DOB: 4 September 1950
Number: 31 (1979)
Games: 11 (100 total)
Goals: 23 (204 total)
Known as "Fabulous" Phil, Carmen was one of the most controversial players of his era. Zoned to Collingwood, he didn't want to move to the city and instead played 58 games with SANFL side Norwood between 1970 and 1974, making the South Australian state team. When the Magpies finally got their man at age 24 he made an immediate impact on the VFL. In his debut season he finished just three votes from the Brownlow Medal, won the Copeland Trophy and led the Magpie goalkicking tally even after missing nine weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
Carman missed the 1977 Grand Final and subsequent replay after being suspended in the Second Semi Final victory over Hawthorn. At the end of 1978, Collingwood's hierarchy decided to offload the free-spirited Carman. He was contacted by Carlton, Richmond, Melbourne and South Melbourne, but the Pies refused to deal with the two big sides. Carman initially agreed a four year contract with South Melbourne, but even after he'd gone on an end of season trip with the Swans they pulled out after claiming he'd made additional demands that weren't in the original contract. Later, South coach Ian Stewart claimed that he'd ripped up the contract after Carman's behaviour in a game of social tennis.
When the South deal fell over, North Melbourne again tried to land him, discussing a swap with Peter Keenan, but they couldn't come to an agreement. With no other options left, and Melbourne always desperate for a superstar, the Demons signed Carman on a four year, $100,000 contract, then handed him the 31 made famous by Ron Barassi. In addition to a cash payment, Melbourne sent Ross Brewer to the Pies and got the rights to John Dellamarta and Wayne Gordon in return.
Carman played one season with the Demons but was forced out after clashing with playing-coach Carl Ditterich. In July, the Demons denied they had fined Carman $1000 for missing a training session, then failing to turn up to a meeting with Ditterich.
Player and coach originally got along well with Ditterich but their relationship sourer during the year. At one training session he aimed a kick at Ditterich, who only narrowly avoided being hit by the ball. Ditterich was originally fined, before being dropped to the Reserves. He was then summoned to meetings with Ditterich that he didn't turn up to and was dropped and fined $1000. He returned for one more game in Round 16, broke his thumb, hurt his knee, and didn't play for the club again.
Even after it became clear that Carman's time at Melbourne was over, the club was still in debt to Collingwood for the transfer fee, and liable for the last three years of his contract. When he left, Carman said "I never wanted a clearance because I was quite happy there. But in the end it was suggested that it would be best for the club if I move on".
Carman crossed to Essendon where he played two seasons - punctuated by his 20 match suspension for headbutting a boundary umpire and striking a player in the same game. He returned after the lengthy break and was reported in his first game back. Despite suggestions that he might be on the way out of Essendon after 1980, and with the Demons joining Carlton and Geelong in enquiring about his services, Carman played out the year before moving to North Melbourne for one season in 1982
He then retired to play in the country before moving to the ACTFL to captain-coach Eastlake - where he was once again reported for headbutting an umpire, and halfway through his contract at the end of 1984. After that he played for Kangaroo Flat, Benalla, Sandhurst (in 1989), Kennington and North Bendigo.
Fabulous. The Phil Carman Story by Matt Watson. Brolga Publishing, 2017.
Age - 12/10/1978
Age - 19/12/1978
Canberra Times - 10/01/1979
Age - 12/01/1979
Age - 13/07/1979
Canberra Times - 15/07/1979
Age - 16/11/1979
Age - 17/11/1979
Age - 02/06/1980
Age - 26/04/1992
Inside Football - 03/07/1985
Inside Football - 19/04/1989