AFL Round 16 – Carlton v St.Kilda: Judd shines in the gloom

It had been the kind of Melbourne day you won’t see on any World’s Most Livable City spiel. Grey skies turned inky black as evening set in with a decidedly noir feel. A dreary mizzle increased stealthily, dowsing spirits as well as body. Even at its best, the Docklands experience offers 50 shades of grey, minus the compensating erotica. Nights like this bring out a grimness in its streets.

The setting suited the abiding mood of the assembling tribes. Both clubs are living the sort of season that can leave any die-hard’s optimism laced with a sour chaser of disappointment. The distance between expectation and achievement becomes difficult to ignore.

The obligatory ground MC wasn’t helping. His efforts to ‘enhance’ our experience only encouraging a certain Etihad ennui. At least the dump has a roof.

The Saints began with a now familiar opening gambit against the Blues, who they obviously believe are susceptible to a bit of roughing up. As both teams grappled, it felt more pro-forma than passionate. When a football game actually broke out, it became apparent we were to witness a contest between teams both juggling to compensate for height deficiencies fore and aft.

Saint Nick of the Beleaguered was running Jamo ragged early, but having the kind of kicking night that leaves a barn’s broad side a distant aspiration. Carlton quickly found a reliable avenue to goal through Henderson. Sans Fisher Sam, the Saints were forced to draft Rhys Stanley into defensive duties. Athletically gifted as he might be, he presents unconvincingly as a defender. His various opponents racked up five goals by the third term, whence Stanley was banished forward to slightly better effect.

The Blues made their move in a second quarter spell where Kreuzer and Judd asserted centre bounce ascendancy. With Simpson left free to mop up across half back, Carlton threatened control. As has so often been the case this season, the threat wasn’t carried through. The Saints clung doggedly within touch. St Kilda’s problem was that effort wasn’t matched by execution.

Henderson and Rowe had the measure of their opponents, but Carlton couldn’t provide consistent supply. This may have been partly due to the balance of midfield roles. With Cachia, Armfield and Curnow all assigned tags, it sometimes felt that ball winning lost out to negating.

Chris Judd remained unafflicted by such doubts, even following a week of windy media discussion asserting his football mortality. A snap gave Carlton much needed scoreboard space. Then an exquisitely timed defensive tackle sparked a rebound for a Garlett goal that finally broke St Kilda resistance. In the end the six goal margin flattered the victors.

An edge in individual class saw Carlton home in an honest struggle that largely confirmed existing assessments of both teams. For the Saints, Dal Santo remains in the doldrums, whilst Montagna was subdued by another effective Cachia blanket job. Armitage and Hayes worked tirelessly to fill the breach, and the form of young Tom Lee would have heartened many. Gwilt strived hard to cover defensive holes that ultimately proved too numerous.

Marc Murphy carried the twin burdens of a Clint Jones tag and ludicrous head ware. Bryce Gibbs appeared to gain no impetus from discussions of his trade value. The collective haul of seven goals from Henderson and Rowe proved decisive, but will need to be repeated against meaner defences before any major breakthrough could be hailed.

Much publicity had been devoted to the return of one S. Milne. In keeping with a generally subdued spectacle, there was some elevation of sound, but very little fury.

After a month of defeats, a win was the least of Carlton’s requirements. Given our Etihad record against the Saints it was accepted with no small relief. But Judd’s starring role in it only served to remind that he’s the only one at Carlton with nothing to prove.

We made our way out onto rain slicked streets. My companion for the night is a man of faith, even above what is usually required of a Saints fan. He observed that this season felt like a return to normal service in many respects. The Saints know more of hardship than triumph. Come what may, they will cope.

Such forbearance sits uneasily with the Carlton worldview. If ambition remains thwarted I suspect an interesting summer lies ahead.


CARLTON             3.3   7.6  11.10  16.14  (110)

ST KILDA              3.6   5.9   9.11   10.14    (74)



Carlton: Henderson 4, Garlett 3, Rowe 3, Judd, Kreuzer, McLean, Murphy, Tuohy, Walker

St Kilda: Lee 3, Jones 2, Milne 2, Riewoldt, Stanley, Steven


Carlton:  Judd, Henderson, Simpson, Cachia, Kreuzer

St Kilda:  Armitage, Hayes, Ray, Steven, Jones


Malarkey Medal:  3- Judd (C)   2- Henderson (C)   1- Simpson (C)

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 passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Simpson’s last month-and-a-half of football has been great. I fear we may have blown the captaincy call — I reckon Murphy’s a couple of year’s away. That said, hopefully he’ll grow into it. Henderson was terrific again and Lion’s fans cannot be reminded enough that he was the price they paid for the bloke who ripped it up in the EJ Whitten match.

    That aside, we are a long way off and our President’s pre-match address was nothing short of delusional.

  2. John Butler says

    Litza, the President is looking highly likely to be a main topic of conversation in our interesting summer.

    The fact we had to go to Murphy says a lot about the state of leadership in the group. “Introverts” seems to be the common term.

  3. When one-half of your midfield are rookie-listed taggers, you can’t say that there’s nothing wrong with our list (well, not with a straight face at least).

    As I said, ‘delusional’…

  4. John Butler says

    Ah, those taggers.

    A small point of amusement has been how quickly the Malthouse ‘no taggers’ mantra has disappeared once he took a look at our lineup.

  5. I had a dream last night that Malthouse resigned, effective immediately. When I mumbled something along these lines this morning over brekky, wifey thought I said he HAD resigned and was all overcome, what with her displeasure of having him in charge of the Blues. Awkward moment when I reiterated it was a dream.

  6. Cookie,

    Mick & the precious Malthouse family lost their faith in humanity when………at the age of 55, sober and with his team a mile away from a flag (and Mick just a short month from being sacked), signed an agreement with the CFC, in good faith, to coach for a further two years before handing over to NB and then assuming the cushy role of Director of Coaching for three years. This was a good deal for Mick at the time. A very good deal.

    Bucks did the classy thing and remained invisible for the next 2 years whilst MM potted him and queried his readiness at every turn….oh, and of course won us a magnificent flag but then cost us another when he realised that he had to honour the deal he had signed.

    So…….no wonder you have nightmares about MM. It is always about Mick, will always be about Mick and god help anyone who dares to stand in his way, or to ask him a question at a press conference. A man who preaches one thing but treats people with contempt on the other.

    Buckley is so much classier than Mick in every possible manner that the contrast is actually embarrassing for Mick. Bucks is quickly showing the football world (and those beyond) how to conduct yourself in good times and in bad. He is building a new culture at Collingwood which should stand us in good stead over the coming years. He is a beauty and I know he will never have to go on CTV, looking like a hostage held by a rogue group, apologising for a poor performance and offering everyone a pat on the back and a snag.

    All pretty straight forward really.

  7. John Butler says

    Good to get a disinterested view Bakes. :)

    Cookie, ML King had a dream…

    You had a dream about Carlton.

    What can I say?

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