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No.31 evoked with Danny’s passing

Danny Halloran, who through his brief playing career at Princes Park took great pride in wearing the No.31 guernsey made famous by Ron Barassi, has died suddenly at the age of 57.

Danny joined Carlton from Kyneton where in 1938 his father, the former Melbourne and Footscray footballer Frank Halloran, was adjudged the Bendigo Football League’s best and fairest player. In those days he was a zoned player who made a go of it with the likes of Dunolly’s Wayne Deledio and Maryborough’s Russell Ohlsen.

It was 1975 and when Jim Buckley was recruited from Kyneton the following year, Danny acted as his chauffeur.

“Danny picked me up a few times and took me down to Melbourne. He was a real gentleman, well-respected - a good bloke from a lovely family,” Buckley said.

“He did his best for the football club too. He had legs on him like a grand piano. Massive they were. He was very solid.”

Danny was handed the No.31 guernsey for good reason according to his younger sister Louise. “He was a similar size and shape to ‘Barass’ and that was the thinking with the jumper,” Louise said.

“In those days they used to give us the Carlton jumpers to wash and you’d have to watch the No.31 when you hung it out on the line, otherwise it’d be pinched.”
Six days shy of his 21st birthday, Halloran completed the first of just 15 senior appearances for Carlton, in the 13th round of 1975. Named 20th man, his was a baptism of fire - Collingwood at Victoria Park - but he helped get the visitors home by 16 points.

Though his senior appearances were restricted to just four in that maiden season, Danny turned out for ten in 1976. He was adjudged Carlton’s best player afield against Footscray in the 11th round of 1976 on the day his travelling companion Jim Buckley completed his senior debut.

The four-time Carlton premiership player David McKay, remembered that Danny inherited the No.31 Carlton guernsey from Peter Hall (now the Nationals’ leader in the Victorian Legislative Council), who donned the jumper after Barassi’s retirement.

“Danny was a bull of a player,” McKay recalled. “He was a really strong, tough-at-the-ball type. He wasn’t the greatest mark or, obviously, the greatest kick, but he had good height and weight. His strength was his asset and he used it well.

“He’ll probably be remembered for the game where he missed a goal from about two metres out. He slammed the footy onto his boot, overcooked the kick and the ball hit the goalpost. As far as I know he’s the only Carlton player to have done that other than ‘Percy’ Jones who actually kicked the post.”

Members of Danny’s family fondly remember his days at Princes Park. Younger sister Louise recalled that she and her mother Carmel would make the trek from Kyneton to Carlton in the wee hours of Saturday morning to watch him play.

“We’d pack the thermos, queue up at the gate at the Royal Parade end and walk straight in . . . we’d sit on the wing on the city side, in front of the shed before it was all revamped,” Louise said.

“These were very exciting times. We’d watch the reserves and the seniors and be rapt if Dan played in the seniors. He had some great games and got votes in the Brownlow, so he did some good things even if they weren’t often enough.”

Ultimately, the opening round of 1977 - involving Geelong at Kardinia Park on a day in which Kennington’s John Tresize and Golden Square’s bespectacled Tony Southcombe first played - would regrettably prove to be Danny’s last. Circumstances of Danny’s departure are somewhat clouded, but Louise remembered that her brother suffered a broken ankle in an ice skating mishap from which he never fully recovered.

“It was an injury that never really healed and to the end he walked with a limp,” Louise said.

Danny kept an involvement with the game, chasing the leather in the Goulburn Valley League and assisting the former Fitzroy footballer Chris Smith with coaching duties at Mooroopna. He maintained a friendship with the former Carlton midfielder Ray Byrne and, according to his sister, got on well with Bruce Doull “and the more introspective characters”.

A physical education teacher by profession and a keen cycling enthusiast, Danny, whose father died of an aneurism at the age of 54, passed away last Friday - not far from the flat in Abbotsford Street North Melbourne where he first roomed in his Carlton days.

Danny’s cause of death remains unknown, but as Louise said: “Dan just went to sleep and never woke up”.

“It was all very peaceful. He was at his home, in an apartment in Plane Tree Way, just a drop kick from the North footy ground”.

Danny is survived by his former wife of 30 years Di, daughters Jess (a sports journalist for Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph), Lizzie and Fiona, and son Tom.

He is also survived by his mother Carmel, sisters Annemaree and Louise and brother Tom.

To the end, Danny kept a place in his heart for Carlton and of course, the No.31 now worn by Marcus Davies.

As his daughter Jess said: “He loved the fact that he wore the No. 31 . . . he was really proud of that”.

Danny’s funeral will take place at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Ebden Street, Kyneton on Tuesday, February 28, commencing at 11am.