IN early 1982, in the first-floor dining room of the since-demolished George H. Harris Stand, players and staff gathered for a dinner to herald in what would be yet another Carlton premiership season.
It would be the second such function convened by the Club in David Parkin’s time as senior coach, at which a prominent public figure with a deep, dark navy blue affinity would be invited to deliver a keynote address.
The previous year, the DLP founder BA Santamaria was so invited. The inaugural leader of the Australian Democrats Don Chipp followed in 1983 and in ’84 the Australian historian Manning Clark.
But in 1982, the late Peter Thomson AO, CBE was asked to take to the podium – and he didn’t disappoint.
In the wake of Thomson’s passing at the age of 88 this week, Parkin recounted the moment the five-time British Open winner drew upon his lifelong love for the football entity he loved, in that Chatham House Rule address in the Carlton Social Club.
“Those speakers were asked to talk about the meaning of the Carlton Football Club in their lives and each one of them, Peter included, came at it from a different way,” Parkin said.
“I can remember that Peter spoke as passionately and as eloquently as anybody I’ve heard in that particular role. Like the others, he related the story of his life, his connection with and his passion for the Carlton Football Club - and he did so brilliantly on that particular night.”
In recounting Thomson’s unique character, Parkin identified “a reasonably opinionated bloke in my humble opinion”.
“He (Thomson) wasn’t a shy, retiring fellow, unlike Professor Manning Clark who was gentlemanly and quietly-spoken. Professor Clark was passionate in his own way, but Peter had a strong self-image of who he was and what he had done in the world, no doubt about it.
“I remember him talking about the mental aspects of being able to achieve the things he was able to achieve in his golf, which came on the back of powerful self-belief. He basically stood up and spoke without a note, which really hit me hard. I thought ‘This is really meaningful – a bloke talking about what he senses and feels rather than something made up . . . ’.
“These were very significant times in the history of the Club and Peter was one of those people who made a powerful impact on the players of the day.”
Beyond that memorable evening’s address in ’82, Thomson maintained his association with the Club that could be sourced to his childhood days in West Brunswick where he lived a robust one-wood from the old Carlton ground.
“At Carlton he was an ‘attender’. He had a sense of belonging with the place,” Parkin said.
“He was a local boy and I can remember him talking about how fortunate he was that Carlton had success through his life.”