Carl Ditterich

Image DOB: 10 October 1945

MFC Debut: Round 1, 1973 against St. Kilda at MCG
Last Game: Round 22, 1980 against Collingwood at MCG

From: East Brighton/St. Kilda

Number: 10 1973-1975, 1979-1980

Australian Football Hall of Fame member
Best and Fairest - 1973

Games: 82 (285 total)
Goals: 43 (156 total)
Career Statistics

WinsDrawsLossesWinning %

Ditterich was an enigmatic St. Kilda superstar who won Brownlow Votes in his first game (against Melbourne) but often found himself on the wrong side of club officials and the tribunal. It was said that on that day he had told the great Ron Barassi to "get out of the way old man".

Having revolutionised ruck play and proved himself as a great aerialist, Ditterich's raw aggression would often see him in trouble with the umpires. Reported for striking in the second last round of the 1966 premiership season he was suspended for six weeks and missed the Saints premiership triumph.

After battling knock knees as a child, Ditterich was afflicted with chronic ankle injuries as a footballer and was forced to have surgical boots made. He had also lost 20 percent of the vision in his right eye after having a stone thrown at him aged 14. Nevertheless he was a champion of the game and won the Saints Best and Fairest in 1968.

After initially stating that he'd cross to North Melbourne when his 10 years of service came up in April 1973, Ditterich angered North management with excessive demands and they pulled out of negotiations. He'd also been linked to Hawthorn and the vacant coaching job at South Melbourne.

Instead he crossed to Melbourne for a reported $82,000, a $20,000 transfer fee on top of his salary, a portion of which was paid by influential supporters including Billy Snedden.
The Demons swapped the rights of Robert Elliott and Bruce Elliott to St Kilda as part of the deal, though both eventually returned to Melbourne.

Ditterich was feted by coach Ian Ridley as the gamebreaker the Demons needed to fire them into the five. However after off-season knee surgery but turned up to pre-season training unfit and Ridley was forced to put him on an intensive training program. He recovered to play every game for the year and after a slow start won that year's Best and Fairest.

He finished runner-up in the 1974 B&F, but despite rumours of a move to Richmond was on the way back to Moorabbin at the end of 1975. He was on a six year contract with significantly higher money than anybody else on the list and despite a mid-season vow that he would play at Melbourne or nowhere the club simply couldn't afford to pay him. He had also suggested he was going to retire at the end of 1975 due to persistent knee injuries but played on.

Ditterich was contracted to the end of 1978, but desperate to lure him back, and recognising that Melbourne needed to reduce their payroll, the Saints exchanged Shane Grambeau, premiership player Allan Davis and cash for him. Ditterich rejoined St Kilda as captain, but had a dramatic mid-season walkout during 1978


First game as coach: Round 1, 1979 vs Footscray at MCG
Last game as coach: Round 22, 1980 vs Collingwood at MCG


Ditterich's path back to Melbourne for 1979 wasn't smooth. Even before Jones was dismissed the Saints had expressed annoyance at rumours of Melbourne approaching their man. They refused a clearance application and held talks with their ruckman to try and convince him to stay.

His first training run set the tone for his style, a 2.5 hour torture session after which he fronted a press conference and declared that the wooden spooners would play finals that year. Asked if he would change the style that had seen him suspended 16 times to that point he said "I have to. In some situations I can be easily riled. I have to have more self control. There's nothing worse than a coach being reported and suspended". He largely behaved himself, but in Round 7 he defied his own prediction by earning a two match suspension which would bar him from playing or coaching - he watched the Round 8 loss to Hawthorn from an upstairs box at Princes Park while Frank Davis officially coached the side. The club then appealed to the league and he was allowed to coach the second week.

Midway through 1979 he announced his belief that he was filling in as coach until Ron Barassi was available. He floated the prospect of leaving at the end of his first season but ultimately stayed, presiding over two unsuccessful seasons before retiring from the game.

The coach went full-time in 1980 but during a torrid season which included a brawl in the locker rooms with rover Henry Coles and a $500 fine for the club after comments about umpires, Ditterich announced in July that he was leaving the game at the end of the year to take up a role as recreation director of a holiday resort in Noosa. Ron Barassi returned as coach of the Demons.

True to form he was reported in his last game - the 18th time he'd been booked in 18 seasons. Ditterich is one of only two players in VFL/AFL history to rejoin a club after leaving to rejoin his original side. In 1981 he considered a comeback with St Kilda but remained retired.

"Big Carl" was suspended for a total of 30 games during his career. In his last season he was severely reprimanded and fined by the league for complaining about umpiring decisions. Ditterich is the oldest post-war MFC Player. His last game took place at 34 years 325 days of age.

In 1982 Ditterich was linked with a comeback to Sandringham but stayed retired. He coached Woorinen from 1983 through 1984. There was talk about him taking over at St Kilda in 1985 that didn't eventuate, but he did make clear his desire to return to league coaching. In 1986 Ditterich was interviewed for the Melbourne coaching job, but a third return to the Demons was thwarted when John Northey won the job. He was again spoken about as a St Kilda coach for the 1987 season but remained in the country.

Ditterich coached Murrabit in 1996, and stood as an independent candidate for the seat of Swan Hill in the 1999, failing to unseat the sitting Nationals member by 1500 votes. In 2002 and 2003 he returned to the coaching ranks with Boort in the North Central League. In 2009 he was forced to fight $600,000 in costs from Goulburn-Murray Water stemming from a pipeline constructed near his property. Former St Kilda and Melbourne players lent their assistance to his case.

1973 2250
1974 19122
1975 12186
1979 1767
1980 1220
Tribunal Record
Round 3, 1975 Striking 4 matches
Round 7, 1979 Striking 2 matches
Round 22, 1980 Striking Not Guilty

Some sources show his initial contract as $82,000.

Inside Football - 07/10/1972
Age - 26/01/1973
Age - 08/02/1973
Age - 12/02/1973
Post-Courier - 14/02/1973
Age - 14/02/1973
Age - 21/03/1973
Inside Football - 21/04/1973
Age - 09/07/1975
Age - 10/12/1975
Age - 18/12/1975
Age - 19/12/1975
Age - 06/01/1979
Age - 18/01/1979
Age - 01/02/1979
Age - 28/05/1979
Age - 31/07/1979
Age - 16/11/1979
Age - 21/07/1980
Canberra Times - 14/08/1980
Inside Football - 19/03/1981
Inside Football - 11/03/1982
Age - 19/04/1984
Age - 08/08/1984
Age - 16/08/1984
Age - 01/10/1985
Age - 03/10/1985
Age - 03/07/1986
Age - 16/09/1996
Age - 07/04/2002
Herald Sun - 12/09/2009

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Created by Supermercado. Last Modification: Saturday 14 January 2023 23:52:11 AEDT by Supermercado. (Version 70)

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