In over 50 years of service to the Carlton Football Club from 1958, Chris Pavlou has represented the Blues in a wide variety of ways. From player, to runner, to Under 19’s Coach, to Life Membership in 1993 and ultimately to a member of our Board of Directors, Pavlou’s 50 year contribution to the Blues deserves to be recognised in the highest levels of our great and wonderful history. With great memories of the 1950’s and 1960’s, a coaching / playing interlude in Tasmania, and a return to the Club at our time of need, the story is one of many chapters.

Pavlou’s journey in Navy Blue officially began in Round 2, 1958 when Chris was selected for his debut against North Melbourne. Chris would line up on North Champ Allan Aylett but find the going tough at first. “I didn’t play too well that day, in fact, the next week I was 19th man”, Chris recalled. With the words of Newton Chandler in his mind – “You need pace, don’t waste a kick, and make sure you work on skills on both sides of the body” – Pavlou set out to make his mark.
11 games in 1958, for 13 goals, was a nice way to start a VFL / AFL career on debut. In addition, when not playing in the Seniors, Pavlou had enough time to win the 1958 Reserves Best First Year Player Award.

With more games came interest from other Clubs. The Legendary Norm Smith, then Coach of Melbourne, had put the feelers out early in Chris’s Carlton career. Pavlou was interested, and it meant a lot to be noticed, but a discussion with Carlton’s Jack Wrout confirmed Pavlou’s desire to stay. Wrout spoke out for Pavlou in the Carlton management meetings, confirming “He’s a bit light, but he’s got some attributes we need – Let’s play him on the Wing”. And in that position in the coming year, Pavlou would make great in-roads for Carlton.

Over 1961, Pavlou would do just that, culminating in 4th placed in the Best & Fairest. “I kicked 3 against North Melbourne once as a rover, and one game on the wing against Melbourne I kicked 1 goal 4 against Brian Dixon. I was pretty happy with that but in the press Lou Richards remarked that I’d “Lost the game for Carlton” with those misses, but I had hit the post 3 times!”

Through the year, Pavlou would play 14 games off the wing and earn 8 Brownlow Votes – second only for Carlton behind Brownlow Medallist John James. Pavlou would also manage a 4th place in the Club Best & Fairest behind James, Nicholls and Silvagni. “One day I played against Bob Skilton in 1961 – I got the Best on ground, 3 Votes for the Brownlow, and the day after I was asked to Channel 7 for an interview with Mike Williamson where I got a pair of shoes and a tin of paint as my prize.”

Later in the year, Pavlou’s promising career would come to what seemed like its crushing end. “We were playing Footscray at the old Western Oval in Round 14, 1961. It was raining and windy. I just happened to go to the Half Forward Flank out on the wing, trying to keep the ball in. In my endeavour to keep the ball in, on the line, a Footscray player slipped and my leg locked underneath. I went back, but I had heard the snap…I couldn’t come off as we had both reserves on. With 10-15 minutes to go, the Coach put me in the forward pocket. I was in agony, but the ball approached, and I went to go in…but nothing happened. I collapsed and was taken off shortly after.” Pavlou had severely damaged his ACL and his season was over.

Although Pavlou would be the Club’s runner in 1962 as the Blues advanced to the Grand Final, Pavlou would not play VFL / AFL again. Overall, Pavlou played 31 Senior Games and scored 9 Goals 20 behinds at an accuracy rate of 31.03% for 16 wins, 1 draw and 14 losses at a winning ratio of 53.2%.

Pavlou’s career in football was not at an end, however, with a surprise offer of a Coaching role coming from an unlikely source. “I was in Tassie, I had left temporarily to fill in for work, and an offer come through to stay on for a while. “Yes!” I’d said but I wasn’t sure…I was then approached to play and Coach East Launceston in 1963 where I was their youngest ever Coach. I coached for 5 years, and with the squad Brian Lowe won the premiership the year after I finished up. In 1964 I actually decided to play again. I’d been told by an old trainer how to strap my led with some old lenses covered in foam and wrapped around my knee. I also represented Tasmania in State football against Western Australia in Hobart. Unfortunately in a game out at Scottsdale for East Launceston, I hit my knee against the bike track that surrounds a lot of grounds in Tassie, and I hurt my knee again.”

But it is the first injury that Pavlou recalls. “It upset me that much; I was on the verge of something. I wish I could have played a couple more years, just to see where it had have ended up. We made the Grand Final in 1962, then Barassi came, then the great years of 1968 and 1970…I didn’t get the opportunity to do those things. I often ask myself ‘How would I have gone?”

Along the way Chris made a number of lifelong friends at Carlton. Vasil Varlamos, a fellow member of the Greek Team of the Century, came to Carlton in 1960. Varlamos had trained with Richmond, but didn’t want to play there. In the end, he approached Richmond’s hierarchy and advised them that he wanted a transfer. Why? They asked, to which Varlamos replied with the blatant fib – “You know Chris Pavlou, he’s my cousin and I want to play alongside him!” The transfer was arranged; the bloodlines yet to be confirmed.

It isn’t just the near relatives that stick with Pavlou. “When I went to Carlton, under Jim Francis, the people I worked with are those that I’ve been friends with all of my life. Bill Armstrong, Jack Wrout were both gentleman, Ken Hands, Jack Carney... Deacon…these guys stuck with me as friends. John James and I became close friends. Serge Silvagni and I used to go out every Saturday night!”

Pavlou’s role at Carlton continued after a decade-long break. “When I came back to Carlton in 1973, I was appointed Coach of the Under 19’s. It got me back into developing youngsters like I enjoyed, where we had Wayne Harmes, Peter Francis and others who were a great pleasure.”

In 1993, Pavlou was granted Life Membership of the Carlton Football Club. Since that time, Pavlou has also been on the Board and also acted as Chairman of the now disbanded Carlton Historical Committee. Now, in 2008, Pavlou celebrates a 50 year association with Carlton, and one he is immensely proud of, and one which the Blueseum is pleased to celebrate.