A Blethyn In Disguise

To my knowledge, Essendon’s Geoff Blethyn is the only person to have ever played senior level VFL /AFL footy wearing spectacles.*

In 1972 the 21 year old kicked 107 goals, the only Bomber between John Coleman and Matthew Lloyd to bag a ton in one season.

‘We’re all a bit quirky in our own way, he says of the attention his short but memorable career still brings. I’m not sure how many people are lucky enough for that to happen to them. I don’t take it as an insult, it’s the way it is.

Blethyn now lives in Adelaide and works as a property adviser. Work always took precedence over football, resulting in the now-unthinkable scenario of a century goalkicker quitting the competition to take a job as state manager for a textile company in Western Australia (Blethyn spent the 1973-75 winters in the goal square for Claremont, had a final season back at Essendon in 1976, and played in a Port Adelaide premiership in 1977).

I was 21, and that [sort of job opportunity] doesn’t happen to too many people, he reflects on the move, adding that he’d seen Peter Hudson wreck a knee early in 1972 and was conscious that his own career could be over in a flash. Whether that was the right or wrong decision, you make it the right decision.

Blethyn was just 17 when he kicked four goals in the Bombers’ losing 1968 grand final team, and recently found himself reminiscing over a time in his life that at once seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

You wake up some mornings and think of your footy, you’ve been somewhere that your mind’s taken you back to a training night or something ridiculous … and you wake up and you’re 62, whereas a few hours ago you were 23.

Blethyn thinks the need for speed has hurt the modern game as a spectacle, and admits to moments when the television has been turned off.

A bespectacled ‘specky’ by Geoff at Windy Hill

Back to those glasses. Blethyn is short-sighted, his view of the distance resembling the air in a steamed-up bathroom. As a junior he wore steel-rimmed specs, but full-backs kept complaining of cuts.

It got to the point where I wasn’t going to be able to play.

A Collins Street optometrist searched America and found nylon-framed glasses with hardened glass lenses that would only pop out the front, making them safe to wear on the football field. The frames had to be regularly immersed in water lest they became brittle.

They were my godsend

Nothing could safeguard them against the immediate aftermath of his 100th goal in 1972, when a police horse trotted onto the ground to protect him, the crowd ran at him from all directions, and Blethyn was crushed up against his equine bodyguard.

I turned around into the horse and it slobbered all over my face.

Geoff tangles with future Bombers coach Sheedy


* Later research revealed that a Tony Southcombe played for Carlton in 1977 wearing specs. So Blethyn is still the only senior VFL /AFL player to wear specs …AND kick a ton.

One Chris Stone played for the Saints around 1977-80 wearing ‘squash goggles’ …not spectacles.

1 Response

  1. Shane John Backx says:

    Don Scott wore them for a whilectoo

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