Almanac (Footy) Memoir: The day Bruce Doull waved at me


Bruce Doull recently turned 70. Thirty-five years ago, when Bruce was 35, I had the good chance to encounter the great man.


In the mid-80s I, along with my good mate Squiz, were the Phys Eders, yes that much lambasted profession in football, for the Carlton Under 19s. However, we weren’t the type of Phys Eders who limited the number of kicks a player could have at training or insisted on players coming off the ground after kicking a goal. We warmed the players up for training and matches, and ran the pre-season and in-season conditioning sessions for the squad. We were also the matchday runners though back then there was only one runner per team.


In the first year of our tenure, 1984, Trevor Keogh was the coach before Geoff Southby, ably assisted by David McKay, took the reins for the 1985 and 1986* seasons. All good Carlton men. Squiz and I didn’t have the heart to tell them, or anyone else at Princes Park, that Squiz was a South Melbourne supporter (he still hadn’t come to terms with the Bloods becoming Sydney) and I was a Richmond supporter. At the time Richmond was Carlton’s mortal enemy. It was only two years since Carlton had beaten Richmond in the ’82 Grand Final. Coincidentally Bruce Doull was involved in the incident which turned the match Carlton’s way. Well, in my mind and many other Richmond supporters it did, when during the third quarter Helen D’Amico streaked onto the field and tried to embrace Bruce Doull. It’s no coincidence Richmond didn’t kick a goal in the third quarter and then lost the match while leading up until that point. Despite the differing allegiances, the Carlton Under 19s were our club.


The main night at Carlton was Thursday night as both the seniors and Under 19s trained, though not together, and the teams were selected. After one winter July Thursday night training during the 1985 season I stuck around for the team gathering. After a few party pies and the announcement of the team, I headed out to my Datsun 120Y and noticed Bruce Doull was walking out behind me. Even though I had regularly seen Bruce around the club, which was logical given it was the Carlton Football Club, we hadn’t exchanged words or even raised eyebrows.


In the carpark, I turned the key in my 120Y and fired up all three working cylinders and meandered out into Royal Parade. A Datsun 120Y meanders at the best of times, so when it is really running as a 90Y, meander might be a generous description. Behind me, I noticed Bruce driving a Datsun 180B**. One day, I thought, I would love to drive a 180B. Oh, to be a famous footballer. Due to the significantly greater horsepower, Bruce started to pass me before I had adjusted the radio to 3LO and reached third gear. Next, and this is where I wish I had one of today’s cameras come smartphone rather than the Kodak Instamatic I did have, Bruce pulled level with me and waved. I waved back, but at the same time looked around to see if anyone else had witnessed what had happened; Bruce Doull, Carlton legend and man of very few words, had waved to me, Carlton Under 19s’ Phys Eder. Alas no one had and I was left to glow in my own joy of having Bruce Doull wave to me. I still do.


John Baker

The Chairman



*I left Carlton early in 1986, well before the season started, to work at the National Safety Council of Australia in Sale. That in itself was an interesting adventure.


**I’m pretty certain Bruce drove a Datsun 180B, but the travels of time might have clouded my memory.





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  1. A bit like being waved at by Buddha, eh John?

    Thoroughly enjoyed this.


  2. Kevin Densley says

    Maybe also a bit like an Easter Island statue giving you a wink!

    Nice piece!

  3. Timely piece – Bruce might figure prominently in my latest ‘1981 revisited’ piece. Can’t believe he’s 70!

  4. Much enjoyed

  5. Was Bruce wearing a head band when he waved? I can’t imagine him without one. Great yarn.

  6. Love it, John. Great stuff!

  7. Mark Poustie says

    John , great yarn thank you, 34 years after he retired Bruce remains my all time favorite player. 4 premierships, 4 B& F’s , Norm Smith medal, AFL team of the century. ” If there was a unit of measurement for reliability, it should be called a Doull “; Garrie Hutchinson 1983

  8. Peter Fuller says

    That is a precious memory for you to cherish.How characteristic that Bruce would drive a Datsun 180B. Less modest players were getting around in Mazda RX-7s or performance versions of Holdens and Fords and the like. It reminds me of the story during his early years at Princes Park when he was allocated No. 4. He asked for a higher number as his locker at 4 was too close to Big Nick (2) and he felt awkward there. He certainly made No. 11 revered.

  9. Middle Australia says

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. It was like the messiah acknowledging me. I think I did a triple head turn like in a cartoon. I can’t confirm if Bruce was wearing his headband but it wouldn’t have surprised me. A true legend of the game.

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