Former Carlton players and officials – amongst them the club’s greatest player John Nicholls – have completed a three-hour drive to southwestern Victoria to celebrate (albeit belatedly) the 80th birthday of the dual Premiership centre half-back John Goold.

A troupe of seven made the trek to Goold’s property just outside of Camberdown, in a Hyundai van organised by the Spirit of Carlton Manager Shane O’Sullivan. On board was Nicholls and fellow Premiership players Ian Collins, Ken Hunter and Mark Maclure, together with former Carlton Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gough and the club’s recent Life Membership recipient David Nettlefold.

At Goold’s idyllic property they reminisced about the golden days of Barassi – the latter having coached “Ragsy” in 108 matches for Carlton including the Grand Final triumphs of 1968 and ’70 – just as they did back in 2011.

A famous gathering. Standing from left to right: John Nicholls, John Goold, Ian Collins, Mark Maclure, David Nettlefold and Ken Hunter. Kneeling is Shane O’Sullivan and Stephen Gough.

“Ten years ago a few of us headed down to the property with all the cows and horses to celebrate ‘Ragsy’s’ 70th birthday,” Nicholls said this week.

“We were to have returned in June to celebrate his 80th birthday (June 27) but COVID restrictions forced a couple of cancellations . . . we finally got there on the weekend.”

Nicholls said that those in attendance truly savoured the moment with their flamboyant host.

John Goold holds court with three fellow Carlton Premiership players John Nicholls, Ian Collins and Mark Maclure.

“It was a great catch-up. We talked about old days and the culture of Carlton, and I talked about how positive I am with things at the club now looking up,” Nicholls said.

Through the course of the ‘swinging sixties,’ John William Crosbie Goold, with his long hair and dapper dress sense, earned as colourful a reputation off the verdant green of Princes Park as he did on it – and his involvement in the rag trade earned him that unmistakeable moniker.

After chasing tack to pursue a career in farming, Goold formed a diversified pastoral company and purchased a magnificent complex called Ballangeich Run at nearby Ellerslie. As his passion for farming and livestock grew, Goold began breeding top quality polo ponies, represented Australia in international competition, and further built on his already handsome reputation as a Hunt Master of the hounds.

An image of the Hunt Master of the hounds graces the wall as Goold gestures to his captive audience.

As for his footballing prowess, Goold earned high praise from the best.

“He was a good player,” Nicholls said. “He played centre half-back and he played on the best of them, Royce Hart included . . . and he more than held his own with them all.”