Phyllis Taig, whose years of dedicated support to the Carlton Football Club (93 of them as a member) was recently rewarded with Life Membership, has passed away at the grand age of 106.
Born in the Carlton premiership year of 1915, and a committed fan (as with her father) from as far back as the late 1920s, Phyllis’ love for the only team old Carlton knows transcended the generations.
“I liked Ron ‘Socks’ Cooper – he was our centre player back in the ’30s and ’40s,” said Phyllis in an interview with Carlton Media back in 2015. “Then there was Craig Bradley, he was my absolute favourite, and Stephen Kernahan of course.”
A student of the great Australian game, and a face in the crowd for her favourite Grand Final in 1970, Phyllis lamented where football had gone in terms of aesthetics. As she said: “I think in the ‘70s – around about that time – was the best really. We had some tough players, but now it’s all altered and it’s too fast now”.
And she always got her two bob’s worth in if she was less than satisfied with team performance.
“I always used to write David Parkin lots of letters if I thought he did the wrong thing,” she said.
“I’d always let him know and I can honestly say I always got a reply from David. I’ve kept quite a few of his letters too, I thought he was a wonderful coach . . . and Ron Barassi was alright, he called a spade a spade.”
For years the mother of three fronted for most Carlton home games, watching on from the comfort of a function room of the Carlton Coterie whose membership was covered by her children.
Of match-day functions, Phyllis declared: “We’ve made such a wonderful group of friends – I always look forward going to the football to see them (and) even when the football isn’t on we keep in touch”.
In the lead-up to her 100th birthday, Phyllis kicked off the celebrations at the old Carlton ground, in the George Harris Function Room festooned with balloons and streamers: she was presented with a No.100 Carlton guernsey.
Last October, on the occasion of her 106th birthday, Phyllis was the recipient of birthday greetings from the club’s respective AFL and AFLW Senior Coaches in Michael Voss and Daniel Harford.
Then in December, Phyllis was rewarded with Life Membership - Carlton’s greatest player John Nicholls and Spirit of Carlton Manager Shane O’Sullivan both on hand for the presentation at her home.
Nicholls, who paid Phyllis a final visit early last week, described the Taig family - including Phyllis’s daughter Ada and son Donald - as “great Carlton people”.
“I’m glad I got to see Phyllis again,” Nicholls said. “I held her hand and talked to her for a while.
“I’ve had a bit to do with her because Ada had been running the Carlton ladies functions at the Club for some years and I used to sit with Phyllis at those functions.
“One of my oldest friends, Patricia Robinson, is the daughter of the former Carlton player Creswell ‘Micky’ Crisp, and on the wall of Phyllis’s home was a photo of ‘Micky’, who was her favourite player. Phyllis remembered all of those players from the 1930s and ’40s – Crisp, Vallence, Hands and Henfry.”
“She was incredibly loyal and a staunch supporter who deserved Life Membership.”
To honour Phyllis’ memory, the Carlton senior players will wear black armbands for Thursday night’s match with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.