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The wounded Woofer

Ang Christou


Career : 1991 - 2002
Debut : Round 24, 1991 vs Richmond, aged 19 years, 227 days
Carlton Player No. 974
Games : 151
Goals : 18
Last Game : Round 22, 2002 vs Essendon, aged 30 years, 228 days
Guernsey Nos. 56 (1991) and 39 (1992-2002)
Height : 190 cm (6 ft. 2 in.)
Weight : 93 kg (14 stone, 9 lbs.)
DOB : 16 January, 1972
Premiership Player 1995
All Australian 1995
Victorian Representative 1995, 1996
AFL Rising Star Nominee: Round 18, 1993


For two heady seasons in 1995-96, Evangelis ‘Ange’ Christou had the world of AFL football at his feet. A flamboyant, long-kicking left-footed defender, he became a cult figure at Princes Park on the way to starring in Carlton’s all-conquering 1995 Premiership team, alongside his great mate Anthony Koutoufides. Ange and Kouta were both selected as All Australians that year, and Christou represented Victoria in State of Origin.

But just two years later, a debilitating back injury placed a roadblock in Ange’s career path, and condemned him to almost two full seasons on the casualty list. Although he fought his way back to play in his third Grand Final in 1999, and eventually racked up 150 senior games, he was never quite the same rebounding weapon again.

Recruited locally from East Brunswick (having also played for Princes Hill, Carlton Juniors and Carlton NSJFL) Christou commenced his career at Princes Park with the Under 19s in 1989. There, he found plenty in common with Koutoufides, another promising youngster with Greek heritage. The pair became inseparable, and as they progressed through the lower grades it was obvious that it was only a matter of time before they would both be playing senior football for the Navy Blues.

Ange actually beat Kouta to that honour when he was called up for his senior debut first in the last home and away game of 1991 against Richmond at the MCG. Both sides were looking for a positive end to poor seasons, but it was the Tigers who came out on top – thanks to eight goals from their prodigal son David Cloke in his swansong game. Christou wore Carlton’s number 56 guernsey that afternoon, playing on a wing alongside Michael James and Fraser Brown. He took some strong marks, kicked a goal, and showed commendable poise under pressure, although he did finish the match with a broken bone in his wrist.

Koutoufides joined Christou as a senior Blue in 1992, and over the next two years the pair established themselves as regulars in a side that improved markedly - climbing from eleventh in 1991 to second in 1993. On the way, Christou began winning fans over with his cheeky grin, his skill in the air, and his raking left foot – inevitably greeted by the roar of “whoof” each time he unloaded one of his long bombs from half-back or the wing. He switched to guernsey 39 in his second year, and would end his career at Carlton with the distinction of playing the most games for the Blues in that number, as well as in number 56.

In round 18, 1993 at VFL Park, Ange won a Rising Star nomination when he kicked four goals in a dominant display on a wing against Hawthorn, before settling on a half-back flank on the eve of the finals. Carlton edged out Essendon by 2 points in the first-ever Qualifying Final held under lights, then booked their place in the Grand Final by besting a resolute Adelaide by three goals on the following Saturday afternoon at Waverley. Christou was among his team’s best in both matches, and must have looked forward with confidence to a rematch with the Bombers in the Grand Final – only for the dreams of a Premiership to be shattered by a young Essendon side that was too quick, and far more committed than a Carlton team bereft of answers on the day.

More emotional pain was in store for Carlton and its supporters in 1994, even as Christou’s standing in the game continued to rise. Remarkably for such a one-sided player, he was able to compensate for his right-side deficiencies with agility, cleverness and aerial skill. There were few better spoilers in the game, and he needed little time to get balanced and deliver the ball accurately with his lethal left foot. Ange didn’t miss a game again that year, as Carlton crashed out of flag contention once more after successive defeats in the finals by Melbourne and Geelong.

Christou began 1995 on a high, by playing his 50th game in Carlton’s big win over Fitzroy in round 2 - a match dominated by Anthony Koutoufides. The Blues had endured incessant criticism during the off-season, with many so-called experts claiming that the team was in decline. Too old, too slow, they said – but a batch of emerging stars and a sprinkling of quality recruits from other clubs was about to transform the Blues of ‘95 into one of the most dominant combinations in the game’s history.

Unbeaten for the remainder of the year after round 10, the Mighty Blues swept to the club’s 16th Premiership with an emphatic 61-point demolition of Geelong in the Grand Final, at the culmination of an unforgettable year for every Bluebagger. And leading the way were Kouta and Ange, who became two of the most recognisable faces in the game. Together on magazine covers and billboards as often as they were on the field, the ‘Blues Brothers’ each had sensational seasons. They both starred in the Grand Final, and won selection in the All Australian squad. Earlier, Christou had joined the ranks of Victorian representatives by wearing the Big V in a State of Origin match against South Australia.

By June 1996, when he ran out onto the MCG for his second State of Origin game – and celebrated a big win over the Allies – Christou was rightfully regarded as one of the outstanding defenders in the game. Again, he didn’t miss a match all year, and was valiant in defeat when the dreaded ‘Premiership hangover’ saw his team knocked out of flag contention by successive finals defeats at the hands of West Coast and Brisbane.

Eventually however, Ange’s run of luck with injuries ended soon after he played his 100th game against Collingwood at the MCG in round 4, 1997. By then, he was being increasingly hampered by spinal pain that first appeared during the pre-season practice games. He played on until round 10, only to suffer back spasms related to damaged vertebrae, and was immediately sent for an extended rest. But the problem steadily worsened, and despite constant treatment, it was almost two years before he made it back on to the field, in round 1, 1999.

After playing the first seven matches of that year in succession, Ange was rested somewhat in the Reserves team before being recalled to the seniors on the eve of the finals. Carlton had finished sixth on the ladder and were considered also-rans, especially after Brisbane handed the Blues a 73-point Qualifying Final thrashing at the Gabba. But a fortnight later, after upsetting West Coast in a one-sided Semi Final, the redoubtable Blues scored one their all-time great victories over a confident Essendon – knocking the ladder-leading Bombers out of flag contention by 1 point in the Preliminary Final.

Starting from the interchange bench that afternoon, Christou was able to watch from close range as his brilliant offsider Koutoufides turned in one the all-time great individual finals games, almost single-handedly wrenching the game from the Bombers' grasp. A week later, Christou took part in the third Grand Final of his career - stationed in a back pocket alongside Kouta - while the injury-depleted, weary Blues met North Melbourne in a fourth successive cut-throat final, and lost by a totally understandable 35 points.

Over the next three seasons, Ange battled against recurring injury and the lingering effects of his back problems – factors that blunted his skills and added to the frustrations of a young man whose body just kept letting him down. Ten games and a late-season knee injury in 2000 was followed by 13 appearances in 2001 – including a 13-point loss to Richmond in his 15th and last finals appearance. Happily, he reached the 150-game milestone in a Carlton victory over the Western Bulldogs in Round 21, 2002 before retiring at the club’s behest following the last game of the year against the old foe Essendon.

One of the most popular Blues of his time, Ange Christou is remembered with genuine affection by legions of Carlton supporters. We loved his likeable, knockabout character, as well as his courage, his dash and his booming left foot. But perhaps most of all, we loved to join in the “whoof” as he launched another of his prodigious drop-punts into the Blues forward half.

Footnotes

After finishing his AFL career at Carlton, Christou travelled extensively overseas, before heading home to play grass-roots footy. In 2010 (at the age of 38) he lined up with Eastern Districts FL club Craigieburn alongside his former Carlton team-mate Lance Whitnall, under the coaching of ex-Bomber Paul Barnard.

To date, Christou retains the record for games played in two different guernseys at Carlton - numbers 56 and 39 – and so far, is the only Blue to have set such a record. He also maintains the goal-kicking mark for both guernseys, despite predominantly playing in defence.





A highly talented athlete, beyond the guise of mere footballer, his complementary skills became a mainstay in defence, prior to long term injury. Armed with a lethal left boot, which rivaled perfection, each kick possessed a speed, depth, weight and accuracy that few contemporaries could match.


Milestones

50 Games Round 2, 1995 vs Fitzroy
100 Games Round 4, 1997 vs Collingwood
150 Games Round 21, 2002 vs Western Bulldogs

Career Highlights

1993 - AFL Rising Star nominee
1994 - 5th Best & Fairest
1995 - Equal 10th Best & Fairest
1995 - Premiership Player
1996 - 8th Best & Fairest
1997 - Pre-Season Premiership Player

Articles: The BIG Numbers

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Ang Christou | Career Breakdown | Christou's Blueseum Image Gallery