IT'S THE afternoon of Saturday, July 15, 1939 – 50 days before the-then Prime Minister and lifelong Carlton devotee Sir Robert Menzies fulfilled his melancholy duty to inform the nation’s people that Australia was following England and France into a World War.
Pictured by the picket fence in front of the old Robert Heatley Stand at Princes Park is the 19-man Carlton team, together with officials and the resident club mascot, prior to the Round 13 match with Geelong.
This glorious image, captured by the East Brunswick-based photographer Charles Boyles, was recently forwarded to the club by Peter Valentino of the Old Melbourne Town Facebook group.
Featured in this photograph are sixteen of the 19 Carlton players who were part of the drought-breaking 1938 Grand Final triumph over Collingwood – including the club’s Premiership captain-coach Brighton Diggins, who cuts a resplendent figure in his double-breasted pin stripe suit. Clutching his hat, Diggins was nursing a broken finger at the time, and couldn’t take his place in the team to take on the Pivotonians.
Those not in the frame are the ’38 Premiership players Albert ‘Mick’ Price and Charlie McInnes were both unavailable for selection for Geelong, and the legendary full-forward Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence had hung up his boots after Grand Final day ’38.
Included in the 19 are six past and future Carlton Best and Fairests – Bob Chitty (1941 and ’44), Creswell ‘Mickey’ Crisp (1934 and ’38), Jim Francis (1935 and ’40), Frank Gill (1939), Don McIntyre (1937) and Ron Savage (1945).
Also there is Jim Park (the fourth player from the left standing) who would lose his life in wartime New Guinea in 1943; and Bob Green, who died when he was struck by a vehicle as he attempted to board a tram in Preston in 1949.
Perched on the bench seat near Diggins in the double-breasted overcoat is the nine-game former Carlton utility Philip McCumisky, the resident club doctor for a 19-year period from 1932. Seated four along from Dr McCumisky is the Carlton President Kenneth Luke, who had only just returned from a tour of the United States and was given a warm reception by players and officials. Luke was reportedly accompanied to this match by two American guests “who were taken aback by the pace, stamina, and kicking in the Australian game”.
On this particular matchday afternoon, a collection of 65 Carlton membership tickets were displayed at the ground. If the tickets were representative of all consecutive years they would have dated back to 1874 - and the club to this day has an 1874 ticket in its collection.
Carlton accounted for Geelong by 21 points in this contest - 14.14 (98) to 12.5 (77) - before a healthy audience of 19,000. Paul Schmidt booted 7.1 for the Blues from a forward pocket and the acting captain Jim Francis was adjudged best player afield. A matchday correspondent also noted that Jack Wrout attempted a place kick, only to boot the football into the man on the mark.
Two weeks later, in the Round 15 match with Footscray at the same venue, Williamstown’s Keith Rae, now 104, completed his Carlton senior debut in the centre.
The Carlton team at Princes Park, prior to the R13 match with Geelong, Saturday, July 15, 1939
Back row left to right: Brighton Diggins (Senior Coach), Paul Schmidt, Jim Jones, Ron Cooper, Jim Park, Ken Baxter, Rod McLean, Harry Hollingshead, Ron Savage, Don McIntyre and Frank Gill
Middle row: Philip McCumisky (Club Doctor), Jack Wrout, Frank Anderson, Creswell Crisp, Kenneth Luke (President), Jim Francis, Bob Chitty and Jack Hale
Front row: Jack Skinner, Bob Green, Jack Carney and mascot unknown.