Alex Carey’s ascension to the Australian Test cricket team’s wicketkeeping role a decade after being one of Greater Western Sydney’s football pioneers, prompted Tony Greenberg to reflect on the fine sporting career of William “Barlow” Carkeek.

New Australian Test wicketkeeper Alex Carey was the inaugural captain of the GWS Giants when they entered the TAC Cup under-18s competition in 2010 as a forerunner to their AFL debut in 2012.

Carey captained them with distinction and won the fledgling club’s first best and fairest award for his impressive efforts throughout that 2010 season.

Unfortunately for Carey, he missed out on an AFL contract with the Giants, and he subsequently devoted his entire sporting focus to cricket, which turned out to be an excellent move.

More than a century earlier, Richmond had its own football/cricket star.

William “Barlow” Carkeek, a highly-skilled rover, was a key member of Richmond’s VFA premiership sides in 1902 and 1905.

He played 73 games and kicked 48 goals all-up for the Tigers from 1899-1902 and 1905-1907. In between, he had a stint at VFL level with Essendon.

As a cricketer, Carkeek was a talented wicketkeeper and left-hand batsman. He toured England with the Australian squad in 1909 as the reserve wicketkeeper but returned there in 1912 as the team’s first-choice keeper.

Carkeek played all of his six Tests on that tour – three against England and three against South Africa in what was a triangular tournament.

Local Richmond newspaper the ‘Richmond Guardian’ provided this interesting insight into Carkeek’s expertise on the football field and his passion for the Tigers . . .

“As a footballer Carkeek was one of the best rovers the local club ever had, his corkscrew turns in the air being simply amazing.

He was enticed to play with Essendon and his prowess as a player was equally apparent there, his cleverly-executed manoeuvres and cool play being big factors in his side’s successes.

He returned to Richmond and, with (Charlie Ricketts and (Arthur) Cleghorn also in the team, the yellow and black combination possessed three of the finest rovers that ever adorned the Australian game.

That season (1902) Carkeek played in almost every position on the field and his splendid performance had much to do with the winning of the first premiership gained by the Richmond Football Club . . .

Though he has not been actively associated with Richmond clubs since retiring from the Richmond Football Club, Carkeek still keeps up a big interest in sport in this city, and is essentially a Richmondite.

That his heart lay with the old club he proved when away in Scotland with the last Australian Eleven, as he forwarded on a cheque for two pounds, two shillings for a trophy for best all-round player in the Richmond Football Club that season . . .”