IN May 1980, and by a quirk of the then VFL draw, Carlton met Essendon on the SCG.
Not since August 1903, in a promotional exercise for Premiership points with Geelong, had the Blues turned out at that venue – and as the four-time Premiership player David McKay this week recalled, matches like this one were fixtured at the venue to promote the great Indigenous game in the lead-up to South Melbourne’s relocation to the Harbour City.
Notably absent for the Bombers was the enigmatic Phil Carman, who was five matches into a 20-match suspension in the Round 4 match at Moorabbin.
The-then Carlton Coach Peter 'Percy' Jones, who had continued to train with the senior team to this point, gave the game away after taking the field in the reserve grade match with Essendon at Windy Hill.
Having started slowly and actually trailed Essendon by five points at the main change, Carlton banged on nine goals in the third term and six in the last to emerge 37-point victors. Front and centre for the Blues’ famed Mosquito Fleet was Ken ‘Bomba’ Sheldon, who booted six goals (including his 100th career goal) in a footballing tour de force.
That the onslaught happened in he third was of no real surprise to Sheldon.
“It was bred in us to be of a particularly ferocity in the premiership quarter. It was ‘Start well and keep going five minutes in when the opposition started to question their own tank’,” Sheldon said this week.
“The 15-minute mark of the third was when we separated ourselves from opposition teams. That was what was instilled in us – ‘Start pretty well and when it’s your time to go make sure it’s you not them’.”
Sheldon, who took out Carlton’s goalkicking honours with 53 in the previous Premiership year of ’79, had actually put six over the goal umpire’s hat just three games into his senior career – the Round 18, 1977 match with Melbourne at VFL Park in Round 18 - in what was also Wayne Harmes’ senior debut.
Carlton v Essendon – SCG, Round 9, Sunday, May 25, 198
Carlton 1.1 (7) 5.5 (35) 14.8 (92) 20.11 (131)
Essendon 2.6 (18) 5.10 (40) 8.15 (63) 13.16 (94)
Goalkickers (Carlton): Sheldon 6, Maclure, Johnston, McKay 3, Armstrong, McConville 2, Catoggio
Best players: Sheldon, Harmes, Armstrong, Catoggio, Maclure, Austin
The Carlton team
B: 37 Wayne Harmes 20 Geoff Southby 21 Rod Austin
HB: 33 Peter McConville 15 Val Perovic 22 Robbert Klomp
C: 39 Stephen Buckley 12 Barry Armstrong 13 Phil Maylin
HF: 7 Wayne Johnston 11 Bruce Doull 36 Mark Maclure (vc)
F: 16 Jim Buckley 43 David McKay 5 Ken Sheldon
R: 3 Mike Fitzpatrick (c) 8 Trevor Keogh 14 Rod Ashman
I/c: 10 Alan Mangels 4 Vin Catoggio
Coach: Peter Jones