WITH Perth now the epicentre for all things Carlton, it’s timely to reflect on the seismic on-field contributions of Western Australians to the club – from the Boulder-born ‘Clarrie’ Uren back in 1924 through to Broome’s Jack Martin, in this his maiden season in Dark Navy.
So who are the Blues’ best of the west? Well, with the grim realisation I’m on a hiding to nothing, this correspondent has seen fit to identify Carlton’s top 10 Western Australians.
For the purposes of this exercise, players eligible for selection had to meet two key criteria, in that they:
- played most of their junior and senior football in Western Australia; and
- represented Carlton in a minimum 50 senior games.
Based on the first criteria, Western Australian-born players ineligible for selection include the three-time Premiership player Mark Maclure, whose junior pathway predominantly played out in Queensland and New South Wales. Based on the second, Brighton Diggins (the 1938 Premiership captain-coach whose on-field appearances were confined to just 31) and Premiership players Ross Ditchburn (28) and Bert Thornley (24), could not be considered.
So here are Carlton’s western stars, in reverse order. Today, we continue with Nos.8 and 7.
8. Earl Spalding
102 matches, 43 goals (1992-1997)
Premiership player (1995)
4th best & fairest(1995)
Equal 7th best & fairest (1992)
Earl Spalding’s 211-game tenure at Melbourne and Carlton took in three Grand Finals for one premiership – the sugar sweet 16th secured by that all-conquering, record-breaking 1995 outfit under David Parkin’s watch.
A tearaway paceman at Shield level for his home state, Spalding’s pack-breaking physicality across half-forward opened the corridor to Carlton’s crumbers, and afforded the great Stephen Kernahan welcome breathing space as the pea of the front six.
Forever remembered as the bloke who busted a gut for the Blues, Spalding could generally be relied upon to take a catch – and equally so to bring ball to ground – with second, third and fourth efforts par for the course.
In the end, 102 senior appearances in Dark Navy – none greater than Grand Final day 1995 - ensured that the Spalding name found a place below the great B. Doull on the No.11 locker.
7. Wayne Blackwell
110 matches, 80 goals (1984-1990)
Best first-year player (1984)
VFL Team of the Year (1986)
3rd best & fairest (1986)
6th best & fairest (1985)
Equal 7th best & fairest (1990)
8th best & fairest (1988)
Cruelly cut down with a knee injury in the Premiership season of 1987, Wayne Blackwell gave seven seasons of sterling service to Carlton as an efficient, feisty 110-game on-baller.
Born in Leicester and a toddler when he first set foot in Western Australia, Blackwell quite literally found his feet at Claremont, turning out for his first senior match before he blew out the candles on his 18th birthday.
On the strength of his showing in Claremont’s Grand Final victory over South Fremantle in ’81, and having been duly anointed by Ken Hunter, Blackwell found his way to Carlton – completing his senior debut in the opening Round of ’84 against North on a day another West Australian Warren Ralph booted a lazy nine.
Adjudged best first-year player, Blackwell contributed to the Carlton cause in a variety of roles, whether ruck-roving, holding up a wing or drifting forward. Eight call-ups for Western Australia reflected the lofty regard in which he was held.