Career : 1975 -1979
Debut : Round 17, 1975 vs Hawthorn, aged 23 years, 290 days
Carlton Player No. 855
Games : 123 (46 at Carlton)
Goals : 179 (100 at Carlton)
Last Game: Round 21, 1979 vs Collingwood, aged 27 years, 320 days
Guernsey No. 17
Height : 194 cm (6 ft. 4½ in.)
Weight : 92 kg (14 stone, 7 lbs.)
DOB : October 9, 1951
Leading Goalkicker: 1978
Rodney “Spook” Galt was an athletic, talented ruckman-forward recruited by Carlton from St. Kilda in 1975. Although he ended up playing a combined total of 123 games with the Blues and the Saints, it must be said that he was never the most committed individual at either club, and his somewhat lackadaisical attitude caused frustration throughout his career. But if Galt’s football journey was not particularly rewarding, it was certainly varied.
Nicknamed “The Ghost” or “Spook” because of his slim build, pale complexion and shock of white-blonde hair, Galt was recruited by St Kilda from bayside Beaumaris in 1971. He was a minor sensation in his first season, and after an impressive finals series in which St Kilda fought their way right through to the Grand Final (only to fall to Hawthorn by 7 points) one newspaper dubbed him "the new Carl Ditterich.”
However, the inconsistency that would plague his career soon appeared, and by the end of 1974 the Saints had had enough. They kept him on their list, but sent him to play in Darwin for the first few months of 1975 while they decided his future. When he was recalled mid-year, he was informed that his contract had been purchased by Carlton, and from that point on he was a Blue.
Wearing the number 17 guernsey recently discarded by Brent Crosswell on his way to North Melbourne, Galt played his first senior match for his new club against Hawthorn at Princes Park in round 17, 1975 - a cracker of a contest that Carlton lost by just 4 points. Despite that narrow margin, Galt was left out of the team the following week, and spent the rest of the year with the Reserves.
He began 1976 impressively; booting three goals and rucking strongly in Carlton’s big win over Collingwood at Princes Park in round 1. Another five matches in a row followed, before he was omitted again and managed just one more senior appearance by year’s end. In 1977 he fared little better. After playing three of the first six games, he was sent back to the seconds again and his future with the Blues looked bleak – until another chain of events began in June of that year, when he and three other senior-listed Blues were briefly “loaned” to a struggling Bendigo League club for one match.
The team concerned was Kennington, who hadn’t won a game all year. On the brink of disbanding, they were about to face the undefeated ladder-leaders Eaglehawk and were praying for a miracle. At the time the Bendigo area was Carlton’s prime recruitment zone, so the Carlton committee decided to give Kennington a hand by strengthening them with four senior-listed Blues for the match. Rod Galt, Gary Conn, Peter Halsall and Lou Chiodo all duly played in the game, but Eaglehawk still won easily.
After that, Galt was on the move again – this time to Western Suburbs in Sydney, where his presence was more telling. He settled into life in the Harbour City, rediscovered his best form, and topped off a memorable few months by dominating the Grand Final. Western Suburbs kicked 14.15 to North Shore’s 5.2 in the second half of that Premiership decider, with Galt clearly best on ground in leading his team to a comprehensive victory.
Perhaps it was that performance that saved his VFL career, or maybe an ultimatum was put to him by the Blues. Whatever it was that transpired over the summer of 1977-78, it certainly worked – because “Spook’ re-emerged as a league footballer and had by far his best season. Playing as an almost permanent forward pocket, his height and aerial skills were tough to counter, and his accuracy in kicking for goal was deadly. In a purple patch of form between rounds 9 and 12, 1978, Galt kicked three bags of six goals each, as Carlton bounced back from a poor year in '77 to once again qualify for the finals in fourth spot on the ladder.
Enjoying his first VFL final since leaving St Kilda, Spook booted three goals in the Blues’ good win over Geelong in the ‘78 Elimination Final, and notched another three the following week when Carlton’s season concluded with a loss to Collingwood in the first Semi. In the process, he finished the year with an aggregate of 49 majors to take out Carlton’s Leading Goal-kicker award, and paved the way for a shift to full-forward the following year.
Galt began his fifth season at Carlton in 1979 in good form, kicking 16 goals in his first five games at the spearhead, only to taper off again mid-season - amid rumours of clashes with his captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko. While the Blues carried all before them en route to the minor Premiership and ultimately, Carlton’s twelfth flag, Spook found himself playing Reserves football again. He was recalled for another handful of games late in the year, but he couldn’t recapture the spark of ’78 and his career came to an end after Collingwood inflicted a 19-point defeat on Jezza’s Blues at Victoria Park in round 21.
When he was released by Carlton at the end of that year, Galt was lured to West Torrens in the SANFL by South Australian legend Neil Kerley. He spent five more seasons with the Eagles, before returning to Victoria to play one last year of football in the VFA with Prahran.
In the years after his football exploits were consigned to history, Rodney Maxwell Galt embarked on a hugely-successful business career. As the Managing Director of surfwear manufacturer and retailer Byrning Spears, he built the company into one of the country’s biggest national brands, and made headlines in 2008 when he and his wife purchased the most expensive beachfront mansion in Surfers Paradise for a record $17 million. In those heady days, you could often find them at the Gold Coast Turf Club, cheering on their thoroughbred racehorse; Carlton Forward.
Milestones100 Games (VFL): Round 15, 1978 vs Melbourne
100 Goals (VFL): Round 9, 1978 vs North Melbourne
100 Goals (Carlton): Round 21, 1979 vs Collingwood