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Archie Wilson

Career : 1910 - 1913
Debut : Round 17, 1910 vs Richmond, aged 22 years, 123 days
Carlton Player No. 244
Games : 31
Goals : 1
Last Game: Round 2, 1913 vs South Melbourne, aged 25 years, 7 days
Guernsey Nos. 15 (1911), 23 (1912), and 16 (1913)
Height : 183 cm ( 6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 83 kg (13 stone, 1 lb.)
DOB : April 25, 1888

Archibald ‘Archie’ Wilson was a big-hearted follower from Tatura who was recruited by the Blues in 1910, and played through a series of milestone matches in his four seasons at Princes Park.

In just his second senior game, Archie was selected for Carlton’s 1910 VFL Semi Final clash against South Melbourne – a match that became embroiled in sensation when the Blues dropped three players from the side less than an hour before the first bounce. The trio involved; Alex ‘Bongo’ Lang, Doug Gillespie and Doug Fraser, had been accused of having accepted bribes to play poorly, and the club took swift action. Not surprisingly, the scandal derailed Carlton’s match plans, and they did well to go down by only 12 points. Afterwards, Gillespie was cleared of any wrong-doing, but the other two were found guilty and hit with long suspensions.

The following week, Collingwood defeated South Melbourne in the Preliminary Final, and Carlton immediately exercised its right (under the finals system then in place) to challenge the Magpies to a Grand Final showdown for the Premiership. Archie held his place in the team for the decider, and must have pinched himself when he ran out onto a packed MCG on that Saturday afternoon, to play for football’s ultimate prize in only his third senior match.

The clash was a vigorous, sometimes spiteful encounter between the two power clubs of that era, and was later recognised as the genesis of the legendary Carlton-Collingwood rivalry that still endures. Carlton lost Wilson and champion centreman Rod McGregor to knee injuries before half-time, but battled on gamely to lose by 14 points in Collingwood’s first (and so far, only) Grand Final victory over the Blues.

When captain-coach ‘Pompey’ Elliott was injured part way through the 1911 season, Archie was called on to lead Carlton’s rucks. He stepped up, and worked tirelessly to again lift his team into finals contention. By September, the VFL had decided to introduce individual player numbers into that year’s final series, so Wilson became Carlton’s first-ever official number 15 when he partnered his captain in the ruck against Essendon in the 1911 first Semi Final. But under former Carlton Premiership coach Jack Worrall, the Dons beat the Blues by 21 points in a thriller.

In 1912, Archie switched to guernsey number 23, and put in another consistent season. With Elliott by then retired, Wilson formed a new and capable following division with his captain, Jack Wells, and the emerging talent of rover Viv Valentine. Together, they led the Blues into another September campaign, only to have it prematurely ended yet again by a 28-point loss to Geelong in the Preliminary Final. Archie apparently decided that he had enough of VFL football after that, until Carlton’s committee convinced him to give them one more year.

He saddled up in jumper number 16 in ((1913, but lasted only two rounds of the new season before realising that he had been wrong to continue, and that his time was up. His last appearance came at Princes Park in May, when a dominant Carlton scored 8.13 (61) but couldn’t shake off a dogged South Melbourne, who kicked 9.7 (61) in a hard-fought draw.

Surely few VFL/AFL players have packed more into a 31-game career than Archie Wilson. Still just 25 when he left Princes Park, he went home to the bush, where he lived a long life of peaceful obscurity until his passing, at the age of 73, in 1961.

THE SEARCH FOR PLAYERS

"The committee of the Carlton Football Club (says the Guardian) have bestowed on Mr. Archie Wilson, of Tatura, an honor of which any man might be proud. On Sunday, a huge motor car arrived at Tatura, and contained as occupants the secretary and president of the Carlton club. The car practically passed through the street unnoticed, but on its return the monster car attracted considerable attention, for the seat next to the driver was occupied by Mr. A. Wilson, who was then on his way to Melbourne.
Further enquiry elicited the fact that the Carlton officials had visited Cr. Wilson's residence, and had succeeded in capturing the Tatura skipper for Carlton's ranks. Wilson had already "donned' the colors for Carlton, and aqquited himself so well that the officials of the club have been extremely anxious ever since to secure his services for the whole season. It is understood that "Archie" accepted the terms offered by the Carlton committee on Sunday, and consequently will not be eligible to play for Tatura for remainder of the season unless the association grant him a special permit.
Whilst offering congratulations on the high honor conferred upon him by the Carlton club, the officials of the Tatura club, and the team generally, deeply regret that they are to lose the services of such a sterling player.
Wilson played with Carlton on Monday against Geelong."
(Riverine Herald 7 June 1911 p2)

Illuminated Address

On February 11 1914 the Carlton Football Club's secretary J. Clinton presented Archie Wilson with an illuminated address in Shepparton. Clinton conveyed the best wishes of the Carlton committeee and members and the club offered Archie a gift of 50 pounds to help with seeing a medical specialist.
"The tribute comprises a richly embellished illuminated address, encased in an artistic frame. On the left hand top corner is a photo of Archie, whilst at the bottom of the photograph is a view of the portion of a game played between Geelong and Carlton, in which our young friend was the hero. The addreess is also decorated with the colours of the club, and sprays of wattle blossom."
Archie was delighted with the presentation but declined the monetary offer as he has almost recovered from the symptoms post the accident.
(Kyabram Guardian Feb 17 p3)

Footnote:

"Owing to ill health, follower Archie Wilson was compelled to retire from the game. He was one of the best players of recent years, and was entitled to a long-service testimonial."
(from CFC AGM Sporting Judge April 08 p1)

The Argus May 31 1913 (p16);
Tatura, Friday - "A. Wilson, the crack follower of the Carlton Football Club, has decided to permanently retire from the game. Some weeks ago he strained his heart, and since then his health has been greatly affected. At the close of the matches played in Melbourne, he was attacked with violent retching. Wilson is regarded as one of the fairest players in this association, and footballers not only in this district but in the metropolis, where he was a general favourite, will regret to hear of his retirement."

Archie Wilson was coaching Tatura by 1925.

Hall Of Fame

Archie Wilson was inducted into the Tatura Football Club's Hall of Fame August 29 2015
"A club champion and coach from 1910, who was recruited to play for Carlton before World War 1. He returned to continue with Tatura for many years."
(Pressreader. Tatura Guardian September 08 2015)

Articles: Glory with your first steps

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Archie Wilson | Wilson's Blueseum Image Gallery

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