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'79 premiership player Young passes away

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Carlton premiership wingman Michael Young, pictured here between Harmes and Johnston wearing the guernsey of his vanquished Collingwood opponent late on Grand Final day in 1979, has passed away after a long illness.

MEMBERS of Carlton’s 1979 premiership team will gather for next year’s 40th anniversary of the Grand Final triumph over Collingwood minus one, with the premature passing of wingman Michael Young.

Young died in Melbourne after a long battle with cancer this morning, three months to the day short of his 60th birthday.

Recruited to Carlton from the Hobart-based Clarence in 1977, Young inherited the No.19 of the 1972 premiership back-pocket John O’Connell, who in late 1989 himself succumbed to cancer at the age of 38.

Young took out Carlton’s reserve grade best-and-fairest award in ’77. The following season, in thr 15th round of that year against St Kilda at inhospitable Moorabbin, he completed his senior debut.

Though the late Denis Collins’ presence on a wing curtailed Young’s senior appearances through 1978, a series of solid showings at reserve grade level through mid-’79 warranted his recall . . . and timing as they say is everything.

Young was part of Carlton’s emphatic semi-final victory over North Melbourne at VFL Park. He was just 20 years old and 22 senior appearances into his senior career when he played his part in the feted outfit, captained and coached by Alex Jesaulenko, which prevailed by five points on a wet deck on Grand Final day.

The following season, Young turned out in 15 senior matches including both finals, but after 37 senior games in total was moved on at the completion of a particularly trying season for the Club. Relocating to Melbourne, Young represented the Redlegs in 15 more matches through two seasons until his delisting in 1982, and despite briefly training with Essendon subsequently gave the game away.


Michael Young played 37 games for the Blues, including the triumphant 1979 Grand Final.

A fellow member of the ’79 team which delivered Carlton’s 12th League premiership was the three-time premiership player Ken Sheldon, who said of Young: “Michael was a very talented, charismatic and loyal teammate who ran his opponents around in circles . . . and often some of his teammates too”.

Another team member, the four-time premiership player David McKay, said: “Michael was a champion fellow and a very good player for Carlton in a premiership season”.

“I know Michael had been ill and undergoing treatment in The Alfred for quite a while. The old Carlton runner Brendan O’Sullivan was a regular visitor to him and ‘Curly’ Austin, Barry Armstrong and Alex Marcou had also been in to see him,” McKay said.

“I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and thought he was on the mend. He was going into rehab and was even considering fronting up to our most recent Spirit of Carlton function, but it wasn’t to be.”

Nineteen members of Carlton’s premiership 20 of 1979, including the inaugural Norm Smith Medallist Wayne Harmes, are still living. Most of them will gather at Prahran’s College Lawn Hotel this week to raise a glass to their old teammate.

The team was as follows:

Backs: Wayne Harmes, Geoff Southby, David McKay

Half-backs: Peter McConville, Bruce Doull, Robbert Klomp

Centres: Peter Francis, Alex Jesaulenko (cc), Michael Young

Half-forwards: Wayne Johnston, Mark Maclure, Trevor Keogh

Forwards: Mike Fitzpatrick, Peter Brown, Ken Sheldon

Followers: Peter Jones, Barry Armstrong, Jim Buckley

Interchange: Rod Austin, Alex Marcou