Celebrating 150 years of the Carlton Blues

Jason Lassey Roar Rookie

By Jason Lassey, Jason Lassey is a Roar Rookie

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    Home to some of the biggest names in Australian football – Jesaulenko, Kernahan and Silvagni among others – the Carlton Football Club is the equal most successful club in the Australian Football League.

    It forms one of the so-called ‘big four’ Victorian clubs, with whom it shares some of Australian football’s biggest rivalries – Collingwood, Essendon and Richmond.

    On 17 May, 1861, a notice in the Melbourne Argus classifieds requested interested persons attend a meeting in order to “take steps for the formation of a football club”.

    The meeting must have had some success as four days later, on 21 May, The Argus carried an advertisement for another meeting “for the purpose of drawing up rules and enrolment of members”.

    Notwithstanding the above, the Carlton Football Club was officially formed in July 1864. Though the exact date has unfortunately been lost to history, at the time of its official formation it is believed to have been the seventh known Australian football club to have been formed.

    The club would play games out of Royal Park until 1878 and originally wore navy blue with white shoulders. The all navy blue with monogram has been relatively unchanged since 1909, although the monogram itself has changed.

    On 17 May, 1877, the club became a founding member of the Victorian Football Association, along with Hotham (later North Melbourne), Albert Park (merged with South Melbourne and now Sydney), Melbourne, St Kilda, Geelong, Ballarat (now playing in the BFL) and Barwon (later merged with Belmont to form South Barwon and playing in the GFL).

    The club would go on to win premierships in the league’s inaugural year of 1877, and later in 1882. Carlton would be runners-up four times from 1879, and three years straight from 1889-1891.

    Having been based at Royal Park since its inception, Carlton moved to Princes Park in 1878. Although in the same area, the Blues wouldn’t move to their current location until 1896.

    In 1888, Carlton would play England in a game of Australian rules, defeating them 14.17 to 3.8 – not too bad considering Carlton led 7.7 to 0.1 at half-time.

    In 1897, the Blues would take part in the split from the Association and form the Victorian Football League along with seven other clubs, providing the basis of what would be known as the AFL from 1990.

    Along the way, the Blues have won 16 VFL/AFL premierships, level with Essendon and more than any other club. They’ve also been runners-up on 13 occasions.

    They were the first club to win a “hat-trick” from 1906-1908, and last won the flag in 1995 with a fairly decent thrashing of Geelong.

    Five Blues have gone on to win the Brownlow Medal – Bert Deacon (1947), John James (1961), Gordon Collis (1964), Greg Williams (1994) and Chris Judd (2010) – while Tom Carroll (51 goals, 1961) and Brendan Fevola (84 goals, 2006 and 86 goals, 2009) have taken out the Coleman Medal.

    Stephen Kernahan holds the record as the game’s longest serving team captain, serving for ten years and 226 matches.

    Six Carlton players were named in the AFL/VFL Team of the Century – Stephen Silvagni (fullback), John Nicholls (back pocket), Bruce Doull (half-back flank), Alex Jesaulenko (half-forward flank), Ron Barassi (ruck/rover) and Greg Williams (interchange).

    There are three Carlton legends in the AFL Hall of Fame – Alex Jesualenko, John Nicholls and Ron Barassi. In addition there are another 15 Carlton players and a coach (David Parkin) in the Hall of Fame.

    There are four Carlton players in the SANFL Hall of Fame, and a further two players in each of the West Australian and Tasmanian Halls of Fame.

    Carlton has featured in some of the greatest grand finals in recent memory, in the 1970s in particular.

    The 1970 grand final against Collingwood is quite possibly the greatest grand final of all time for sheer size (the largest crowd ever for a match at 121,000), drama and public awareness.

    The 1972 grand final against Richmond saw the Tigers kick a record score in a grand final, only to see the Blues kick what is still the record score to win the flag. The 1973 rematch saw Richmond arguably resort to thuggery to win the game when both Alex Jesaulenko and Vin Waite were targeted early on.

    The 1979 grand final featured the famous dive by Wayne Harmes to knock a ball going out of bounds to the goal square, resulting in a Carlton goal.

    The 1982 grand final against Richmond saw the appearance of Helen d’Amico, the young streaker who Tigers fans still blame for losing the game and sending them into a football wilderness for 30 years.

    There have been other recent memorable games, but perhaps none more so than victories over the old enemies.

    The 1999 preliminary final against Essendon is a big standout for the Blues fan, their team defeating a highly fancied Bombers outfit to make an improbable grand final (which they lost but hardly any Blues supporter cared).

    In the 2011 qualifying final, a rampant Blues demolished an insipid Essendon to win by almost ten goals.

    In 2013, the club was the beneficiary of Essendon’s demotion from the finals (an outcome of the AFL investigation into the club). Carlton would go on to beat Richmond in a massive game.

    Along with being the most successful club, there also comes the occasional controversy.

    In 2002, Carlton were heavily penalised for breaching the salary cap, losing draft picks and incurring a massive fine. This, along with the controversial decision to build a new grand stand at Princes Park, almost sent the club broke in the early 2000s.

    Combined with its first ever wooden spoons (it would go on to ‘win’ three), lowered memberships and crowds, the club had reached rock bottom.

    Among all this, in 2005 the club finally stopped playing AFL games at Princes Park after almost 110 years to go to Docklands Stadium. The league still uses it for pre-season games, and the VFL’s Northern Blues still use it competitively.

    There isn’t the time or the space to write of all the champions of the past – men of the calibre of Koutoufides, Bradley, Hunter, Jackson, Fitzpatrick, Madden, Bosustow, Rhys-Jones, Johnston and so many others who couldn’t get a mention.

    There isn’t the time to write of Fitzpatrick’s time-wasting free kick, Silvagni’s mark of the decade, or Harry Madden’s run through the middle in the 1993 semi-final. Yet these gentlemen and these incidents are all part of the fabric of a great club.

    This year, the Blues will celebrate their 150th anniversary. Who knows what the next 150 years will bring?

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    The Crowd Says (73)

    • January 8th 2014 @ 3:19am
      Johnno said | January 8th 2014 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      Gotta love Bruce Doull. I loved Fraser Brown in the 90’s and Anthony Koutoufides. And you gotta love Mill Hanna lol. And big Lance Whittnall . And the effervescent Craig Bradley.

      • January 8th 2014 @ 7:41am
        Penster said | January 8th 2014 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        The Blues Brothers: John Dorotich and Wayne Johnson.

        • January 8th 2014 @ 9:33am
          Stavros said | January 8th 2014 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          Both a disgrace off the field.

    • Roar Guru

      January 8th 2014 @ 8:19am
      The_Wookie said | January 8th 2014 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      This part was in the revised edition that is carried on my blog and Bigfooty News (http://www.bigfootynews.com/2014/01/8059/)

      There’s been standout performances over the years. Carlton fans remember the exploits of Jesaulenko and arguably one of the best marks of all time ‘ohhhh Jesaulenko you beauty!’. Stephen Silvagni was another who took what was billed as the mark of the decade. Matthew Lappin taking mark oif the year in the frst quarter of the first match of the season. Brendon Fevola kicking 11 goals in the Millenium match against the Pies.

      In the centre, there was Greg Williams getting 40 possession in the centre regularly despite being slow. The scintillating runs of Craig Bradley, frequently ended with torpedoes from 50 metres. The famous Mosquito fleet thrilled fans throughout the 1970s. Wayne Johnston and David Rhys-Jones did the same in the 80′s. And of course, Fraser Brown, the man who saved the 1999 Prelim by chasing down Dean Wallis.

      The Blues benefited from the rugged defence of men like Southby – backpocket in the Blues team of the century, but arguably as good if not better than Silvagni. Bruce Doull – half back in the AFL team of the century. Peter Dean, and Andrew McKay who stood tall in great teams. Anthony Koutoufides too dominated in defence, as he did everywhere else, playing the game of his life in the 1999 Prelim.

      The Blues have had great forwards – in Jesaulenko who kicked 115 goals in 1970 and remains the only Carlton forward to kick 100 goals in a season. Harry Vallance who lead the goalkicking 9 times in ten years during the 20s and 30s. Stephen Kernahan, who lead the goalkicking eleven years straight – as well as being captain for ten years. Brendon Fevola, often misguided and sometimes misunderstood, but he could certainly kick a footy.

      They’ve had great ruckmen in Nicholls, Fitzpatrick, and Madden. Nicholls being named in the AFL team of the century. Fitzpatrick who controversially had a free kick paid against him for time wasting in 1981 and is now the AFL Chairman. Justin Madden, who will forever be remembered for a run through the middle of the MCG against Adelaide unhindered by any, was the Victorian minister for sport for a number of years.

    • January 8th 2014 @ 8:23am
      Johnno said | January 8th 2014 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Lance Whitnall

    • January 8th 2014 @ 8:41am
      Franko said | January 8th 2014 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      In 1985, five South Australians were named as All Australians; Stephen Kernahan, Craig Bradley, Peter Motley, Malcolm Blight and John Platten. In 1986 Carlton (with John Elliots check book) signed Kernahan, Bradley and Motley, Carlton missed out on Platten (via the courts) but signed Jon Dorotich and went on to the 1986 GF.

      I am glad those days of simply splashing the cash to win flags are gone. Imagine if clubs could simply go out and buy the best players year on year.

      It is a much better system now where only Sydney can splash the cash and the expansion clubs can have the draft rigged for them 😉

      • Roar Guru

        January 8th 2014 @ 9:20am
        The_Wookie said | January 8th 2014 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Kernahan signed with Carlton in 1981, but wanted to grow out a bit first. Bradley and Motley were a different story

        • January 8th 2014 @ 10:01pm
          Steven said | January 8th 2014 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

          The Wookie, There is more to the story, Kernahan and crew, (Platten, McGuiness, Bradley, Motely etc.) were all targeted as 15/16 year olds in 1979 by Victorian clubs. Stephen’s late father, Harry Kernahan created a media storm in Adelaide and the players were retained. Plus Stephen Kernahan was never going to leave Adelaide until Glenelg won the flag.

    • January 8th 2014 @ 9:22am
      Australian Rules said | January 8th 2014 @ 9:22am | ! Report


    • January 8th 2014 @ 11:06am
      Johnno said | January 8th 2014 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      John Elliot,Richard Pratt.

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