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When Carlton met Hawthorn at Euroa

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  August 17, 2017 9:39 AM

Carlton vs Hawthorn | 1952 in Euroa Historic footage of Carlton vs Hawthorn in Euroa from 1952.

It happened 65 years ago – Saturday, June 14, 1952 to be precise – when the north-eastern Victorian town of Euroa hosted the match between Carlton and Hawthorn for premiership points.

An unprecedented audience of around 7500 people crammed into the Memorial Oval to see the two teams compete, as part of the VFL’s thinly-veiled Propaganda Round (Round 8) on the weekend Victoria met Western Australia on the MCG. 

Ern Henfry led the Carltonites onto the ground that day, with Peter O’Donohue following suit for Hawthorn. Both teams observed a minute’s silence before the bounce, in tribute to the memory of James Clarke, who was accidentally killed when playing for the local Euroa team a fortnight earlier.

The national anthem was then played by the Euroa Band.

The match, in which the late Harry Beitzel officiated as field umpire, resulted in a comfortable 37-point victory to the Carlton team – 17.15 (117) to 11.14 (80) – with the Blues’ resident ruckman, the “two-storied” Jack ‘Chooka’ Howell booting eight in a rare foray from full-forward.

Amongst the children who paid 1/- for the privilege of witnessing the Carlton-Hawthorn contest was 12 year-old John Anderson. 

“What I remember most was Jack Howell kicking all those goals. I also remember the crowd – seven and a half thousand which was huge for Euroa - there were people everywhere,” said Anderson, now 77.

“My father never had a car in those days, so I rode my bike to the ground and parked it inside the gate. You didn’t need a wheel lock in those days either. Nothing was stolen." 

A lifelong Carlton supporter by virtue of the fact that his paternal grandparents lived in nearby Drummond Street, John hung around the rooms until after the match to front his heroes for their prized autographs – Henfry, Howell, Ollie Grieve and the ’47 premiership hero Fred Stafford. Recently, he dropped into the old Carlton ground armed with his precious autograph book.

John Anderson with his autograph book. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Ern Henfry's autograph. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

On one of the book’s yellowing pages is the moniker of the famous wrestler of the day, Chief Little Wolf, secured by John whilst on his paper round. 

“It happened in 1950, about a mile from where my family lived on the Hume Highway, at a time when I was getting 7/6 a week for my paper round,” John said.

“I saw this caravan on the road with Chief Little Wolf’s name and American Indian headgear on the side, and he was quite famous then, so I went home and got the pencil and some paper and drew the thing. It was while I was sitting there that the chief came out of the van. I showed him the drawing and he autographed it for me – ‘Chief Little Wolf, Colorado USA’.”

John's sketch of Chief Little Wolf's caravan, together with the Chief's autograph. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

John also has in his keep an autograph of the late George Harrison. Somewhat surprisingly, he has little knowledge of how he came to get Beatle George’s moniker.

George Harrison's autograph. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Sixty-five years after the event, Anderson said that he would again welcome the fixturing of home and away matches in rural locations like Euroa, although he’s not sure the venues could meet the logistical demands. 

“I reckon places like Shepparton, which has staged a few practice matches, could continue to put practice matches on, but I’m a bit sceptical about games for premiership points,” he said.