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Fabulous Phil - The Phil Carman Story

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Fabulous Phil - The Phil Carman Story

Matt Watson

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An explosive biography about a footballer unlike any other. Phil Carman was capable of tearing a game apart. Despite his talent, he tore his own career apart. When Phil Carman was a kid in Edenhope, he thought he wasn’t good enough to play VFL football. But when Carman’s father died in a Melbourne hospital, friends noticed a change. While his mates were hanging out together, Carman, at 14, was running long distances around his home town. At 16, he kicked six goals in a half for Edenhope in a trial game against Collingwood. A few months later, Carman was training with Collingwood. The club and the vastness of Melbourne left him unimpressed. Carman returned to Edenhope. At 17, he kicked 89-goals for the senior team. His coach, John McBain, knew Carman was a future star. All he had to do was go to Collingwood. But Carman defied the VFL’s zone system that tied him to Collingwood and went to Adelaide at Norwood’s invitation. Carman and Norwood officials deliberately broke the rules, paying off a police officer to ensure they obtained a clearance. Incensed Collingwood officials launched the biggest interstate war ever seen in the VFL, forcing Carman out of football for two years. Carman returned to Norwood in 1973 but Collingwood refused to give up. A massive salary convinced him to move to Victoria in 1975. Carman’s debut season is remembered as one of the best in VFL history. He was quickly dubbed Fabulous Phil. Despite missing eight games through injury, he won Collingwood’s best and fairest, the Copeland Trophy and missed out on the Brownlow Medal by three votes. But the brilliance was punctuated by trouble. Carman clashed with teammates and coaches. He missed the 1977 drawn grand final and the replay after being suspended for striking Michael Tuck. Collingwood lost patience with their star and traded Carman to Melbourne in 1978. His four-year deal lasted one season because of an incident with Melbourne’s coach Carl Ditterich. He crossed to Essendon for two years. In 1980, Carman became the first footballer to be suspended for head-butting a boundary umpire. At the end of 1981, Kevin Sheedy moved him on. Carman played one year with North Melbourne, again leaving in acrimonious circumstances when his coach, Barry Cable, wanted him to stay. Carman went back to Adelaide in the 90s and found football redemption, coaching Sturt into a grand final and helping save the club. Fabulous Phil is the story of a football nomad, a man craving success and determined to do it his own way. Carman amazed and frustrated teammates, coaches, officials and the fans. In Fabulous Phil, former players, coaches and umpires give insight into why success ultimately eluded Carman. And Carman tells his story, how it all happened.

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