal-kicking award in our inaugural VFL season. During that harsh year, a desperate Carlton was due to meet Melbourne at Princes Park in round 12, and had hoped to include O’Cock in the team on his return from injury - only to be told that he couldn’t play because he was unable to obtain a medical clearance. So Wally registered himself under the name of Alfred Wallace, and played regardless. He kicked Carlton’s only two goals for the match, but the Fuchsias still proved too good and won by almost five goals.
SEND ANOTHER ONE OVER, HORRIE CLOVER!When Horrie Clover kicked a magnificent 13 goals for Carlton against St Kilda at the Junction Oval on Saturday July 23, 1921, he set a club record that endures to this day – despite spending most of that game at centre half-forward! Because of his military service in World War 1, Clover didn’t make his senior debut for Carlton until he was 25, but played good football until he was 36. Graceful, athletic and a spectacular high mark, Horrie stands as surely the greatest Blue never to have played in a Premiership team. He booted 396 goals in his 147-game playing career, and went on to spend 37 years of his remarkable life in the service of the Carlton Football Club.
MANGLING THE MAGPIES...It took the combined efforts of three other club greats to top Clover’s huge bag against the Saints, when Jim Francis, Jack Wrout and ‘Mick’ Price shared a 20-goal haul in a huge win against Collingwood at Victoria Park in 1943. Producing a score-line to warm the heart of every true Bluebagger, Carlton piled on nine goals with the wind in the second quarter, and ten more in the last, to embarrass the Pies by 104 points on their home turf. At full-forward, Blues’ captain Jim Francis landed 8 goals, centre half-forward Jack Wrout added another seven, and rover ‘Mick’ Price chimed in with five, as Carlton amassed 28.10 (178) against Collingwood’s 11.8 (74) to send the Maggies crashing to second-last on the ladder.
HUNTING IN PAIRSDuring his 46-game career at Carlton, former St Kilda forward Rod Galt made something of a habit of kicking bags of goals in tandem. In round 12, 1978 ‘The Ghost’ booted six, and Mark Maclure bagged five, while Carlton destroyed Richmond at Princes Park. Earlier, ex-Brunswick defender Frank Anderson kicked six goals from full-forward and classy rover ‘Socks’ Cooper added another five, as Hawthorn fell to Carlton by 79 points at Princes Park in 1934.
In 1971, the Blues’ imposing full-forward Ricky McLean hit his best form, booting seven majors, while John Nicholls contributed four, in Carlton’s 91-point destruction of North Melbourne. Then in 1993, captain Stephen Kernahan and rover Brent Heaver both notched five majors in Carlton’s record home-ground victory over Adelaide.
10 GOALS UP, AND 10 GOALS DOWNCarlton’s first round 12 win by ten goals or more came in 1910, when the Blues held Melbourne to one major in the first half of our game at Princes Park, and won by 65 points. Since then, we have achieved this feat six more times, including Horrie Clover’s single-handed destruction of St Kilda in 1921, and that great win over Collingwood in 1943 when Francis, Wrout and Price rewrote the record books. Our third-biggest win in round 12 came after McLean and Nicholls intimidated the Shinboners with a mix of skill and aggression in that previously-mentioned home game against North Melbourne in 1971.
By contrast, one of the Navy Blues’ many proud records is that we have tasted defeat to the same degree only twice in this round, throughout more than 100 VFL/AFL seasons. The very first time was in 1982 at Windy Hill, when Essendon won by exactly 60 points, and a gangly young Bomber named Justin Madden took his first steps on a path that would eventually lead to Premiership glory at Princes Park. The second and more hurtful loss came at Docklands Stadium on a Friday night in 2007, as a hot Hawthorn team hammered Carlton by exactly 100 points, in coach Denis Pagan’s 100th game in charge of the Blues.
BIG BAGS AND BROKEN DREAMSApart from Horrie Clover’s huge haul in 1921, the best individual score by a Carlton player in round 12 stands at 8 goals – shared by three Blues who all left their mark on the history of the club; Creswell 'Mickey' Crisp (in 1932, versus Fitzroy) Jim Francis (1943, against Collingwood) and Brendan Fevola (2008, again versus Collingwood).
The desperately-unlucky Noel O'Brien kicked 118 goals in 31 senior matches for Carlton before his career was cruelly ended by a devastating ankle injury during the 1956 pre-season. In round 12, 1954 he posted six goals against South Melbourne, and followed that up with another seven against North Melbourne in the corresponding game in 1955.
FAREWELL TO THE STUDENTSCarlton’s fourteenth and last VFL game against University was played at Princes Park on Saturday, July 4, 1914. The result was a 31-point win to the Blues, with rover Gordon Green the star with four goals. Shackled by a code of strict amateurism in an increasingly professional sport, the Students were never really competitive during their six years in the VFL, and the end eventually came after many of their best players enlisted at the outbreak of World War 1. While there was no official merger, University was then all but absorbed by the Melbourne Football Club.
ON DEBUT..AND BOUND FOR GLORYThe list of prominent Blues to make their senior debut for Carlton in round 12 includes no fewer than six Premiership players; Jack Wrout (1936), Jack Conley (1944), Kevin Hall (1963), Peter Brown (1976), Ken Sheldon (1977) and ex-Bomber surprise packet Glenn Manton (1995). Add to that list four-time Big V representative Keith Shea (1932) and long-serving Victorian parliamentarian Peter Hall (1971) and it’s very obvious that this has been a fertile time for the Carlton Football Club.
SO LONG, BLUE...Follower Harold Daniel played 11 games for Carlton in 1901, but after a shock loss to St Kilda in round 12, ended his brief VFL career to return to his original club, Port Melbourne. Fourteen years later, 36 year-old Daniel volunteered for active service in World War 1. He was wounded twice, decorated for outstanding bravery under fire, and tragically killed in action only weeks before the end of hostilities in November, 1918.
Other notables who finished their careers in this round include dual Premiership wingman Doug Williams (1951), ‘Big Nick’s’ talented older brother Don Nicholls (1961), Denis Collins (1979), Peter Brown (1980) and Rohan Welsh (1997).
KNOCK, KNOCK – WHO’S THERE?In a celebrated incident during the Footscray-Carlton match at the Western Oval in round 12, 1985, Blues’ Chairman of Selectors Wes “JR” Lofts (so nick-named for his resemblance to the rambunctious character John Ross “JR” Ewing from the hit US television series Dallas) barged into the time-keeper’s box at half-time, demanding to know why the second quarter had finished early. Trailing the Bulldogs by five goals at quarter-time, the Blues had had the use of a strong breeze in the second term, but had failed to capitalise on it. So Lofts was already fuming when he noticed that the ground clock had stopped after 22 minutes, and wanted to know why. It apparently took some doing, but the officials from both clubs finally convinced him that nothing was amiss. The time-keeper’s clocks had in fact both started on time, but someone forgot to start the ground clock until the quarter was well advanced.
MILESTONE MATTERSWe are often reminded that Carlton’s winning record in milestone matches is not as good as it should be. Well, as far as round 12 is concerned, we have done the right thing every time it has really mattered. In 1974, Premiership wingman Bryan Quirk played his 150th match against Melbourne, and Carlton triumphed by 29 points. Later, in 1996, we famously outplayed Collingwood by 21 points at a packed MCG to honour game number 200 for favourite son Stephen Silvagni. That was followed-up by a fighting 12-point win over Hawthorn in 2007 when Lance Whitnall made it to 150, and most recently, Heath Scotland celebrated his 150th career game with another stirring 5-goal victory over his former club Collingwood in 2008.
RISING STARS AND RISING EXPECTATIONSThe round 12, 2009 Carlton-St Kilda match, held on a Friday night at Etihad Stadium, was one of the games of the season – a pulsating thriller between a Saints side poised at the peak of their form, and a Carlton team still exploring the possibilities of how good they could be. From 32 points down in the second term, the Blues fought their way to within a kick of victory only minutes from the end, before a defensive lapse gifted St Kilda the sealer. Considering Carlton skipper Chris Judd was off the field with a smashed nose for a vital period in the third quarter, and our most constructive defender in Bret Thornton was a late withdrawal from the side, it was a brave loss that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of a Carlton supporter base eagerly anticipating a return to finals football. Adding to the optimism, emerging midfield tagger Aaron Joseph confirmed the opinion of many good judges when he became the fifth new Blue since 2006 to be nominated for the AFL Rising Star Award.
So now we come to round 13 - that time of year when the finals start coming into focus, and some hard decisions often have to be faced. Should an injured key player be rested, or nursed through the rest of the year? Should a raw, promising youngster be played in the senior team as a matter of course from here on, to fast-track his experience? Amidst these and other conundrums, Carlton’s wins at this stage of the season once again outnumber our losses, thanks to an array of champion forwards who have stood tall down the years. As in most of the previous rounds, we have farewelled some great names about now, as well as welcoming a six-pack or two of new stars. And of course, we wouldn’t be the Carlton Football Club if we hadn’t had to resolve the odd crisis...
EARLY DAYS – ASSAULT & BATTERY?Carlton’s round 13 opponent in the foundation year of the VFL in 1897 was St Kilda, in a match at Princes Park that eventually decided which of the two clubs would be awarded the wooden spoon. Not surprisingly, the game was a wild and willing affair, as the Argus newspaper reported under the headline; ‘Assault and Battery;’
"Carlton and St. Kilda played a characteristic Carlton-St. Kilda game at Princes Park to decide which of them should not be last. It was a benefit to football that the issue was so unimportant, for had they played for first place with proportionate passion the strain on the accommodation of the adjacent hospitals would have been enormous. Thanks to the efforts of a few men, there was so much charging, swinging, tripping and generally unfair play, that the greatest kindness one can show to these afflicted twenties is to tear up one's notes and say nothing further about it, save that Carlton won comfortably, and that Aitken, who for the first time played forward, got three goals, while the smart little O'Cock and Chapman each accounted for a pair."
JACK WORRALL BOWS OUTOur game’s first coach; Jack Worrall, coached Carlton for the 144th and last time in this round in 1909, when his third-placed Blues met last-placed Geelong at Princes Park. As expected, the powerful Carlton combination brushed the Pivotonians aside from the first bounce, and set a new club record score of 19.16 (130) to easily beat the visitors’ 10.10 (70). Lively forwards George Topping and Harvey Kelly each kicked 5 goals for Carlton, and tough follower Fred Jinks added another four.
Five days after that win, under pressure from a disgruntled group of players and officials, Worrall resigned his position as coach. Although he stayed on as secretary of the club until April, 1910, he left Princes Park for good after that, when a new committee openly opposed to him was elected. The twist was that four of Carlton’s best players; Frank Caine, Charlie Hammond, Fred Jinks and George 'Mallee' Johnson - also resigned in protest at Worrall’s departure. Worrall then joined Essendon in 1911, and coached them to successive Premierships in 1911 -12.
WINNING EASYCarlton’s first round 13 victory by ten goals or more happened in 1905, when our outstanding follower-forward ‘Silver’ Caine kicked five goals against Melbourne and the Blues won by 62 points. Since then, we have achieved this feat another seven times. Our current record winning margin in round 13 stands at 98 points, again achieved against the Demons – in 2000 at the MCG. Popular Premiership defender ‘Bluey’ Hickmott kicked 5 goals that Saturday afternoon, and midfielder Scott Camporeale contributed another four, as Carlton fans saluted Michael Sexton’s 200th and last game for the Mighty Blues.
THROTTLING THE OPPOSITIONWhen Carlton hosted University at Princes Park in round 13, 1911, the Blues finished with 9.12 (66) while the hapless Students were held to one goal at three-quarter time, and ended up registering just 2.10 (22). Eighty-four years later - en route to the 1995 Premiership – Carlton restricted Fremantle to 7.7 (49) and blitzed them by 57 points on their home turf at Subiaco. In both cases, these are the respective record lowest scores against the Blues by each club.
AMONG THE GOALSConsidering the many hefty individual bags kicked by Carlton forwards during earlier rounds, it comes as a surprise to find that the 8 majors booted by Brendan Fevola during Carlton’s win over Richmond at Docklands Stadium in 2004 is the individual best to date in round 13. ‘Fev’ followed up with another 7-goal haul in 2007 against Essendon at the MCG, to join ‘Soapy’ Vallence (1931 and 1935), Paul Schmidt (1939) and Stephen Kernahan (1995) as the only four Carlton players to achieve that feat. Another seven Blues, including Hedley Blackmore, Brian Kekovich, Robert Walls and Sergio Silvagni, have six goals to their credit in this round.
A RUCKUS AT WINDY HILLBy round 13, 1923, Carlton was sitting just one win off the bottom of the VFL ladder when we travelled to Windy Hill to take on the dominant competition leaders, Essendon. Unfortunately, the game was a debacle for the Blues. We were beaten by 11 goals, and that led to an infamous incident that marred the careers of three players.
In those more genteel times, the home team always provided after-game refreshments, and both teams were expected to mingle in a spirit of mutual sportsmanship. But on this occasion, the anger and shame of defeat brought angry words that inflamed emotions, and two Blues; George Bolt and Jack Morrissey, became embroiled in a fist fight that soon involved a trainer and a member of the club committee. At the same time, a third Blue; powerful forward Bert Boromeo, was openly critical of his captain-coach Horrie Clover. When the dust eventually settled, all those involved were summoned to appear before the match committee to explain their actions.
The participants in the fight were immediately suspended, as was Boromeo, who was accused of ‘creating dissension in the club.’ Interestingly, it is said that when the rest of the team were informed of the committee’s decision, they supported it unanimously. In the wake of his suspension, Boromeo resigned as a Carlton player, and announced that he was going to Richmond – but Carlton wouldn’t release him to strengthen the team that had become the Blues’ nemesis. A standoff ensued until 1926, when Carlton eventually relented, and released the 34 year-old from any further obligations at Princes Park.
MARKING MORE MILESTONESAmong the list of Blues to have reached significant career milestones in round 13, a group of seven stands out. Flamboyant, dual-Premiership defender John ‘Ragsy’ Goold played his 100th senior game in a close-fought win against Geelong during this round in 1970. Barry Mulcair made his debut for Carlton in the same game, and went on to partner Goold across half-back in that year’s incredible Grand Final victory over Collingwood.
Future club captain and Hall of Fame inductee Mark Maclure reached game number 150 in 1981, when ladder-leaders Carlton suffered a shock loss to eighth-placed Fitzroy at the Junction Oval. Five seasons later, firebrand David Rhys-Jones managed his 100th appearance in navy blue when Carlton destroyed Richmond at Waverley Park. Iconic ruck giant Justin Madden made it to 150 games against Geelong in 1990, and popular utility Paul Meldrum racked up his 150th appearance for the Blues in a disappointing loss to Sydney on a Sunday afternoon at the SCG in 1991. Another crowd favourite in Kade Simpson overcame a slow start to his career, and joined the 100-game club against Essendon at the MCG in 2009.
REVERED ARRIVALS, AND FOND FAREWELLS...Among the most influential figures throughout the history of the Carlton Football Club was Laurie Kerr, whose 149 games for the Blues commenced in round 13, 1950. Because his career spanned an era of little success for his team, Kerr’s ability went largely unrecognised outside of Princes Park – until he was selected as an emergency in Carlton’s Team of the 20th Century. After his retirement from the field in 1959, Laurie went on to provide more than thirty years of invaluable support and advice to the club from his position at the head of one of Australia’s most successful public relations companies.
Future three-time Premiership player and captain Mark Maclure wore guernsey number 36 for the first of his 243 senior games when Carlton destroyed Geelong in round 13, 1974. Another captain, Premiership star and club idol in Anthony Koutoufides was destined for a bigger guernsey number, more games (278), two less flags – but a much larger public profile, when he began his stellar career with a good win over Adelaide in this round in 1992.
Blues who have finished their careers at this time down through the years include rugged forward Ricky McLean (1971) who afterward joined Richmond; talented and desperately unlucky Adrian Whitehead (1999) whose promising career was prematurely ended by a foot injury, respected 1995 Premiership defender Michael Sexton (2000) who made it to 200 games and decided that was enough; and ex-Essendon utility Jordan Bannister (2009) who gave the Blues loyal service in 53 games during Carlton’s dire first decade of the current century.
Way back in 1897, this round of matches signalled the conclusion of the Carlton Football Club’s dismal debut year in the Victorian Football League, when our two wins for the season was just enough to avoid the new competition’s dreaded wooden spoon. More than a century later - in round 14, 2009 - the Navy Blues showcased football’s modern era by taking to the field in bright yellow guernseys for a clash with the Fremantle Dockers on the other side of the continent at Subiaco. Between those two landmark games - while Carlton went on to claim no fewer than 16 League Premierships - the fourteenth match of each season has rarely failed to enhance the history of this great club. Here are just a few of the highlights.
1897 - FIRSTS, LASTS AND THREE FAREWELLS...Carlton’s fourteenth and last game in 1897 ended in despair after a 32-point loss to Collingwood at Victoria Park, meaning that our only two wins in the foundation year of the VFL both came at the expense of a hapless St Kilda. Three Inception Blues; Bob Cameron, Bill Woodhouse and Brook Hannah – all of whom played in Carlton’s round one VFL debut - retired after that last game of the season.
1922 – HARRY’S HOT STARTThe first notable newcomer to make his debut for Carlton in round 14 was Harold Credlin – an athletic full-forward from Inglewood who kicked five goals in his first match for the Blues against South Melbourne, and another five a fortnight later against Geelong. But Harry’s career went into rapid decline after that impressive start, and he retired in 1925 after only 18 senior games. Two great servants of the club; ruckmen Ron Savage (1938) and Fred Davies (1941) began their fine careers in this round, as did popular clubman Ron Hines in 1943. Triple Premiership player Neil Chandler was given his first opportunity at senior level in 1968, followed by durable forward Craig Davis in 1973, and the controversial, wasted talent of Laurence Angwin in 2003.
1925 – A BAKER’S DOZENIn round 14, 1925, ninth-placed Carlton played host to top-four side Melbourne at Princes Park. After an even first half, the Blues were run ragged by the Redlegs’ deadly small forward Harry Davie, who finished the match with a spectacular haul of 13 goals, setting a ground record that will surely now never be beaten.
Two years later however, Davie fell out of favour at the MCG, and it was no surprise when he was snapped up by the Blues prior to the 1928 season. Harry had kicked 160 goals in 49 games for Melbourne, and Carlton saw him as the ideal foil for our champion centre half-forward Horrie Clover. But Davie never settled in at Princes Park, and although his nine matches produced the good return of 26 majors for his new club, he abandoned VFL football at the end of that year to join VFA club Preston, where in time he became one of that competition’s brightest stars.
1927 – FIRST BLOOD AT WINDY HILLIn 1921, after the Essendon Football Club had bowed to the wishes of its supporters and relocated from the East Melbourne Cricket Ground to the Essendon Recreation Reserve, the Navy Blues of Carlton contested the first VFL match at the new venue in round 1, 1922. Carlton lost that game by l8 points, and it took another four visits before the Blueboys finally cracked it for their first win at the ground soon to be known as Windy Hill.
That notable occasion came in round 14, 1927, when Carlton’s team was inspired by rover Harold Carter, and steadied by forwards ‘Soapy’ Vallance and George Gough. After withstanding a third-quarter onslaught from the home side, Carlton held on for a gritty 8-point win. From then on, visits to Windy Hill were invariably tough and willing contests - as we shall see in a later chapter.
1948 – GOALS GALORE FOR ‘CHOOKA’Carlton’s champion ruckman-forward of the post-World War II era; Jack ‘Chooka’ Howell, set Carlton’s round 14 individual goal-kicking record when he booted eight majors in a huge home ground win over Geelong in round 14, 1948. Howell kept that record to himself for 27 seasons, until it was eventually matched by David McKay in Carlton’s huge win over Essendon at Windy Hill in 1975. ‘Chooka’ had another memorable match when he kicked seven goals against Richmond at Princes Park in 1953, but was forced to share that honour as well, when Alex Jesaulenko slotted seven as Carlton narrowly beat Footscray in 1969. The list of Blues who have kicked six majors in round 14 includes Charlie Fisher (1919), Ansell Clarke (1930), Ray Garby (1950), Sergio Silvagni (1963), Rod Ashman (1984), Stephen Kernahan (1990 and 1995), Rohan Welsh (1992), Brad Pearce (1998) and Lance Whitnall (2000).
1961 – HOOROO TO TWO TRUE BLUESRound 14, 1961 was a black day for the Old Dark Navy Blues. Needing to beat Footscray at the Western Oval to have any chance of making the finals, we were never really in contention against a hot Bulldog outfit, and ended up losing by 22 points. To make matters worse, exciting youngster Chris Pavlou suffered a career-ending knee injury, and stalwart former captain Bruce Comben announced his retirement after the game. Although both men would go on to serve the club off-field for many years afterward, the season was effectively ended for the Blues that afternoon. Other prominent individuals who finished their playing careers at Carlton in round 14 include club captains Charlie Canet (1921) and Jim Francis (1943), as well as Martin Gotz (1913), Joe Kelly (1934), Rod McLean (1946) and Greg Wells (1982).
1974 – YOUNGEST TO 150 GAMESAt just 23 years and 350 days of age, Robert Walls became the youngest Blue to have played 150 games for the club when Carlton lost to North Melbourne by 49 points at Princes Park in round 14, 1974. Five years later, legendary defender Bruce Doull brought up his 200th game in Carlton’s 51-point hiding of Fitzroy at Waverley Park. The parade of champions continued in 1989 when Wayne ‘Dominator’ Johnston willed his battered body to 200 games against Essendon at Waverley, followed by Justin Madden’s 300th AFL appearance in a good win over Richmond at the MCG in 1995. The following year, coach of the century David Parkin brought up his 250th match in charge of the Blues, and champion forward Stephen Kernahan marked game number 200 as captain, when Carlton lost to North Melbourne under lights on a Friday night at a jam-packed MCG. Carlton’s games record holder Craig Bradley made it to 300 games in a six-goal victory over Hawthorn in 1999, and Ryan Houlihan joined the 150-game club against Melbourne in this round in 2007.
1975 – THE (SECOND) BATTLE OF WINDY HILLDuring the wild and woolly decade of the 1970’s, two infamous games of football were played over successive seasons at Essendon’s home ground, involving Richmond and Carlton as the visiting teams. The first of those matches exploded moments before half-time when the Bombers met Richmond in round 7, 1974. Players, officials and committeemen from both sides clashed in a wild melee after Essendon’s runner was felled by Tiger enforcer Mal Brown. Numerous reports were laid, and the fallout from those ugly scenes lasted for weeks.
Just over a year later, in round 14, 1975, second-placed Carlton took on Essendon (fourth) in a match of the day that promised sensation and delivered much more. After trailing by 21 points at quarter time in wet and slippery conditions, the Blues launched a withering 14-goal onslaught in the second term, and in desperation some Bombers resorted to the knuckle. The game was a series of rolling brawls from then on, as eight players (four from each side) ended up on report. Even so, the amazing accuracy of both teams – Carlton kicked 27.13 (175) to Essendon 15.5 (95) was just one of the highlights in a record-breaking day. Better known as a defender, David ‘Swan’ McKay went forward early, marked strongly and kicked 8 goals, while Robert Walls provided another reliable marking target and helped himself to another five. This was Carlton’s highest score against Essendon, and our second term tally of 14.1 is still the best in VFL/AFL history.
MISCELLANEOUS MOMENTSIn this round in 1977, Rod Austin earned a niche in football folklore when he kept champion Hawthorn full-forward Peter Hudson goalless for only the second time in Hudson’s brilliant 129-game, 727-goal career. Three seasons later, Carlton played our last-ever match at South Melbourne’s Lake Oval, beating the Swans by 39 points in cold and miserable conditions. On a cool Friday night in 1985, we thrashed North Melbourne at the MCG in Carlton’s first match under lights for Premiership points, and in 1988 champion Blues full-back Stephen Silvagni soared for one of the all-time great high marks against Collingwood at the MCG. At the same venue in round 14, 2008, the Richmond Football Club confidently set out to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their induction into the VFL/AFL. But they ran into a resurgent Carlton team that – despite missing captain Chris Judd through injury – steamrolled the Tigers in the last quarter to win by 30 points.
GOING FOR GOLDCarlton’s vital match against Fremantle at Subiaco in round 14, 2009 remains significant for two reasons; our win over the Dockers made our place in that year’s finals probable rather than possible, and it marked only the second time since 1897 that the Blues had worn an alternative uniform in a match for Premiership points. On this occasion, Carlton burst out onto the expanse of Subiaco resplendent in bright yellow, and steadily overhauled the fast-starting Dockers to run out victors by 15 points. In turn, this added value to the team’s guernseys when they were auctioned online after the match. The proceeds then being split between mental health support organisation Livestrong, and the Peter McCallum Institute for cancer research.
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