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Carlton to honour Worrall at local landmark

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  November 10, 2017 2:46 PM

Williamson ready to build on form Carlton Media spoke to Tom Williamson as he wraps up another week on the track.

The Carlton Football Club, with the imprimatur of the City of Melbourne, City of Yarra and Vic Roads, is to honour the memory of the Australian sporting icon who was John (“Jack”) Worrall.

On the 80th anniversary of Worrall’s death, Carlton has been granted permission to place a plaque in tribute to Worrall on the unnamed brick bridge a few hundred metres north of the old ground on Royal Parade. The plaque reads as follows;

To the memory of

JOHN WORRALL

footballer, cricketer, coach, journalist

June 21, 1861 - November 17, 1937

Dedicated by the Carlton Football Club, 2017

The Club has also been permitted to erect a panel profiling Worrall’s life by the old Inner Circle railway line (now a cycling track) over which the Royal Parade bridge runs.

The steam era line, which served the inner-northern suburbs of Fitzroy North, Fitzroy, Carlton North and Parkville – was deemed an appropriate place for such a tribute given that so many of Worrall’s sporting achievements came at the Fitzroy and Carlton football and cricket clubs.

JackWorrallImage
John 'Jack' Worrall coached the Blues to their first three premierships in 1906, 1907 and 1908. (Photo: Supplied)

In district cricket, Worrall represented both Fitzroy and Carlton (for which he scored a record 417 not out in a match in 1896) with distinction. He is also one of the few to have represented Victoria in both the summer and winter codes, and he wore the baggy green for Australia in 11 Tests.

He captained the Fitzroy Football Club from 1886-1892 and coached Carlton to its first three Premierships in the VFL – the hat trick premierships of 1906, ’07 and ’08 – before later taking Essendon to the Premierships of 1911 and ’12. 

In covering the 1932-33 Ashes Series in his later life as a newspaper cricket correspondent, Worrall famously coined the phrase “Bodyline”.

It’s more than 150 years since Worrall was born in the Victorian goldfields town of Chinaman’s Flat; and 80 years since his passing in Fairfield. Since then, he has been inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame, and has had a medal bearing his name annually presented to a local sportsperson by the Goldfields Region Sports Association.

But there are no known landmarks in existence to signify the unparalleled sporting triumphs of the man once described by The Australasian’s editor RWE Wilmot as “a sportsman to his fingertips”.

WorralTeamShot
Jack Worrall (second row, fifth from the left) sits among his 1907 premiership winning team. (Photo: Courtesy of Simon Davis)

Professor Lionel Frost, Carlton devotee and author of the comprehensive tome The Old Dark Navy Blues, considered Worrall a leviathan of the club through the team’s first golden era in League competition.

“After Worrall was appointed club secretary – the equivalent of a CEO today – he took charge of training, recruitment, team selection, and matchday tactics. He was not the game's first coach, but he introduced teamwork and discipline to a competition that at the time was largely an amateur one,” Professor Frost said.

“Under Worrall, Carlton won three premierships in 1906-07-08, and surely would have won more had he not left the club after falling out with the players in 1909.”

Though Worrall and his wife Agnes did not have children, the former was one of 11 siblings, the descendants of whom are urged to contact the Carlton Football Club to be part of the unveiling of the plaque at a time to be determined.