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Back to the future for Lachie and Serge

Bloodlines | Giacomo to Jack Carlton youngster Jack Silvagni embarks on a journey of exploration to learn more about his great-grandfather, Giacomo.

The No.1 at Carlton is of course synonymous with the Silvagni family name - from Jack back to Stephen and further back to Sergio – and yet it’s a little-known fact that when Serge first ran out he wore the No.20.

Which is why the club’s current keeper of the number Lachie Plowman was keen to compare notes with the 239-game dual Premiership player who paid the old Carlton ground a welcome visit earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Serge held a captive audience of Carlton’s first and second-year players – Plowman and Jack Silvagni amongst them - as he talked of life at Princes Park from the 1950s and his 60-year association with the football club he so loves.

One of the many tales Serge recounted involved the trademark low-hanging socks he wore on matchdays for the best part of 14 seasons. “We were only ever given one pair of socks for the season,” Serge explained, “and they used to shrink after Mum washed them . . . now everyone wears their socks down so maybe I was a trendsetter.”

For Plowman, Serge’s precious recollections truly struck a chord.

“Serge is one of the greats, but I never knew he wore the No.20,” Plowman conceded, “so when I was looking through the list of past players to wear the number I was actually surprised that he did wear it.”

Whereas Serge was handed the No.20 on a whim (and later took ownership of the No.1 with Ken Hands’ retirement, Plowman wore 20 through his time as a junior footballer for no particular reason other than “it was a nice round number” - as with the No.30 he sported through 20 matches for GWS.

Now 34 games and two seasons into his Carlton career, Plowman, at 22, has had time to reflect on a football club truly steeped in tradition.

“Coming from GWS to here, you come to appreciate the power of the history and the presence of the past players. Their stories help you to further understand the club and what it means to be a Carlton player,” Plowman said. 

Carlton Legend Sergio Silvagni with Lachie Plowman. (Photo: Carlton Media)

“Serge talked of a time when footballers weren’t professional, when they worked as well as played. The thing that hit me was when he talked about spending the first half of 1970 as the senior runner then coming back and playing in a winning Grand Final. He talked about the sheer enjoyment of being part of the football club, of how much enjoyment day-to-day life at the club brought to him and 40 mates, and of what can be achieved when everyone works for eachother. 

“Serge also talked about not starting pre-season until January . . .  and I reckon I could cope with that!”

Previously, Plowman crossed paths with the dual Premiership full-back Geoff Southby – Carlton’s 268-game record holder in the No.20 guernsey.

Again, he gleaned much from experience. As he said: “Geoff talked about how he got into footy and what it meant to him, and of taking the opportunity to do all that he could to make a name for himself”.

Today, Plowman and his contemporaries are impeccably placed to make their own history as they strive to fill the pages of their glorious youth. 

Sergio Silvagni during his playing days. (Photo: Carlton Media)

“Brendon Bolton and the coaching group has created a great pathway for us – a great learning environment – and there’s a great mix of young players and old. Everybody’s enjoying it, excited about the future and what it holds,” Plowman said.

“I think, quite simply, the cohesion is there. We enjoy eachother’s company, we strive to be successful and we learn a lot from eachother. We also trust eachother and we look out for eachother’s backs.”