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Blues' man of passion Millson remembered

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  November 9, 2017 2:14 PM

Marchy wants to make impression Carlton Media spoke to Caleb Marchbank as the group continues pre-season training at Ikon Park.

He was a vice-president, coterie chairman and career fundraiser at Carlton...and yet football club life was only part of the 85-year passion play that was uniquely Albert Millson’s.

It’s doubtful that Millson, who died peacefully in a nursing home on Monday, could have crammed more into his years. To quote Millson’s son Craig, “Dad put everything into them”.

Albert Ronald Millson was born on August 31, 1932 – one month and one day before the Colin Martyn-led Carlton team met Richmond in the Grand Final. The Blues fought the good fight, going down by nine points in that one...and in Millson they’d earned a lifelong fan.

“Dad lived in Moonee Ponds and he used to go to Carlton as a young kid. He met his wife of 55 years, Kathy, in the Robert Heatley Stand,” Craig said.

“He used to watch football regularly from the outer and over time he wanted to get more involved. He wanted to contribute something and in the end he joined The Carltonians.

“He was very proud of the Carltonians tie. I remember my brother Paul and I were in bed asleep when he woke us up to show us that tie. That would have been around 1966 and I know that when Carlton knocked Essendon over in the ’68 Grand Final he ran out onto the ground.”

KathyNAlbertMilsonImage
Albert and his loving wife Kathy met at Princes Park in the Robert Heatley Stand. (Photo: Supplied)

Rewind to 1946, when Millson, on completing his schooling at Essendon Tech, took on a role as a 14 year-old cabinetmaker apprenticed to Jack Eastgate. For a variety of reasons the apprenticeship didn’t work, and Millson found employment as a fencing contractor with his brother Monty.

Millson later toiled in a timber yard and in time built houses and got involved in property development, which effectively occupied his time and energies until last year.

Millson was appointed to the Carlton committee under the presidency of the late Ivan Rohrt in 1976, joining the late Bruce Comben and John Perriam on the promotions sub-committee in the same year.

“Albert was very well-liked about the place. He was a good Carlton man, one of the best,” Perriam said.

“There were no airs and graces. He was just solid.”

With George Harris’ return to the Presidency in 1978, Millson channelled his energies into the club’s Finance and Business Sub-Committees, and he was there when captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko hoisted the ’79 Premiership cup aloft following the hard-fought win over Collingwood.

In 1980, Millson established the fund-raising Ton Up Club – a Carlton coterie whose inaugural paid-up members included Bentley, Ray Gilbert, Colin Lovitt and Ian Rice. Members of the club, together with an invited guest speaker, regularly convened over lunch at the Carlton Social Club in the since-demolished George H. Harris Stand – and Millson presided as Chairman of the club for almost a quarter of a century.

“He was always raising money for the club,” Craig said. “He even organised card games at home involving guys with Carlton connections. They’d put their money into a pool, ten per cent of which went to the club every hand.”

When an internal power struggle saw Rice replace Harris as President in 1981, Millson was elevated to the Carlton vice-presidency – one of five vice-presidents together with Perc Bentley, Ian Collins, Comben and the late Wes Lofts. Millson served in that capacity until 1985 – curiously at around the same time as his late brother Monty officiated as vice-president of North Melbourne – when he resigned his post during the John Elliott regime.

Two years before, Millson’s contributions to the club were rewarded with Carlton Life Membership, together with Jim Buckley, Peter Kerr and Gordon Norris.

According to Craig, Millson’s love for Carlton was based on the myriad of friendships forged at Princes Park, amongst them those with John Nicholls and Alex Jesaulenko.

VFL 1979 Grand Final - Carlton v Collingwood
Carlton great Alex Jesaulenko proudly lifts the 1979 premiership cup after defeating Collingwood. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“Of a Friday night, it wasn’t unusual for ‘Big Nick’ or ‘Jezza’ to rock up to the family house in Fawkner and play a game of pool over a couple of longnecks,” Craig said.

“Later, when we moved to Greenvale on a large block with a tennis court, quite a few players often used to rock up for lunch and a few drinks with a bit of tennis on Good Friday.”

Millson’s love of all things dark navy was perhaps matched only by his dedication to racing. A Life Member of Moonee Valley Racing Club (having lived only three streets from the Valley track) he was amongst racing’s oldest owners – from his first nag Kings Court (which he acquired at 18 years of age) through to Taksan, which edged out Arwon to win the 1978 Caulfield Cup.

In his later years, Millson maintained his love for the club with the same fervour as that which was perennially on show through the years and indeed the decades at Princes Park. As Craig said: “Dad loved Carlton. He loved the place, from Thursday nights when the teams were announced to the Sunday barrel”.

He died on Monday morning at Arcare in Brighton, the same nursing facility as that in which his beloved wife Kathy lives – and as Craig said “Dad and Mum were together until the end”.

Asked to volunteer one word best used to describe his father, Craig replied “Passionate”.

“Everything Dad did he did with passion and sincerity,” he said. “He tried to be his best at everything, which is why he was successful – not only financially because success isn’t solely measured in dollar value, but in terms of his friendships with others.”

Albert Millson is survived by his loving wife Kathy, daughter Michelle and sons Craig and Paul and eight grandchildren, each one of them Carlton supporters.

A Memorial Service celebrating Millson’s life will be held at Moonee Valley Racecourse, 1 McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds, on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, commencing 1.00pm.