ALEX JESAULENKO was recruited from Eastlake Football Club ( Canberra ), by the Carlton Blues for the 1967 Season, and went on to play 256 Games, kicking 424 Goals until he finished with the Blues at the completion of the 1979 Season. He then transferred to the St Kilda Saints for the 1980 to 1982 Seasons where he played a further 23 Games, kicking 20 Goals. Jesaulenko is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest ever Australian Football Players, and his AFL Hall of Fame Card is available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
“Jezza”, as he was commonly known, hailed from a Soccer background, did not play Australian Rules Football until aged 14, and although he obviously adapted very quickly to the Game, did not debut at Carlton until he was 22 years of age. He burst onto the AFL scene as an instant sensation and placed third in the Brownlow Medal voting in 1967 whilst playing in the difficult Centre Half Forward role. Jesaulenko also finished third in the 1970 Brownlow Medal when he played at Full Forward and kicked 115 Goals for the Season. He became the first Carlton Blues footballer to kick more than 100 Goals in a VFL/AFL Season.
Alex Jesaulenko was a dynamic performer who amazed supporters with his majestic ball-handling skills, his superb balance under pressure, and his effortless ability to soar above packs of players to take spectacular high marks. He is forever immortalised for the wonderful high mark he took over Collingwood’s Graham Jenkin in the 1970 Grand Final, which was the impetus for the most memorable winning comeback in VFL/AFL Premiership history. Although he was an outstanding Forward, “Jezza” had always fancied himself as an attacking defender, and it is ironic that when injuries caused Carlton to play him in a defensive role in 1975, he won his only Best and Fairest Player award at the Blues.
Jesaulenko was a key contributor in Carlton winning Prermierships in the 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1979 Seasons, and became the last of the VFL/AFL playing Coaches to win a Grand Final with the 1979 Flag. He achieved a number of further honours in his Playing Career which included Victorian representation on 15 occasions, All Australian selection in 1969 and 1972, an inaugural inductee to the Australian Football League of Fame in 1996 ( upgraded to Official Legend in 2008), and was awarded Mark of the Year in both 1970 and 1973. He has also been nominated in the list of the 25 Greatest Players never to have won the prestigious Brownlow Medal.
Alex Jesaulenko left Carlton after the 1979 triumph, and was pursued by a number of Clubs, before deciding to Coach St Kilda, where he presided over 3 unsuccessful seasons as the Saints Senior Coach from 1980 to 1982. He then coached in both Queensland and Canberra before a surprise return as Senior Coach at his beloved Carlton Blues for 2 average seasons in 1989 and 1990.
“Jezza” proved to be an inspiration to young men in cosmopolitan communities who had previously had a single focus on the Game of Soccer, to take on the challenge of Australian Rules Football. His birth in Salzburg, Austria to Ukrainian and Russian parents was an unlikely beginning for All- Time Australian Football Legend that we affectionately know as “JEZZA”.
( Image courtesy of en.academic.ru ).