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“Turkey Tom” in historic turnout

“Turkey Tom” Carroll at Saturday night's 150th celebration event at The Plenary. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
“Turkey Tom” Carroll at Saturday night's 150th celebration event at The Plenary. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

More than 260 former players gathered for one of the truly memorable occasions in Carlton history on Saturday night - amongst them the full-forwards Brendan Fevola, Warren Ralph, Peter McKenna, Alex Jesaulenko and the club’s first John Coleman Medallist, “Turkey Tom” Carroll.

Renewing acquaintance with his Carlton contemporaries Gordon Collis, Berkley Cox, Don Nicholls, John Nicholls, John Reilly and Vasil Varlamos, Carroll was amongst the 2200 in attendance at The Plenary for the club’s 150th anniversary dinner.

Carroll was only too happy to pose with the medal earned for his 54-goal haul through his maiden season of 1961 - thereby becoming the first Carlton player since “Soapy” Vallence 30 years before to take out the competition’s goalkicking honors.

Hailing from Ganmain outside Wagga Wagga, Carroll, Carlton’s three-time leading goalkicker who also wore the No.22 made famous by Vallence, admitted he often thought about what might have been in the 50 years since heading home. 

“The Coleman Medal’s great, he (Coleman) was my hero as a kid and I even got to meet him,” Carroll said. “But a Premiership would have been better. We got beaten in the ’62 Grand Final and I didn’t think much about it back then, but I do now.”

That said, Carroll believed it was important for the club to ensure its focus wasn’t solely confined to Premierships alone, given that only 179 of Carlton’s 1152 senior-listed players had savoured Grand Final success in League competition.

He also took the liberty of commending the club for welcoming a fellow former front man back into the fold. As he said of “Fev”, “ I know he’s done so much work behind the scenes for people in the community back home and he’s pretty much turned his life around”.

Carroll, who booted 143 goals in 55 matches through three seasons, also sported the 150th anniversary commemorative medal in his lapel. The medal carries the number 736, acknowledging Carroll as the 736rd senior player to have represented Carlton since Jimmy Aitken led the first team to compete in League competition, against Fitzroy at the Brunswick Street Oval, in the opening round of 1897.