When Harry Chadwick first led the Carltonites onto the sloping, pebble-strewn surrounds of Royal Park, his men reportedly went into battle sporting flimsy flannel shirts. These were the Victorian colonial days of the mid-1860s, Lincoln was still in the White House, and almost 50 years would lapse before the famous dark Navy Blue guernsey finally got a run.
Not until 1909, when esteemed members of the committee voted in favour of a white “C” on blue background, did the coveted jumper first grace the broad torsos of men of stature like Norman “Hackenschmidt” Clark, “Champagne Charlie” Hammond and Fred “Pompey” Elliott . . .
. . . and at Visy Park from today, dedicated space has been set aside to celebrate the grand story that is the Carlton guernsey.
Treasured items of club apparel, including premiership caps of 100 years past and of course the prized jumpers themselves, are now on show.
There’s the famous No.20, complete with Australian Coat of Arms, worn by the great Carlton full-back Geoff Southby onto The Oval in London in late 1972, when “Big Nick’s” premiership team took part in an exhibition match before the Duke of Wales no less.
Then there’s a gem of a painting featuring the ruckman HW Balharry in an 1890s lace-up, together with a glorious ten-minute silent (courtesy the National Film and Sound Archive) of the 1909 Grand Final when Carlton players took to the field in both the old and the new.
This is the tale of the top - from the days of the lace-up and the chamois yoke through to today’s Nike archetype. It’s a story worth telling and it’s told by way of an exhibition now on display in the foyer of the High Performance facility at Visy Park.