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Carlton wingman Graham Gilchrist dies

Graham Gilchrist played 114 games for the Blues from 1952 - 1961. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
Graham Gilchrist played 114 games for the Blues from 1952 - 1961. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Graham Gilchrist, a Carlton Under 19 and reserve grade Premiership player who represented the Blues with distinction in 114 senior appearances through the 1950s and early ’60s, has died after a short illness. He was 82.
 
Considered a talented, agile footballer who could comfortably ply his craft whether at centre half-forward or on a wing, Gilchrist was a local boy who joined the club as a student from nearby Coburg High School.
 
That was in 1949 – two years before Gilchrist, as Captain of the thirds, led Carlton to Grand Final victory. That feted team, coached by Jim Francis, included the late Dick Pratt.
 
In the wake of some solid showings at reserve grade level, Gilchrist broke into the seniors in the 18th Round of 1952, against St Kilda at the Junction Oval.
 
Initially sporting the No.26 worn by his predecessor Jim Clark, Gilchrist later switched to the No.28 now worn by Tom Bell. He initially found senior selection difficult with the presence of Laurie Kerr and John Chick, but Chick’s unavailability with a groin muscle tear in mid-August afforded Gilchrist an opening, before he later rejoined Carlton’s reserves for their imminent finals campaign.
 
That campaign ended with victory over Essendon before 80,000 in the curtain-raiser to the Collingwood-Geelong Grand Final on the MCG, with Gilchrist booting two goals and staking his claim for regular senior call-ups through the next eight seasons of his Carlton football life.
 
Gilchrist nobly represented his team through a difficult period in history, which netted him the return of just three finals appearances, including the 1957 semi-final loss in the hail to Hawthorn and the 1959 Preliminary Final loss to the eventual Premier Melbourne.


Graham Gilchrist (front row, second from left) in 1957. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

He turned out for his 100th senior appearance against Collingwood at Victoria Park in Round 8, 1960 – sharing that milestone with the late Denis Zeunert – and finished up after the one-point loss to Melbourne on Princes Park in the 18th round of 1961.
 
In later years, Gilchrist maintained his allegiance to Carlton, regularly taken his four children to matches at Princes Park. Together they’d fine their niche on the flank in the shadows of the Richard Pratt Stand and follow the fortunes of their much-treasured team.

The kids loved it.
 
Gilchrist is survived by his daughters Debbie, Kate and Angie, son Tony and their respective spouses and eight grandchildren.
 
He is also survived by his second wife Eileen, his first wife Bev having passed away in 1982. Gilchrist’s brother Max, an accomplished footrunner who competed at Stawell, predeceased him.
 
“As a footballer, Dad was agile. He liked space because he liked to run,” Gilchrist’s daughter Angie said this week.
 
“He was passionate about things and very determined. He had a fierce loyalty and if he loved something he stuck with it through thick and thin - the Carlton Football Club included.”
 
Graham Gilchrist’s funeral will be held at W.D. Rose Funerals, 221 Charman Road, Cheltenham, next Wednesday (July 1), commencing 2.30pm, with a wake to be held at Victoria Golf Club.
 
Members of the family will all be in attendance for Sunday’s match between Carlton and Gold Coast at Etihad Stadium when the Carlton players take to the field wearing black armbands to honour Gilchrist’s memory.