WHEN Brendon Bolton takes his place in the box at Launceston’s York Park on Sunday, he upholds a coaching tradition first set by a former Carlton Premiership player 100 years ago. For Bolton has an incredible kindred connection by marriage to the Launceston-born Viv Valentine – the Blues’ hard-edged rover in the drought-breaking 1915 Grand Final triumph over Collingwood, who in accepting Carlton’s senior coaching position four years later became the first Tasmanian to coach at senior VFL level.

Bolton’s wife Louisa is the daughter of Peter Valentine, whose grandfather Horace was Viv’s brother. This week, Peter - who turns 70 this year - offered fascinating personal insight into the old man that he knew and of his seismic family influence. “Viv was the youngest brother of eight, one of whom was my grandfather Horace. Viv had no sons and had a very close relationship with my father Eric,” Peter said this week.

“After he retired from footy, Viv would regularly come over from Melbourne to Tassie and visit his mate Harry Coventry (with whom he and Melbourne’s Ivor Warne-Smith played footy at Latrobe) and he also caught up with us in Hobart.

“I can vividly recall, from the age of seven through to my early teens, of going to the park on numerous occasions to have a kick with Uncle Viv. He was in his 70s then, but he’d still knock me over with stab passes on either foot – he was one of the original ‘two footers’ in the game.

“Uncle Viv’s two takeaway messages were: ‘You’re only half a footballer if you kick with one foot’ and ‘Regardless of how good a player you are, at least look like a footballer with your guernsey tucked into your shorts and your socks pulled up’.”
1915 Team
1915 Carlton Premiership team. Viv Valentine sits with his legs crossed at the bottom left.

Peter also talked of another Valentine connection with Bolton in that Peter’s father Eric represented North Hobart in its Grand Final-winning team of 1947, whilst Bolton led the Tasmanian Demons to their last Premiership as Captain-Coach in 2003.

But back to Uncle Viv and Carlton, and Peter recalled that when Bolton first assumed coaching duties with Box Hill in 2009, “I told him that this was his apprenticeship to go to Carlton where he should be”.

“On his (Bolton’s) first day at Carlton I went out to the Club and was photographed with him and his son Ned sitting in front of Viv Valentine’s No.4 locker.

“On another occasion, the late Wes Lofts gave me a Carlton guernsey because I told him I was related to Viv Valentine.”

Notwithstanding his coaching record, Viv Valentine is consigned to Tasmanian football history as the Apple Isle’s first VFL on-field “import” under Rule 29, which stated that “players shall play as open and undisguised professionals”.

Viv Valentine with his wife Olive, daughter Peggy and son Geoffrey. Viv and Peggy exchanged marital vows in 1920, with best man the 1914 Carlton Premiership captain Billy Dick.

After boarding the boat across Bass Strait in late 1910, he would find his niche at Princes Park and represent his club with distinction (as “a moving mass of muscularity” to quote a reporter of the day) in 116 matches before coaching the team to fourth in his maiden season at the helm in 1919 – the same year he coached a Victorian XVIII and was awarded Carlton Football Club Life Membership.

Years later, he was posthumously inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.

Come Sunday at York Park, the Boltons will be there in numbers – amongst them Brendon’s mother and father and of course his wife and in-laws for whom Valentine’s Day takes on a vastly different meaning.

Season 1915 | Viv Valentine