Dr Don Hall, the Carlton Football Club’s honorary dentist for almost a quarter of a century, and a Life Member, has passed away at the grand age of 96.
Appointed in the aftermath of Carlton’s 1972 Grand Final triumph, Dr Hall - a returned serviceman - officiated as club dentist until the end of 1996 – a period which took in the premiership seasons of 1979, 1981-’82, 1987 and 1995.
Initially a South Melbourne supporter, Donald Murray Hall was a boy of 11 when he switched club allegiances for life, after Carlton overwhelmed Collingwood in the 1938 Grand Final.
“Because Dad was such a committed Carlton man, he jumped at the chance when the job of honorary dentist came up,” said Dr Hall’s son Tim, who followed his father into the dentistry profession.
“When Dad took over, George Harris was President, and Dad got on very well with him and the Club’s administration. I know he made copious amounts of mouthguards because the players were forever losing them, but he loved being involved.”
Dr Hall’s appointment filled the void left when Harris, as the former honorary dentist, assumed the Carlton Presidency on the cusp of the 1965 season. He was acknowledged in the Club’s 1973 Annual Report, and he was thanked for his services through that first year. To quote the report: “(We) thank him for his expert attention to the treatment of the teeth of our players”.
According to Tim, his father’s all-time favourite player was John Nicholls “and he had a good relationship with ‘Jezza’ (Alex Jesaulenko) and his late wife Anne-Maree”.
“Dad’s life was so practical, but he always turned into a little schoolkid whenever one of those players was around,” Tim said.
“He loved Carlton. His life was the footy club and the golf club, and he was a most wonderful father.
“He was an enigma in many ways. He had strongly egalitarian, socialist views in terms of people being given an equal chance, but he was never a republican - always a monarchist - but I reckon if I said to him ‘Dad, I’ll give you Life Membership of Carlton or an MBE from the Queen, which would you take?’, he’d still take the Life Membership.”
In the closing stages of the 1987 Grand Final, in sweltering 30-degree heat, the pipe-smoking doctor was photographed in the race with the then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who ultimately presented the premiership cup to Carlton Senior Coach Robert Walls and the captain Stephen Kernahan. No surprise there according to Tim, “because Dad was a Labor person . . . and he loved Hawke”.
Dr Hall was awarded Carlton Life Membership in 1988, in the same year as premiership players Ken Hunter and David Glascott, and the bootstudder Dennis Turner. In March this year, Dr Hall - as the Club’s oldest living Life Member - was a welcome presence at the Life Members’ annual Luncheon at Kew Golf Course.
Dr Hall’s wife Betty, son Richard and grandson Lachlan predeceased him. He is survived by his sons Nigel, Tim and Tony, his four sons’ spouses, 11 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.
Family and friends are invited to join in the celebration of Dr Hall’s life at the Carlton Football Club (IKON Park), 400 Royal Parade, Carlton North, on December 4, from 11am to 2pm.
Entrance is via Gate 6 of the Matchday Pavilion.
“Dad was a great carer. He was a giver, never a receiver,” Tim said, in a final word for Dr Hall.
“Perhaps his greatest quality was that he always looked forward and I think that’s why he lived so long. The only time he ever looked back was to things that made him happy – and people like ‘Big Nick’, ‘Jezza’ and others.”