Tom Dillon, who served the Carlton Football Club and his country through the dark days of the Second World War, has died in Melbourne at the age of 87.

Tom, who passed away at his home in Pascoe Vale on August 17, was the 577th senior player to have made his debut for the Blues. He was an uncle to Collingwood’s Shaw brothers, Ray, Tony and Neville and a great uncle to current players Rhyce and Heath.


Thomas Victor Dillon was born in Carlton on July 6, 1920. Initially acknowledged as a centreman, he represented the club mainly as a half-forward flanker in two stints in 1943 and 1946, for a total of 15 matches.

Tom enlisted for war service in December 1942, but still managed ten games through 1943, wearing the No.7 guernsey later made famous by the likes of Ted Hopkins, Wayne Johnston and the newly-appointed coach, Brett Ratten.

Tom, who made his debut against Richmond in the opening round of ’43, was also a member of the only Carlton team in history to play at Toorak Park – the fifth round match of that season against St Kilda.

On June 26, 1943, in what was the eighth round of the season against Fitzroy at Princes Park, Tom booted his first goal for the Blues. He was also reported and subsequently suspended for four matches for striking the Gorillas’ Les Hill, but as the case wasn’t heard until July 6, Tom turned out for the ninth round game against South Melbourne, contributing to a meritorious 30-point victory over the Bloods.

Tom served as a topographer in New Guinea for more than to years, until April 1946. On his return from wartime service, Tom strung together five senior games for Carlton in the No.32 later worn with distinction by Bryan Quirk, David Glascott and Bret Thornton.

As was the case in his first game, Tom sat out his last match for Carlton on the bench and never got a run.

Bryan Dillon said that his 84 year-old mother Mary, who will be in attendance for this Saturday’s match at The Dome, related a tale involving Tom and the late Richmond ruckman, “Captain Blood”, Jack Dyer.

“Mum told me recently that Jack Dyer once put one of our blokes over the fence so Dad had a crack at Jack . . . and Dad wasn’t a big bloke either,” Bryan said.

Bryan also remembered Stephen Kernahan introducing himself to Tom before a Carlton-Bulldogs match in Darwin two years ago. Tom and his wife Mary just happened to be holidaying in Darwin and thought they’d file through the turnstiles to see the game.

“Sticks” was very pleasant and said to him, ‘Don’t leave it so long until we see you next’,” Bryan said.

“Tom didn’t. At three quarter-time he strolled into the coach’s box.”

Although there is a strong Collingwood connection through the Shaws (as Tom’s sister Eileen is the mother of Ray, Tony and Neville) Bryan wanted it placed on record that “the Dillon family is one-eyed Carlton and we’ve never wavered”.

Tom Dillon is survived by his wife Mary, sons Geoffrey, Bryan and Mark, as well as daughters Patricia and Maureen, and 15 grandchildren and two great grandchildren who have all been told that if they don’t support the mighty Blues they will be ostracised.

Blueseum: Dillon's Blueseum Biography