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2013 Carlton Hall of Fame

David Rhys-Jones (L) and Geoff Southby (R).
David Rhys-Jones (L) and Geoff Southby (R).

Geoff Southby’s reputation as one of the all-time great Carlton footballers was further enhanced at last night’s Season Launch at Melbourne’s Plaza Ballroom, with his elevation to Legend status in the club’s coveted Hall of Fame.

On a night in which David Rhys-Jones was also inducted into the Hall, Southby spoke of the reverence shared for the 11 other Legends, five of whom he played alongside and all but two he actually knew.

“I looked at the list and saw the names of Bruce Doull, Alex Jesaulenko, Wayne Johnston, John Nicholls and Robert Walls, and I was privileged to have played alongside them all,” Southby said. “I also knew Bert Deacon and ‘Soapy’ Vallence, who were around when I started, and I know Ken Hands and Stephen Silvagni. Rod McGregor and ‘Horrie’ Clover were the only two I didn’t connect with, but I've certainly read about them over the years.”

Hailing from Sandhurst in the Bendigo Football League, Southby came to Carlton in late 1970 and made an impact from the outset. Wearing the No.20 of his predecessor Wes Lofts, he broke into the senior team for the opening round of 1971 and in no time forged a handsome reputation as one of the game’s greatest full-backs.

A Carlton club champion in his first two seasons of 1971 and ’72 – the latter a Premiership year – Southby was part of Carlton’s ultimate team successes in both the 1972 and ’79 Grand Finals, which meant there was little he didn’t achieve either collectively or individually.

And the career was as long as it was illustrious – 268 matches through 14 seasons through to 1984. That he was later acknowledged with selection in Carlton’s coveted Team of the 20th Century and induction into its Hall of Fame in 1994 speaks volumes for the esteem in which Southby is held.

With his wife and daughters watching on, Southby graciously accepted acknowledgment from the three-time former Carlton premiership player Mark Maclure.

He believed the elevation to Legend status served as an affirmation of his time and career at Carlton.

“It’s great to be recognized in a way that puts you in the upper echelons,” Southby said. “I feel I still have a fair bit to give in terms of my passion for the place, I’m hopefully still able to participate and selfishly I want to see the 17th premiership.”

Rhys-Jones also considered his induction as unexpected but welcome acknowledgement of his time in the game, which ended with his retirement as a player some 20 years ago.

Broadly speaking, Rhys-Jones’ rare football talents were sometimes lost in his all-too-frequent Tribunal visits. Not so at Carlton, the club to which the 1987 premiership player and Norm Smith Medallist committed in 108 matches (after 76 with the Swans) and who last night honored him at the club’s 2013 Season Launch.

“I’m a bit surprised really, because my career was split between two clubs. It’s truly humbling and it’s probably why I have an even greater appreciation of the recognition post my playing career,” Rhys-Jones said.

In saying that, there’s no ambiguity in terms of where “Rhys’” own allegiances lie. Not only does he contribute much of his time and energy to the club through the Spirit of Carlton Past & Present, Rhys-Jones reminded that he also “yells and screams at every Carlton home game” and as he said, “I’m definitely a Carlton person”.

In reflecting on his time in the game, Rhys-Jones said relationships were what had endured. That he said, was the spirit of Carlton, and he was heartened to know that the spirit is still well and truly there.

“Everyone’s up and going and really excited about this year, as are 17 other clubs right now,” Rhys-Jones said. “But that 17th premiership’s getting closer and that’s the most important thing.”

With his daughters and his wife also in the house, Rhys-Jones graciously accepted his induction from his great mate the three-time Carlton premiership player and best and fairest Jim Buckley.

Also honoured at last night’s function were the long-serving Carlton benefactors Dr Geoffrey Edelsten and Bruce Mathieson, both of whom were awarded Life Membership of the club.