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Found! '47 premiership flag surfaces

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The original 1947 Carlton premiership flag, whose whereabouts have been unknown for the past quarter of a century, has been returned to the Club in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of that famous Grand Final victory. 

The pennant, hard-earned when Fred Stafford’s last-gasp goal sunk Essendon by a point on that last Saturday in September at the MCG - has been handed in by a lifelong Carlton supporter called ‘Macka’ for the purposes of this story. 

Macka’s tale of how he came to be in possession of the treasured ensign is as follows;

“My daughter was going to University, so I took out a 50-year lease on this old two-storey stable next to Ronald McDonald House at 34 Gatehouse Street. It was a place where one of the famous artists used to work during the war,” Macka said.

“I used to walk the dog every morning and night along there, and you’d always find stuff dumped in the laneways, like bikes and flags. I used to pick the stuff up and take it home.

“It would have been in the early 90s, maybe 1990, that I found a hessian bag with what turned out to be the flag and a few other things in it. I thought ‘That looks interesting’, so I grabbed it, threw it into the back of the ute and took it to my farm up the bush.”

According to Macka, the bagged flag sat in his shed gathering dust at Eddington on the Loddon River for the best part of 25 years, and why? Because he never cast his gaze into the bag.

“I never looked at it, nor thought about it,” Macka said.

“Why would you? Not for a minute would you think it’s a Carlton premiership flag.”

Only recently, after conducting a long overdue cleanout of the shed, did Macka realise what he’d actually turned up. As he said: “I rolled it out on the ground and said to myself, ‘That’s interesting. It couldn’t be, could it?’.” 

Macka returns Carlton's 1947 premiership flag to Ikon Park. (Photo: Carlton Media)

Macka then confided in a Carlton mate Gary that he’d inadvertently souvenired the ’47 premiership flag, to which his mate replied: “Bulls..t”.

“So I took it over to Gary’s place and we laid it out, photographed it and forwarded the pic to the club,” Macka said.

What intrigued Macka was the piece of chord still encased in the lining of the pennant. Could it be the original chord pulled by the wife of the club’s then acting President Arthur Reyment when the flag was unfurled in front of the Alf. Gardiner Stand on Saturday, April 24, 1948?

The unfurling of Carlton's 1947 premiership flag at Princes Park. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

As to how the pennant first ended up in a laneway in Parkville, well, that’s anyone’s guess. One theory is that a patron from nearby Naughtin’s Hotel souvenired it from the club and later dumped the item after downing a few ales. 

Whatever the case, Macka was only too happy to return the weathered flag, with its blue dye blotches, to the club, amongst whose ranks is the only surviving premiership player of 1947, the 90 year-old Ken Hands.

As Macka said: “What am I going to do with it?”. 

“I’ve barracked for Carlton all my bloody life and Carlton is where the flag belongs,” Macka said.