Bob Chitty’s “Bloodbath” team of 1945 carries the sort of air one might associate with Don Bradman’s “Invincibles” of ’48.
And with Doug Williams’ passing, yet another combatant in Carlton’s most infamous Grand Final is gone . . .
. . . and then there were two.
Williams, who died in Inverloch on Monday at the age of 91, turned out on a wing on Grand Final day 1945, winning and wearing them against South Melbourne at Princes Park.
Today, only Alex Way and Ken Hands live to tell the tale - and even then, Hands’ memory is somewhat clouded, courtesy a “Basher” Williams forearm delivered with stunning ferocity in the second quarter.
Williams (Doug that is) again found himself on a wing just two years later, when Fred Stafford’s trusty left boot sunk Essendon in the dying seconds of the ’47 Grand Final on the MCG - and only Hands and Allan Greenshields survive that one.
Greenshields said today that with Williams’ passing “it’s a shame that the ranks are dwindling . . . but I’m happy to say I’m still here. I’ve passed 88 and I’m okay”.
“It’s a long time ago, but Doug was a very honest player,” Greenshields said.
“He gave you 100 per cent worth each time and he had a beautiful style about him. He was a stylist.
“Doug was a very reliable player. He played on the centre wing and he always played a good solid game. He was a lovely man.”
Though he would be part of Carlton’s losing Grand Final outfit of 1949, the ’45 and ’47 Premierships truly crowned Williams’ 120-game career.
Recruited to Carlton from Yallourn, Williams was blessed with pace and agility, and was strong overhead.
He got his first senior call-up for the away match against Footscray – Round 11, 1944 - on a day in which Chitty was reported for assault (shock horror) but later acquitted.
The following season, a dream season in which the team scrimped and scraped its way into the finals series, Williams weathered the physicality of finals contests against both North and Collingwood, and earned South’s Billy King as his opponent on Grand Final day.
King later acknowledged his opponent for steering him clear of the rough stuff, on an afternoon in which no fewer than nine players were reported on a total of 15 charges.
Williams’ performance graph hit an upward curve with Ern Henfry’s investiture as Carlton captain, and the team successes of ’47 soon followed.
Beyond the ’49 Grand Final loss, Carlton’s performances plateaued, and in July 1951, after the 12th round match against Hawthorn at Glenferrie, Williams bid senior League football a Blue adieu.
Appointed Captain-Coach of Tasmanian club North Launceston in ’52, Williams commandeered the Robins to the NTFA finals at his first attempt.
But home is where the heart is, and in the following year he and his wife Margaret returned to the Latrobe Valley. There, Doug rounded out a long and memorable career with one last season for Morwell, which took in a Premiership and club Best and Fairest.
Doug is survived by his wife Margaret, children Greg, Sue and Lisa, sons-in-law Ben and Mark, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The Carlton footballers will wear black armbands as a mark of respect to the late Doug Williams in Friday night’s match with Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.