JOHN Elliott died only hours after Carlton appointed Michael Voss as their new coach.

The significance will be lost on no-one. 'Jack' Elliott was notorious for ruthlessly sacking coaches during his tumultuous reign at Carlton.

The Blues have paid tribute to their longest-serving president, who died on Thursday aged 79.

Bombastic, dictatorial and confrontational, the gravel-voiced Blues boss is a controversial and fascinating figure in AFL history.

Denis Pagan speaks to media after being announced as the new Carlton coach in 2002, as John Elliott stares the reporters down. Picture: AFL Photos

Elliott was president when Carlton won their most recent premierships in 1987 and '95.

But Carlton legends Alex Jesaulenko and David Parkin were among the coaches who felt the full force of Elliott's wrath and were shown the door during his term from 1983 to 2002.

As with his business life, Elliott's Carlton presidency was marked by extremes of success and failure.

David Parkin and John Elliott talk at a Carlton training session ahead of the 1999 finals. Picture: AFL Photos

Under his watch, the Blues were an AFL powerhouse and a stand at their Princes Park was named after him.

But he was deposed in 2002, on Remembrance Day, just hours after the AFL had charged Carlton with two breaches of the salary cap.

AFL STATEMENT Vale John Elliott

Days later, the Blues were hit with massive financial and draft penalties. Voss takes over at a club that has not finished higher than fifth since that devastating punishment.

In 2003, the grandstand was renamed.

John Elliott with David Rhys-Jones after the 1987 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

So, as the Blues honoured Elliott's undoubted contribution on Thursday night, it marked the end of a complicated relationship.

"I'm truly in shock. I knew John was battling with his health, but I thought the great man would live forever," said Stephen Kernahan, the club's longest-serving captain and also a former president.

"He was a loved man and he was very good to Carlton people. He may have polarised a few, but whatever people thought of him there was no doubting his love for Carlton."

John Elliott with Stephen Kernahan in 1993. Picture: AFL Photos

Not surprisingly, Elliott frequently clashed with the VFL/AFL heirarchy.

Indeed, he was one of the ringleaders of a 1984 proposal to establish a breakaway national Australian Rules league

Once the plan was revealed to the then-VFL, it was a catalyst for the League transforming itself into the national AFL.

New Carlton president Luke Sayers said Elliott would be remembered as someone who gave his all to the club.

John Elliott looks on at Carlton training in 1999. Picture: AFL Photos

"Despite the challenges faced by the club throughout some of those tough years, John's passion and love for his club never wavered," Sayers said.

"We must remember the many achievements during his time at the club - the return of (Robert) Walls and Parkin, and the premierships they subsequently won; the recruitment of Kernahan, (Craig) Bradley and (Greg) Williams; the pride in the jumper and the love of Prince Park.

"John remained a passionate Carlton man, right throughout his life. He never stopped wanting to see the Old Dark Navy Blues succeed."