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From the Archives, 1979: Alex Jesaulenko walks out on Carlton

“I will not coach Carlton if George Harris is not reinstated as president.” Jesaulenko said.

Jesaulenko said last night: “You’d think honestly we lost the Grand Final, the things that have been happening down there.

“I can’t go back to that environment. There have been things happening behind my back.”

Jesaulenko said he hoped to meet the Carlton players today or tomorrow to explain his reasons for resigning.

Mr. Harris resigned dramatically at Carlton’s annual meeting on Monday night, claiming the club’s committee was “obviously divided”.

At the dinner in the city with Mr. Harris and their wives last night Jesaulenko said: “I hope George wins. I believe my stand is right.

“I don’t like playing politics, but in this particular case it’s either going with one or the other.”

Jesaulenko, coach since the sixth game last year, claimed that he did not have the support from the committee which he would have liked.

“Decisions on football matters were made without me being present,” he said. “Being the coach of the side I should have an opinion, if not the final say, on decisions regarding players.”

George Harris, former President of Carlton Football Club with former captain coach Alex Jesaulenko in 1979.

George Harris, former President of Carlton Football Club with former captain coach Alex Jesaulenko in 1979.Credit:The Age Archives

It is believed Jesaulenko has asked the club for $75,000 to coach the Blues next year.

Jesaulenko only returned on Sunday afternoon from a fact-finding mission with the US gridiron team the Dallas Cowboys.

He said last night his decision to follow Mr. Harris was his own.

The Carlton committee met last night but made no announcement on Mr. Harris’ position or on a likely successor.

At last night’s meeting senior vice-president Percy Bentley was made acting president, but it is unlikely he will fill the position when a new president is elected.

In fact Mr. Harris, president for the past two years, is still confident he will lead the club in 1980.

Club members are expected to petition the committee to call an extraordinary general meeting to put Mr. Harris back in charge.

Under the Companies Act a petition would need 10 per cent of the 5000 voting members.

Another special committee meeting has been called for 4 pm tomorrow to settle the upheaval caused by Mr. Harris’ shock resignation.

At least one other of the original 13-man committee is considering supporting Mr. Harris and resigning as well.

Alex Jesaulenko marks over North Melbourne's Stephen Easton in 1979

Alex Jesaulenko marks over North Melbourne’s Stephen Easton in 1979Credit:The Age Archives

Mr. Harris phoned ‘The Age’ and said: “Do you want another front page story. The timing has got to be spot on or you get nothing.

“You’ve got to come to a restaurant in East Kew, the Cheng Moon, Jezza and I will be having dinner and Jezza will give you a story.

We asked him: “In other words he’s resigning too?”

“Yes.”

Mr. Harris phoned later to say the Chinese restaurant was closed. The venue had been changed to Lonsdale Street.

Mr. Harris would make no comment on events last night. “See me tomorrow,” he said.

Although Mr. Harris has Jesaulenko’s support, the committee will fight his efforts to get back and cut the committee from 13 honorary men to a six-member board, all being paid directors’ fees.

Mr. Fakhry, a close friend of Mr. Harris, said last night his resignation was in the mail.

When he resigned yesterday, Mr. Allen, who has been at Carlton for four years said it was because the “bickering in the committee makes it impossible for me to continue.

“The committee is divided, there is disloyalty and disharmony, that can only mean disaster for Carlton if it continues.”

The disharmony is believed to have been caused by the club going into deals outside football such as land development and speculation.

The annual report shows that the wholly owned subsidiary Takriti Pty Ltd lost $106,474, Aepytus Pty Ltd lost $23,031, Carlton Market Services made a profit of $28,358 and the Carlton Football Club made a record operating profit of $155,677.

The group made profit of only $54,530, hardly substantial when one considers a VFL finals dividend of $161,489 and prizemoney of $55,000 and a substantial amount from the social club.

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