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Unforgettable at half-forward...

Horrie Clover

hclover.jpg
Career : 1920-24, 1926-31
Debut : Round 2, 1920 vs. Richmond, aged 25 years, 46 days
Carlton Player No. 346
Games : 147
Goals : 396
Guernsey No. 1
Last Game : Semi Final, 1931 vs. Collingwood, aged 36 years, 180 days
Height : 185 cm (6 ft. 1 in.)
Weight : 86.5 kg (13 stone, 9 lbs.)
DOB : 20 March, 1895
League Leading Goalkicker: 1922
Leading Goalkicker: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1928
Best and Fairest: 1929
Captain Coach: 1922-1924, 1927
Champion of the Colony: 1921
VFL AFL Hall of Fame
Carlton Hall of Fame
Team of the Century
President: 1956-57
Vice President: 1932, 1935-54
Club Secretary: 1925-26

Horace “Horrie” Clover was Carlton’s star centre half-forward of the 1920’s; a high flying, long-kicking champion who enjoyed a stellar career with the Old Dark Navy Blues, then went on to be one of our longest-serving administrators. But even before he took the field for Carlton, Clover had to conquer the odds on the battlefields of France in World War 1.

From Maryborough in central Victoria, Horrie enlisted in the 1st AIF in September 1915. After basic training, he embarked for France with reinforcements for the 7th Battalion in January of 1916. Soon pitched into the horrors of trench warfare, he fought and survived until September of that year, when he was transferred to a machine gun company and promoted to the rank of Corporal.

On Christmas day, 1916, Horrie was struck down with acute appendicitis. He was evacuated to a field hospital for emergency surgery, where the doctors discovered that his appendix was gangrenous and that his life was in danger. He was immediately transferred to London for specialist treatment, and months of recuperation. Pronounced unfit for further front-line service, he was repatriated back to Australia in August 1917, and honourably discharged in May of the following year – six months before the Armistice.

Having recovered, and keen to have a crack at senior football, Clover trained with Richmond and Melbourne before Carlton gave him an opportunity at VFL level. And how he delivered! In his first match in 1920 – ironically, against Richmond - he kicked four goals from centre half-forward, and hit the post three times! By the end of his first season at Princes Park, Clover was one of Carlton’s drawcards. Former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies was just one of the many Carlton fans who were captivated; “he was the most artistic of high marks, unforgettable at half-forward,” said Menzies.

Horrie could kick a football, too. A balanced, deceptively quick mover, he was a glorious running drop-kick for goal. Playing against Richmond again at Princes Park in July, 1921, he let fly with a monster kick that was later measured at 86.26 metres – that’s 94 yards, 2 feet in imperial terms! And there are numerous other instances where he roosted the ball more than 70 metres. In round 12 of 1921, he slotted 13 goals in a game against St Kilda; a club record which still stands today.

The Blues made the finals in third place in 1921 and battled through to meet Richmond for the Premiership. Then the heavens above the MCG opened up on the day before the decider, turning the ground into a quagmire. In what was to be Clover’s only Grand Final appearance, Richmond won a slogging, mauling contest by four points.

While Premiership glory eluded him, Horrie was Carlton’s top goalkicker in three of his first four seasons, including 1922, where his total of 58 was the competition’s best. He was appointed captain of the Blues that same year, and in 1923 took on the dual role of captain-coach.

Over 1924 / 1925, he suffered more debilitating illness that prevented him from playing all season. Unable to pull on his football boots, he took on the job of Club Secretary, and continued in that position even after returning to the field in 1926. When he did eventually resume, he formed a new, powerful Carlton forward set-up with a young Harry “Soapy” Vallence at full-forward. Twice more – in 1926 and 1928, Clover’s brilliance and accuracy in front of goal saw him at the top of Carlton’s goal-kicking, and in 1929 – aged 34, he was honoured with the captaincy of Victoria against WA in his ninth and final game in the Big Vee.
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Horrie Clover retired as a player in 1931 after 147 games. His total of 396 goals is still ranked fifth best in Carlton’s proud history (only displaced for fourth when Brendan Fevola broke through in 2007/2008) – and it should be remembered that all but a handful of his games were played at centre half-forward, not in the goal square. In 1932 he was elected Vice-President of the Carlton Football Club, but retired after one year.
In February 1935 on learning of Terry Ogden's the serious illness, Clover and Newton Chandler offered their services for a blood transfusion for the club's wing man. After a blood test Chandler's blood was accepted. However, Ogden passed away the next month. Clover stood again in 1935, was elected – and spent twenty unbroken years serving his beloved Blues. He even took on the Presidency in 1956, aged 60, and was as vigorous and determined as ever in his two years in the job.

Carlton Football Club mourned deeply when Horrie Clover passed away on the first day of January, 1984. Three years later, he was among the first to be inducted into the Carlton Hall of Fame. Testament to his stature in the game as a whole, he was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame in 1996; and May 2000 saw him named as one of four emergencies in Carlton’s Team of the Century. A champion in every sense of the word, he spent 37 years of his remarkable life at Princes Park.

Footnote

The Argus published an article on Maryborough, April 12 1930, it said;
"Clover has been the leading half-forward in League ranks for some time. It takes a specialist to fill the position capably, and the Carisbrook man does this admirably.
Like good wine he has improved with age, and besides being one of the greatest half forwards that has ever appeared on a football field, he is about the best all round kicker that has ever played the game.
He excells in punting, drop, and place kicking. He is a great marksman and a splendid exponent, one of the greatest the district has produced, besides being a fair cricketer also."

When Clover returned to football in 1926, The Argus mentioned that they thought it was the first time a member of the Permit and Umpire Committee had played in a League game.

13 GOAL AWARD Round 12, 1921

At the Carlton AGM held on Monday 27 February 1922, Horrie Clover "was presented with ball used on the occasion, the St.Kilda club having generously donated it to the Carlton officials, who had it mounted for the purpose." (Age February 22 1922)

1922 The Art Of Forward Play

Horrie wrote an article for the Sporting Globe August 30 p7
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article184798404

1928 Idol of Carlton Crowds - Australia's Best Centre Half Forward

The Sporting Globe's football writer W. S. "Jumbo" Sharland writes about Horrie Clover
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183958222

1932 Jack Worrall on Clover

Writing for the Australasian September 03 p7;
"Take Horrie Clover as an example, a real specialist, one of the best forwards the game has seen, and the best all-round kick that has ever come under my purview. For that reason he deserves a line to himself.
He played the game like a sportsman, was a glorious high mark, and could cover a great distance by either drop, punt, or place kick - a remarkable accomplishment. Many players have been notable kicks in two aspects of the game, yet none have equalled Clover in the three branches. His nearest rival as an all-round kick, though not quite as certain in his efforts, was Frank Caine, of Carlton, who, like Clover, also hailed from the country."

1933 Coming Football Champion

Melbourne, Saturday
A special warning was issued to the Victorian Football League delegates last night by Mr. D. H. Crone, a Carlton delegate, not to angle for a certain "coming" champion that the Carlton Club had signed up that day.
At first delegates were a little puzzled at the statement, but when it was explained that Horrie Clover, former champion half-forward, had that day become the father of of a son they burst into sustained laughter.
It was only by persistent ringing of the bell by the chairman that order was restored.
(News (Adelaide) May 20 1933 p3)

1933 - The Place Kick

A letter to The Argus via the Huon Times about the lack of place kicking expertise in the VFL.
The writer mentions that he got Horrie to play football in Maryborough after he saw the then 15 y.o. place kick a ball 63 yards, and later with Carlton, Clover place kicked 8 goals in one match.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137253000

Milestones

50 Games: Round 1, 1923 vs Fitzroy
100 Games: Round 18, 1927 vs St Kilda

100 Goals: Round 18, 1921 vs Collingwood
200 Goals: Round 3, 1924 vs St Kilda
300 Goals: Round 11, 1928 vs Geelong

Articles: The Magical 'Three Goal Average' | A Letter From Horrie | Our Flagless Greats

Blueseum: Stat Shot for Horrie Clover | Career Breakdown | Clover's big goals hauls | Clover's Blueseum Image Gallery