Career : 1906-07, 1909-11
Debut : Round 4, 1906 vs Collingwood, aged 20 years, 224 days
Carlton Player No. 198
Games : 58
Goals : 14
Last Game : Semi Final, 1911 vs Essendon, aged 25 years, 336 days
Guernsey No. 5 (1911)
Height : 173 cm (5 ft. 8 in.)
Weight : 70 kg (11 stone)
DOB : 14 October, 1885
Premiership Player: 1907
Richard Leonard ‘Dick’ Harris, born in Carlton, spent almost two seasons as a capable defender for Carlton, before he was switched into attack to play at full-forward in the 1907 Premiership team.
Originally from Caulfield, in Melbourne’s south-east, Harris played senior football at VFA club North Melbourne, and five matches with Essendon in 1905. In 1906 he arrived at Princes Park, where he made his debut in navy blue in Carlton’s impressive 20-point win over Collingwood at Victoria Park in round 4. He was tried in a number of positions in his seven other games in Carlton’s fabulous first Premiership season, but he couldn’t command a place in either of our finals teams.
All that changed the following year, however, when Dick’s marked improvement coincided with Carlton coach Jack Worrall’s decision to play him as a regular defender. At his best in a back pocket, he became a quite capable stand-in full-back, with dash, concentration and long, accurate kicking as his assets.
When Carlton backed up the 1906 Premiership by finishing on top of the ladder in 1907 (two wins clear of South Melbourne), our Semi Final opponent was to be the erratic, yet sometimes brilliant St Kilda. Ever the innovator, Worrall surprised the Saints by naming Harris at full-forward, and shifting our regular spearhead, George Topping, sideways to the pocket.
The plan worked superbly, and Carlton slaughtered the Saints by 58 points. Harris bagged three goals, Topping got two, while Mick Grace top-scored with four majors from the other pocket. Needless to say, Worrall was thrilled with the way his new look forward line functioned, and so left it intact for the Grand Final against South Melbourne.
The Bloods - who had been equally as impressive as Carlton in their semi-final destruction of Collingwood – really served it up to the Blues from the first bounce on Grand Final day. Carlton led narrowly for most of the match however, and eventually won by just five points in a low-scoring thriller. Harris didn’t make the scoresheet, but Topping kicked three of Carlton’s six goals.
Sometime after the celebrations of our second flag eased off, Harris informed the club that he was hanging up his boots. Therefore, he wasn’t part of the Blues’ glorious three-in-a-row Premiership victory over Essendon in 1908. But twelve months later he had reconsidered and returned to Princes Park, where the emergence of a goal-scoring machine named Vin Gardiner sent Dick to the backline again.
Harris played just three matches in his comeback season in 1909, and was left out of all three of Carlton's finals teams. Aiming for a fourth flag, the Blues went so very close – eventually losing a fiercely-fought decider to South Melbourne by just two points.
Season 1910 was Harris’ best and most consistent at Carlton. Solid and reliable in the last line of defence all year, he ran out onto the MCG on the first day of October to play in his second career Grand Final against Collingwood. It was a tough, spiteful encounter, in which the Magpies proved too good by 14 points.
Harris had another solid year of football in 1911 – sadly, the same couldn’t be said of his team. Carlton sputtered into third place on the ladder, only to be outclassed by the eventual premiers Essendon in their semi-final. Of interest is that this final series was the first to allow official player numbers on club guernseys. Dick Harris was the inaugural wearer of our number 5 – in what turned out to be his last game for the Blues.
Dick left Princes Park after that, and joined St Kilda in 1912. Following his 58 games for Carlton, he gave the Saints equally good service in his 28 appearances for them in 1912-13.
Harris passed away on the 31st October, 1945 aged 60.
Milestones50 VFL Games: Round 6, 1911 Vs St Kilda
50 Carlton Games: Round 9, 1911 Vs Melbourne