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76 years on, “Simmo” claims Gilby’s guernsey record

CFC TV: Simpson breaks the record This week Kade Simpson will become the games record holder in the number six guernsey.

With Kade Simpson on the cusp of breaking Fred Gilby’s 76-year record for most games in the No.6 dark Navy Blue guernsey, an incredible post script to the story has surfaced.

On the strength of Carlton’s plea for descendants of the late great Gilby to come forward, the 41-game former Fitzroy and St Kilda ruckman of the 1970s Allan Sinclair today made contact.

Allan explained that his paternal grandmother Maude Sinclair married Fred Gilby, and that he remembered the man as “a tough customer who kept to himself, but really loved his footy”.

And he reminded that his own son, the two-game West Coast rookie Callum Sinclair, just happens to be part of the Eagles’ 22 for Saturday night’s match against the Blues at Patersons Stadium, when Fred’s record finally falls to the bearded bloke from Emerald.

“I find this all incredibly spooky,” said Allan, who is jetting into Perth to be there for the big game.

“I don’t know what happened last night for me to stumble across the article about Kade Simpson’s breaking of Fred’s record, but there it was . . . and to think that Callum is playing in the same game on the night Fred’s record is broken is just unbelievable.

“There must be greater forces out there – I reckon the gods are looking down.”

Hopefully the matchday press photographers will have their lenses at the ready when “Simmo” and Sinclair junior shake hands at game’s end.

Simpson’s 180th senior appearances in the No.6 takes him past Gilby, whose 179th and final game in the guernsey came against Footscray way back in Round 18, 1937.

Simpson wasn’t aware of the impending milestone when contacted.

“I know four blokes on the locker had played 100 but I was never really sure how many each of them had played,” Simpson said.

“I’m probably not going to think about it (the record) too much while I’m still playing, but once I’ve finished up it’s something I’ll look back on and be pretty proud of. And if I do happen to make it to 200 and join the 200 club, I’ll definitely appreciate it . . . ”

Simpson, who wore the No.8 for most of his junior career at Emerald and later Eastern Ranges because it was also the number of choice of his older brother, said there was no rhyme or reason behind him being handed the No.6 at Visy Park.

“When I turned up there were a couple of numbers free – 3, 6 and 14 I think – but I never got to choose 6, I just got given it,” he said.

“I’ve been happy with the No.6 but I was daunted when I got it. I was in between ‘Ratts’ (Brett Ratten) and Andy McKay and they were two guys who pretty much did everything right. They were ultimate professionals, so I was pretty lucky to sit in between them and get a first-hand view of the way they went about it.”

Simpson knew very little about the man behind the name of “F. Gilby”, which can be found on the No.6 locker. For the record, Gilby was born in South Melbourne in 1907, but spent his formative years across town. Turning out for VFA newcomer Coburg as a 17 year-old in 1925, he was ultimately drawn to the Carlton Football Club where, for the next 12 seasons, he so capably served with that “Simmo”-like insatiable appetite for the contest.

The No.6 is as famous as any at Carlton. The fearsome Bob Chitty and the admirable West Australian Ern Henfry both carried the No.6 on their backs as captains of Carlton’s 1945 and ’47 Premiership teams, while Garry Crane, Carlton’s Team of the Century wingman, also sported the No.6 in the winning Grand final outfits of 1968, ’70 and ’72.

The number has also been worn by Mario Bortolotto in Carlton’s back-to-back Grand Final victories of 1981 and ’82, and by the Western Australians Jon Dorotich and Matt Clape – the Blues’ Premiership players of 1987 and ’95 respectively.

Gilby died on his 84th birthday in 1991. At the time of printing, none of his descendants (if any) could be located.

Fred Gilby
June 11, 1907
Carlton player no. 431
Guernsey no. 6
Height 175 cm (5' 9") Weight 80 kgs (12 st., 8 lbs.)
179, Goals four - 1926-1937
Senior debut Round 16, 1926 versus Fitzroy, aged 18 years, 295 days
Final senior match
Round 18, 1937 versus Footscray, aged 29 years, 295 days
Died June 11, 1991
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Kade Simpson
May 5, 1984
Carlton player no. 1066
Guernsey no. 6
Height 182 cm (5 ft. 11 in.)
Weight 77 kg (12 st., 2 lbs.)
Games 179, Goals 112 - 2003 –
Senior debut Round 11, 2003 versus Geelong, aged 19 years, 33 days