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Why Blues, Roos should team up for ‘Tiger’ tribute

Kennedy ready for action Carlton Media's Grace Phillips caught up with new Blue Matthew Kennedy to talk about his first week at Ikon Park.

With the release of the 2018 AFL fixture, Carlton and its 4th Round host North Melbourne are presented with a rare opportunity to mark their first ever encounter for Premiership points in Hobart with a joint tribute to the great Brent Crosswell.

Though the club is planning a reunion of members of Carlton’s surviving ’68 Premiership twenty (all but Peter McLean and Wes Lofts are still living) for the 50th anniversary celebrations in the Round 8 match with Essendon at the MCG, Crosswell, thesedays domiciled in Hobart, is unlikely to make the flight due to his on-going battle with the inner ear disorder Meniere’s Disease.

Which is why the North-Carlton match – Saturday, April 14, 2018 under lights at Blundstone Arena – provides both clubs with the occasion to honour a somewhat reclusive character in his home state.

The Blues return to Tassie

Recruited to Carlton from Tasmanian club Campbell Town 50 years ago next year, Crosswell was part of the drought-breaking ’68 Grand Final triumph over Essendon (the same year he took Best First Year Player honours) and was amongst the Blues’ best when they reversed a 44-point half-time deficit to triumph over Collingwood in the celebrated Grand Final of 1970.

Crosswell’s two winning Grand Finals came in 98 senior Carlton appearances between 1968 and ’75. He later featured in 76 games for North, amongst them two Grand Final victories – the club’s inaugural Premiership of 1975 (in which he was considered best afield) and the replayed Grand Final of two years later. He is also a member of the Kangaroos’ Team of the Century, Tasmanian Team of the Century and a Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame inductee elevated to icon status in 2012.

Ron Barassi coached Crosswell in all four Grand Final triumphs through those 174 games at both Princes Park at Arden Street collectively (and maybe the great Ronald Dale could also make a cameo in Hobart?)

It's smiles all round for the great Ron Barassi and a young Brent Crosswell, circa 1971. (Photo: Supplied)

At Princes Park he quickly inherited the nickname ‘Tiger’– a reference to his propensity for using that word to greet fellow teammates whose names he could never recall.

Wearing the No.17 previously sported by the club’s third Brownlow Medallist Gordon Collis, Crosswell was the model of flair and flamboyance. A man of letters, he once described himself thus;

“They think I’m psycho, like nitro glycerine, half crazy, sulky petulant. Certain elements of my game just don’t appeal to Australians. They think of the things I do as ostentatious, lairising. I do it because I feel like doing it”.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton’s first rover in both the ’68 and ’70 Grand Finals, believed that supporters of both clubs and lovers of the game on both sides of Bass Strait, would welcome the initiative to acknowledge a former great.

“Everyone would get behind it and ‘Tiger’s’ worthy of it,” Gallagher said. He was different to Alex Jesaulenko (and how do you find words for Alex?). Alex was all round in that he could play rugby, soccer and football, but ‘Tiger’ was the most talented footballer.”

Brent Tasman “Tiger” Crosswell

Born: Launceston, August 8, 1950

Recruited from: Campbell Town

at Carlton

98 games, 92 goals, 1968-’75

Premiership player 1968 & ’70

Best First Year Player 1968

5th Best & Fairest 1970

7th Best & Fairest 1972

7th Best & Fairest 1973

at North Melbourne

76 games, 108 goals, 1975-’79

Premiership player 1975 & ’77

Leading goalkicker 1977 (42)