Career : 1934 - 1944
Debut : Round 10, 1934 vs Collingwood, aged 20 years, 264 days
Carlton Player No. 513
Games : 155
Goals : 41
Last Game : Round 18, 1944 vs Footscray, aged 30 years, 314 days
Guernsey No 1
Height : 183 cm ( 6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 81.5 kg (12 stone, 12 lbs.)
DOB : October 23, 1913
Premiership Player 1938
At present, the names of five outstanding players adorn the door of the Carlton Football Club’s iconic number 1 locker at Princes Park. Four of them; Horrie Clover, Ken Hands, Serge Silvagni and Stephen Silvagni, were included in Carlton’s Team of the Century, whilst the fifth; Frank Anderson, would not have been out of place had he been selected to join them. A determined, vigorous footballer and a fine team player, Anderson came to Carlton in unusual circumstances in 1934 and stayed for a decade. Originally a forward, he later made his name in defence, where he was a star in Carlton’s 1938 Premiership victory over Collingwood. He represented Victoria against South Australia in 1941, and on three occasions finished runner-up in the Blues’ Best and Fairest award – by half a vote, one vote and two votes respectively.
Born in Murrumbeena, Anderson had begun making the sports pages of Melbourne’s newspapers in the early 1930’s as a promising key forward for Brunswick in the VFA. But in a shock move, he was sold by the cash-strapped Magpies to Carlton midway through 1934, without consultation, and without his knowledge. Despite that rude shock, Frank embraced his new surroundings, and officially became a Bluebagger as 19th man against Collingwood in a sensational match at Victoria Park in round 10 of that year. Anderson watched from the bench on that infamous Saturday afternoon as numerous brawls erupted, and ten players needed treatment for injuries. Collingwood won by five goals, but in the aftermath two boundary umpires and one goal umpire were suspended by the League for dereliction of duty in that they did not report obvious offences by Collingwood players.
After that, it only took another week for Anderson to show what he was capable of, when he was sent to full-forward in round 11, and kicked four goals against Essendon. He followed up with a dazzling six majors against Hawthorn the following week, as the Blues crushed the visiting Hawks by 79 points at Princes Park. Although Carlton wound up fifth on the ladder at season’s end and missed the finals, Anderson’s 19 goals in nine games was an eye-catching start to his VFL career.
In 1935, Carlton coach Frank Maher used Anderson in a variety of roles at both ends of the ground. It was soon obvious however, that he was particularly effective at half back, where his long kicks to position advantaged the likes of Charlie Davey and “Soapy” Vallence. Bouncing back into flag contention, the Blues finished third – only to fall to Richmond by 21 points in the first Semi Final, with Anderson stationed in a back pocket to mind the opposition’s resting ruckman in his first finals match.
By 1938, Anderson was a lynchpin of Carlton’s defence, where he created one of the all-time great half-back lines in combination with Bob Chitty and Jim Francis. This much-lauded trio, under captain-coach Brighton Diggins, provided a rock-solid platform for Carlton’s drive to the minor premiership, and ultimately, the old Dark Navy Blues’ sixth Grand Final triumph – by 15 points over Collingwood.
The advent of World War II in 1939 heralded another era of change for the VFL, when conflict across the globe was mirrored on the football field. Frank never took a backward step when push came to shove, and although he was reported eight times in his career, he was only suspended twice – for four weeks on both occasions. In another interesting sidelight, Anderson represented the VFL in a kicking competition against American servicemen stationed in Melbourne during the war. The contestants used both Australian footballs and American Gridiron balls, and Frank clearly beat all comers.
Following the triumph of 1938, Carlton waited another three seasons to play finals football again. Anderson maintained his consistency and was selected to represent Victoria against South Australia in Adelaide in 1941. Later that same year, the Navy Blues responded to their new coach Percy Bentley by claiming top place on the ladder, only to crash out of contention after successive finals defeats by Melbourne in the second Semi Final, and by Essendon in the Preliminary Final. Anderson, Bob Chitty and centre half-back Ken Baxter were all valiant in defeat for the Blues, in what turned out to be the last finals campaign of Anderson’s career.
Frank played his last match in navy blue in round 18, 1944, when Carlton hosted Footscray at Princes Park in a crucial match to decide which of the two sides would participate in the finals. The Blues led from the first bounce and were ahead by 17 points midway through the last term, but then began to tire. The Bulldogs rallied to kick three unanswered goals, and with less than a minute left, scores were level. Footscray's Harry Hickey then took a strong pack mark 50 metres out from goal, and as he walked back to take his kick, the final bell rang. Hickey unleashed a big drop-kick, and the Carlton crowd roared as Bob Chitty appeared to mark the ball right on the goal line. But the goal umpire - after consulting the field umpire - signalled a point, and tipped the Blues out of the finals. Carlton players were adamant that Chitty had taken the mark inside the field of play, but their protests fell on deaf ears.
Shortly afterwards, Anderson was farewelled from Princes Park with widespread respect and appreciation, on the way to rounding off his career back in the VFA as captain-coach of Preston in 1945-46. Barely 16 years later, Frank experienced the joy of watching his talented son Graeme take to the field in the first of his 79 matches for the Old Dark Navy Blues. He also had another son Robert Anderson who played U/19's and reserve grade football for Carlton from 1967 to 1969.
The photograph above is of Frank Anderson in his first season at Carlton. He passed away on the 6th March, 1997, aged 83.
Footnote: 1939 Carlton were in Sydney to play N.S.W. on July 29 on the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Sydney Morning Herald July 25, wrote about each Carlton player.
F. Anderson, 25 years of age, 6ft. 12st. 8lb. Half-back, is a brilliant mark and kick and one of the most brilliant half-backs playing.
Milestones50 Games: Round 15, 1937 Vs Nth Melbourne
100 Games: Round 11, 1940 Vs Richmond
150 Games: Round 9, 1944 Vs Nth Melbourne
Highlights1938 - Premiership Player
LinksBlueseum: Frank Anderson Picture Gallery | Every Picture tells a story - Signatures from 1935 | Summary of playing statistics for Frank Anderson
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