Round 6 – Carlton v Brisbane Lions: Doom and Gloom after the Blooms


The weather was inhospitable, as were the prospects awaiting at Docklands. While we digested Mother’s Day lunch, the temptation was to stick with the mulled wine and cosy ambiance. But as we were only a few kilometres from the ground, a morbid sense of curiosity got the better of me.


Carlton, obviously anticipating an echoing stadium, was offering tickets free to a good home. My Better Half is an infrequent football attendee, but given the price, she reckoned she was some chance to get her money’s worth. I reckoned she was an optimist. Perhaps I was concerned my record for showing a woman a good time would remain intact.


So we found ourselves in much less cosy circumstances watching Captain Carlton plunge from the stadium ceiling. Regretfully, his fall was broken by abseiling equipment, a choice he no doubt also subsequently regretted. David Rhys-Jones presents the ball to the umpires (who says football has no irony?). Again, I contemplate how much the decline in the team’s fortunes relates to the club’s insistence they run out accompanied by Phil Collins and dry ice (it’s always the ‘80’s at Carlton). The Better Half is disappointed the promised hovercraft was a no-show. If its absence was due to unforseen deflation, that could only be seen as metaphoric*.


Once the ground announcer was done enhancing our match day experience, and our eyes adjusted to the strobing advertising that now rings the arena,  we were left with two clubs struggling with the consequences of past ill-conceived short cuts. After the 2009 season, Michael Voss was a first year coach whose team had exceeded expectations. Anticipating imminent glory, Brisbane topped up with other clubs’ re-treads – most calamitously one was Brendan Fevola. Voss is now an assistant coach in another state, and ex-team mate Justin Leppitsch wrestles with the legacy. Meanwhile, Carlton has turned short cuts and false dawns into our club motto.


Neither side possessing an obvious goal kicker, this contest was always about who could scrounge a score. Enter Levi Casboult and Daniel McStay, in one of the least anticipated goal shoot-outs in football history. Lacking Jamison and Henderson, Sam Rowe was Carlton’s only real key defensive option. He did pretty well in the body-on- body contests, but struggled with McStay’s movement when the Lion had some room. McStay’s problem for much of the game was getting supply.


Our Levi saw more of the ball in his vicinity, but Carlton’s ongoing inability to kick to our forwards’ advantage means he has to win it the hard way, in packs. Lacking Sauce Merrit, Brisbane did a good enough job of covering their inexperienced defenders by getting numbers to those packs.


Under less pressure than last week, Judd, Cripps and Gibbs gave Carlton the early advantage of clearances and possession, fed again by some honest toil from Cam Wood. But only early in the third quarter did we threaten to pull ahead meaningfully on the scoreboard. That moment soon passed.


Though Carlton continues to win the contested possession, its ball movement has all the energy of a sclerotic pensioner. It’s hard not to wonder if the coach’s midfield preferences – both personnel, and allocation of roles – have contributed to this. Once again we had three taggers (remember when Malthouse’s Collingwood didn’t use taggers?). Armfield on Rich was logical enough, and Dennis did the job required. Curnow on Zorko was a head scratcher. With a Brisbane midfield boasting Beams, Rockliff, Reddan, Christensen and Taylor, Zorko was the one to cover? Curnow excelled, but it felt like winning a flanking manoeuvre while your main front collapsed. Speaking of that main front, Mark Whiley has spent his first two games for Carlton trying to cover Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Beams. This will be intended as some sort of learning exercise, but I fear the only lesson Whiley may be learning is that he should have gone to a different club.


With three midfielders negating rather than creating, Judd slowing (with age, and the burden of teammates) and Murphy stuck forward trying to prop up our attack, we always looked a chance to be overrun. This was exacerbated once Wood was again found out by a more agile opponent. Stephan Martin left him further in his wake as the game progressed, effectively giving Brisbane an extra midfielder.


Momentum shifted in the final ten minutes of the third term. Brisbane laid siege to an increasingly jittery Carlton defence. They wasted some chances, but still led by 8 at the final break. When that was stretched to 21 early in the final term, they’d done enough to stagger home. Josh Green was rarely sighted, but managed three crucial opportunist goals. Carlton used to have a couple of similar types. They now ply their trade at different clubs.


Now that the Carlton house is obviously ablaze, belated talk of a rebuild is supposed to provide a hose. This ignores the fact that a rebuild (of a sort) has already started. This team contained ten players who weren’t at the club two years ago. This loss leaves the Blues on track for the wooden spoon. Carlton went 105 years in the VFL/AFL before winning a spoon. We could be looking at our fourth in the last sixteen seasons. For management types gauging how things are going, how’s that for a KPI?



*The hovercraft was subsequently found floating upside down on the Yarra. Captain Carlton’s whereabouts remain unknown.


CARLTON                3.2   6.4   9.7   11.9  (75)
BRISBANE LIONS   3.1   5.4  10.9 12.12 (84)


Carlton: Casboult 4, Bell 2, Murphy 2, Cripps, Judd, Jones,
Brisbane Lions: McStay 4, Green 3, Taylor, Leuenberger, Lester, Christensen, Rockliff

Carlton: Bell, Casboult, Curnow, Judd, Docherty
Brisbane: Beams, Martin, McStay, Redden, Christensen, Johnson

Official crowd: 20,273 (including all those free tickets?)


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. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Look on the bright side JB. The Blues are still undefeated outside Australia and according to your coach, you lost to a “very good football side” that are still below you on the ladder.
    Phil Collins and dry ice is not good for anybody.

  2. John Butler says

    Phil, I do think Brisbane could be accused of underachieving so far this year. That is a pretty decent midfield group.

    But Mick is stretching it. Considerably.

    As you already know, you’ll never get a mea culpa from Mr Malthouse.

  3. The Wrap says

    It’s so gruesome around at Visy Park it’s difficult to comment with any enthusiasm JB. And I’m sure the Whole Football World joins me in congratulating the Bluebagger Supporter Base on achieving – after over a century of trying – Long Suffering Status.

    BTW, loved it when the Leadership Group got 100% behind the Coach. Then the President got 100% behind the Leadership Group AND the Coach. However, I’m a bit confused. Does that mean the Coach has 300% or 200% support? And if the Coach gets behind the coach 100%, and the assistant coaches get behind the coach 100%, would that make it another 100%, or would it be an extra 200% the Coach has? And what support does he have from the LSVPF*?

    Now I know you think I’m typing this from a rolling, prone possession with my ribs in a brace at the situation in which Carlton finds itself and the various positions taken by those who are responsible for a) the mess, b) the clean-up, and c) the rebuild, I want to assure you that you haven’t lost your power of imagination.

    * LSVPF – Long Suffering Visy Park Faithful?

  4. John Butler says

    It’s difficult to watch with much enthusiasm at the moment Wrapster.

    It’s not just the losing. We are playing such a painful brand of football that its all a bit sad.

    I accept your kind offer of LSS status, knowing full well that compared to our Bulldog, Saint and Tiger brethren, we still have our training wheels on. But the way we’re going, we’re catching up fast.

  5. The Wrap says

    Looks like you’re off the front pages for a while JB. The Flying Syringes have hogged the headlines once more. Ya gotta hand it to ’em, eh? They’re really getting some mileage out of their injection program.

  6. John Butler says

    The gift that keeps on giving for you Wrapster.

    Is it too much to hope someone might get Mr Dank to come clean? And that this farce over the records that exist/don’t exist will finally get a proper answer?

    At least coach Narcissus will get to play Joan of Arc some more. That’s always worth a laugh.

  7. Andrew Starkie says

    Got as far as Phil Collins.

    Blue Oblivion, JB.

    I’m happy for Carl to beat North late season for the third yr in a row and once again declare ‘We have turned the corner’ and ‘This club is a good place to be’, and re-sign MM for three years.

  8. Andrew Starkie says

    Armfield does a good Julian KNight.

  9. Andrew Starkie says

    Can I say that? Sorry, if not.

  10. John Butler says

    I should have left at Phil myself, Starkers.

    I could make some poor comment about Dennis never being able to shoot straight enough, but that would definitely cross a line. So I won’t.

  11. The Wrap says

    I don’t know fellas. It was a long tome ago.

    But the Gift That Keeps on Giving is a bit like receiving a sky blue safari suitfor your senior landmark birthday. Not only is it not funny any more, it’s dead boring. Worse than that, it’s taking Mickey & The Bluebaggers off the Back Page.

  12. John Butler says

    El Wrappo, if its laughs you want, I fear the Blues will provide a lot more before we’re through.

    And there I was thinking a sky blue safari suit might be just the fashion trick for Spring…

Leave a Comment