Carlton Forwards Going Backwards

The best Carlton forward line is at other clubs. And kicking goals.

On the weekend, forwards currently playing for Carlton kicked five goals. But forwards no longer playing for Carlton kicked 19. In the game against West Coast, in which the Carlton forwards were matched against a former Carlton forward in Josh Kennedy, the former Carlton forward outgoalled his old teammate forwards by a ratio of 2:1. In another game, another former Carlton forward, Jarrad Waite, outscored current Carlton forwards seven goals to five. Fortunately, Eddie Betts at Adelaide and Jeff Garlett at Melbourne had poor days, recording only a goal each. But, still, that was almost half of what Carlton’s forwards managed.

Even in Carlton’s halcyon days, finding goal-kicking power forwards was a problem. Our goals were often kicked by small forwards (Syd Jackson, Wayne Johnston, Fraser Brown, to grab forwards from three eras) or onballers. In fact, power forwards have usually been strong at Carlton when the team has been weak, i.e. Warren Ralph in the mid-80s and Brendan Fevola in the 21st century dungeon years. But, even compared with these issues of the past, Carlton’s current forward line is probably the worst we’ve put on the park (with apologies to those whose memories date back further than the 1960s).

The worst of many bad parts about our current forward freak show is that it is partially composed of blokes who were fringe players at other clubs (i.e. Liam Jones, Andrejs Everitt, Lachie Henderson) and would only get games at clubs outside the eight, and other blokes who wouldn’t get a game anywhere else but Melbourne or St Kilda: Levi Casboult, Sam Rowe and, when he plays, Matthew Watson. Actually, the Dees and Saints might also reject these guys. (As a side note: Carlton took three of its current list from the Bulldogs, all players who couldn’t get a regular game there because the club is progressing. But players we have let go have all progressed at other clubs – Grigg and Jacobs being the key ones.)

Carlton’s backward forward line is the result of poor decisions in regard to most of the other forwards who outscored Carlton on the weekend: Kennedy, who doubled our forwards’ score, loved being at Carlton, and the Eagles would have taken Fevola in exchange for Judd; Eddie Betts left for family reasons, but there’s still a chance he’d have stayed if given some of Dale Thomas’s now pretty well useless money; and Jarrad Waite was offered a performance-based contract extension, which, given his history, was the equal of saying please leave. Garlett was an off-field problem child and had to go. But, if he’d played in Carlton’s forward line on the weekend, his one goal would have seen him kick 20 per cent of our forward line’s output.

You can’t undo the past, but you can be honest about it. Malthouse spoke after the West Coast game and bemoaned our lack of talent. And yet he and the football department have overseen a bleed of forward-line talent from the club. And now they’ve brought in Sav Rocca to work with the rabble that’s left (probably paying him what they could have used to help, at the very least, Jarrad Waite to stay).

Last year, after 24 years of the AFL, Carlton finally realized it was in it. Yes, whoops, sorry, just realized: the VFL, which we dominated, is now the reserves competition. Where most of our forward line belongs. Hopefully, now that the Blues have woken up to their place in the AFL, the recruiting department – and coach – will stop sleepwalking and start making some responsible choices about who represents the club over the next 10 years. And stop complaining about the lack of cattle they can put on the paddock because its chewing grass in better pastures.


  1. Tony Birch says

    Dear Paul, whenever I get depressed about the Carlton forward line, which is quite often, I watch the 2007 comeback game against the Bombers and imagine myself jelly wrestling with Fev

  2. Paul Mitchell says

    You could use the current forward line as the jelly, tony

  3. Sal Ciardulli says

    Hi Paul,

    Our best years always had goalkicking midfielders – not many in this lot. But we should not lament of who is gone, none of them ever stood up in matches that matter. Kennedy is an exception only playing a handful of games for the Blues, I had forgotten that Fev was in the mix then – that was the bad decision. Jarrad Waite is one of the greatest FTBBs ever in the competition!

    I don’t quite get the vitriol aimed at Thomas. Granted the money was absurd given the risk with his ankle – but we got to see what he was capable of late last year and the injury in round one could have happened to anyone. He is proven on the big stage and has some sort of extroversion so sadly lacking in the rest of the group.

    You have pretty much nailed the rest of them, but what would they be like with some decent coaching? Casboult should be one of the most exciting players in the competition with such strong hands, but only now Carlton employ a kicking coach for him! Maybe even Watson might be up to it, but not under this or the previous coaching regime.

    As for Malthouse who had to refer to notes at the presser last week to know who was in his leadership group. Hopefully this week has woken the club up from its slumber, but I doubt it. We have heard the rhetoric all too often but when the big calls need to be made they just don’t happen! Fev to West Coast a perfect example.

    Go Blues,

    Cheers, Sal

  4. Carlton – the gift that keeps on giving.
    I hadn’t heard the Fev to WCEagles story before. Surely we had been burned enough with bad boys by then (2010) that we would never have accepted such a troubled type. More Carlton wish fulfilment – thinking that we would have let you keep Kennedy (a Geraldton/Northampton boy like Harry Taylor) for Fev and a set of steak knives?

  5. John Butler says

    Paul, I remain of the opinion that Henderson is a natural defender being forced to play out of position by team shortcomings/necessity. Just like the idea of turning Kreuzer into a forward.

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