6 April 1873
31 January 1967 (aged 93)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 24y 32d
Last game: 24y 39d
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Better known as "the Carlton cricketer" (and brother of Test wicketkeeper Jack), Fred Blackham joined Melbourne from Brighton ahead of the inaugural VFL season in 1897. Blackham and several of his teammates had caught the eye of Melbourne's secretary in a practice match between the sides a fortnight before the opening round, and he was one the 20 Fuschias' who took the field in the club's first match in the newly formed league.
According to 'Markwell' in the Australasian, Blackham "played back effectively" and the Fuschias won their first VFL match, defeating South Melbourne, who had played off against Collingwood for the previous year's Association flag. Melbourne won again the following week, but Blackham lost his place for the Fuchsia's third-round match against Fitzroy.
Not everyone agreed with Blackham's removal from the team. Reporting on Melbourne's win against the Maroons, The Leader's 'Follower' had this to say: "Melbourne were fully represented, F. Blackham, who played against Geelong, standing out for [Wally] Steele — a change, by the way, which was hardly justified by results."
Steele went on to play 26 matches for Melbourne over the 1897-98 seasons, but Blackham's VFL career ended with his second match. By July he was back with his old side Brighton, serving as vice-captain.
Author - Andrew Gigacz
Photo courtesy of Demonwiki