Former Carlton forward “Bernie” Baxter, a younger brother to the club’s three-time Carlton premiership player Ken and the 20-game Melbourne footballer Bill, recently died in Port Fairy after a short illness.

He was 83.

Originally following Ken to the club from Werribee in Melbourne’s south-west, Baxter sported the No.34 guernsey now worn by Nick Duigan into 28 senior matches for the Blues from 1949-’51 – the first of them as a 19 year-old in the seventh round match of ’49 against St Kilda.

Named at centre half-forward in a front six which included Fred Stafford and Fred Davies, Baxter slotted two goals against the Saints in what was a comfortable 33-point victory for the visitors at the Junction Oval.

Ken Hands, Carlton’s acting captain in Baxter’s final senior appearance in Round 14, 1951, and probably the last of Bernie’s surviving contemporaries, fondly remembered the player.

“Bernie played full-forward. He wasn’t a quick mover, but he was a good strong mark overhead like his brother Ken and he was a good bloke like his brother too,” said Hands.

Under the watch of then coach Perc Bentley, Baxter managed 22 career goals in total, but his haul would prove far more substantial in his post-League career with the Port Fairy Football Club, where the local scoreboard now carries his name.

After representing the Blues in their ’51 premiership victory, Baxter would go on to boot 692 goals in 12 seasons for the Seagulls from 1952-’63, and in 1958 feature prominently in Port Fairy’s one and only Hampden Football League Grand Final triumph.

According to a recent report in the Warrnambool Standard, Baxter was encouraged to pursue his football in the Victorian coastal town by local Port Fairy identities Maurice and Marty Hearn who offered free board at Marty’s hotel as part payment for Baxter’s services.

In turn, the Seagulls put up two pounds a game if Baxter booted five goals and four pounds if he managed 10.

Baxter took out the Hampden league’s goalkicking honours three times, with 77 goals in 1953, 97 in 1956 and 87 the following year. In ’53 he finished second to South Warnambool’s John O’Neill in the league’s best and fairest count.

Former Port Fairy president Damian Gleeson, who instigated the move to name the scoreboard after Baxter five years ago, regarded the man as a legend at the club and a well-known figure in the local community.

“Bernie’s passing is a sad day for the footy club and the town. Bernie often said the naming of the scoreboard in his honour was one of the greatest days of his life,” Gleeson said.

Bernard Patrick Baxter, whose wife Lorna predeceased him, is survived by his daughters Jennifer, Lynette, Wendy, Maree and Michelle, son Ken, and his beloved grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Follow Tony De Bolfo on Twitter: @CFC_debolfo