Henry Francis Vallence
Harry 'Soapy' Vallence
4 June 1905
25 July 1991 (aged 86)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 331d
Last game: 33y 112d
Height and weight
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 81 kg
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
After a stuttering start to his league career with Carlton Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence developed into arguably the greatest full forward in the club’s history. Deceptively awkward looking, he was actually very agile when the ball hit the deck, while his overhead marking ability was second to none. Early in his career, however, the Carlton brains trust found it hard to decide where best to place him, and it was only when he was shifted to the goal front in 1929, his fourth league season, that he began to blossom. Vallence, who used the punt kick almost exclusively when kicking for goal, registered 64 goals that year to finish second on the VFL list to Collingwood’s Gordon Coventry; it was also the first of eight occasions on which he would win Carlton’s top goalkicker award. Meanwhile, he topped the league list once.
The presence in the league of numerous other full forwards of the highest quality meant that Vallence’s interstate opportunities were somewhat limited; nevertheless, he represented the Big V on five occasions, booting eight goals against South Australia in 1931, the same year that saw him top the VFL’s goalkicking table for the first and only time.
‘Soapy’ Vallence’s greatness was not merely a matter of statistics, however. Perhaps more than any other full forward of his time, he habitually reserved his best displays for important occasions, such as the first semi final of 1931, and the following season’s preliminary final, in both of which he booted 11 goals.
After spending the 1937 season playing for VFA side Williamstown Vallence returned for one last campaign with Carlton the following year, and it proved to be a fitting finale because after more than a decade of almost perennial, but fruitless, finals participation, the Blues finally broke through for a flag, beating arch rivals Collingwood in a tensely fought grand final by 15 points. Lining up on a half forward flank, Harry Vallence had a quiet game, but he had consistently proved over the course of the whole season that he still had plenty to offer. It would not be the Blues though who would benefit.
In 1939, Vallence resumed at Williamstown in return, it was alleged, for ‘big money’. In his first season back with the Seagulls he kicked 133 goals, and the following season he embarked on a prolific, though brief, partnership with former Collingwood sharpshooter Ron Todd, who had followed Vallence to the Association.
In one match against Sandringham in 1941, Vallence booted 20 goals, to add to bags of 18 and 15 kicked against Oakleigh and Yarraville in 1939 and 1940 respectively. With such fire-power in its armoury, the only surprise was that Williamstown was unable to procure a premiership before the VFA ceased operations, owing to the war, in 1942.
When the VFA competition resumed in 1945, Harry Vallence joined Brighton as captain-coach, where he continued to display great skill, intelligence and goal kicking prowess for the remaining two seasons of his senior career. This was particularly the case in 1946, his last year, when his tally of 77 goals was good enough to top the club’s list, and was fourth highest in the VFA. In his final senior VFA match, aged 41, Vallence booted 11 goals. Vallence’s importance in the history of the Carlton Football Club was endorsed with his selection in the club’s official ‘Team of the Century’ - the only pre-world war two player to be so honoured.
Author - John Devaney