Former Carlton footballer Allan Greenshields, the 20th man who never got a run in the 1947 grand final, has died at the age of 90.
With Greenshields’ passing, Ken Hands becomes this club’s only surviving member of the ’47 premiership team – and Hands is also the last man standing from the ’45 “Bloodbath”.
Though Greenshields managed just 16 senior appearances for the Old Dark Navy Blues, not a day went past that he didn’t think about what might have been on that last Saturday in September ’47.
As 20th man on that fateful afternoon against Essendon, he took his place on the timber alongside Ken Baxter, the only player of that era to represent Carlton in the two premierships that bookended the Second World War - 1938 and ’45 - as well as ’47.
These of course were the days prior to interchange and, as fate would have it, Greenshields never got the call-up. When Freddy Stafford sunk Essendon with that match-winning snap in the dying moments of the ’47 Grand Final, Greenshields was still watching on in his dressing gown.
“Have I thought that it might have been me in that position?,” said Greenshields in a recent interview? “Oh absolutely . . . absolutely . . . it would have been nice”.
“I didn’t get a run and that was tough because we were struggling all day long. We were behind Essendon all day and Essendon should have won it because of all those behinds. We’d kicked something like eight straight to half-time and they’d kicked 8.11.
“We finished up winning it by one point (13.8 (86) -11.19 (85)) as you know . . . and on the fence, where the coach (Percy Bentley) sat with the selection committee, they were imploring Perc to put me on because we weren’t getting the result we were looking for - and Freddy Stafford hadn’t had a touch for the whole game.”
Carlton's 1947 premiership team on grand final day. Allan Greenshields is pictured on the far right.
Greenshields remembered that as the match wore on, members of the Carlton’s brains trust gained voice as they called on Bentley to make a change.
“They (the selectors’) were saying ‘Put Allan up for Fred, but he (Bentley) wouldn’t do it. He said, ‘No, we’ll just wait a bit longer’,” Greenshields said.
“Well as it happened, the ball came out from a throw-in by the boundary, landed in Fred’s arms and being a right footer he turned around and goaled with a left foot snap of all things . . . 25 yards out from goal, right through the centre.
“So he (Bentley) was vindicated and I was left lamenting,” (laughs).
Born in the southern Mallee town of Rainbow in 1926, Greenshields relocated to Melbourne through his employment with the bank in 1942 and turned out in games for Pascoe Vale the following year - losing out to the competition’s best and fairest Des Rowe by a single vote.
On the recommendation of the renowned Carlton recruiter Newton Chandler, Greenshields put pen to paper to play for the club - and the rest, as they say, is football history.
Greenshields’ last hurrah in Dark Navy came against Melbourne at Princes Park in the sixth round of 1949, and he went out on a high when he slotted both of his Carlton career goals in a 39-point victory over the Redlegs.
Later that same year, he turned out for St Kilda, for the first of 57 appearances over six seasons at the Junction Oval.
But Greenshields heart forever beat Blue, and he supported Carlton until the end.
Allan Greenshields' wife of 22 years Millicent died in 1977. He is survived by his sons Mark and John, daughters Sue and Jackie, and grandchildren Tom, Kate and Jack.
The Carlton footballers will wear black armbands as a mark of respect to the late Allan Greenshields in Saturday night’s match with Collingwood at the MCG.
Blueseum: Greenshields Bio