WITH the notable exception of the Darwin-born Carlton Premiership player Matt Clape, and the brief Northern Territory Football League forays of Rod Galt, Ken Hunter and more recently Sam Walsh, this football club can only really lay claim to one genuine Top End export: the hard-running 17-game half back Joe Anderson.
And with the historic Carlton-Gold Coast contest looming as part of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, Anderson - the former half-back and lifelong Darwinian - asked that the following message be conveyed to his old coach “and players’ relationship builder” at the then Northern Bullants, David Teague.
“Tell ‘Teaguey’ I’ve still got my boots if he wants me to play,” said Anderson, whose Carlton career covered four seasons from 2007.
Though he’s effectively the Blues’ sole ambassador in the Northern Territory, Anderson is quick to point out that there is much in the way of local interest in the fortunes of his old club.
“From Alice Springs to right across the Territory, Carlton has a huge supporter base - particularly in the Indigenous communities mainly in northeast Arnhem Land and on the Tiwi Islands,” Anderson said.
“Some of the parents there named their kids after some of the older Carlton stars, and I know there are a few Stephen Silvagnis and Craig Bradleys running around.
“When Carlton plays Gold Coast you’ll get a big crowd of people coming in and pretty much 80 per cent of them will be Blues fans.”
Anderson is the second oldest of eight children (five boys, three girls) whose christian names all begin with the letter ‘J’. Preceding him is Jacob, then follows Jasmine, Jed (now going around for North Melbourne), Jimmy, Javaad, Jacinta and Jnoemi.
His mother Elizabeth was Melbourne-born to English migrants “now living the dream in the tropics” to quote Joe.
His father David, born in Darwin, is of the Warlpiri Warramunga tribe, his paternal grandfather Jimmy James having been part of the stolen generation.
“He got taken from Phillip Creek, just outside Tennant Creek and was put in the Retta Dixon Mission home in Darwin when he was five,” Anderson explained. “Eventually he found out who his mother was, but not his father.”
As fate would have it, Anderson’s parents met at a football function in Darwin... and the rest as they say is history.
In reflecting on his Carlton days, Anderson recalled how nervous he was in making the three and a half thousand kilometre move from Darwin to Melbourne.
“I was really nervous,” said Anderson, who reckons first impressions will remain with him for as long as he’s upright.
“There was the adjustment in training from two days training a week to six, but I was also starstruck, just blown away by the Carlton Footy Club itself, in seeing all the big-name players walking around.
“It still gives me chills just thinking about Carlton today, because of the history, the past players and everything that’s happened there both on and off the field. It was great to be part of that, I still go for Carlton, and the Kangaroos where my brother plays.”
On completing his fourth season at Princes Park, Anderson made for the city of churches, chasing the leather for Sturt and later North Adelaide - during which time he exchanged marital vows with Zoe at the Glen Ewin Estate - and completed his electrical apprenticeship with Connex.
He returned to Darwin three years ago and, between callouts as an electrician, assisted AFLNT with remote projects. He’s since joined the department of education in delivering Certificate 1 and 2 electrotech courses, and now assists with other courses in engineering, hospitality, building and construction and automotive.
A doting father to two year-old daughter Iyla and Nash (born on Australia Day this year), Anderson has settled magnificently into parenthood as life beyond the boundary line becomes the priority.
But he still keeps tabs on his former Carlton teammates Jordan Bannister and Brad Fisher, as well as Mitch Robinson, who’s paid more than the occasional visit to Darwin since relocating to Brisbane – and he still takes more than a passing interest in his former club’s on-field fortunes.
“It’s great to see today’s players of the Carlton Football Club really impressing on the field. That win over Fremantle was the Bluebaggers’ best of the season,” Anderson said.
Get it while it lasts!— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) August 18, 2020
A limited number of the 2020 Indigenous guernsey are now available online through The Carlton Shop.
Click below to shop. ??#OwnTheFuture
“You can just see in the way that the boys play for each other that this team is going places. It’s being driven from the top to the bottom and looking on you see massive change from how it was years before.”
Come what may, Anderson will be on hand for the match, hopefully with his daughter in tow, in support of his old football club that helped him find life’s purpose.
“My big goal in life always was to try to make it at AFL level. I was a bit reluctant to go to Melbourne at the start because it meant moving away from family and from fishing and hunting,” Anderson said.
“But the transition was easier than I expected because I met some really great people at Carlton who made me feel at home.
“Carlton helped me build me as a person and the character within. It helped me find my independence and strive for better, not only on the football field, but in life in general.”