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The General

Peter Dean

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Career :
1984 - 1998
Debut : Round 11, 1984 vs Footscray, aged 19 years, 94 days
Carlton Player No. 919
Games : 248
Goals : 41
Last Game : Round 22, 1998 vs Port Adelaide, aged 33 years, 174 days.
Guernsey No.35
Height : 185 cm (6 ft. 1 in.)
Weight : 83 kg (13 stone, 1 lb.)
DOB : 9 March, 1965
Premiership Player 1987, 1995
Victorian Representative 1986, 1995
Carlton Hall of Fame 1998

He began his career on a Monday, and finished it on a Sunday. He rarely polled highly in the Brownlow Medal, or even in Carlton’s Best and Fairest award - but Blues’ supporters of the eighties and nineties loved Peter Dean. They loved his dash, his courage, his consistency, and the way he wore his heart on his sleeve when he pulled on his Famous Old Dark Blue number 35. Throughout his 248 games with the Navy Blues – including the ’87 and ’95 Premierships – ‘Deanie’ (later also dubbed ‘Helmet’ for his bowl haircut when he first came to Carlton from the bush, or ‘The General’ for his on-field leadership) was one of the most popular Carlton players of his era.

A right-footed defender, Dean played forward at the start of his career, and seemed destined for a role in attack when he kicked three goals from centre half-forward in his debut match against Footscray at Princes Park in June, 1984. A year later he had settled into Carlton’s backline, but never lost his hunger for a six-pointer. He loved to charge forward and shoot for goal on the run, often celebrating madly to the joy of Carlton fans.

Dean stood at 188 cm but was capable of playing in either of the key defensive posts. He had stamina, unshakeable concentration, and rarely lost touch with his man. A dasher by nature, he played his best football on opponents of various sizes across half back. Short or tall, it didn’t bother The General.

Dean began his journey to Princes Park from South Bendigo, where he was an outstanding junior. Dean was of great pedigree being the nephew of Rod Ashman. Selected in the Victorian Teal Cup (under 17) squad in 1982, and the Bendigo League representative team a year later, he played his first senior match for the Blues at Princes Park in a remarkable game against Footscray. Carlton’s score midway through the second quarter on that Queen's Birthday holiday Monday stood at 11 goals straight, before ‘Curly’ Austin missed a sitter, and the Blues’ accuracy evaporated. We still coasted home to win by 34 points, but for a while all sorts of records were under threat.

Dean played 13 games in his first year, 19 in 1985, and all 24 matches in 1986, when his consistent form won him a place in the Victorian State team that went down to Western Australia by three points in Perth. Later in the year, Carlton battled through to Dean’s first Grand Final from third place on the ladder, only to suffer a crushing defeat by Hawthorn. To a man, the Blues were wounded deeply by their failure to send champion defender Bruce Doull, and incumbent club captain Mark Maclure off with a victory in their last chance at another flag, but redemption wasn’t long in coming.
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Twelve months later, Dean was a vital cog in a superb defensive effort by Carlton in the
1987 Premiership decider rematch against the Hawks. The temperature soared into the 30’s before the first bounce on Grand Final day, and the first half was a contest of wills between two totally committed teams. The fitter and fresher Blues eventually got on top in the second half however, and won by 33 points. Dean was assigned the task of picking up Hawthorn’s mercurial match-winner Gary Buckenara – keeping him goalless – while firebrand David Rhys-Jones won the Norm Smith Medal at centre half-back. The General lived up to his nickname that afternoon, and really celebrated the win - including a bit of joyous blue language while receiving his Premiership medallion. Years later, he claimed that his mother still hadn't forgiven him!

As so often happens in elite sport, the joy of that Premiership win lasted only until early in the next season for Peter Dean. Playing at centre half-back, he had an impressive first three matches in 1988, as Carlton thrashed Hawthorn, the Brisbane Bears and Essendon by an average of 51 points over successive weeks. But against Essendon he was caught under a pack and severely damaged a hip. Complications developed, and he didn’t return to the senior team until Round 9, 1989 against Fitzroy.

Dean was awarded his second Victorian guernsey in 1991, and again travelled across the continent to play WA in Perth. This time, the Westerners triumphed by a record 76 points. Meanwhile, the Blues began building toward another Premiership with Dean settled in a Carlton defence that included stars like Stephen Silvagni, Michael Sexton, Ange Christou and Dean Rice.

In 1993 he was in stellar form before he suffered a collapsed arch in his right foot during Carlton’s round 19 win against Richmond. He was sadly missed throughout Carlton’s tough finals campaign, which culminated in another Grand Final loss - this time, by 44 points to Essendon Although the ‘Baby Bombers’ looked to have Carlton’s measure from early on, one can only wonder what impact the tenacity of Dean just may have had if he had been patrolling across half-back on that fateful day.

Dean’s desperation was legendary, but almost taken for granted by fans of the era. Smothers, tackles and shepherds were his specialty, and when combined with his goal-saving marking and dash from defence, it’s easy to see why he was such a crowd favourite. He played almost every game in 1994, including our straight sets losses to Melbourne and Geelong in the finals, before finally getting his chance to play in another Grand Final in 1995.

Few teams in the long history of the VFL/AFL have been as dominant as the Navy Blues were on Saturday, September 30, 1995, when the Carlton Football Club won our sixteenth Premiership with an emphatic victory over Geelong. The final margin of 61 points actually flattered the Cats, because the Blues had the game won at three-quarter time, and the last term was a celebration.

Carlton had many great players on that unforgettable afternoon - including Peter Dean - who was simply everywhere when the Blues stamped their authority on the match in the first quarter. Chasing hard, and earning a pivotal contested ball against two opponents, he set the standard for a Carlton defence that from then on, was just magnificent.

He even had the chance to go for a run at times, and set up a memorable goal in the second term by smothering the ball off the boot of Geelong’s Peter Riccardi, then gaining possession and handballing on to Matt Clape - who gave it back as Dean kept running into the forward 50. Dean’s kick was marked by Greg Williams in the square, and Diesel’s easy goal put the Blues five goals up. His statistics of 12 kicks and one handball don’t tell the story of Dean’s day, because he was clearly among Carlton’s best from the viewpoint of many fans - especially when he attempted a star jump from the presentation dais, but slipped and fell - almost crushing guest presenter Bob Davis!

Into the veteran stage of his career after that, Dean went on to play another 41 matches for his beloved Blues over three seasons, while increasing injury concerns signalled the twilight of his stellar career. As determined and committed as ever, he made the last of his 248 appearances for the Blues against Port Adelaide at Football Park in Round 22, 1998. The Blueboys gave him an appropriate send-off too, when they hammered Port by nine goals. Dean rotated off the bench in a cameo role, and was chaired off the ground by his emotional team-mates. Barely three years later, he was inducted into the Carlton Hall of Fame.

A qualified electrician by trade, Dean returned to civilian life for a while, but the void left in his life after football demanded to be filled. He played with DVFL club Northcote Park for a number of years, coaching the Cougars to the 2002 premiership after figuring in three as a player. In 2001, Dean had a stint as Carlton's match day runner. In 2003 he continued with the Cougars, and also coached the DVFL representative side against the Eastern Football League. By 2004 he was back into harness as assistant coach of Carlton’s VFL affiliate; the Northern Bullants before he took charge of the Murray Bushrangers in the elite Under-17 TAC Cup competition. In 2008 he returned to elite level when he accepted a role as backline coach for the Western Bulldogs.

Bendigo All Stars Team (1972-1997).
In 1997 the Bendigo FL compiled their best team for players originating from the BFL VCFL zones for the period from 1972 - 1997, Dean was named in the back-pocket in that team.


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Stands as one player of yester-year who may represent the exact opposite to (some) of those who play the ‘modern game’. Modern players dance and weave not to mention retreat backwards in order to control the ball. The General however would never retreat. He would simply move forward in a straight line, at a great rate, his attack on the ball be it aerially or ground based simply stunning. Not limited to the oval ball he was an outstanding junior basketball player.


Milestones

50 Games : Round 19, 1986 vs Collingwood
100 Games : Round 15, 1990 vs Collingwood
150 Games : Round 5, 1993 vs St Kilda
200 Games : Round 15, 1995 vs Adelaide Crows

Career Highlights

1985 - 8th Best & Fairest
1986 - 8th Best & Fairest
1987 - Premiership Player
1990 - Equal 5th Best & Fairest
1991 - 4th Best & Fairest
1991 - Peter Sullivan Memorial Trophy (Most Carlton Votes in the Brownlow Medal)
1993 - 10th Best & Fairest
1994 - 3rd Best & Fairest
1994 - Best Clubman Award
1995 - Premiership Player
1997 - Pre-Season Premiership Player
1998 - Equal 4th Reserves Best & Fairest

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Peter Dean | Career Breakdown for Peter Dean | Dean's Blueseum Image Gallery