Foreward by Jamie Sanderson

The Blueseum would like to extend it's deep condolences to Ralph Madge's family. Ralph holds a special place at the Blueseum as it was a conversation with Ralph in the social club during the final game at Princes Park in 2005 which inspired the idea for the Blueseum. Ralph on the day entertained me with many stories during the day about his time as timekeeper for the Blues. It was on that day I realised how rich the history of this club really is and the idea to make a permanent online record of as much of it as possible was born.

Thanks Ralph, you made a difference to this bluebagger.


By Tony De Bolfo

Carlton’s long-serving senior timekeeper Ralph Madge, fondly remembered as the man with his finger on the button, has died after a short illness at the age of 88.

Awarded life membership of the club in 1984, Madge served as senior timekeeper for almost a quarter of a century . . . and his timing, not surprisingly, was impeccable.

A Fitzroy supporter in his early years, Ralph Theodore Madge’s connection with Carlton was first forged through the club’s reserve grade team manager Bert Thomas, a next door neighbor.

The story goes that Thomas invited Madge to Princes Park to officiate as property steward after the sudden death of Norm Cattanach in 1966. In that first year, Madge leant his support to reserves coach Jack Carney.

Image According to son Greg, “Dad gave it a bash for a year”, then assumed duties from George Smith as Senior Timekeeper in 1967. It was a position Madge held until 1990 when Max Harvey took over, and it took in seven Carlton Grand Final victories - 1968, ’70 (when the final siren sounds incessantly in a mad Madge moment), ’72, ’79, ’81-’82 and ’87.

“Dad kept a collection of time cards from each of those Grand Finals, which he had each of the officiating field umpires sign. He had them framed in the end because he always thought of them as important,” Greg said.

“I must admit that I rode on Dad’s coat tails in those early days at Carlton. I got to sit in the old wooden press box by the Gardiner Stand where the timekeeper was, and I got to see the new faces like Alex Jesaulenko and Brian Kekovich.”

Greg described his father as “a fairly forthright character who spoke his mind and told you what he thought of you . . . and he had an incredible wit”.

“For him, Carlton was all about devotion. In time he forgot his history of being a Fitzroy supporter as a kid,” Greg said.

“I must admit I felt a bit bad when he said ‘Son, I’m going to retire soon, you don’t want to be Carlton’s new timekeeper do you?’ . . . I said to him ‘I’d rather be runner to be perfectly honest’.”

Max Harvey, Madge’s eventual successor as timekeeper, remained at the helm as Carlton timekeeper until the AFL took control on the night of the famed Millennium match at the MCG.

“I found Ralph very kind and very helpful . . . he certainly was to me anyway,” Harvey said.

“He could be pedantic about things in terms of getting them right, particularly in respect of timekeeping, but it’s all changed.

“It’s all run by the AFL now, but back then the timekeepers were employed by the clubs, so you could pull a bit of wool over the other bloke’s eyes in a tight game. A bit of that went on, and that was the way it was - you were a club timekeeper so you were extremely loyal to the club.”

Ralph Madge died the day before Carlton’s resounding elimination Final victory over Essendon. He is survived by his wife Jean, sons Greg and Bruce, daughter Robyn and their spouses, and seven grandchildren.