DOB: 15 December 1910
Died: 14 August 1999
From: Old Paradians/University Blacks
Number: 17 1934-1945
Premiership Player - 1939, 1940, 1941
Best First Year Player - 1934
Best and Fairest winner - 1935, 1936, 1941, 1942
Victorian state player - 1934, 1936
Team of the Century member
Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee - 1996
MFC Hall of Fame - 2001
Life Member - 1945
150 Heroes selection
Statistical categories led:
Most goals in jumper 17
La Fontaine was a dominant full-forward with Old Paradians (143 goals in 1929) before joining University Blacks. There he booted 247 goals in 24 matches for the school, including a personal best of 21 in an inter-collegiate game before being recruited by Melbourne. He was already a five season veteran of the district cricket scene, playing with North Melbourne and University.
The Redlegs were lucky to get him. La Fontaine might have residentially been tied to Footscray if the VFL hadn't ruled that by living on-site at Melbourne University he could sign for the Reds. He argued that he had not lived for 13 straight weeks at Footscray anytime in the last four years and successfully won the right to play with Melbourne.
Before the 1934 season he had announced that he wasn't going to play VFL football until he finished his university degree, but he changed his mind and debuted in the first game of the season.
After an inauspicious debut, he kicked nine goals in just his second game but spent much of his time during his career in the centre. He had played his football there at Old Paradians (his 143 goal haul obviously an exception) before going into the forward-line at the Blacks for team balance. Even though he had dominated, and showed early on that he could do the same in the VFL, La Fontaine felt more comfortable in the middle. He played one more game in the forward line after his nine goal haul before going back to the centre.
He played every game in 1934 and excelled with his excellent delivery to the dangerous forward line. A late starter to the VFL at 24-years-old he was picked to play for Victoria in his first year.
Promoted to vice-captain in his second year, La Fontaine spent much of the year skippering the side after Colin Niven was injured. That year he won his first Best and Fairest. His amazing ability to swerve and weave out of trouble had turned him into one of the superstars of the competition. He finished second in the Brownlow Medal in both 1935 and 1936.
Splitting his time between football and a job in the oil industry, he was promoted to captain in 1936 - just his third year. That year he'd had an unusual pre-season, sailing to and from the United States on a tanker along with teammate Audley Gillespie-Jones.
He lifted the B&F again in 1937, and that year he played for the VFL in a representative match against the VFA. During a trip to Sydney in August he was injured in a car crash, thrown against a jagged window and cutting an artery in his arm.
Originally enlisting for the army in 1942, La Fontaine later joined the RAAF and rose to the rank as captain before returning to league football in 1945. He was later named as centreman in the Team of the Century.
Upon the retirement of Checker Hughes after the 1948 Grand Final victory, La Fontaine and Norm Smith were the only two applicants for the coaching job. La Fontaine had taken training several times throughout the year when the coach had been absent. With the committee split, and Smith supporter Francis Vine not present, La Fontaine prevailed on the casting vote of chairman Bill Flintoft.
The side were in contention the next year and made finals, but after that they rapidly fell to the bottom of the ladder and finished last in 1951. Midway through the year secretary Jim Cardwell had to deny there was dissention between players and the coach.
At the end of the season La Fontaine was once again thrown into a one-on-one vote with Smith for the job, and this time it was he who would come in one vote short. The season had been a disappointment but the 19 players who made their debut that year would go on to play a huge part in the side's next golden era.
Sources conflict on whether he was born in France or in Mitta Mitta, Victoria. Contemporary newspapers suggest he resigned as coach in September 1951 rather than being voted out.
His name is often spelt "Alan" in contemporary reports.
"Football Permit Surprise" - The Argus 05/04/1934
"La Fontaine Surprises" - 27/04/1934
"Will Play With Melbourne" - 28/04/1934
"La Fontaine For Melbourne Club - The West Australian 28/04/1934
Courier Mail - 04/01/1936
Courier Mail - 05/08/1937
Sporting Globe - 27/04/1940
The Australasian - 24/06/1944
"Two apply to coach Demons" - The Age 22/10/1948
"Officials deny rift at Melbourne" - The Argus 27/06/1951