When he takes to the field for the first of what will hopefully be many, many senior appearances for this football club, Caleb Marchbank will have renewed kindred connections with Carlton more than 100 years after his great grandfather’s brother Jim Marchbank last laced a boot for the old dark Navy Blues.

For a long time mindful of the family ties, Caleb has already paid his respects to Jim, a 115-game two-time Carlton premiership ruckman/centre half-forward of 1906 and '08, and younger half-brother Bill, a three-gamer who in his later life as a soldier took a bullet to the chest in the fields of France, but survived.

Having recently completed his first training session on the old Princes Park Oval where Jim’s ashes were scattered almost 60 years ago, Caleb found the great man’s name on the old No.15 locker, now the domain of Carlton’s resident best and fairest Sam Docherty.

But it’s not the first time Caleb’s been there, done that.

“I actually saw Jim’s locker when I was 12 or 13,” Caleb said recently. “I got in there with the help of an uncle who was a good friend of Jarrad Waite’s.

“It’s a long time ago now and being so young back then I can’t really remember a lot. But what I do remember is seeing Jim’s name on the locker and that was pretty special I reckon.”

The prospect of carrying the Marchbank family name into the fray for Carlton is a poignant one for the 19-year-old Benalla boy, who previously harboured hope that his new club might have been in a position to call his name in the 2014 national draft. Though that was never going to happen - GWS called his name with selection six, some 13 choices before Carlton’s first - the thought had nonetheless crossed Caleb’s mind.

How does @calebmarchbank look in the navy blue, Bluebaggers? #BoundByBlue

A photo posted by Carlton Football Club (@carlton_fc) on Oct 31, 2016 at 1:25am PDT

“I remember thinking in the year that I was first drafted how unreal it would be to get to Carlton because of the family connections there. I always thought of that as a privilege if ever it was to happen,” Caleb said.

“I’m just so very lucky that two years later I’ve got that opportunity to play for the Blues.”

Notwithstanding the romanticism of the move, Caleb conceded that his motivation to seek a trade to Carlton from GWS was based upon a craving to reacquaint himself with a more familiar environment.

“I just struggled to adapt to Sydney,” Caleb said with refreshing candour. “That, coupled with the family factor, had a lot to do with it.”

There was also a further motivating force at play, as Caleb revealed.

“What really impressed me was Brendon Bolton’s approach in the meeting I had with him. Everything he said sounded so clear, it sounded to me like everything at the club was heading in the right direction, and I knew from the way ‘Bolts’ presented himself that he was the right man to help me improve my footy . . . ”


Caleb knows that Carlton’s abundance of ex-GWS types won’t hurt his cause in terms of the settling-in process, revealing that his old teammate Lachie Plowman was the first bloke he bumped into on reporting for duty to Ikon Park for the very first time recently.

Plowman, Lamb, Palmer, Phillips, Pickett and Sumner will all be there for the boy from Benalla . . . and doubtless the ghost of Big Jim.