Numbers just don’t add up for the Blues

By Tony Reed

Like most of you out there, I just love my footy, especially the anticipated leading up to the first bounce.  It’s even better when you have a big game against traditional enemies, and it just so happens that over the next 3 weeks, Carlton plays what I consider our traditional rivals.  It got me thinking about these traditional teams and their most recent success and I detected a surprising level of symmetry.  It’s been 30 years since Richmond last won the premiership; 20 years for Collingwood; 15 years for the Blues; and 10 years for the Bombers.  The Pies said from last October that they expect to go all the way this year and you’ll get no argument from me until they play Geelong next week.  For Carlton, the message has only been mixed since last year.  Hope is omnipotent but a dangerous thing for football supporters accustomed to success for most of its history.  The belief that the supporters had only a couple of years ago is now dormant for the serious supporter.  It would take a win today to exorcise many of the demons, a loss will confirm our limitations and lack of credentials for at least another year.

As we sit down in the big crowd, which we estimate at 80,000, my brother , sister and I start thinking about what may eventuate.  Our concern over the last 6 or so weeks has been our dodgy starts.  We think if there is no improvement in our game plan and general play, that’ll be 6 goals behind by the 15 mark of the second quarter – time will tell.  Please be wrong, we beg the karma gods.

The game starts with a suspect free kick in the middle, leading to an even more suspicious free to big Hampson inside the first minute resulting in Carlton’s (and the games’) first goal.  We estimate at this rate we’ll have about 50 frees for the quarter, which should help a bit.  The next passage of play is well constructed by Collingwood, with Swan passing the footy to Leon Davis who with his left hand snatches the ball and kicks a goal in his 200th game.  We are concerned and agree that we’d take the 2 points now, precisely 3 mins into the first quarter.

The general movement of the ball is good early on with the ball ultimately finding itself in the hands of Travis Cloke, who duly misses from a difficult angle.  Carlton move the ball, in an almost manic way, with Judd having about 3 possessions before delivering it neatly to Shaun Grigg who converts with little effort.  Optimism creeps into our mindset and my sister is giving it to the black and white army.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, Carlton’s day virtually ends.  Collingwood pepper the scoreboard with as much restraint as Homer Simpson at an all you can eat diner, with Cloke dominant but inaccurate.  Didak finally restored order with a typical, pressure goal.  Swan all of a sudden becomes brilliant and seems to win every contested possession and kicks the next goal.  My sister leans over to me and says “I think it is time to swear”.  I concur but decline the request.   By the end of the first quarter we are only 11 points down but the signs are there for a Mel Gibson-like tirade by our supporters.

The second quarter is just horrible, possibly Carlton’s worst quarter of the year.  It’s what I call an unmitigated shamblings.  It starts off with a couple of goals to Dawes and a second to Davis, a snap to Mr Beams, and the difference is 6 goals and we’re not quite midway through the second quarter.  Told you so, I thought.  The onslaught continues and next thing we know, we’re 50 points behind and we’re just into time on.  You try to be positive but we’re all looking at each other and asking the most fundamental of questions: “What’s our game plan?” “Why do we have no forwards in our forward line?” “Who’s on the ball?”  Half time can’t come soon enough and we see the half time stats that show 18 scoring shots to 3 (at least we’re accurate), 8 unanswered goals and 70 less possessions that the pies.

The concept of a miraculous turnaround in the second half is soon washed away with Waite’s kick out appalling, resulting in another Mr Beams goal.  It dawns on us that it has been nearly 2 full quarters since we kicked a goal – please can we have one now?  After some more brilliance by thePies, we finally kick one, through Fisher who takes a ripper mark.  It’s crazy what a team can do when we have tall forwards staying inside the forward 50.  We score a behind following a Carrazzo mark after the ball was well outside the boundary line and then the quarter seems to play out in slow motion with the Pies 10 goal up.

What do you do if you are Ratten?  Scream at the players?  Get Leading Teams set up 22 separate circles for constructive criticism?  We don’t know, but plenty of the supporters around us are giving him and the entire team plenty of suggestions – some of them not exactly encouraging or polite.  Barb keeps on saying “we’ve got to take risks” and I think she’s right.  We have a quarter to find out.

Early in the final stanza, Cloke kicks his first goal (after 5 behinds) and it seems to relax him and the whole game.  Didak kicks a monster torpedo and we are reminded of what talent can do.  A sense of respectability comes into the game with Carlton kicking a few junk time goals and somehow we lose by only 8 goals.  It’s clear to me that Collingwood’s premiership aspirations are genuine and from a traditional sense, you have to respect that clarity of vision and focus, of a team that has won only 1 premiership in 52 years.  Of concern for them is that St Kilda and Footscray are in similar positions and Geelong’s form is on the rise.  At least they’re in that position, something I’m dirty about.

From Carlton’s perspective there are very few (if any) positives coming out of the game.  Warnock’s play and Simmo’s endeavour seem to resonate with me, but that’s it.  For a team that is supposed to be the most efficient in the league with its kicking, I am at a loss as to what happened today.  But that said, a true beauty of the game is that match is now history and next week is an entirely new story, possibly a good one.

What is their game plan?

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Tony

    From what I saw of the encounter (through fingers of hands clasped over face)you ask a fair question.

    The horror!

  2. Tony Robb says:

    Tony,
    So ashamed am I of the Blues performance that Im leaving the country for two weeks. A defeat again by Essendon is too much to comtemplate so Im outer here. Did any of the Carlton boys line up at the shifting sands on Saturday night as the Wallaby performance had an scarey similarity. Im sorry but the coaching box must go. The inablity to make changes over the past 6 weeks is shameful. I,ve being calling for 2 months. Murphy and Gibbs must be dropped, Stuff possible finals. If that type of performance is accepted then the future is truely bleak
    TR

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