Carlton, you bastard

I don’t know how I feel, heading off soon to the last game of Carlton’s season, and the last game with Brett Ratten as coach.

A lot of people have condemned the club for their treatment of him, and I think the media needs to take a fair bit of blame for his demise.

It seems like they have had him in their sights all year.

Interestingly, today the Herald-Sun fails to mention either the game or the coach in its paper today. Bastards. Its writers have succeeded in getting rid of him and lost interest, perhaps?

Brett Ratten is a good guy, a decent human being. So is the club president, Sticks.

Ratten is so reasonable, so honest, so candid, so passionate about Carlton. Can they be bad personality traits?

His composure and overwhelming decency at the press conference on Thursday announcing his sacking was amazing.

I stood in front of the ancient AM-only radio in the lunchroom at work listening to it live, and shook my head. How can we do this to someone like Ratts?

Even Kernahan seemed gutted by having to announce he’d done a Brutus on his old mate. Both men spoke in awe of ‘the club’ as being ruthless and impatient.

Who the hell is ‘the club’? Is it a beast with its own life, a dragon that no one can control, a spectre that looms large over board meetings and forces men to do things they don’t want to do?

Or is it a myth kept alive by the backroom deals of powerful, nameless, faceless men? (and women, don’t forget Jeanne Pratt.)

All right, in the cold light of day, looking at our wins in the last couple of years, they have all been soft. Apart from Collingwood, we can’t beat anyone in the top eight, and we have the capacity to play down-in-form teams back into form. That sucks. Any team with a bit of spirit can knock us off. It depends on which Carlton comes out to play, as our best and worst are miles apart.

A very tough decision has been made, and now we are being sold Malthouse as our saviour, as ‘the club’ is desperate to win a flag with Judd and our stable of mostly unproven stars, obtained after confession and penance. Okay, the players need to toughen up, but is the old warhorse up to it? It’s such a short-term plan. Surely there’s a younger coach, a Scott triplet perhaps, coaching in a minor comp somewhere?

I’m heading off soon to Docklands, with Mum and my brothers and friends. My husband understands. Even though it is Fathers Day, he understands that I have to go to this funeral.

My footy family and I will all be watching anxiously at our team which promised so much and delivered so little plays against the Saints. It is the last outing this year for both, and we owe them, or Milne anyway, for the last one. I’m going to have to wear dark glasses and pack a tissue, I reckon. Ratten has been a wonderful club man, as a player in particular, and doesn’t deserve this.

Carlton, you are a bastard.

Then again, maybe we’ll be better next year.


  1. Barb – Carlton is currently a very soft, very ordinary football club. The players couldn’t lift and beat the Saints in the last round for Ratts? Pathetic. A clean out is required. If I were coach I would:

    Trade Gibbs
    Send Sticks off into oblivion. He’s most of the problem.
    Trade Waite
    Trade Warnock
    Get another captain. Judd is a super player but poor captain. Play Judd off half back next year.
    Review the whole culture of the place. Even the marketing catch cry of “I am Carlton” says a lot. No mention of team, no mention of club, just your typical me, me , me rubbish that the Blues have gone on with for decades.

    There is a mistaken belief at Carlton that ruthlessness is the same as intelligence.

  2. Barb, ‘decent human beings’ don’t last long at Carlton. If Mick Malthouse was in Ratts shoes he would probably get another 3 year contract. Personality and the ability to sell yourself goes along way. Mick has it, Ratts didn’t. Hence the the current situation.

  3. Did Sticks simply recently get his ‘Talon’s out or has he been carrying ‘Ratsack’ around in his pccket all season?

  4. Ratten’s dignity and grace during his press conference, said it all. It put the Carlton board to shame.
    P.S. Are Swann and Malthouse old mates?

  5. I think Carlton are becoming ‘good for football’. Richmond are under considerable pressure to retain top billing in this regard.

    It doesn’t matter what I think – people can do what they like. And that includes Carlton people. But when clubs behave in a particular way it is reasonable to consider what that says about their underlying beliefs, attitudes, approaches.

    If they want brand recognition they’re certainly doing a sterling job in creating an identifiable brand. The brand has certainly had an impact on one Dips O’Donnell.

  6. “There is a mistaken belief at Carlton that ruthlessness is the same as intelligence.”

    Maybe, but not just Carlton – every dodgy MBA knows that if you do stuff up it’s strategically far better to miss on the ‘tough’ side.

  7. Rick N – that’s probably why I don’t rate MBAs. The Blues are currently missing on the ‘dumb’ side.

    Take away the 1995 flag (which they cheated to win) and the Blues’ record over the last 2 decades is not far ahead of the much maligned Richmond. Maybe they are ‘good for football’ already.

  8. OK, to humor you I’ll not mention 1995.

    Since 1987 Carlton have played in two losing Grand Finals. They have played in two losing Preliminary Finals. They have made it to week 2 of the finals on four other occasions. Richmond over the same period: 0 0 2 respectively.

    Carlton’s third last finals campaign was in 2009. Richmond’s was in 1982.

    Yeah, call for the developed print….

  9. Since 2000, the last 20 years, since 1987… it’s all a silly ride down the same rhetorical waterslide.

    When all is said and done, we have won 16 Premierships. And before the Geelong idiot parade chime in, it’s 18 if we include our VFA flags.

    We didn’t win those flags by being good blokes always colouring within the lines.

    Ratten as much as anyone was aware of the ruthless culture at Carlton and successive two-year deals told him he was always one bad season away from being sacked.

    Yes, I admire the way he has handled himself – it really has been amazing – but he’s probably been rehearsing that speech since June.

  10. Rick N – the Blues great leader says they measure themselves on flags so I call it a draw.

  11. The Blues started scoring low draft picks consistently in 2005.
    On the Geelong timescale post 1999 when they drafted their first batch of the current uber-team, Carlton’s 2012 is about Geelong’s 2006.
    Thompson could have been sacked without too much controversy, but the Cats resisted the easy option and dealt with it as a club.
    We all know the rest…

  12. PS. In fact, Geelong’s 2005 and 2006 very closely matches Carlton’s 2011 and 2012. Maybe Malthouse is about to walk into the easist gig he has ever had, and probably get all the plaudits for it.

  13. I’m fast getting to a point where if I hear the word ‘ruthless’ again I’ll heave.

    It’s getting trotted out too often as a one-size-fits-all justification, which nobody dare challenge because they can’t be arsed with fending off the crap and rhetoric that would get thrown back at them. A classic discussion stopper.

  14. Pete, Geelong held their nerve and didn’t sack Thompson.

  15. *”merciless culture”… we good?

  16. In all honesty, my biggest concern is Kernahan saying we’ve got to act fast because Judd is 29, thereby playing into The Narrative that we’re a one man team… say nothing of the fact that one of the things our next coach must do is develop a system, structure and culture for a period of sustained success post-Judd.

  17. Wouldn’t mind seeing a compare and contrast of wins without Judd/wins without Murphy this year.

    Although when Murph was out he had a lot more company, so I suppose it’s just another statistical red herring, though not quite as outrageous as that one the other day about Carlton not beating a top four team (uttered within the 10 mins Collingwood, who we beat twice but they didn’t lose another game in between) were outside the top 4).

  18. Litza – fair go, I like chiming in like an idiot.

  19. Andrew Starkie says

    Will you blokes keep it down, please. We have a finals campaign to plan at North

  20. Rick, at the risk of making you heave…

    The Cats were often described as the opposite of “ruthless” prior to 2007. In the end of season review in 2006, the Club (or Brian Cook more correctly) drew a line in the sand.

    The players and team followed suit early in 2007.

    They declared what they called “non-negotiables” and they were ruthless in meeting those, and in confronting those who did not.

    The Cats finally got the hard-egde that they needed to be successful; the players themselves described the team as “ruthless” in the way they played.

    I like “ruthless”, but it obviously can be constructive or destructive. It appears the Cats applied it in a constructive manner.

  21. A one-week campaign… thought you’d be done by now.

  22. Andrew Starkie says

    So, Drew at FF; Lachie, CHF; who do we put on Nik Nat? Do we go in with one or two rucks?

    So many questions to be considered thi week.

  23. Cookie, would like to play a side that is also playing it’s 4th final. That would mean Collingwood, West Coast or North.

  24. Good questions AS. Is it time for an extra tall? Pedersen? If so, at whose expense? Does it leave us short a crucial runner?

  25. Malby Dangles says

    Well put Barb. This is how I feel about the Blues at the moment.

  26. Barbara Smith says

    Most of your comments are harsh but fair.
    Although I bristled at Harmsey’s comment that we are ‘good for football’, the way Richmond is. Shit. This is really serious!

    PS all you Cats fans can stop bloody moralizing. I won’t barrack for you in the finals.
    PPS I would happily offload Waite (too injury-prone), Warnock (soft) and Hampson.
    Yes, I think we might need a new prez too. Just not Mrs Pratt.

  27. John Butler says

    Coming late to this piece Barb. I sympathise with much of what you say. VFL/AFL football has/will always accommodate bastardy.

    But don’t let the holier-than thou Cat contingent rattle you. Dips is just out for a stir. He couldn’t possibly believe most of that crapulous dribble.

    And a lot of us think last night’s events were ‘good for football’.

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