Career : 1911 - 1918
Debut: Round 2, 1911 vs. Sth Melbourne, aged 23 years, 154 days
Carlton Player No. 252
Games : 116
Goals : 91
Last Game: Semi Final, 1918 vs. Sth Melbourne, aged 20 years, 271 days
Guernsey Nos. 17 (1911), 18 (1912), 6 (1912 - 1914) and 4 (1915 - 1918)
Height : 168 cm (5 ft. 6 in.)
Weight : 71.3 kg (11 stone, 3 lbs.)
DOB : 3 December, 1887
Premiership Player: 1915
Club Coach : 1919
Life Member of the Carlton Football Club
Originally from Tasmania, where he played for the Launceston, Latrobe and Mersey clubs, Vivian Guy Valentine forged a fine career at Carlton in the years leading up to World War 1. Once famously described as ‘a moving mass of muscularity’, he was a classy, vigorous rover who excelled in wet and heavy conditions. His low-to-the-ground running style, his sheer tenacity, and his neat disposal skills made him one of the great rovers of his time. Valentine represented Northern Tasmania against Collingwood in 1906, he also played in the North Vs South representative clash in 1907.
Valentine was recruited by Carlton in 1911, after the Blues’ talent scouts were highly impressed by the way he inspired Mersey to an upset win over TFL champions Cananore in 1910. Thanks to the VFL’s newly-adopted Rule 29, which stated; ‘players shall play as open and undisguised professionals’ he became one of the first imports to shatter the hypocrisy surrounding professionalism in Victorian Rules Football.
Viv made his debut for Carlton against South Melbourne at Princes Park in round two of 1911. Playing as first rover, 23 year-old Valentine delighted everyone with his maturity when a tough contest ended in a draw. He played another 14 games in the home and away rounds, and continued to do so well that he was selected in that year’s Victorian Carnival side.
In September, he was given his first taste of elite-level finals football when Carlton finished third on the VFL ladder, and met Essendon in a Semi Final before more than 40,000 people at a packed MCG. Individual player numbers were officially worn in a VFL game for the first time that day, and in navy blue number 17, Valentine rose to the occasion superbly. Although Essendon won the match by 21 points, Viv was the almost unanimous choice as Best on Ground. His team had fallen at the first finals hurdle, but Valentine could scarcely have been more impressive in his debut season for the Blues.
Viv switched to guernsey number 18 in 1912, and continued to build a reputation as a big-occasion performer. He played all but one game that year, was selected in the Victorian state side again, and helped drive the Blues into another finals series. A convincing semi-final win over Geelong raised all Carlton supporters’ hopes, before Essendon – guided by former Carlton triple Premiership coach Jack Worrall - tipped the Blues out the Preliminary Final by four points.
In 1913, Carlton faltered and missed the finals, but recovered to sweep back into flag contention the following year. While the threat of a looming war in Europe cast a shadow over all sporting events in 1914, the Blues marched through the season as one of the flag favourites. That was until round 18, when Valentine succumbed to a leg injury that had troubled him all season, and was ruled out for the remainder of the year. It was a big blow to Carlton’s flag aspirations, but coach Norman Clark judiciously rotated his small men throughout the finals matches, and the Blues won a classic Grand Final against South Melbourne by just one straight kick.
Valentine’s career peaked in 1915, when he switched guernseys again - to number 4 - and at last claimed the ultimate prize of a VFL Premiership. Carlton wound up the home and away rounds second on the ladder to Collingwood, but looked ahead to the finals battles with well-founded confidence. Inspired by the dominant ruck combination of Charlie Hammond and Viv Valentine, the Blues swept aside Melbourne, Fitzroy and Collingwood in successive weeks, and claimed our fifth flag in emphatic style.
By 1916, World War 1 was at its fearsome peak, and Australia’s all-out effort in support of Great Britain created shortages of men and material goods of all kinds. The VFL shrank to a four-team combination, and even those clubs (Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond and Fitzroy) struggled to stay afloat. As usual however, Valentine starred for the Blues yet again in a three depleted, yet intense finals matches that saw Fitzroy take the flag by 29 points over an injury-hit Carlton. Fitzroy also accounted for the Blues in 1917, winning a spiteful semi-final by nine points at the MCG.
Twelve months later – and just 11 days before the Armistice was signed to end the war – Viv Valentine played his last game for the Blues in Carlton’s 1918 semi-final loss to eventual Premiers South Melbourne at the MCG. He bowed out in typical fashion, boring into the packs and winning the hard ball, in a cliff-hanger of a match that South eventually won by 5 points.
In 1919, Viv was appointed coach of the Carlton Football Club. This earned him another niche in VFL history, as the first Tasmanian to hold a senior VFL coaching position. In a strengthened nine-team competition, Carlton finished third after the regular season, only to bow out of flag contention by losing another hard-fought semi-final to Collingwood by 18 points.
After that one season at the helm of the Blues, Viv Valentine returned to Tasmania, where he resumed his association with grass-roots football for many years. Justifiably proud of his achievements at Carlton, he passed away - aged 80 - on August 7, 1967.
Milestones50 Games: Round 15, 1913 Vs St Kilda
100 Games: Round 6, 1917 Vs Fitzroy
LinksArticles: Viv Valentine - An Early Tasmanian Football Legend
Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Viv Valentine | Coaches | Valentine's Blueseum Image Gallery
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