Career : 1974 - 1980
Debut : Round 15, 1974 vs Richmond, aged 17 years, 348 days
Carlton Player No. 847
Games : 88
Goals : 25
Last Game : Round 9, 1980 vs Essendon, aged 23 years, 300 days
Guernsey No. 10
Height : 179 cm ( 5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 80 kg (12 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : 29 July, 1956
Alan Mangels was a gifted footballer who seemed born to play for the Old Dark Navy Blues, although ultimately, his career didn’t do full justice to his ability. Prior to playing 88 games over seven seasons from 1974 to 1980, Mangels made history as the youngest player ever to sign with the Carlton Football Club when he was recruited at the tender age of 10 years and 314 days on June 9, 1967.
At that time, Mangels was in the midst of a close association with the Blues through his grandmother Margaret, who was the sister of Carlton’s legendary 1945 Premiership captain Bob Chitty. As well, Alan’s father; Alan senior, had represented the Blues at Under 19 level, and played in successive Premierships for the thirds in 1948 and 1949 – the latter as captain. Therefore, much of the Mangel’s family’s social life revolved around the club, and Alan was coached in the skills of the game by his father almost as soon as he could walk.
In 1967, Alan officially wore the colours of Carlton onto the field for the first time as captain of our inaugural Little League team. That same year, his family moved house from the northern suburb of Merlynston – in Carlton’s recruitment zone – to nearby Oak Park, in North Melbourne’s territory. So, to ensure that Alan played his future football at Carlton, the Blues took the extraordinary step of registering the promising youngster as an Under 19 player before he had even reached the age of eleven!
Mangels played his first game with the Under 19’s two years later, and soon dazzled some good judges with his ability. Thanks to his father’s diligence, Alan could drop-kick with accuracy and penetration off both feet, was strong in the air for his size, and had plenty of tenacity. The only drawback to his game was that he wasn’t naturally quick, but he read the game well and was a consistent ball-winner.
In 1974, Mangels graduated from the Under 19’s to Carlton’s Reserves team, where he was given the honour of wearing the number 10 guernsey previously carried by champion rover Adrian Gallagher. Assigned to the centre or as a ruck-rover, he quickly found his feet, and put together a series of eye-catching displays. Although it was obvious quite early that he was ready for elevation to senior level, he had to wait for that opportunity until round 15, when Carlton took on Richmond on a Sunday afternoon at the MCG. In a low-key debut however, he spent most of the game on the bench, watching on as the Tigers toppled Carlton by 30 points. Two more games from the pine followed, before he was included in Carlton’s starting line-up at last - and kicked his first career goal - in a 22-point victory over St Kilda at Moorabbin in the last game of that season.
Mangels’ career really began rolling in 1975, when he established himself on a centre wing for the seniors, and played 19 matches, including Carlton’s narrow Semi Final defeat by Richmond. He saw finals action again in 1976, when the Blues lost a nail-biting Preliminary Final to North Melbourne by one point, and finished the year off with a personal triumph. Over that season, he notched up 14 senior appearances. In between, he dominated another dozen or so Reserves games to such an extent that he was a clear winner of the Gardiner Medal as Best and Fairest in the competition.
As so often happens, that honour seemed to jinx Mangels career thereafter. Injuries began taking a toll, and others stepped up while Carlton began building toward the glory of the 1979 Premiership. Alan played 19 games in 1977, and 14 more in 1978, although he was left out of Carlton’s finals campaign, and never got the chance to savour the adrenalin rush of the MCG in September again.
After missing out on a place in the Blues’ 1979 Premiership squad, Mangels seemed to be recapturing his best form when he played the first nine games of 1980 in succession. But when he was told that the club intended to trade him to Melbourne as part of the Greg Wells transfer fee, he flatly refused and requested an immediate clearance to Geelong. As these situations so often do, the matter dragged on well into the latter half of the year before a deal was eventually struck, and Mangels departed for Kardinia Park.
Although potentially his best football was still ahead of him at that time, ankle and hamstring strains plagued the rest of Alan’s career. He was a star for the Cats in their 1981-82 Reserves Premiership double, but managed only another 13 senior matches before retiring in 1983, with 101 VFL games and 31 goals to his credit.
After leaving Sleepy Hollow, Mangels joined his local GFL club St Albans for a few seasons, the Saints were unstoppbale in the mid 1980's playing in four Grand Finals in five years including premierships in 1984 and 1985. Mangels then headed north to settle in Queensland.
Milestones50 Games: Round 18, 1977 Vs Melbourne
Career Highlights1972 - Under 19s Most Serviceable Award
1974 - Reserves Best & Fairest Award
1976 - 2nd Reserves Best & Fairest
1976 - Gardiner Medal; VFL Reserves Competition Best & Fairest
LinksArticles: Recruiting Alan Mangels...at 10 years of age!
Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Alan Mangels | Mangels' Blueseum Image Gallery