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Blues pay tribute to former president John Elliott

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23rd September, 2021
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John Elliott died only hours after Carlton appointed Michael Voss as their new coach.

The significance will be lost on no-one. ‘Jack’ Elliott was notorious for ruthlessly sacking coaches during his tumultuous reign at Carlton.

The Blues have paid tribute to their longest-serving president, who died on Thursday aged 79.

Bombastic, dictatorial and confrontational, the gravel-voiced Blues boss is a controversial and fascinating figure in AFL history.

Elliott was president when Carlton won their most recent premierships in 1987 and ’95.

But Carlton legends Alex Jesaulenko and David Parkin were among the coaches who felt the full force of Elliott’s wrath and were shown the door during his term from 1983 to 2002.

As with his business life, Elliott’s Carlton presidency was marked by extremes of success and failure.

Under his watch, the Blues were an AFL powerhouse and a stand at their Princes Park was named after him.

But he was deposed in 2002, on Remembrance Day, just hours after the AFL had charged Carlton with two breaches of the salary cap.

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Days later, the Blues were hit with massive financial and draft penalties. Voss takes over at a club that has not finished higher than fifth since that devastating punishment.

In 2003, the grandstand was renamed.

So, as the Blues honoured Elliott’s undoubted contribution on Thursday night, it marked the end of a complicated relationship.

“I’m truly in shock. I knew John was battling with his health, but I thought the great man would live forever,” said Stephen Kernahan, the club’s longest-serving captain and also a former president.

“He was a loved man and he was very good to Carlton people. He may have polarised a few, but whatever people thought of him there was no doubting his love for Carlton.”

Not surprisingly, Elliott frequently clashed with the VFL/AFL heirarchy.

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Indeed, he was one of the ringleaders of a 1984 proposal to establish a breakaway national Australian Rules league.

Once the plan was revealed to the then-VFL, it was a catalyst for the league transforming itself into the national AFL.

New Carlton president Luke Sayers said Elliott would be remembered as someone who gave his all to the club.

“Despite the challenges faced by the club throughout some of those tough years, John’s passion and love for his club never wavered,” Sayers said.

“We must remember the many achievements during his time at the club – the return of (Robert) Walls and Parkin, and the premierships they subsequently won; the recruitment of Kernahan, (Craig) Bradley and (Greg) Williams; the pride in the jumper and the love of Prince Park.

“John remained a passionate Carlton man, right throughout his life. He never stopped wanting to see the Old Dark Navy Blues succeed.”

© AAP

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