Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Bruce Calverley

Known as
Bruce Calverley

21 January 1918

14 May 1961 (aged 43)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 221d
Last game: 27y 118d

Height and weight
Height: 168 cm
Weight: 68 kg

Senior clubs

Jumper numbers
Fitzroy: 20

Family links
Des Calverley (Brother)Graham Calverley (Nephew)Ray Calverley (Nephew)

Bruce Calverley

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV

AFL: 4,443rd player to appear, 2,661st most games played, 3,454th most goals kickedFitzroy: 506th player to appear, 128th most games played, 211th most goals kicked

Bruce Calverley may have had the stature of a rover — and a smal one at that (168cm, 68kg) — but it was as a dashing wingman that he made his name in 89 games at Fitzroy, including the most memorable of all, the Gorillas' 1944 Grand Final win over Richmond. 

Born in Cohuna in Victoria's north-west, Calverley played his junior football with Leitchville in the Northern District Football League alongside brother Des, who would later join Bruce at Brunswick Street Oval. The brothers scored a very rare double in 1936-37, Bruce winning the league best-and-fairest medal one year and Des the next.

Bruce's medal-winning performances saw him play two games for Fitzroy late in 1936 and another two in 1937, but by late 1938, his senior games tally with the Roys was still only four. However, Calverley's reserves performances in 1938 had not gone unnoticed from within and without the club. He won the 1938 Gardiner Medal as the VFL reserves best-and-fairest and was called up to play the final two games of Fitzroy's senior season, a loss and a win.

Whatever Calverley showed in those last two games of 1938 was enough to see him entrench his place in the side, and he played every match the following year as the Gorillas only marginally improved the position on the ladder. The Roys continued to languish outside the top four over the next few seasons before a dramatic improvement in 1943 saw them make finals, falling 25 points short of eventual premiers Richmond in the preliminary final. Calverley was an established member of the side by then, playing 12 of 16 matches, although he missed the finals with a broken wrist.

Injury also waylaid the early stages of Calverley's 1944 season, an errant opposition arm resulting in him sustaining a fracture under the eye in the opening round. But Calverley returned to the side in round six and went onto play a significant role in the Gorillas' charge to their eighth and final flag. He was named best on ground by The Age in the semi-final win over Richmond and by the Argus when Fitzroy repeated the result two weeks later to take out the premiership. Calverley's dashes along the wing were a feature of the premiership decider.

Sadly for Calverley, a knee ligament injury brought a premature end to his career in the early stages of 1945, a round five loss to North Melbourne proving to be the last of a relatively short but bright 89-game VFL career, one which saw him gain selection for Victoria in 1941 and of course brought him immortality as a member of Fitzroy's last VFL premiership side.

A brain tumour saw Calverley's life end at the tragically young age of 43 in 1961.

Author - Andrew Gigacz


Fitzroy: For the Love of the Jumper by Chris Donald, The Age, The Argus


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.