AFL Round 4 – Carlton v Melbourne: Apocalypse Now Re-Redux – Kurtz was an optimist

We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

“The horror… the horror…”

The post mortem is proceeding over quixotic beers in an inner city pub with pretentions. The mood is more resignation than anger. The participants are Navy Blue die-hards to a man: veterans of the Northern wing at Princes Park. If they didn’t foresee this day coming in its precise form, they had all silently acknowledged its possibility in darker moments.

One attributes the decline to general malaise in Melbourne’s inner north as a whole. Too much hipster wankery leading to spiritual and intellectual collapse, he claims. “The place is fucked!”

“Too much education, not enough understanding”, opines another. I’m not sure if he’s still talking about the footy.

It appears they’ve had a good head start on the beers. This may take a while.


Ins and outs served to give them structure and take from ours. The return of Dawes provided them a big bodied target. Our omission of Waite made it more likely Henderson would have to play forward, and that Frawley would be free to line up forward for them. Who would be our second tall defender? If allowed to win the possession they had in earlier weeks, Melbourne just might know what to do with it this time.

Radio pronouncements from wise elders hardly reassured that a cunning plan was afoot. Sellers was already talking rebuild and an extra year for Mick. Sticks followed, reassuring us everyone was committed to “get things right”. He was sure Mick had it in him for another five years if that was what’s required! I almost drove off the road.

Excuse me gentlemen, but a month ago you were still selling the “window”.

The Blues started well enough, kicking 3 of the first 4 goals. But the moment Melbourne answered with a couple of their own, and showed they wouldn’t go quietly, a pall of anxiety descended over the Carlton team, then over its supporters. It never lifted.

I’d opted for the standing room area behind the Punt Road goals, both to sample the mood of the crowd and to try and decipher our pattern of play. Such pattern as occurred could only be rendered in a Bruce Petty illustration of Chaos Theory.

The standard of play had a schoolyard quality to it. Chest marks were a 50/50 proposition. More targets were missed than a blind school at a shooting range. By the second half Carlton had devolved into stacks on the ball. As Willard said to Kurtz, “I don’t see any method at all, sir”.

Whilst their play was hardly any prettier, Melbourne deserve credit for getting a taste of victory, sinking their teeth in, and refusing to let go. In Nathan Jones, the Dees have a leader of indomitable spirit. Frawley took 14 marks, Lynden Dunn 11. Dawes kicked 2 goals, as did Watts. Marking the ball in your forward line remains the most reliable way to score. Paul Roos constructed a way for his team to do it. We took 3 marks inside 50 for the game.

Carlton played like a scared team. Scared to make a mistake. Scared to trust each other. Scared to take responsibility. Though only ever 3-4 goals down, they seemed bereft of a vision of victory. By being scared to lose they ensured defeat to a less talented but more determined opponent. Chris Yarran ran tirelessly and was the only Blue daring to create. Kade Simpson again gave heart and soul to the cause. Ed Curnow ploughed on relentlessly. Of the rest, the less said the better.

And so the tiresome cycle begins. Media headlines scream. Pundits prognosticate. Rivals rejoice. Coach and players are trotted out to offer party line clichés of solidarity. Journos restate the bleeding obvious. Every season now a couple of clubs – at least – get to know the drill. Carlton’s turn has deservedly come early.

Spare me all of it. It is noise offering no enlightenment. We don’t need to be told the arse has fallen out of proceedings. We saw it ourselves.

What I want to hear now from my footy club is something approximating coherent thought. Unity at Carlton has often meant agreeing on who to knife next. This is not the time for that. An honest inventory is needed, not a scapegoat. Not defence of previous decisions, nor of reputations or egos. I don’t want to hear again how we made the finals last year, when any fool knows we finished ninth and got lucky.

Nor do I want to hear about any rush to re-sign the coach. But nor do I want the coach sacked. Yet. Malthouse has the rest of this year and the next to show us what he’s got. So far, he hasn’t shown us much.  But many problems pre-date him. Time to put up or shut up Mick.

Most urgently, we need to conquer the fear, which is undermining everything.


CARLTON          3.4   5.9   6.11   7.16 (58)

MELBOURNE    3.2   6.7   10.8   12.9 (81)

Carlton: Ellard 2, Yarran 2, Murphy, Casboult, Henderson,

Melbourne: Frawley 2, Dawes 2, Bail 2, Watts 2, N. Jones, Dunn, Kennedy-Harris, Pedersen

Carlton: Yarran , Simpson, Curnow

Melbourne: Jones, Frawley, Viney, Dunn, Grimes, Bail

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. Thoughtful witty and wise, JB.
    When I choose the tags for a piece why do I select Melbourne FC and Carlton Blues?

  2. The looming vision of a Bruce Bloody Mathieson/Elliott Jr ticket will do little to reassure the players of whatever it is they need to be reassured of. Or the supporters.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    JB, a spot on account of the day and things overall. I watched the 2nd half on TV. It was Tuesday night circle work, skins v jumpers. The running of Dunn, concentration and vigour of Jones and even Dawes as a big target were the difference. Melbourne had purpose, and as you said, Blues played frightened and without soul. I know he cops heaps, but from my couch, Gibbs epitomised Carlton. Once a neat, composed, if outside, player, he now looks scruffy, socks down, disinterested, selfish. His boundary line snap for goal over his shoulder, midway through the last, when 3 goals down, summed up this team lacking belief and trust in each other. Elliot Jnr doesn’t fill me with confidence.

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    Maybe Barry O’Farrell? He’s available.

  5. John Butler says

    PB, Blues will become the operative word for the 150th celebrations if this keeps up.

    Rick, do we really need a continuing association with the Elliot name? I suggest not.

    Starkers, the way we’re going we’ll end up with Eddie Obieid.

  6. If the playing list is Kurtz (“I don’t see any ‘method’ at all sir”), does that make Malthouse the drug-fucked Dennis Hopper?

    “This is dialectics. It’s very simple dialectics. One through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions — you can’t travel in space, you can’t go out into space, you know, without, like, you know, with fractions — what are you going to land on, one quarter, three-eighths — what are you going to do when you go from here to Venus or something…?”

  7. John Butler says

    Inspired choice Steve. :)

    You must have been listening to Mick on Footy Classified the other night.

  8. As Captain Willard’s opening voiceover states, “Carlton…shit; I’m still only in Carlton.”

  9. John Butler says

    Just as long as you don’t have the heart attack like Sheen/Willard did Mickey. :)

  10. “You see Willard, there’s a conflict in every recruiting department. And sometimes, good does not always triumph over evil…”

  11. John Butler says

    Steve, continuing the Mick theme:

    Hey, man, you don’t talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll… uh… well, you’ll say “hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, “Do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you”… I mean I’m… no, I can’t… I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s… he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas…

  12. Ah beautiful John! Just beautiful.

    I once sketched out a South Park episode based on Apocalypse Now (with Cartman as Kurtz and Butters doing the Dennis Hopper role).

    I feel a post coming on whereby the main players at Carlton are posited in a 2014 remake of A.N!

    Mitch Robinson = Chef. “Bye Tiger!!!! Bye Tiger!!! Never get out of the fucking boat!”

  13. John Butler says

    I like it Steve.

    Sometimes I think Carlton’s whole history could be remade as The Godfather (Pt. 1 & 2,, 3 could be for 2002 onwards)

  14. Carlton’s effort on Sunday could be remade as ‘Showgirls’

  15. John Butler says

    Litza, iat the moment Gina Gershon would probably be too much for them.

  16. JB, with BBM hovering around the background we already HAVE our Eddie ‘he who must be’ Obeid.

  17. Brilliant, JB.

    The best line in Apocalypse Now is surely when Chef asks why all the crew in the chopper are sitting on their helmets……”So we don’t get our balls shot off!”

  18. Patrick O'Brien says

    Aye, the place is fucked.

    You should move to St Kilda, a place as full of as much honour and integrity as A J Abbott could poke a stick at.

  19. John Butler says

    Smoke, sound advice from Chef.

    POB, a bit of Grey St integrity eh?

  20. Speaking of the Saints I loved the line in Dead Point where they talk about a crim with a Saints tattoo on his finger “a Saints supporter AND a crim, that should narrow it down a bit.”
    I think it was in the book too. A great P Temple original.

  21. Excellent, articulate review JB.

    Gina Gershon – she’d be too much for me too.

  22. John Butler says

    PB, I’m enjoying those TV adaptions of the Temple books. Though real life dodginess is often rather more banal. Careers ended by bottles of wine rather than exploding helicopters.

    JD, Gina may be too much, but I still think the Blues could handle Elizabeth Berkley. Now if only they could handle the Bulldogs.

  23. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Top summary JB surely there were others who should have gone before Waite and
    Garlett ? ( back in again for the next game ) was it the move meant to spark the whole list in to action or arrogant it’s only the dees ? Have there been more crap games in the four rounds played or are our memories fading ? Thanks JB

  24. John Butler says

    This one was crap enough for me Rulebook.

    Below a certain standard you’re really just comparing degrees of masochism.

  25. Malcolm Ashwood says

    True JB went to Norwood v Sturt last night so didn’t see lions v tigers but geez were the radio commentators slamming the standard . Seems the gap between the really good sides and the rest is widening by the minute

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