AFL Round 21 – Carlton v Geelong: Sick of smug cats, sick of valiant defeats, and other titles

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It has taken me 48 hours to be able to write about Friday night’s game.

Possible titles included: So near yet so far. Joy then pain; I’d rather the order was reversed. Screwed over again. Sick of smug Cats. Sick of valiant defeats.

But I’m not going to write about our sickening 6 point loss to the Cats. That would be living in the past, and it’s painful. No, I’m thinking of the future.

Now that I have a little more perspective, I admit that I am happy with where my Blues are heading. I just wish they’d get there a little quicker.

I have been patient for a decade. Voted Elliott out, took my medicine from the AFL, and prepared to endure 5 years of pain. For various reasons (poor coaching, poor recruiting, getting shafted with games at Docklands) the pain period was double what I expected.

We showed glimpses at times, and experienced joy when Judd chose to come to Carlton, pure joy. But I must admit that never in the last decade did I believe in the whole team. Judd, Murphy, Simmo, Jamison gave their all each week, but the rest of the cast performed when it suited them.

I was upset at the way Ratten was sacked as coach, and had reservations about Malthouse’s appointment as coach. He had too much Collingwood in him for my liking, and seemed too old. All the good new coaches are young, aren’t they? Plus he is weird in press conferences.

Some poor games this year had me crossing out a number of faces on the team poster in my office, including the coach. Would we ever improve??

Now I think I judged the silver fox too hastily. I think he had to give the list a year before he changed it, give players a chance to prove themselves. I was delighted to be rid of Hampson and Jordan Russell, and even to get something for them. That was last year.

This year he has sorted out a few more players, and as a disciplinarian myself, I totally agree with his process. The whole team needed to get stronger mentally and physically, and Mick does the tough love routine well.

I am thrilled not to have Bootsma running around kicking the ball out on the full any more. The man with biggest head (literally) in the AFL (Watson) will surely have played his last game in the ones. Kane Lucas is keeping him company in the twos. Good riddance. Mitch Robinson and Jeff Garlett are feeling the wrath, and the former clearly needed it. Yarran has decided to toe the line and look how good he is on a regular basis now. Waite has pulled his head in and is giving consistent effort now. He is playing for his career now, and whether it means he finishes at Carlton or we get a good trade for him, Carlton is a winner.

Bryce Gibbs was begging to play in the centre for years, but kept being forced to the back line. Mick let him prove himself here, and we are finally seeing the Bryce Gibbs we were promised years ago. Luckily it’s not too late. Under Mick’s tutelage Sam Rowe has turned into a much needed big, calm backman, and Jamo couldn’t be happier. Lachie Henderson has enjoyed not being sacrificed to the back line any more and having another big forward is a treat. Casboult has taken giant steps, has improved his kicking and is learning self belief.  Tom Bell is growing in stature each week. A Cats supporter near me two nights ago remarked on his playing style resembling Koutafides. God, I wish!

Some good trades last year have given us Dale Thomas (yes I know he’s expensive but he will be worth it), Andrejs Everitt and Sam Docherty. All are now out injured but they have good company there. Good drafting has finally happened, and a big hello to Troy Menzel and Paddy Cripps and a couple of lively Irishmen. Even C.Judd thinks it’s worth sticking around for a teeny bit longer, as he doesn’t have to carry the team every week any more. That burden must have been overwhelming.

There used to be two Carlton teams: Good Carlton and Bad Carlton. Bad Carlton is slinking out the door, and the door will be slammed shut soon.

I don’t even mind the weird press conferences now. Quite enjoy them. As a member, I get an emailed video post- match report from the silver fox each week, and it’s disappointingly normal.

So, despite my massive disappointment two nights ago,  I know my team is finally turning the corner. We could do with a little more reward but you make your own luck.

Jeff and I are driving to Adelaide for Friday night’s game against Port next week, and I know I will see effort and strength from my Blues. I don’t expect to win, but I want to be there, just in case.

I reckon we will get Geelong next time, and not before time. In the meantime, how do you remove red texta from a poster?

Go Blues!



  1. Cat from the Country says

    Just goes to show, one never should be too hasty.
    Red texta will remind you of the past year.
    Wait for a new team poster for next year and continue to believe.

  2. Nice wrap Barb. The smug Cats remind me of the Blues circa 1970s and 1980s.

  3. Best of luck to Tom Bell who is clearly improving, and let’s all hope he’s soon deemed to have improved so much that the Kouta lookalike thing has become passe.

    Me looking like Bruce Doull helped my nonexistent football career not one iota. And as for that grey cart-horse I backed about three Melb Cups ago (and who finally completed the two miles last Friday week) just because it looked like Gunsynd…..

  4. I like your perspective, Barb, and I love your nomination of the smug cats.
    A bit rich coming from Princes Park, as Dips points out.
    But still.

  5. Patience is a virtue Barb.
    One that Carlton supporters rarely needed over the previous couple of generations.
    I like that you have cut Malthouse some slack. He does now how to coach, and this is more important than his ability to annoy some reporters.

  6. Barb,
    If football supporters do not have hope for the future, what else do they have?
    I reckon I am tiring of all these smug cats about the place, too.

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