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Bill Marchbank

Career : 1908
Debut : Round 12, 1908 vs Essendon, aged 20 years, 323 days
Carlton Player No. 220
Games : 3
Goals : 2
Last Game : Round 14, 1908 vs Fitzroy, aged 20 years, 337 days
Height : 178 cm (5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 87 kg (13 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB : 23 August, 1887


The younger brother of two-time Carlton Premiership star Jim Marchbank, Bill Marchbank played three consecutive games at Carlton in 1908, whilst the Blues were busy completing their first and only hat trick of Premierships. But he missed out on his opportunity for glory when he left Princes Park to join VFA club North Melbourne midway through his debut year.

Like his brother, Marchbank was born in the high country of the Great Dividing Range in Eastern Victoria at Gaffney's Creek, and was 20 years old when he followed Jim to Carlton. Later in life, Bill would be described in his army service record as a ‘hard-working, keen, reliable man who will do well,’ so it is difficult to imagine that he would not have found favour with Carlton’s disciplinarian coach Jack Worrall. Whatever the reason for his short stay (and abrupt departure) Bill never did get the chance to play alongside his big brother, while Jim went on to be one of the Blues’ early greats.

Bill’s first match for the Blues was the much-anticipated clash between Carlton and Essendon (the first and second-placed teams on the ladder at that time) in round 12, 1908 at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground. Unfortunately, heavy rain all day ruined the game as a spectacle, and the Navy Blues suffered their only loss of the season. Bill played at centre half-forward, but didn’t trouble the scorers. He did the following week however, when he was sent into the ruck, and kicked both of his career goals from a forward pocket in Carlton’s 40-point win over Collingwood at Princes Park. He was used as a follower again in round 14 - when the Blues beat Fitzroy by 11 points at the Brunswick Street Oval – then almost immediately afterwards packed up and left to throw in his lot with the Shinboners.

Also at about that time, Bill signed on with the Victorian Police as a mounted trooper, and while finishing off the year at North Melbourne, was persuaded to have another shot at VFL football with Fitzroy. So he joined the Maroons in 1910, and although his police duties occasionally kept him off the field, he managed another 22 matches over three seasons (1910 - 1912). In 1911, while on duty at a VFL match at the Lake Oval, Bill was thrown from his horse when a wild brawl erupted in the crowd. He badly damaged a knee in the fall, and from then on played his football in a specially-made knee brace.

Four years later, with all of the British Empire and most of Europe embroiled in World War 1, 28 year-old Marchbank enlisted in the AIF. Within a year he had been promoted through the ranks to Company Quartermaster Sergeant, and was fighting in the front line trenches of France’s Western Front. In October 1917, he was shot through the chest. Luckily, the bullet missed his vital organs, but it took eight months of hospital care and recuperation before he was fit to return to duty. As part of his rehabilitation he was sent to a British Army Officer Training School, and graduated as a Second Lieutenant in the last weeks of the war.

Bill came home to Australia in April, 1919. Perhaps as a consequence of his injuries, and his many months under fire in France, he passed away at the age of only 53 on July 19, 1941.


Footnote

The Essendon Gazette of May 13, 1915, reported that Bill Marchbank had left Fitzroy to join Hawthorn, and that his brother Jim had left Carlton to join him.
Hawthorn played Port Melbourne May 08 1915 and both Marchbanks were named in the Hawthorn team. Bill played on the halfback flank and Jim was at centre half forward. (Herald May 08)

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Bill Marchbank | Marchbank's Blueseum Image Gallery

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