Vin Gardiner and Fred Elliott; 1911..jpg Don't let the media trick you in to thinking that the only innovator in AFL history is the crazy ex-Coach of the Essendon Football Club, who was ultimately sacked for recruiting too many ex-Carlton players. The Carlton Football Club has always been at the forefront of innovation in football, some good - some bad, and we at the Blueseum have decided to highlight some of the innovations that the Blues have added to the game.

1. Some Very Important Firsts
2. The First Coach
3. Master Coach and Offsider
4. How to Break the Flood
5. Alternative Guernseys to make some cash
6. Coaching at Elevation
7...And some odd Pointers

1911 - Vin Gardiner first player to kick a goal wearing a numbered guernsey.

1. Some Important 'Firsts'....

...The First to 16 Flags...

...The first Norm Smith Medallist...
Carlton's Wayne Harmes became the first Norm Smith Medallist in a stirring performance in the 1979 Grand Final.

...The first goal in a numbered guernsey
Over 100 years ago, and after almost 15 years of VFL competition, Carlton and Essendon became the first two teams to wear guernsey numbers at AFL Level.

Essendon Champion and Captain Dave Smith had the honour of being the first player to wear the guernsey on the field, but it was our own Vin Gardiner who would kick the first goal in a guernsey number. That number? Guernsey 13.

Jack Worrall. 2. The first ever Senior Coach
The enormous contribution by Jack Worrall to both the Carlton Football Club and the VFL/AFL dates back to 1884, when he made his playing debut with Fitzroy to begin a much-vaunted on-field career that continued until 1893. During that time, he also played test cricket for Australia.

In 1902 he was appointed Carlton Secretary, but in fact was the first-ever coach of a VFL club. He was a brilliant leader, coaching the Old Dark Navy Blues in 144 games for 100 wins, 1 draw and 43 losses, including the 1906, 1907 and 1908 Premierships.

From his appointment in 1902, Worrall immediately lifted the team's performance, winning seven games for the season. Beforehand, the Blues had won only two games for the whole of 1901. He demanded strict discipline, teamwork and insisted that football and beer were a bad mix. His tough methods alienated some within the club, but further improvement was made in 1903 when Carlton won 11 of its 17 games.

By 1904, Carlton was the favourite to take out the flag, until the club sensationally sacked Worrall due to irregularities in his accounting methods - even though there was no accusation of dishonesty on his part. Despite finishing second, the club would lose the Grand Final to Fitzroy. However, the players backed Worrall, and after a winning a vote against the club's old guard, he was reinstated for 1905. The bickering affected the club's performance, and the Blues finished third after losing to eventual premiers Fitzroy in the Preliminary Final.

Worrall would taste great success, leading the Blues to become the first club to win three consecutive flags between 1906 and 1908.

2001 - David Parkin article (28/02/01).
3. A Mentoring Senior Coach?
The Carlton Football Club appeared to be breaking new ground in 2001 when Wayne Brittain took over from Carlton Legend, David Parkin, as senior Coach. But what made this special was that Parkin would remain at the Club in a Senior Role, providing guidance to the young Brittain.

The idea had merit - it provided the chance for the legendary Parkin to gradually hand over the reins, whilst augment his Coaching with some modern day nous. It also allowed the young Brittain a tranisitionary period, perhaps required given it was well known that he hadn't played at the top level before.

2001 came and went - a spate of injuries occurred at the wrong time, but perhaps we'd already missed the boat with our strong 2000. 2002 was a different story however...

The Master Coach / Offsider scenario was considered by the Collingwood Football Club for Season 2012 when the Mick Malthouse / Nathan Buckley tag team were put forward as Director of Coaching / Senior Coach. Mick retired after the 2011 Grand Final, leaving this episode of 'thinking outside the centre square' still only a part of Carlton folklore.

4. Breaking the Flood - Pick up the Little Guy?2001 - Parkin wanted to use Lappin in rugby style lineouts (09/05/01).
In the early first decade of the 21st century, the Footy Press - and the Coaches - were trying to break the flood. Some teams would play 18 man defences and basically just try to choke their opposition, before scoring on the fast break.
5 Lappin 1999.jpg
Carlton Legend David Parkin was heard to mutter something about the ability to hoist a player up in the air much like a Rugby Union line-out in order to take the 'assisted' contested mark.

Some would scoff.

But there was a 'Skinny' player up forward who may have been easy to lift?

Incidentally, footy folklore tells us that another team (in another time) had actually tried something along these lines. The story goes that Footscray's Simon Beasley had a shot for goal from the boundary line after the siren to win in Round 7, 1988. The Bears' built a mini-pyramid on the mark, with Mike Richardson sitting on the shoulders of Matthew Campbell on the mark in a move which prompted the AFL to change the rules. Also, as Beasley prepared to take his kick, hundreds of spectators invaded the ground and did their utmost to put him off. Umpire Bryan Sheehan later admitted he'd threatened to award a 15m penalty against the home side, which would have put Beasley in the square, but eventually Beasley took his kick and missed.

The Bears won by 1 point. Among the kids on the ground was Michael Voss. Footscray General Manager Dennis Galimberti questioned whether the Bears' security priorities were VIPs or players. "The Bears have a number of people guarding this pavilion. Perhaps they should divert some of those to crowd control and re-think their priorities. It is like Ford Knox trying to get inside for a beer, but when an opposition player is having a shot for goal the security go missing," he said.

5. An Alternative Guernsey?
1997 - Blues; why they're smarties (19/03/97).
These days, AFL Clubs might retain an 'away' or 'alternative' guernsey (or both) - ostensibly to aid the players in recognising their teammates, but practically just as a revenue earner.
Ratten in M&M Guernsey.jpg
'Back in the day', the Carlton Football Club was arguably the clear leader in 'revenue earning' in the AFL and devised a way to earn a cool $250,000 for wearing a special, one-off light blue guernsey.

The 'reward' took the form of a sponsorship from Mars Confectionary, the maker of M&M's. M&M were launching the new colour and the chance to get the famous Old Dark Navy Blues to trigger a frenzy in the press was too good to pass up. So there we were, running out on the pristine green ground of Optus Oval for Round 3, 1997 against the Crows, in an evil sky-blue!

Of course these days different guernseys are common-place. Since that time, not only has Carlton (among others) selected away guernseys, but other Clubs have also considered one-off sponsorship deals. Who could forget "Whiskas" playing down at Geelong?

6. Coaching at Elevation
1969 - Ron Barassi. For those who came to footy in the 1980's, 1990's or later, it was customary to see your AFL Coach take his position up in a Box and coach from the stands. So much so that the Channels began to put a camera above the box so you could have a good laugh at Rodney Eade or Mark Williams cracking it at their team.

It may surprise many to know that this trend started in the 1960's and was led by the great Ronald Dale Barassi (see inset), a trailblazer of many themes in modern day footy.

It may not surprise you to see some Coaches return to the pre-1960's style, including our very own Brett Ratten who near the end of Season 2010 began to return to the boundary.

It seemed to work for him!!!

7. And some odd ones....

a. The Blues are the first and only club thus far to win a Grand Final yet kick fewer goals than the opposition.... See 1968!