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'Baud would have been a football sensation had it not been for the war.'

Alf Baud


Career : 1913 - 1915
Debut: Round 5, 1913 vs University, aged 20 years, 246 days
Carlton Player No. 276
Games : 53
Goals : 16
Last Game : Grand Final, 1915 vs Collingwood, aged 22 years, 362 days
Guernsey Nos. 25 (1913 -14) and 18 (1915)
Height : 178 cm (5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 74 kg (11 stone, 9 lbs.)
DOB : September 20, 1892
Premiership Player: 1914 and 1915
Captain 1915


Alf is pictured in his Eaglehawk guernsey prior to joining the Blues.

Writing in the Sporting Globe newspaper of Saturday June 5, 1937, VFL Legend Roy Cazaly wrote of Carlton’s Alf Baud; “He could play anywhere. I think that Baud by comparison would have made (Haydn) Bunton look ordinary. Baud would have been a football sensation had it not been for the war." Strong praise indeed, from one of the games greatest players, talking about the second youngest player to captain a Premiership team behind Collingwood's Murray Weideman.

Alf Baud came to Princes Park in 1913 from Eaglehawk Football Club, where he had been a sensation as a free-running half-forward and goal-sneak forward pocket. A one-grab mark, and at times freakish ball-handler, he had been born in Nagambie in central Victoria, and travelled to Bendigo looking for work after completing his schooling. Still in his teens, he rolled up at South Bendigo Football Club to ask for a game, but Souths showed little interest in the quiet teenager, and suggested to Alf that the Two Blues at neighbouring Eaglehawk might give him a go.

Baud spent two seasons with the Hawks in 1911-12, and was judged Best on Ground in the 1911 Bendigo League Grand Final (ironically, against South Bendigo). That sparkling effort caught the eye of Carlton’s scouts, and so by early 1913 Baud was training with the Navy Blues at Princes Park.

Alf made his senior debut, aged 20, in May 1913, in a 16 point victory by the Blues over University at the MCG. Playing at half-forward, with occasional runs in the centre, he made a huge impression in his first season, ending up with 12 goals in his 14 matches. His stellar form was rewarded by selection in the Victorian state squad, but overall Carlton disappointed by finishing sixth and missing the finals.

In 1914, former Premiership star Norman Clark took the reins as coach of Carlton, and set about improving on-field discipline in a playing list boosted by some vigorous off-season recruiting. One of Clark’s ideas was to shift Baud from attack to bolster a defence that was capable, but regarded as being too negative. Alf Baud’s presence certainly changed all that. Brilliant on a half-back flank alongside his captain, Billy Dick, Alf won selection for Victoria again, and was one of Carlton’s prime movers in the Blues’ rise to the top of the ladder after the home and away rounds. Carlton accounted for Fitzroy by 20 points in one Semi-Final, but Baud was injured and ruled out of the surprise loss to South Melbourne the following week.

Under the rules of the VFL at the time, Carlton, as minor premiers, were entitled to challenge South Melbourne to a Grand Final rematch. When Baud was pronounced fit he was an automatic selection, although coach Clark surprised by assigning him to play on a wing in place of the unlucky Frank Triplett. Carlton set a VFL record by playing nine first year players in that 1914 Grand Final, and famously won a low-scoring thriller by just six points.

That Jubilee Premiership (in the club’s 50th year) was, however, tinged with apprehension and uncertainty. Only three weeks beforehand, Great Britain and France had declared war on Germany, and as a result Australia and the rest of the British Empire followed suit. Europe and many parts of the world were about to be plunged into the bloodiest and most costly conflict in history.

With thousands of young men signing up, the VFL too, found itself in crisis in 1915 as attendances dropped and all clubs struggled to field competitive teams. In Round 10 of that troubled season, Carlton met Fitzroy in a willing, physical game at the Brunswick Street oval, and Blues’ skipper Billy Dick was reported for striking the ‘Roys Jack Cooper. The tribunal came down hard, and Dick was suspended for ten matches. Suddenly, aged just 22, Alf Baud found himself captain of the reigning Premiership team.

In September, as Carlton prepared to defend their title from second place on the ladder, Alf decided that he too, would serve his country. Having worked as a telegraphist, he enlisted in the Army Signals section. But while waiting for his call-up, there was another VFL final series to be won. A first-up semi-final victory over Melbourne, followed by a tough Preliminary final win over Fitzroy, put the Blues into a second successive Grand Final against minor premiers and flag favourites Collingwood.

Throughout each of those games, Baud was the inspirational leader of a cohesive Blues defence. Supported well by stand-in centre half-back Billy Robinson and tough back pocket Paddy O'Brien, Baud led by example and would not be distracted by physical, verbal or scoreboard pressure. When Carlton toppled Collingwood by 33 points in the 1915 Grand Final - a match described as “one of the grandest that had ever been seen in the finals,” it set the seal on Baud’s reputation as a player and leader of the highest calibre.

Sadly, Alf’s potential would never reach fruition, because that second Grand Final triumph was to be his last VFL game. He was called into uniform early in 1916, and by March of that year was on his way to war. Soon afterward, he transferred from signals to an artillery unit and rose quickly through the ranks to Sergeant.

In September 1917, Alf’s battery was in action at a feature later known as ANZAC Ridge, when an enemy shell exploded nearby. A shrapnel splinter smashed into Alf’s face, fracturing his skull and destroying his left eye. He was rushed to hospital, where his life hung in the balance for some days, until his general fitness and natural determination eventually pulled him through. He was repatriated back home in March 1918, and recovered his health in time to join in with the celebrations of the Armistice in November.

The Carlton Football Club was denied the talents of many fine players throughout the five long years of the First World War, and there can be no doubt that the awful injuries Alf Baud suffered in the service of his country also robbed the Blues of a champion player and an inspirational leader.

Happily, Alf went on to live a long and interesting life, during which he maintained his love of the Carlton Football Club and the game as a whole. He was a member of the VFL Tribunal for a number of years, and passed away - aged 94 - in December 1986.

His grandson Geoff Cayzer played 4 games for 5 goals with St. Kilda between 1967 and 1971.

Send-Off To Volunteers

September 25 1915, the Carlton Football Club held a farewell at the London Tavern, for the players who had enlisted in the Army. President Jack Gardiner presented Alf Baud, Frank Triplett, George Challis, Herb Burleigh and George Muir with gifts from the club.
To read the article in full with a response from Blues' captain Alf Baud, which appeared in the Nagambie Times, October 01, click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141828831

Milestones

50 Games: Round 18, 1915 Vs St Kilda

Highlights

1914 - Premiership Player
1915 - Premiership Player

Articles: 1915 Finals series

Blueseum: Summary of Alf Baud's playing career | Career Breakdown | Captains | Baud's Blueseum Image Gallery

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