Carlton 2010: Patience is a Learned Virtue at Princes Park

Assessments of a season are hard to separate from the expectations held going into it. In Carlton’s case, the departure of a certain erratic, ego-centric full forward had the Blues widely written off. Lost in all the Fevola fluff was football’s forgotten man, Nick Stevens, who’s forced early retirement confirmed he lacked that most essential football quality- timing.

Despite the departures – and the dire predictions – the Blues maintained their middle of the road standing. Which, depending on your perspective, is the good news or the bad news.

Highlights

Chris Judd

Plenty seemed keen to argue the merits of his Brownlow win (even the man himself, it seemed), but certain facts were beyond dispute. His return efforts from Rounds 4-8 were outstanding by any objective measure, and it’s no coincidence that this period marked the team’s high water mark for performance.

It is precisely the fact that he stood so far above his teammates which highlights Carlton’s problem. With the side’s other potential guns all circumscribed in performance by a range of factors, the Skipper had to carry a very heavy load this season. If the Blues want to mix it with the big boys, this has to change drastically.

100 Years since Collingwood beat us in a Grand Final

Not strictly relevant I know, but hey, it’s my article!

St Kilda win in Round 7

Given the historical record of the two clubs, this underlines just how much times have changed. Nevertheless, the Saints have been nothing but pain for us since we both took up residence at Docklands, so it was great to break the drought (and shut a few mates up).

This win underlined one of the more promising aspects of the season- when we got it right, we were much better at unpicking defensive zones which had previously baffled us. It suggests progress in the coaching box as well.

Lowlights

Another close finals loss

For the second successive season, we led in the last quarter of an away final but couldn’t clinch the deal. Obviously we would make life easier by earning a home final, but that would require more consistent performance through the year. With too much reliant on too few, we’re vulnerable to key players being shut down. But at least we’re now able to worry about finals again.

Kreuzer’s knee injury

This kid has done nothing but work his backside off since coming to the club, so this was a cruel blow. He has a big role to play in our future plans, so no risks should be taken with his recovery.

Collingwood loss, Round 18

The margin hugely flattered us. Being completely uncompetitive against the great foe will always hurt. Not being able to do anything about their eventual flag, doubly so.

Improvers

Amidst much talk of other club’s up and comers, it was overlooked that the Blues had the youngest playing list in the finals. A lot of inexperienced players have been thrown into key roles at a premature age.

Fortunately, there were plenty of improvers. After a long maturation, Jordan Russell continues to grow in stature now that he’s settled in defence. Jeff Garlett continued his rise from obscurity to one of our main forward threats.  Chris Yarran revealed more of his talents- a potential Rolls Royce who just needs to develop a bigger tank. Michael Jamison played every game as our main defensive marker and rarely lowered his colours.

Of the newbies, Lucas and Davies made promising debuts. Henderson and Warlock showed sufficient improvement later in the season to suggest they could fill a couple of big gaps with more development.

Sliders

Brett Thornton

With over 150 games under his belt, he’s one of our most senior players. Sadly, he appears to be a very slow learner. His shortcomings seem obvious to everyone but himself. Will do well to hang on.

Setanta O’hAilpin

Early in the season, this long experiment seemed ready to pay off, as Setanta and his little helpers were all the rage for a brief moment. Sadly, his form line fell off a cliff after the mid season break. He has some obvious physical attributes, and there’s no doubting the big paddy’s passion, but he needs to find himself a role very quickly.

Jarrad Waite

Possibly a hard call considering he was returning from a knee reco. But this was a season where Jarrad squandered his considerable talents. He constantly interrupted his, and the team’s, momentum with pointless suspensions. Maybe he’s more of his old man’s son than we suspected? But his old man made his hits count for a lot more, in a very different time. Has the talent to be a real star. We need him to shoulder the responsibility that demands.

Giggle moment

Had to be watching Fev unleash his full repertoire up north, and it not having to be our problem.  Caveat Emptor Vossy!

Lament

Losing big Sammy Jacobs:

Though he looks like a bit like an old style throwback, Big Sauce showed tremendous heart and improvement over the last couple of seasons. His effort in the elimination final was outstanding. Sadly, it was his last game in Navy Blue.

I suspect the Crows may be on a winner here. Fortunately, ruck is the one area where we appear to have depth (provided Kreuze’s knee is ok).

Where too now?

A continuance of the Tony Robb prescribed diet of raw meat and heavy metal would seem apt for most of the list. With a young group, Carlton folk need to learn the virtues of patience and perseverance.

Recruiting and player development are the name of the game in modern AFL footy. That, plus tactical nous and dexterity in the coach’s box. Recent changes suggest Carlton themselves think they still need to improve in these areas.

Certainly, on and off the field, we’ve recovered much ground in recent seasons, but there’s still a long way to go.

But if the reality of a Collingwood premiership can’t act as provocation and motivation, then nothing will.

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has been a Carlton member for more than 30 years.

Comments

  1. Richard Jones says:

    AND you snaffled Bridgewater boy, Andy Collins, from the Tiges in a trade week deal JB.

    Mind you, it was a surprise to Collins (and his central Vic. family) when the deal was unveiled.
    Collins has plenty of potential and should be a lively forward for the BlueBaggers. But can they fit Collins and the other small forwards you mentioned — who virtually by themselves beat Geelong, surely a high water mark for Carlton in ’10 — into their best side ??

  2. John Butler says:

    A good question re Collins Richard.

    I tend to think that, if they can play, then they’ll find a place. There are certainly spots available in our team. I believe he’s a good kick, so that’s a big head start for him.

    The win against Geelong was a highlight for sure, but we’d managed to beat you last year as well.

    That performance gave an inkling to later problems for the Cats.

    I’m upbeat about next year, but a number of other clubs would be as well.

  3. Tony Robb says:

    Good Summation JB. I’ve slowly warmed to Henderson in the last month but still commits basic errors for a key forward not least being jumping off two feet in a marking contest. Im also glad that Walker is staying as I think if he was given a role he is a very good player. Does the appointment of Brown as AC mean that Braddles has gone. Please say it so.
    “potential guns all circumscribed in performance” I think some of them looked like they were being “cised” rather than “scribed” at times.
    cheers
    TR

  4. John Butler says:

    Thanks TR

    Agree on Walker. He’s one that could have bitten us had he left. Just needs a better run with injury.

    I think we will get a lot more out of the number 1 picks next season. Murphy had no pre-season this year. Kruezer hopefully returns intact.

    Gibbs was an interesting case. I reckon the chronic poor disposal off half back persuaded Ratts that he needed to play him back. Not really the best use of his talents, one would have thought.

    Will we be better in this regard next season? We’d need to be.

  5. Greg Leitch says:

    John,

    Nice summation there but looking at poor Juddy, he needs the like of Murphy, Hadley, McLean and Gibbs to all step up and help him out. These guys have the quality both in and outside to assist and let him tear teams apart more and as a whole the team need to protect him around stoppages more. I appreciate that these guys had injuries and limited preparations, but it just highlights even more how special Judd is.

    Jordan Russell has improved dramatically, which I have been surprised about but he still lets himself down badly with poor disposal by foot. Surely we have people at the club that can work on that. Andrew Walker is another that needs to work on his kicking. He offers so much run and value from the backline, yet disappoints when he tries to move it forward. Yarran is another player that you mentioned needs a bigger tank, he also needs to work on his concentration as he drifts in and out of games to much. He has amazing skills and ability but is not really up to the intensity of AFL yet. If he can come along like Betts did then he will be a truly classy player in the mould of a Michael Long I believe.

    Kruezer was a huge loss, but hopefully with the way Warnock played at the end of the season Krueze can play more forward and allow us to have some real height with Henderson and Waite in the forward line also. Lachie took a while to find his feet, but at only 20 I am happy that he started to show something in the last few weeks and once he learns how to mark (perhaps get some confidence in hanging onto them) he will be of real value to us and we will forget that we traded Fev in the first place. Brisbane must already be regretting that decision.

    Overall, I would like to have seen us win a few more games this season and secured that home final, but I can see the improvement. Bringing in the likes of Gav Brown and Alan Richardson will certainly help Ratten and develop our younger guys a lot quicker in my opinion. When we played high intensity football and moved the ball quickly we were capable of beating anyone, sadly there were too many occassions that we were on the end of a flogging due to teams roughing us up and restricting our space (Colingwood x2) which we did not cope with. We will be better for this and hopefully some of our losses next season will be closer because of it, but hopefully they will be outweighed by the numbers of wins on the board.

    Go Blues!!!

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