Carlton Drought; a brew for the ages

Half way through the 1995 Grand Final I’d seen enough.  Sick in the mouth at witnessing Carlton’s fifth flag in 16 years, I sought the sanctuary of a deserted golf course.  Even worse, the Blues’ dominant 25-2 season raised the bilious prospect of the born-to-rules repeating the dose again and again.

Time sure flies, whether or not your team is providing fun.  Where did those 20 years go?  What the hell happened?  Incomprehensibly, the only additions to Priceless Park’s trophy cabinet have been of the figurative wooden variety, accumulated with St Kilda-like alacrity.

But my agenda is not to rub the Bluesers’ noses in it (too much).  Fact is, navigating the 21st Century, 18-club framework equates to perennial frustration for most hard core punters.  In terms of today, a glorious past counts for nothing but Weg posters and DVD box sets (if you’re lucky).

I still can’t calibrate the fall from grace of rival powerhouse Essendon. After as perfect a season ever recorded, 15 barren years down the track and the Bombers appear light years from a 17th flag and Brendon Goddard’s directorial debut. Arguably the whole doping fiasco owed its origins to the air of desperation which filled the Windy Hill wind sock.

The Brisbane Lions, which supplanted Essendon’s anticipated era of domination with its own, is travelling no better than its forebears.  Again, unfathomable.

I vaguely remember Richmond demolishing my mob in the big one and backing up with another appearance in 1982.  What odds Geoff Raines’ unborn son finishing a 12 year career for the Tigers and two Queensland AFL clubs before Richmond perhaps makes the big dance again?

The wheel can turn very slowly, or it can turn quickly in unexpected directions.

Who’d have thunk uber-successful Hawthorn would be proposing a shotgun marriage to Melbourne less than five years after their 1991 triumph?  Or that the last of the Dees’ six-flags-in-10-years era would be carbon dated alongside the fresh faced Fab Four waving from the Town Hall.  Collingwood provides another cautionary tale; ‘sixteenth, broke and shithouse’ (in Malthouse’s succinct words) less than a decade after the 1990 breakthrough.

When hubris, complacency or impatience takes hold, no club is safe. Even less so in today’s precarious environment.

Before Youtube the Cats provided 44 years of entertaining yet ultimately futile shenanigans before their fans could laugh out loud.  Talk about droughts breaking…  Yet after a prolonged period of excellence there is already a hole in the bucket dear Gillon and financial assistance is being sought.  If Geelong and all its success can’t future proof a club for one middling season then the football economy is deeply flawed.

Back to on-field matters, parched fans face the fear the perfect storm may never arrive in their lifetimes.  Perhaps this realisation is another dampener on the kind of passion and joy we used to see and feel in the outer when there was (notionally at least) a one in 12 chance?

But on the flipside of such realism/pessimism, the new footy order decrees every club’s turn should come sooner or later.  Notwithstanding, the AFL’s concerted efforts to furnish their boardroom with Giants and Suns engraved silverware is an undertaking that will satisfy next to no one. Whilst I feel intensely jealous of whichever club is holding the cup aloft, at least the Dogs, Dockers or Tigers would be palatable, and a much needed boost for the competition.

Alas, if the Hawks are looking the goods at half time of this year’s decider then my golf clubs will be in the boot, ready to go.


About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Where’s the Favorites (sic) icon?

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