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How Bulldogs target Alvin found his way to Carlton


Tom Alvin was a cult hero during his 11-year career with Carlton.

It was mainly because of his luscious long locks, but he could also play footy very well.

Despite Bairnsdale being zoned to Footscray back in the day, Alvin somehow managed to work his way to Princes Park to play for the Blues.

He would go on to play 218 games in the navy blue and was a central figure in their 1987 premiership triumph.

But how did he get to Carlton in the first place?

It came about with help from his father who was quickly on the case to shut out Bulldogs recruiters who were looming ominously at the door.

“It’s a very long story so I’ll give you the shortened version,” Alvin said on SEN’s Bob & Andy.

“I followed Carlton as a young bloke, we knew some people and they came down.

“At one stage I had Carlton inside the house signing me up. I had Footscray outside the house and my old man kept on shutting the door on them!”

It has since become apparent that in those days the Blues were known to provide ‘extra’ incentives in order to lure talented players to the blue side.

“No, none of that,” Alvin insisted.

“I’m only from the country, I wasn’t one of those interstaters.”

There was talk that a history of baldness in the Alvin family was his main reason for attempting to hang onto what he had.

However, he admits there was a more sinister view.

“My father used to chase me around the block to take me down to the barbers for a crew cut,” he said about his lengthy lot of follicles.

“For years and years I grew my hair out trying to rebel and I kept it ever since.”

Alvin debuted for Carlton when he was almost 22 years of age, bypassing the traditional method of joining a club in the latter part of your teenage years.

He felt playing senior footy in his home town would hold him in good stead for a successful league career.

The Bulldogs had an interest in Alvin, and so did the Blues, but he opted to stick around before following a local legend to the big smoke prior to the 1984 season.

“I don’t think it was resisting, I just don’t think I was ever ready as a young bloke,” he said further.

“I needed to pay my dues a bit playing for Bairnsdale so that’s what I did.

“To be honest the only time I thought I could do it is when Brian Royal went down the year before and played with Footscray and did really well.

“That’s probably the only time the light flicked on. I thought, ‘Well, hang on, if Brian could do it maybe I’m a chance’.”

Alvin finished his career at VFL/AFL level in 1994 and was later inducted into Carlton’s Hall of Fame, wild mane and all.

Carlton Western Bulldogs

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