In Part I, I introduced the premise of emotionally investing in only five players on Carlton’s list. Three remain from my 2013. There’s room for two. To be thorough, here’s a look at the rest of the list.
1. Andrew Walker
I was at Princes Park nearly ten years ago when a not quite 18-year-old Andrew Walker made his debut. Ten years ago, there was not much no reason to be eager about going to a Carlton game – not until Walker’s debut at least.
Twenty-six possessions, nine marks and the first of an obligatory four five attempts per game for Mark of the Year (a title eludes him, despite his mark over Jake Carlisle in 2011 that gathered 3 million plus hits on YouTube) and an AFL Rising Star Nomination1.
It was a frustrating ride from there – Pagan-era-where-the-fuck-do-we-play-him-busted-shoulder-Yarra-booze-cruise frustrating.
This week, Walker signed at Carlton for a further three years, suggesting he’ll most likely be a one-club player and on the short list for an emotional investment.
2. Troy Menzel
Troy Menzel had LARS surgery on his right knee when he was 16. Given that he slipped to number 11 in the 2012 draft, you could be forgiven for thinking he was also covered in warts that give you rat cancer.
The kid is all sorts of talent.
Take a look at his gather and handball in the last quarter of the home & away game against Port Adelaide last year, or his nonchalant boundary-line goal in this year’s NAB Pre-Season game against North.
His game is of such surpassing beauty, his football card should be scented.
Menz’… you’re in.
3. Marc Murphy
In 2006, Marc Murphy was all we had – he was all that was standing between me and the footballing window ledge at more than one point.
There’s a lot to like about Murphy. When he was named captain, it was unanimously met by the polite applause you get when the outcome is entirely predictable. But was always going to take him some time to warm into the role.
Let the minutes show that moment arrived in the second half of the Round 23 game against Port Adelaide last year.
4. Bryce Gibbs
All jokes aside, it’s difficult not to feel sorry for Gibbs after his football career was shackled in Brett Ratten’s basement for six years.
Here’s hoping he can learn to adjust to the sunshine that is Mick Malthouse.
5. Chris Judd
Here’s a talking point. I’ve never really warmed to Chris Judd.
Don’t get me wrong, I punched the air harder and yelled as loud as anyone when he kicked the goal that put us 10 points up against Richmond in the last quarter of the Elimination Final – I wrote this for Chrissake.
But, and it’s a significant but, I’ve always felt Judd to be more the professional than emotional when it comes to wearing the Carlton jumper.
That said, we were screaming out for anything that resembled professionalism when we won his signature on October 11 2007 (that I remember the date should underline this point).
My favourite story from those early days is when a group of players went to Lygon Street for dinner. Judd ordered a Caesar Salad. 20-odd Carlton players also ordered the Caesar Salad. Hell, when I heard the story, I ordered the Caesar Salad!
His impact has been that big since he walked in the door.
To those who want to mount a case that West Coast got the better of that deal may be interested to learn that Judd has been All-Australian four times since arriving at Carlton.
Oh, and there was also this – one of my all-time favourite moments in football.
7. Dylan Buckley
Despite being the son of a Carlton Hall of Famer, I’ve never seen anything to suggest Dylan was going to play as many home & away games as his dad played Premierships.
Until last Saturday.
Yes it’s February, but I saw enough to suggest he may make my shortlist in 2015.
8. Matthew Kruezer
How can you not love a man whose sobriquet is “Big Tractor”?
Despite his injuries and inconsistencies, he’s on the shortlist.
9. Kane Lucas
First up, any game we get from Kane Lucas is a bonus – who in their right mind gives you a first round draft pick for a Brendan Fevola on the slippery slope to country footy? Scratch that. Who in their right mind gives you a first round draft pick for a Brendan Fevola on the slippery slope to country footy after they’ve already given you Lachie Henderson?
However, stripped of this context, that bonus is more a free membership to the Jelly of the Month Club than a down payment on a swimming pool.
10. Matthew Watson
Carlton Wayne Hughes was halfway through his training at remedial recruiting college2 when he selected Matthew Watson at 18 in the 2010.
Ratten’s selection policy with Watson was to only play him when he could be thrown to the wolves, so I’m prepared to cut him some slack.
More game time, structure and instruction from Malthouse, along with a few more 80 metre barrels from full-back and the Carlton faithful may start to embrace his enormous head (literally, not metaphorically).
Given his ability to hold down a key defensive position this year is crucial to Carlton’s success, a selection in my ‘five’ would be fraught with danger.
11. Rob Warnock
Sorry, Rob, but after two years of Cain Ackland, I swore never again to embrace a ruckman wearing #11.
Coming soon: Part III — Mitch Robinson to Tom Bell.
1. Being a Carlton supporter, I’m not entirely sure what this is… a little help?
2. Evidence suggests he never completed this training (refer above footnote).