Former Carlton rover John Heathcote has died in Queensland at the age of 74.
heathcote-300.jpg
Recruited from Ulverstone in northwest Tasmania, Heathcote was the 716th player to have represented Carlton at senior level. He turned out in 69 matches for the Blues between 1958 and 1962 - the first of them on Saturday, April 26, 1958 - in what was the round 3 match with Geelong at Princes Park.

Though The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers lists Heathcote’s date of birth as January 23, 1935, family members have since confirmed that he was actually born on January 23, 1934 – but was advised to quote the former to assist with his clearance to his beloved Blues.

Named in a forward pocket for his first game, Heathcote completed his senior debut with John Benetti and Len Cottrell. Amongst the members of that starting 20 was Carlton captain the late Bruce Comben, John Nicholls, Denis Zeunert and Chris Pavlou.

“John started out at Carlton the same year as me,” Pavlou said. “He came over at a time when Carlton was trying to build its ‘Mosquito Fleet’ . . . there was John, Bruce Williams, Barry Smith and myself. We were part of that next group, as players like John Chick and Graham Gilchrist were on their way out.

“John was a terrific little player. He was a short, stocky rover and his great asset was his pace. He teamed well with Graham Donaldson, and later, ‘Big Nick’. I’m not sure why he left Carlton, but he might have got a little homesick.
J Heathcote.jpg
“This is very sad news. John was a real family man and a true gentleman who made friends very easily over here, and everyone at Carlton thought highly of him.”

Heathcote’s on-field career had its origins at Penguin in the North West Football Union. He later joined rival club Ulverstone, under the charge of captain-coach and (formerly) Carlton’s 1950 best and fairest player the late Arthur Hodgson.

Heathcote represented Hodgson’s all-conquering Robins in their premiership seasons of 1955, ’56 and ’57, before heading to Royal Parade.

Wearing the No.37 Navy Blue guernsey later made famous by the game’s inaugural Norm Smith Medallist Wayne Harmes, Heathcote ended his maiden season of ’58 with 19 goals to top the club’s goalkicking list.

On his return to the Apple Isle from Carlton in 1963, Heathcote captained and coached Burnie to state premiership honours.

About ten years ago, Heathcote and his wife of 52 years, Valerie, relocated to the Sunshine Coast. Though he had battled with illness for the past 12 months, Heathcote’s love for his old club never waned, and family members have described how thrilled he was to have received recent correspondence from Carlton Senior Coach Brett Ratten.

Heathcote is survived by Valerie, son Malcolm, daughters Roslyn and Dianne, five grandchildren and a recently-born great grand child.

Blueseum: Heathcote's Blueseum Image Gallery