Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Phillip Carman

Known as
Phil Carman


4 September 1950 (age 73)

Place of birth
Edenhope, VIC (3318)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 24y 213d
Last game: 32y 7d

Height and weight
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 87 kg

Senior clubs
Norwood; Collingwood; Melbourne; Essendon; North Melbourne

Jumper numbers
Collingwood: 9, 2
Melbourne: 31
Essendon: 8
North Melbourne: 22

Recruited from
Norwood (1975); Collingwood (1979); Melbourne (1980); Essendon (1982)

State of origin

Phil Carman

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
NorwoodSANFL1970, 1972-197458891.53
North MelbourneV/AFL198213272.0854%6.923.313.770
Eastlake (Original)ACTAFL1983-1984
SANFL1970, 1972-197458891.53
Total1970, 1972-19841582931.85

AFL: 8,711th player to appear, 2,434th most games played, 394th most goals kickedCollingwood: 749th player to appear, 281st most games played, 54th most goals kickedMelbourne: 991st player to appear, 770th most games played, 280th most goals kickedEssendon: 869th player to appear, 719th most games played, 412th most goals kickedNorth Melbourne: 734th player to appear, 558th most games played, 215th most goals kicked

Phil Carman's playing career was laced with controversy from the start. In 1970 he joined Norwood from Edenhope, which was zoned to VFL club Collingwood and, although the ANFC initially approved the arrangement, it later rescinded his permit to play after the Magpies appealed. An interstate, inter-club tug-of-war then ensued, which eventually saw Carman cleared to continue his career with the Redlegs. He played a total of 58 games for the club, as well as representing South Australia, and earned a reputation as a dynamic, audaciously skilled, occasionally fiery performer. 

Collingwood kept close tabs on his progress, and when he finally decided to give the VFL a try at the end of the 1974 season it was the Magpies who procured his signature. His stupendous form over the first two-thirds of the 1975 season made him just about the league's most newsworthy property. Had injury not intervened to bring his season to a premature end, there seems little doubt that he would have won the Brownlow. As it was, he polled 17 votes, just 3 adrift of winner Gary Dempsey. Hardly surprisingly, he won the Copeland Trophy, Collingwood's best and fairest award.

Although he intermittently continued to play some fine football, a combination of injuries and regular vacations courtesy of the Tribunal ensured that he never quite recaptured the consistent brilliance of his debut season in the VFL. In 1977, he incurred a suspension for striking Hawthorn's Michael Tuck in the second semi final, and was ruled out of both the Grand Final and the Grand Final Replay against North Melbourne. To this day, Collingwood fans remain adamant that his enforced absence cost their team the flag.

In 1979, after 66 games and 142 goals for the Pies, 'Fabulous Phil' crossed to Melbourne, where he added another 11 games and 23 goals. A two season stint at Essendon followed, but a twenty week suspension, imposed after he was found guilty of head-butting a boundary umpire, restricted him to just 10 appearances and 12 goals. Carman finished his VFL career with North Melbourne where he played 13 games and booted 27 goals in 1982. He then played briefly for Eastlake in the ACTAFL, followed by stints with a succession of country clubs, before retiring.

Phil Carman returned to top level football in 1995 as coach of Sturt. In seven seasons at the helm he helped elevate the club from perennial wooden spooner to regular finals contender, although a losing Grand Final against Port Adelaide Magpies in 1998 was the closest the Blues came to a flag.

There can be little doubt that Phil Carman possessed enough raw talent to have become one of the all time greats of the game. As it was, however, owing to a mixture of ill discipline and bad luck, he ended up as one of the many footballers whose final report card read 'could have done better'.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion


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