FOR ALL the years that he called Carlton home, Ian Gust could never have imagined he would one day chest the banner at the old home ground. But that was exactly what happened when the sprightly octogenarian recently joined fellow members of varying generations in breaking the crepe, in celebration of the Club’s unprecedented realisation of 100,000 members.

“To be back here was wonderful, and to end up running through the banner . . . oh what fun that was,” Gust said.

It would be difficult to find a football observer more qualified to identify the greatest Carlton team since the end of the Second World War, than Ian David Gust.


Now a hale and hearty 83, Gust proudly lays claim to a 75-year unbroken membership of the Carlton Football Club, taking him back to the halcyon days of Clark, Deacon and Henfry.

“I have seen a lot of Carlton and it has changed so dramatically over the years,” said Gust, whose allegiance to the Blues was territorially driven by his Polish-born parents who took up residence in nearby Park Street after migrating to Australia from Belgium.

“I can remember listening to the ’47 Grand Final commentary on the radio and hearing the call of Fred Stafford’s memorable goal to sink Essendon by a point.

“When I first started coming to the old ground at Princes Park they used to open the gates at three-quarter time and I’d sneak in and walk up onto the hill by the old press box to watch the last quarter. Then when I turned eight my parents bought me a junior member’s ticket and the rest, as they say, is history.”


As an ardent observer of the game, Gust watched on as Carlton full-back Ollie Grieve pitted his skills against the prodigiously gifted Essendon full-forward John Coleman at Windy Hill.

“John Coleman had this great vertical leap and if memory serves he kicked eight goals on Ollie Grieve,” Gust said.

“Coleman earned three votes from The Herald’s Alf Brown for that performance, but Ollie earned two. Had it not been for Grieve, Coleman would have kicked 18.”

Gust also saw the tail-end of Bert Deacon’s on-field career – enough to include the club’s inaugural Brownlow Medallist in his best-ever starting 18 with the likes of three players he cannot split for his all-time greatest - Alex Jesaulenko, Bruce Doull and Anthony Koutoufides “who in his prime was superman” .

By Gust’s own admission, the process of identifying his team of Carlton greats, which includes the current captain Patrick Cripps, has been harder than he expected because of the way the game has changed.

“When I first started following Carlton, teams consisted of 20 players - 18 on the field with two reserves that could only be used to replace injuries. Every team had four ruckmen and two rovers, with the resting ruckmen occupying a forward and back pocket, and the resting rover in the other forward pocket,” he said.

“Ron Barassi and Sergio Silvagni were the first of the ruck-rovers to replace second ruckmen and since then we have seen positions become more fluid, together with an expansion of the bench.”

Interestingly, Gust has volunteered Justin Madden ahead of John Nicholls for the role of first ruck, declaring Madden “the best Carlton ruckman of the modern era who would also have dominated in the earlier era when ruckmen were considerably shorter”.

He’s also pitched for Geoff Southby at full-back ahead of the AFL’s full-back of the century Stephen Silvagni, who’s nonetheless named 20th man. “Both had to cope with a number of champion full forwards and although Stephen was the more versatile, I’ve gone for Geoff because in addition to his defensive skills he was a wonderful kick,” Gust said.

“With the exception of Koutoufides, the centre line was the most challenging, especially as I had the choice of three Brownlow Medallists to play in the middle - Greg Williams, Chris Judd and Patrick Cripps - all truly great players with quite different sets of skills. I chose Williams by a whisker over Judd, because although both were matchwinners, Williams’ disposal skills with hand and foot were sublime .

“The other wing was a challenge as again we have had so many great wingmen – Arthur Hodgson, Garry Crane, Ian Robertson, Scott Camporeale etc. – and I’ve given it to Craig Bradley by a whisker over Sam Walsh, although I suspect at the end of Walsh’s career the order might be changed.

Asked what Carlton means to him, Gust thought for a moment then declared: “For a son of European parents, it’s a deep connection with Australia and the community”.

“Carlton has, for someone in his mid-80s, continued to provide an obsessive interest,” he said.

“The team’s third quarter showing in the recent  match with GWS was as close to euphoria as you could get, and I was on a high for the whole weekend.”


B: John James,  Geoff Southby, John Nicholls

HB: Bruce Doull, Bert Deacon, Ken Hunter

C: Anthony Koutoufides, Greg Williams, Craig Bradley

HF: Alex Jesaulenko, Stephen Kernahan, Wayne Johnston

F: Brent Crosswell, Brendan Fevola, Rod Ashman

R: Justin Madden, Chris Judd, Mark Naley

19th & 20th: Patrick Cripps, Stephen Silvagni

EMERG: Peter Bosustow, Jim Buckley, Mike Fitzpatrick, Garry Crane