AFL Round 20 – Carlton v Western Bulldogs: McCartney lets young pups off the leash

By Peter Feehan

A number of years ago a financially and morally bankrupt president of Carlton decried Footscray’s “Tragic History”.

Wealthy folk accrue assets. Big Clubs count trophies. More is better. For those of us born in to the generational pull of supporting the underachievers, it is individual days and games which keep us holding the faith.

The 140th meeting of the clubs in the VFL/AFL began with the dogs kicking the first of the day with big Campbell dishing off to Grant who converted, the Blues replied a minute later through Menzel. When the Dogs kicked their 2nd through Jones at the 9 minute mark it would be their last for the term, the lamentable conversion attempts which followed resembled a drunk playing quoits, and the Dogs went into the quarter time break only five points up.

The 2nd quarter began as the 1st had ended with the Scraggers  missing 2 more extremely kickable chances  to make it 7 consecutive misses(Cross and Addison missed 2 each and the normally reliable Griffen, Dahlhouse and Dickson 1 each), before Picken finally broke through for a goal 4 minutes in.The Blues replied quickly after Betts handballed over the top to Henderson for a stroll in goal.The Dogs kicked 5 of the next 6 goals of the quarter before the Blues kicked 2 of their own to go into half time 15 points in arrears. Campbell had put a scare through the dogs camp when he backed back into the square to mark before hitting his head heavily against the goal post, it looked ugly but he recovered to kick the goal. The Blues lost long kicking Mathew Watson with a foot fracture just before half time.

Carlton’s momentum rose  in the 3rd quarter and they  levelled the scores at the 30 minute mark with a Yarran snap before the consummate finisher Giansiracusa slotted one through from 40 with almost the last kick of the quarter, Judd injured his leg late in the term, and would play no further part in the game. Judd was not poor by any definition, but his  influence on games is diminishing, a combination of age and the fatigue that comes from working two jobs, It’s time for those slave driving Pratt’s to relieve him from his night shift job at their box factory.

The last quarter belonged to the dogs as Carlton were left with one fit body on the bench, the dogs kicked 4 goals to one, which included a vintage left foot gem from Cooney, who received a sharp handball from Stevens through traffic where he put on the jets and kicked truly at full tilt from the left hand flank 40 out. The final margin to the Dogs was 28 points.

The simple truth of the encounter was that it was dominated by the dogs, they had 13 more scoring shots, 21 more inside 50’s and 100 more possessions.

Of the players, Grant was a standout, looking  like a latter day survivor of the potato famine, he had 24 p’s and kicked 4 goals, which could easily have been 6 or 7, he’s quick and has clean hands. The wait for Grant to “arrive” has been long and painful for dogs fans, the best he has offered  previously is brief cameos, in the last month since his recall, his consistency and urgency has been on a steep improvement curve, one that most of us never thought would come.

Griffen was brilliant, Minson  tireless, Murphy  clever, Cooney continues his good form, Wallis’s reincarnation as a tagger has been a great success. Tom Liberatore is something special; he is hard as a cats head, clean of hands and is a penetrating left foot kick, and Jordan Roughead has been a sensational replacement for Lake.

A player who tends to go unnoticed is Tom Young, the former Pie is a terrific reader of the ball off half back, he is not afraid to mark rather than punch, and is calm under pressure.

For Carlton, McLean continues to work hard and is having his best year at his 2nd club. Curnow tried hard , Tuohy didn’t have a heap of the ball, but looked dangerous every time he got near it, Scotland was good.Murphy and Judd did not have their greatest day, but were still amongst their team’s best.

McCartney deserves much of the plaudits for the Dogs remarkable turnaround this year, to many fans (myself included) he seemed to be a one dimensional coach obsessed by winning the contested ball. It was as though he has waited till the playing group fully comprehended the defensive aspect of his game plan before he has allowed them to compliment it with the attacking running game we have seen in the last month. He is calm and instructive, and an ideal fit for a side where youth is in abundance.

In the other coaches box the contrast could not have been greater, Carlton has paid over $1m a year for the services of a hairdryer. I could hand Sticks Kernahan a number of contacts for certain Sisters of St. Joseph or Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who would quite willingly humiliate his list for little or no remuneration whatsoever. Mistakes are part of the game, but a fear regime leads to players having a survival mentality and stifles creativity and flare.

This was one of those days when following my beloved Dogs is pure bliss, for myself, it has been 50 years of waiting, hoping, enduring, punctuated by rays of hope such as Saturday. It makes Sunday’s coffee taste so much better, it flattens batteries on mobiles, where kindred souls devour and share every morsel of victory, where neighbours gather at the front fence with glowing dials, bursting with pride and content.

As my mate Cliffy pointed out, how apt that the Dogs with its Trade union origins should triumph over a club whose patrons have included Fraser, Menzies and Elliott, all this in “Lefties round”

Cue Music…..

“Arise ye workers from your slumbers…..

Footscray 2.1 8.9 12.15 16.21(117)

Carlton 2.1 6.6 12.9 13.11 (89)


Carlton: Menzel 2, Henderson 2, Betts 2, Curnow, McLean, Judd, Tuohy, Armfield, Yarran, Waite

Footscray: Grant 4, Jones 2, Giansiracusa 2, Dahlhaus 2, Picken, Campbell, Dickson, Tutt, Young, Cooney


Carlton: McLean, Curnow , Scotland, Judd

Footscray: Grant, Griffen,Liberatore, Cooney, Minson,  Roughead,Young

Umpires: Ryan, Pannell, Jeffery

Official crowd: 31,126 at Etihad Stadium

Our Votes; 3 Grant ,2 Griffen, 1 Liberatore


  1. remember this time last year? How good is it to see some progress?
    Now, what about young Ayce?

  2. cowshedend says

    He’ll be lucky at the end of the year if he isn’t given the Ayce!

  3. Kerrie soraghan says

    Peter, I love this, I too found myself revisiting some good old fashioned class warfare and giant sized western suburbs chip on shoulder mentality in preparation for this clash. Great write up. Grant may well look like a potato famine victim but what a reborn footballer! Maybe happy day are closer for the Dogs than it looked just a few short weeks ago.

  4. cowshedend says

    Kerrie, Leftist Irish Catholic Dogs fans come pre-chipped

  5. Neil Belford says

    Arise, ye prisoners of want

    Great story Peter – so tell me, am I the only one who thinks the Blues faction here at the Almanac are in serious denial about their club. At Freo they call the Hairdryer Darth Vader. I know this should be about the rise of the Doggies, but …

    Six months ago Carlton had the list but were in serious need of someone who could coach – there were no limits – one hand on the flag. Six months ago the side they need to displace from the 8 had a list that was a national disgrace and no coach could help them. Now the list at Carlton is the problem and even with the supernatural powers available to Lord Vader, there is no helping them – presumably he needs years (at his current rate).

    So while Richmond is trying to become the new Geelong, Carlton has become the new Richmond, damned by a dysfunctional administration into making expensive, deluded decisions which has set their destiny probably worse than perennial 9th.

    I wonder where they would be on the ladder if Ken Hinkley was coaching them.

  6. The People’s Elbow Faction of the Blues’ Faction seems happy to dish on the Princes’ Park politics.

  7. The People’s Elbow Faction is okay with the Malthouse appointment.. that’s about where it ends though, A (rare) considered (yet, libelous) piece is being prepared for season’s end.

  8. Kerrie soraghan says

    Peter and neil in my blog on Bulldog Tragician I also make note of that tribal feeling of the underdogs v the silver tails that you’ve both made good use of in your never leaves you, which is why Danny from Droop St has it so right. Lefties round.. Pure classic line only topped by the image of Judd working the Visy night shift.

  9. Peter.

    Terrific piece, great win – wish I’d been there to see it.

    Vast improvement to what was being served up to the faithful 12 months ago, Saturday’s win achieved without an appearance from any of the four “newbies” that impressed me earlier in the season – Hrovat, Hunter, Macrae or Stringer.

    Still not convinced about No1. Hopefully he’ll continue to prove me wrong.


Leave a Comment