Alex Jesaulenko’s place in AFL folklore is cemented by the photograph of a spectacular mark he took in the 1970 Grand Final. Yet his contribution to the sport was far more extensive: He played 279 games with Carlton and St Kilda, played in four Carlton Premiership sides (1968, 70, 72 and 79), the last as playing coach. He coached Carlton in 1978 and ‘79 and in 1989 and ‘90. He played 23 games with St Kilda (1980-1) and coached the side for four seasons (1980-83). He represented Victoria 15 times. In 2008 he was officially proclaimed an AFL Legend.
Born in Austria of Ukrainian parents, Alex Jesaulenko came to Australia with his family in 1949 and as a schoolboy initially played soccer and rugby before taking up Australian Rules, at the age of 14, with Eastlake in Canberra.
In 1967 he made his debut with Carlton in the then VFL (now AFL), a club for whom he was to play 256 games and kick 424 goals. With Carlton he played in four Premiership sides (1968, 1970, 1972, and 1979) and was voted the club’s best and fairest in 1975. He represented Victoria 15 times and won All-Australian representation in 1969 and 1972.
Athleticism was a feature of his game and a spectacular mark in the 1970 Grand Final against Collingwood has been immortalised both on film and by the spontaneous cry of commentator Mike Williamson — “Jesaulenko, you beauty!”
Alex Jesaulenko’s contribution to Australian Rules football was, however, far more extensive. He coached Carlton in 1978 and 79, leading them to a Premiership in 1979 and returned to the club as coach again in 1989 and 90.
After a disagreement with Carlton officials at the end of 1979 Jesaulenko left the club and joined St Kilda in 1980. Initially signed as a player, he took over as coach after just two games. He continued as playing coach for the 1980 and 81 seasons, then after retiring as player, continued as non-playing coach for the 1982 season. In all he played 23 games with the Saints and kicked 20 goals.
In 1989 he took over the coaching role at Carlton mid-season and coached them until the end of the 1990 season.
He was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Football Hall of Fame when it was opened in 1996 and was elevated to legend status in 2008.