More than 1100 senior players have laced a boot in anger for the Carlton Football Club . . . but how many of them have been awarded the MBE?

The club can now report at least one recipient – the late John Tolson “Jack” Massey – whose dedicated public life only recently came to notice after a researcher from the Australian Dictionary of Biography sought information on his playing career - which in turn led to Carlton making contact with Massey’s descendants in Longueville, New South Wales.
Tolson 'Jack' Massey
John Tolson Massey was born in Hawthorn on May 1, 1887, the son of Henry John Masse, a draper, and Fanny Tolson.

Recruited from Carlton Juniors (later Carlton District), Massey became the 242nd senior player to represent the Blues, managing two appearances in Rounds 17 and 18 of the 1910 season. The accompanying portrait was taken in 1912.

The 1955 version of Who’s Who in Australia did not carry any information in respect of Massey’s playing career. But it did in part list John Tolson Massey MBE as the honorary Captain i/c of the YMCA with the AIF’s 4th Division from 1915-19; a National Staff Member of the YMCA in the United States in 1925; an Executive Secretary of the National YMCAs of England in 1939; and the National General Secretary of the YMCA of Australia from 1944.

Massey was also seconded to the Commonwealth Government as organiser of voluntary organisations and churches assisting assimilation of immigrants into Australian life in 1949.

He was twice married, lived in Glen Iris and died in Camberwell on July 18, 1981 at the age of 94.

Family Footnote: John Tolson Massey’s younger brother Claude didn’t play for Carlton, but he too has been acknowledged for his services to community.

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Claude rose within the ranks of the public service and is also accredited with inventing a life jacket which could be rapidly inflated and worn comfortably in most situations.

Dubbed the “Australian ‘Mae West”, the jacket boasted a large flotation area around the chest, which reportedly gave its wearers ‘something of a pouter pigeon appearance’.

Whatever the case, Claude’s garment saved the lives of countless Australian and allied servicemen, and he later donated the patent rights of his invention to the Commonwealth.

Claude later became the Australian Commissioner for Malaya, based in Singapore. He urged the Australian Government to assume a larger role in the region and advocated that the White Australia Policy be modified to allow limited Asian immigration.

Claude Massey, two years John’s junior, died in Collaroy, New South Wales, on May 1, 1968.

Blueseum footnote: Other Carlton players have indeed received MBE's an other awards. For more information, click here.

Blueseum: Massey's Blueseum Bio | Massey's Blueseum Image Gallery