With news filtering through that Kade Simpson is to ditch his sizeable beard in support of the noble cause of Down Syndrome Victoria, time is of the essence in celebrating Carlton’s facial-haired heroes.

After much time and effort (few beards could be found in any Carlton team photographs from the 1890s through the 1960s), a 22-man team of Bluebeards dating as far back as the 1860s, has been selected for your personal enjoyment and edification.

And it’s a team that quite literally grows on you.

Amongst the bearded best is Jack Donovan, Carlton’s captain and the competition’s Champion of the Colony in the pre-VFL years of the 1870s, together with Henry Finch Rix, who was part of an outstanding outfit which took out the Premiership hat trick of 1873, ’4 and ’5.

Donovan’s actual playing position cannot be verified, but he slots nicely into the first ruck role given the following prose of a journalist of the late 1880s who so eloquently wrote:

“There are many thousands of the community who will well remember the days when,

Donovan stout, with a mighty rush,

Through the serried ranks of the foe would crush,

Leaving behind in a shapeless mass

A dozen of coves on the slippery grass.”

Donovan, Rix and the good Alderman John “Tiger” Gardiner are welcome inclusions from the early days, as are the bushy-faced Blueboys of the VFL/AFL era. Making the cut (pardon the pun) from this period are no fewer than nine Carlton premiership players - Rod Ashman, Peter Bosustow, Bob Chitty, Brent Crosswell, Bruce Doull, Wayne Harmes, Robbert Klomp, Brad Pearce and Robert Walls, the club captain of 1977-78 and Premiership coach of 1987.

Named captain-coach of the coveted Bluebeard outfit, Walls was staggered to learn that a 22-man team could actually be sourced . . . “and I’m very proud to be captain-coach”, he dryly suggested.

“I went with the full beard around the mid-1970s,” Walls said. “It was something that just grew over Christmas holidays and when I let it go for four or five weeks I thought ‘Oh I’ll just let it go’. So if I had to put it down to anything I’d say it was just laziness.

“I stuck with it for about 27 years until 2002 when I opted for the goatee. I remember I was in Ireland on one of those International Rules tours and for some reason I thought ‘Oh bugger it, I’ll shave part of the beard off and go with the goatee’.”

Walls said he had looked back on photographs of Carlton teams he had coached “and I’m the only bloke wearing a beard”.

“But after a while, nobody takes any notice,” Walls said. “It just becomes part of you.”

Current players Zach Tuohy, Andrew Walker and of course “Simmo” are there, with Zach earning bragging rights as the only bearded Blue with a “ginge tinge”.

Ashman, Doull and Walls made Carlton’s 22-man Team of the 20th Century, with Bob Chitty named as one of four emergencies.

Doull and Harmes are also Norm Smith Medallists, with Doull the only bearded member of the AFL Team of The Century’s starting 18.

Pearce beard.jpg

Brad Pearce, pictured here with Peter Turner and Scott Camporeale in the mid-1990s. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

It must also be said that some licence has been taken with the inclusion of Chitty, who sported his gargantuan facial growth for the plum role of Ned Kelly in Rupert Kathner’s film feature The Glenrowan Affair, which was shot on location in Benalla in the late 1940s.

So here it is – a 22 of bearded Blues who would undoubtedly beat most clean-shaven opponents by a whisker.

Best 22 Bluebeards

Backs: Robbert KlompGeoff HockingGreg Sharp
Half-backs:Zach TuohyBruce DoullBob Chitty
Centres:Kade SimpsonWayne HarmesAlan Mangels
Half-forwardsPeter BosustowRobert Walls (c-c)Brent Crosswell
Forwards:Brad PearceAndrew WalkerBrad Fisher
Rucks:Jack DonovanBrad Shine
Rover:Rod Ashman
i/change:Denis CollinsMark WilliamsWayne Deledio
sub:Henry Rix
President:John “Tiger” Gardiner


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