Local Footy: Carlson’s appointment revives Eagles

On the morning of Sunday 16 May, Paul Dodd, the coach of Victorian Amateur Football Association club Marcellin, responded to the Eagles’ fourth consecutive loss by 100 points in Premier Section by resigning at the club’s scheduled review meeting. That afternoon, Marcellin president Michael Howard scored a coup when he persuaded Leigh Carlson to take over.

Carlson had a highly regarded career as a wingman with Collingwood and Fitzroy before becoming an Amateurs coaching legend over a span of 15 years, leading Collegians to the 1992 and ’93 premierships and then coaching Old Trinity. For the past five years he’s enjoyed watching his sons Jarrod, now 25, and Trent, 22, play for Marcellin.

Carlson said he had no plans to resume coaching before Marcellin approached him. “The club asked me to help them out, so I did.”

Now 52, Carlson was deputy principal at Marcellin College for more than a decade before switching careers to become a property valuer a decade ago. His sons went to school at Marcellin.

Last week he made no great changes at the Eagles. He brought in his father-in-law, Ray Dean, to act as his right-hand man on the sidelines, a task Dean has performed throughout Carlson’s coaching career. Other than that, he simple asked the players for an honest effort.

The Eagles responded by leading Old Melburnians for most of their match at the Junction Oval on Saturday. With 10 minutes to go, Marcellin led by eight points and was on the brink of a mighty upset. OMs responded with a few late goals to steal a 15-point victory, but Carlson said he was proud of his players.

“They gave everything,” he said. “In the end, they had no petrol left.”

The Eagles’ best player was ruckman Tom Jones, the son of 1970s star Tony Jones. Jarrod Carlson, who is in the squad for the VAFA’s game against AFL Sydney over the Queen’s Birthday weekend, was among the Eagles’ best.

In other results in Premier Section, De La Salle scored the most significant victory, by 27 points over fellow top-four team University Blues at the University Oval. Tall forward Matt Moore continued his good form for De La with four goals.

Collegians remains unbeaten after defeating Old Scotch by 19 points at the Harry Trott Oval.

In Premier B, Old Ivanhoe lost its first game when it was thrashed by fifth-placed Old Haileybury by 57 points in a spirited encounter at Ivanhoe. Haileybury enjoyed strong leadership from former St Kilda pair Tony Brown and Brett Voss, who kicked four goals.

An inaccurate Ajax lost its first game in Premier C when it went down to Beaumaris by two points, 9.11 (65) to 8.15 (63), at Beaumaris.

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