LESS than a week ago, newly recruited Carlton wingman Blake Acres was handed the No.13 guernsey by a previous wearer, the 89-game wingman and 1981 and ’82 premiership player Phil Maylin.
This week, fate again brought Acres in contact with another former keeper of the No.13 - the 1995 premiership wingman and 189-game record holder in the number, Mil Hanna.
Rule No.1 of AFL club social media:— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) December 12, 2022
If a Hall of Famer just happens to be in, get a photo of them with the current player in their old guernsey number.
𝑊ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑀𝑖𝑙 𝑚𝑒𝑡 𝐵𝑙𝑎𝑘𝑒 🥰 pic.twitter.com/Logomg2tcX
A total of 28 players have carried 13 throughout their careers – amongst them Vin Gardiner who in the 1911 semi final booted the first goal for Carlton after numbers were introduced; and Jack 'Chooka' Howell, whose individual Club Best and Fairest awards of 1946 and ’48 sandwiched the triumph he shared with 19 others on Grand Final day 1947.
At 27, and some 120 games into his senior tenure, Acres is old enough to appreciate the responsibility that comes with the wearing of the number – and he is equally grateful for the support afforded him by both Maylin and Hanna.
“I’ve only been here a short time but I love the way the Club treats its past players,” Acres said.
“Not many clubs can say they have the history Carlton has, and I’ve only learned a little bit of it so far, but I can already see what it means to the past players and the passion they have for their club."
Hanna, League football’s first Lebanese-born senior player, curiously wore the No.47 on debut, only to ditch it for 13 after doing his knee in the opening minute of the opening round of 1986. For the next 189 he carried the number on his back with as much pride as the monogram on the front, and his affection for 13 endures.
“Blake takes a keen interest in the players who wore guernsey No.13 previously, just as I took a keen interest in those who wore the number before I started. That basically comes down to having a respect for the Club,” Hanna said.
“Its not easy to play AFL footy, and I’m sure I speak for many when I say that to play League footy for a club as famous as Carlton is an absolute honour. I cannot wait for the next premiership and for someone to do well in the guernsey you played in. There’s something sentimental about that and it makes you feel good.”