Ian Shelton (footballer)

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Ian Shelton
Personal information
Nickname(s) Bluey
Date of birth (1940-02-24) 24 February 1940 (age 77)
Original team(s) Avenel
Height 185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 87 kg (192 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1959–1965 Essendon 91 (2)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1965.
Career highlights
  • VFL premiership 1962, 1965
  • Best first year player (Essendon) 1959
  • Life Membership: Essendon Football Club.
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Ian Stanley "Bluey" Shelton (born 24 February 1940), known throughout his career as "Bluey", due to his thatch of red hair, was an Australian rules footballer, who played with Essendon in the Victorian Football League (VFL) during the 1960s.


The son of Stanley Charles (1903–1983) and Jean Shelton (died 1978), née Dickens, Ian was born on 24 February 1940. He married Margery Henrietta Elliot on 26 March 1966.

He is the nephew of John Thomas "Jack" Shelton (1905–1941), who played for St Kilda and South Melbourne, and the cousin of Bill Shelton, who played with Hawthorn.

As a young lad of 7, his grandfather, Richard Shelton, was saved from drowning in swollen Hughes Creek, Avenel by a young Ned Kelly, aged 10.[1][2]



Shelton came to Essendon, as a centre half-back, from Avenel in 1959. There were a number of delays in him getting a clearance from Avenel and a permit play from the VFL was not granted until 20 May 1959.[3] Consequently, he was not eligible to play his first match for Essendon until the (round 5) match against Geelong on 23 May 1959, when he was selected to replace the team's regular centre half-back, Jeff Gamble, who was injured and unable to play. Shelton was one of Essendon's best players in a team that (unexpectedly) beat Geelong by 30 points: 11.18 (84) to 7.12 (54).[4]

All in all, in his first season with Essendon, he played in seven senior home-and-away games, all three finals, including the Grand Final, where he played at centre half-back, in Essendon's 37 point loss to — 11.12 (78) to 17.13 (115) — earned three votes in the Brownlow medal,[5] and won the award for Essendon's best first year player.[6]


In 1962, Shelton played representative football for Victoria against South Australia on 14 July,[7] he played in Essendon's 1962 premiership team at centre half-back in a team that defeated Carlton by 32 points — 13.12 (90) to 8.19 (58) — and was runner-up, to John Birt, as Essendon's best and fairest player.[8]


He did not play for the entire 1964 season due to an extremely serious eye injury he suffered in November 1963,[9] "necessitating serious operations and treatment" (Maplestone, 1966, p.198):

"Ian Shelton is expected to leave the Eye and Ear Hosospital tomorrow after an operation to his right eye. A fragment of steel lodges in Shelton's eye as he was watching a mechanic repair a tractor on his farm at Anenel, two weeks ago. property when a steel fragment flew out and lodged in his eye";[10]
"Although Essendon centre half-back Ian Shelton has little chance of playing this year [viz., 1964] because of an eye injury, he has been placed on Essendon's list 'to be considered when available'."[11]


He returned to Essendon in 1965,[12] also holding the position of vice captain, only able to see out of one eye.[13] He finished his final season playing in his second premiership team. He chose to play in the Grand Final despite a severe shoulder injury.


He was released by Essendon in 1966, because they could not come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement for him to commute between Avenel and Essendon.[14]


  1. ^ Schwartz, L., "Such is life for the legend that is Ned Kelly", The Age,11 December 2004.
  2. ^ Rennie, A. & Szego, J., "Ned Kelly saved our drowning dad ... the softer side of old bucket head", Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 2001. Note: article includes a photograph of Ian's grandfather aged in his 90s, and his uncle, Alfred "Briton" Shelton (born 1914), the youngest of Richard Shelton's twelve children.
  3. ^ Welch, B., "Guy, Ross Expect to be Available", The Age, (Thursday, 21 May 1959 ), p.24.
  4. ^ Meeking, M., "One Goal Altered Essendon's Game", The Age, (Monday, 25 May 1959), p.20.
  5. ^ AFL Tables: Brownlow Medal 1959
  6. ^ Maplestone (1996), p.383: Maplestone also notes (p.186) that Shelton won this best first year player, having played in only 10 games, from three other highly talented first year players: winger Barry Capuano (10 senior games in 1959; 118 career games in 8 seasons), ruckman Brian Sampson (18 senior games in 1959; 100 career games in 8 seasons), and utility player David Shaw (19 games in 1959; 177 career games in 10 seasons).
  7. ^ Beames, P., "Ron Branton in Victoria Side", The Age, (Monday, 9 July 1962), p.18; Carter, R., "Comfortable Win to Victoria over S.A.", The Age, (Monday, 16 July 1962), p.20.
  8. ^ Maplestone (1966), p.370.
  9. ^ Conway (2006).
  10. ^ Hobbs, G., "Little Hope", The Age, (29 November 1963), p.
  11. ^ Carter, R., "Silvagni Blues' New Leader", The Age, (Monday, 13 April 1964), p.30; see also "V.F.L. Final Training Lists: Essendon", The Age, (Monday, 13 April 1964), p.30.
  12. ^ Carter, R., "Clegg to lose Post as Selector", The Age, (Thursday, 25 March 1965), p.28.
  13. ^ "Monocle for 'Bluey'?", The Age, (Wednesday, 17 February 1965), p.26.
  14. ^ Shelton Cleared, The Age, (Tuesday, 22 March 1966), p.22.


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