WITH the traditional Round 1 clash with Richmond approaching, and at the time of writing, the Carlton Football Club’s 2024 membership figure is nearing 90,000, each member is now armed with a plastic season's ticket prominently featuring Patrick Cripps, Mimi Hill, Darcy Vescio, Sam Walsh and Jacob Weitering on the front.

On the card’s reverse is a barcode and Member ID number randomly automated through the Ticketmaster database - but back in the old days, the prized No.1 ticket was very much on offer.

A case in point, the premiership season of 1947 when Master Donald Murdoch, then a fresh-faced teenager, wrote to the Carlton Football Club’s Secretary and former player Harry Bell respectfully seeking the first-numbered ticket in the group.

Though the kid’s letter to Bell has long gone, the latter’s responses on Carlton letterhead still exist within the pages of a scrapbook Murdoch lovingly produced when he was an apprentice bookbinder in 1945 - the year the Blues triumphed in the Grand Final known in football infamy as “The Bloodbath".

Recently, Donald’s son Craig paid IKON Park a visit armed with the precious item so lovingly prepared.

“This scrapbook, as rustic as it is, was created by my father who was a choirboy at St Paul’s Cathedral and an apprentice bookbinder at the time. His first-year project was to create a book, and the book he created was this scrapbook,” Craig said.

“He would have been marked on the construction of the book, which is probably while it holds up so well after all these years.”

Craig believes his father inherited his love for Carlton through his (Craig’s) grandfather, who passionately supported the old dark Navy Blues for years and lived within reasonably close proximity of the old ground.

Bell's letter to Murdoch.

The scrapbook - an homage to the likes of Chitty, Deacon, Hands and McLean - offers a fascinating insight into the journalism standards of the day, and the artistry of resident cartoonists like Sam Wells.

It also illustrates the depth of Donald’s fervour for all things dark Navy.

“Towards the end my father had correspondence with the administrators of the Club, and he was so passionate that he badgered them effectively for the No.1 ticket, perhaps it was the junior member’s ticket, and he got it – ticket No.0001,” Craig said.

“The catch was that he had to land five other new members, which he did.”

Donald's scrapbook cover.

In March 1945, with his Club five new members to the better, Bell delivered on his promise to gift Donald Member’s ticket No.1 and break with tradition, as the No.1 ticket had usually been retained for the club’s own collection.

In his correspondence of March 19, 1947 to Donald, Bell wrote:

“Dear Mr Murdoch,

In acknowledging receipt of your note of 18th inst., I wish to thank you for the Postal Notes to the value of £2.12.6 being cost of 5 C.F.C. Membership tickets. Herewith, please find the required five tickets, which includes No.1, so eagerly sought by you.

With many thanks for your good wishes for the team’s success during 1947 season.”

Craig’s earliest childhood memories of Carlton involve him and his brother securing vantage points on a railing fixed to the back of the pickets in the shadows of the since-demolished Robert Heatley Stand, as their father, who died in 2010, made his own match-day arrangements.

“Dad liked a drink so he would sit away from us, and we’d wait for him outside the old caretaker’s cottage near Garton Street to be driven home after the game,” Craig said.

Donald's scrapbook.

“Sometimes it was a long wait and my brother and I would there in our Carlton jumpers – me with Sergio Silvagni’s No.1 on my back, my brother with ‘Big Nick’s’ No.2.

“I know that Ken Hands, Ron Savage and Bruce Comben were my father’s favourite players in the old days, but it was Alex Jesaulenko for me. What he could do when he turned it on was unbelievable.”

Sadly, Master Murdoch’s card has since been lost – but the letters of acknowledgement from Harry Bell vindicates the story that in the year of Carlton’s eighth League Premiership, the Carlton-supporting choirboy commanded respect as club Member No.0001.