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Bruce Doull in Carlton homecoming

Bruce Doull sits in front of his old locker
Bruce Doull, one of the game’s greatest and most revered footballers, has returned to the place he called home for twenty years to reflect on his time at Carlton for the record.

From the dark of night and long after the last of today’s players had filed out of Visy Park, he emerged, setting foot in the redeveloped facility on Royal Parade for the first time. There he saw the 16 premiership trophies (he had a hand in four of them); his 1981 Norm Smith Medal (for subduing Craig Davis on that last Saturday in September); and that quintessential Bruce Doull photograph, complete with Carlton guernsey and trademark headband, which now graces the 200-game wall.

Bruce also ventured outside and onto the landing, to what was once the site of the Robert Heatley Stand. There the AFL’s (and Carlton’s) Team of the 20th century half-back stood for a moment, as his mind took him back to those glorious days when Princes Park was truly his domain.

Later, in the sanctuary of the players’ dressing room, Bruce found his place by the famous No.11 locker, where his name shares door space with the likes of Rod McGregor, Jack Hale, John Goold and Earl Spalding - Carlton premiership greats one and all.

For the man David Parkin once declared “the best team player I ever coached”, Bruce was happy to be back.

“I’m overwhelmed. To think of how it was when I was here.  It’s fantastic. I can’t believe it, to be truthful,” Bruce said.

“It does feel like home. I was here for more than 17 years if you count the Under 19s so it was a big period of my life and I just love the place . . . ”

Bruce’s very special cameo came after he’d graciously agreed to sit for an extensive to-camera interview for the club’s archive. Part of the interview will be screened at the Spirit of Carlton’s August 3 celebrations of the premiership teams of 1972 and ’82, as Doull is the only Carlton player to have participated in both.

The interview process couldn’t have been easy for this intensely shy character, having made an art form of evading media requests for the better part of his 356-game tenure. But on this occasion and with the fullness of time, Bruce was more than accommodating - recounting the pivotal moments of his unique football odyssey for a one-off 90-minute film now consigned to the football club vault.

For this reporter, it was the rarest of privileges.

The Spirit of Carlton's "Taming the Tigers" celebrations will be held on August 3 at Etihad Stadium. Click here for more information.