In 1942, to mark his 50th anniversary as Carlton curator both at the Triangle and later Princes Park, Tom, the former Carlton and Victorian cricketer, was honoured with a Testimonial.
In further recognition, local Carlton identity and film enthusiast Jimmy Watson, founder of Jimmy Watson’s Wine Bar and Restaurant, shot precious colour footage of Warne and the old ground – one of 17 local films produced for the Richmond Film Club between the 1920s and 1950s.
Warne died in 1944 at the age of 74 after a short illness. Seventy years on, his granddaughter Di Perkins has graciously seen fit to donate a family copy of the film on disc to the club’s archive.
The first film, Tommy Warne and his Cow Paddock, in part shows Warne manoeuvring a horse drawn roller across the centre wicket area in the lead-up to the 1942 Grand Final at Princes Park. Footage also captures Warne raising the nets on the western side of the ground in readiness for the impending district cricket season, and later raising a well-earned glass in the old bar beneath the Ald. Gardiner Stand.
To round out the disc, a subsequent film entitled “The Funeral” chronicles Warne’s funeral procession from the old curator’s home and along neighbouring Garton Street in a Guard of Honour all the way to the Melbourne General Cemetery.
While Tom’s Testimonial fetched 200 guineas for the old curator, this precious film serves to prolong the Warne name, which, according to loved ones like Di Perkins, hasn’t been afforded the respect it truly deserves - particularly so given that Tom’s son Bert quite literally took the reins from the old man and maintained the ground’s upkeep for the next quarter of a century.
“I’d say that both Tom and Bert were very proud people to have done what they did,” Di said. “They did so much hard work at Carlton and it’s not been forgotten. To this day, even my daughter says to people ‘My great grandfather made the Carlton Football Ground’ and they look at her dumbfounded.”
“People who come to this ground today would find it difficult to imagine how it was, a cow paddock on a rubbish tip. You look at the ground now and see how beautiful it is and you think about all that hard work that Tom and Bert did. It would be wonderful if the club could do something to honour the Warne name. The Warne Pocket would be nice.”
In July 1968, after painting the boundary and goal square lines in the lead-up to the Round 13 match with Richmond, Bert Warne called it a day as Carlton curator. In doing so, Bert completed a 71-year beautiful friendship with Princes Park, first forged when his late father Tom took on the job in 1897.
One of five of ol’ Tommy’s sons, all born in the old curator’s house in the north-east corner of the old ground, Bert had quite literally taken the reins from his father in 1943, a year before the former’s passing.
Bert Warne retired with the intention of settling in Bendigo near an old mate, the Carlton Premiership rover Jim Mooring. Sadly, Bert only savoured four years of a retirement well-earned, having died at the age of 65 in 1972.
In the years since, five men have contributed to the upkeep of Princes Park as curators - Frank Brew, Tony Hemming, Neville Treadwell, Heath Gillies and (now) Jason Foulis – each of them upholding the tradition set by Bert, and of course, Tom Warne.
Perhaps a newspaper journalist put it best in respect of Thomas Summerhayes Warne’s contribution to Carlton when in 1944 he wrote;
“For more than 50 years, Tommy Warne has been an institution at Carlton. What he did for that famous old club could never be repaid in money. He was a wonderful performer for it with bat and ball; and as captain; also as guide, philosopher and friend of every man ever associated with the club, player or administrator.
“Above all is the wonderful work he did in the making of the club’s fine ground out of a rubbish tip. His work for the club in connection with this ground will never be forgotten. It would not be too far-fetched to describe it as Warne’s Ground, just as the famous Lord’s Ground is named after Thomas Lord, the founder 150 odd years ago.”