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Ex-footy player charged with child sex offences

Australian rules football champion Carl Ditterich has been charged with historic child sex offences.

The former ruckman, who played 285 games for St Kilda and Melbourne from 1963 to 1980, has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency.

Bayside Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team laid the charges against the 78-year-old Moama man following an investigation into alleged historic child sex offences.

The alleged incidents relate to one victim and took place at Heatherton, a suburb in Melbourne’s southeast, in 1985, police said.

The matter was heard in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday and is due back in court in late June.

Ditterich was renowned as a hard man and one of the most reported players in AFL/VFL history, appearing before the tribunal on 19 occasions and suspended for 30 matches across his glittering career.

He missed St Kilda’s only premiership in 1966 while serving a six-match ban.

“Probably it would be the overwhelming darkest side of my life in a way,” Ditterich told Seven’s The Front Bar in 2021 when reflecting on not playing in the flag.

“Thank Christ we won the grand final.

“I don’t want to push my own barrow but perhaps I might have made a difference, but it didn’t matter.”

Ditterich stood as an independent candidate in 1999 for the Victorian state seat of Swan Hill, where his family owned a property.

In 2010, a fire extensively damaged Brisbane’s historic Broadway Hotel, run by Ditterich and his family.

Ditterich is a member of St Kilda’s team of the century after playing 203 games for the Saints across two stints.

Dubbed the Blonde Bombshell, the 193cm big man played his first game for the club at age 17 in what the Saints describe as “one of the most dazzling debuts in league history”.

A profile on St Kilda’s website notes Ditterich was one of the biggest stars of the game from the moment he debuted, a natural athlete who took a backward step for no-one.

“It was amazing that he overcame his childhood disability of knock knees. But it forged in him a grim determination to overcome adversity,” the profile reads.

“He was an exciting and controversial footballer from start to finish and made a rich contribution to the club’s history.”

Ditterich, who also served as captain-coach for Melbourne in 1979 and 1980, was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

The AFL Commission stripped disgraced legend Barry Cable of his Australian Football Hall of Fame honours in 2023 after a judge found he had sexually abused a Perth girl at the height of his playing career.

The North Melbourne (VFL), Perth and East Perth (both WAFL) premiership player had been upgraded to “legend” status in 2012.

St Kilda and the AFL have been contacted for comment.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028