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Mighty 'Mouse'

Jack Carney


Career : 1936 - 1941
Debut : Round 1, 1936 vs Fitzroy, aged 27 years, 100 days
Carlton Player No. 524
Games : 163 (84 at Carlton)
Goals : 10 (6 at Carlton)
Last Game : Round 15, 1941 vs North Melbourne, aged 32 years, 199 days
Guernsey No. 7
Height : 160 cm (5 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 62 kg (9 st. 6 lbs.)
DOB : 22 January, 1909
Premiership Player: 1938


Another truly remarkable character in the rich history of the Old Dark Navy Blues was John Richard (Jack) Carney. At just 160 cm and 62 kg – or 5 feet, 3 inches and 9 stone, 6 pounds – Carney was so small that throughout his career he had to have his football boots custom-made in junior or children’s sizes. But Jack’s diminutive stature didn’t prevent him from playing more than 150 games of VFL football (including Premierships at two clubs) or from gaining a reputation as one of the most dynamic and courageous wingers of his generation.

What Carney lacked in size, he more than made up for with courage, skill and electrifying pace – particularly over those vital first five metres. Renowned for his consistency in big matches, he was a star in Geelong’s 1931 flag side and had represented Victoria before he transferred his allegiance to Carlton in 1936.

By then answering to the nickname ‘Mickey’ or ‘Mouse’ (or both) he was Best on Ground in his debut match for Carlton against Fitzroy in round one of that season at the Brunswick St Oval. Dominating his side of the ground all afternoon, Carney continually pumped the ball into attack for the ecstatic Blues. Full-forward ‘Soapy’ Vallence made the most of the opportunities created, booting 7 goals in a 76-point victory romp. And it was the same again the following week, when Essendon were hammered by 102 points at Princes Park. Carlton’s centre line of Carney, Keith Shea and Bob Green controlled the middle of the oval from the first bounce, providing Vallence with another big haul of nine goals.

However, while that first season with Carlton began auspiciously for ‘Mouse’, it ended in disappointment after an upset loss to Melbourne in one Semi Final. While Carney, Ron Cooper and Jack Hale were valiant in defeat, the inaccurate Blues fell short by 9 points, and were bundled out of flag contention. Worse still, injury early in his second season restricted Jack to only eight appearances, as Carlton slipped to fifth place on the ladder.

In 1938, Carlton’s persistent pursuit of former South Melbourne champion Brighton Diggins paid off handsomely, when the inspirational ruckman captain-coached the Blues to a glorious upset Grand Final triumph over Collingwood. That long-awaited flag victory – Carlton’s first since 1915 - was preceded by a sensational incident after Carlton’s previous clash with the Magpies at Victoria Park in May. Collingwood controlled the match for three quarters, and were comfortably in front early in the last term, before Carlton launched a spectacular comeback that over-ran the black and whites by 16 points at the final bell.

As the teams left the field, Collingwood captain Harry Collier and Carney exchanged heated words, before Collier punched ‘Mouse’ to the ground, turned and walked away. Inevitably, he was cited by the judiciary, found guilty, and suspended for a whopping 14 matches. Collingwood sorely missed him on Grand Final day, as Carlton’s following division, and their pacy centreline of Green, ‘Mickey’ Crisp and Carney, gradually exerted their authority. Carlton duly celebrated VFL Premiership number six, with a 15-point margin that flattered the losers.

As things panned out, that was to be Jack Carney’s last finals match. While World War II began in Europe, the Blues finished fifth on each occasion in 1939 and 1940. They were soon back on track for September action again however, just as Jack announced his retirement from senior football after round 15, 1941. Happily, his team responded as they should have, and sent him off with a 52-point thrashing of North Melbourne.

Not long after taking off his number 7 guernsey for the last time that afternoon, Jack enlisted for service with the RAAF. He was trained as an aircraft mechanic, and served out the war until his discharge in 1946. As soon as possible after that, he came back to Princes Park to begin the second phase of his invaluable association with the Carlton Football Club.

Over the next forty years, ‘Mouse’ selflessly served the Navy Blues – principally as team manager or coach of the Reserves, and in a liaison role between the players and the administration of the club. Among the many young men from all over the country who benefited from the care and consideration of Jack Carney, was future Carlton Premiership player and President, Ian Collins. In later years, ‘Collo’ regularly spoke of coming to Princes Park from Sale in 1961, to be warmly welcomed, reassured and befriended by ‘Mouse’ Carney.

A man revered at both Geelong and Carlton as much for his wholehearted love of the game as his ability and determination while playing it, Jack Carney passed away in October 1981, at the age of 72.

Carney was recruited by Geelong from Colac, and was born at Ondit (Beeac).

Harry Collier explains "Why I potted Jack Carney"


Collier admits hitting Jack Carney after the final siren.
To read, click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23428620

Milestones

100 Games (VFL): Round 16, 1937 vs St Kilda
50 Games (Carlton): Round 8, 1939 vs Collingwood
150 Games (VFL): Round 15, 1940 vs Melbourne

Articles: That Other Great War - Carlton v Collingwood

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Jack Carney | Carney's Blueseum Image Gallery

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