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 finish off with Nos.2 and 1.
If you missed Wednesday's instalment, here's who featured at 10th and ninth.
If you missed Friday's instalment, here's who featured at eighth and seventh.
If you missed Monday's instalment, here's who featured at sixth and fifth.
If you missed Wednesday's instalment, here's who featured at fourth and third.
2. Ern Henfry
84 matches, 20 goals (1944 & 1947-’52)
Premiership Captain (1947)
Best & Fairest (1947 (tied with Bert Deacon) & 1949)
Carlton Hall of Fame (inducted 1992)
AFL Hall of Fame (inducted 2014)
Given that his on-field career was cruelly shortened through wartime, Ernest Edgar Henfry’s life and legacy at Princes Park is all the more extraordinary.
Sensationally appointed Carlton captain after just two senior appearances whilst on leave from military service, Henfry proved just how canny his club’s judgment was, in leading his men to the famous ’47 Premiership and tieing with Brownlow Medallist Bert Deacon in the count for club champion.
Henfry’s name first surfaced in newspapers on the eastern seaboard in 1939, when at just 17 he was named in the Western Australian team to meet Victoria. Two years later he took out the B & F for Perth and finished runner-up to Hayden Bunton for the Sandover Medal.
In July 1943, Henfry was waiting for a train that was to take him home on leave from Melbourne’s Spencer Street station when he was approached by members of a Carlton delegation. After some earnest discussions and handshakes all round, Ern agreed to commit to the club the following year in the first of two matches on permit from Perth.
In both games – a record-breaking demolition of Geelong in round 17 and the one-point loss to Footscray that followed – Henfry turned in two stunning displays out of the centre. Though there was still a war to be won. The Blues’ brains trust knew that they had found their man.
Forced to sit out for the entire 1946 seasons after the Royals refused him a clearance, Henfry was sensationally appointed Bob Chitty successor as Carlton captain. The ’47 triumphs both collectively and individually, and in ’49 Henfry took out his second B & F.
A member of Carlton’s the WAFL’s and Australian Football’s Halls of Fame, Henfry’s 84-game contribution to Carlton through those dark days of wartime ensure that he is remembered amongst the all-time greats at Princes Park.
1. Ken Hunter
141 matches, 160 goals (1981-1989)
Premiership player (1981, ’82 & ’87)
Best first-year player (1981)
Best and Fairest (1981)
3rd Best & Fairest (1982)
4th Best & Fairest (1983)
Leading goalkicker (1983, 43 goals)
7th Best & Fairest (1984 & ’86)
Carlton Hall of Fame (inducted 1998)
Carlton Team of the Century
All-Australian (1979, ’80, ’82 & ’83)
AFL Hall of Fame (inducted 2019)
Ken Hunter was 23 by the time he put pen to paper. But in signing with Carlton on the cusp of the 1981 season, this was, to quote ‘Bogey’ in Casablanca, “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.
Raised in the Perth suburb of Carlisle and originally recruited from Dalkeith Juniors by Claremont, Hunter thrice finished runner-up to champion ruckman Graham Moss for B & F honours – and justifiably earned universal acclaim for his extraordinary aerial capability and incredible disregard for his own well-being. That blind courage cost him three broken jaws along the way.
To the legions of Blues devotees, Hunter’s fearless pursuit of the footy earned him instant favouritism. Through hand-covered eyes they watched on in wonderment as their beloved No.9 launched himself airborne into oncoming packs and somehow emerged with the pill in his mitt.
Fans winced whenever their bag of bones in Blue launched himself at the ball – which was more often than not – and teammates walked tall because of what they saw.
From day one, Hunter’s standing amongst Carlton’s all-time greats was assured – and for all the challenges the game invariably posed, the riches also came his way.
A club Premiership player in 1981-’82 and ’87, and a B &F winner in that maiden ’81 season to boot, Hunter’s 147 games through nine seasons with Carlton were further rewarded with his naming in Carlton’s Team of the Century, and induction into the club’s and the game’s coveted Halls of Fame.