I was a teenage coach

I was a teenage coach


Sunday arvo, decided to write about young Brendon ‘Bolts’ Bolton and the terrible time he must be having. Monday morning, read the news and decided to wait a bit.  Your columnist has no strong feelings about Carlton either way and no interest in burying or praising Brendon but making a few random notes.


Check the headline. I’ve been using that lame joke for a few years now – old movies are a bonanza of puns and references – but it fit. Brendon is short, youthful and didn’t play at the elite level.  No matter what coaching talents he may have, those factors were always against him.  He never came across as a forceful individual capable of taking command and moulding forty young athletes, celebrated since childhood for their football abilities, into his vision of a team.  Pat Cripps wouldn’t give a hoot for my opinion on tactics but he wouldn’t get a crick in his neck from looking down at me during the conversation.


Tactics win battles, strategies win wars.  Did Brendon have a solid grasp of either?  Not according to the Blues fans on bigfooty.  I haven’t seen enough of Carlton to say so but the oft-quoted ‘4 from 44’ speaks for itself as do the match reviews and comments continually referring to a hesitant chip’n’wait style of play.


Did a bunch of top ten draftees really take this in?  A senior coach has to be a manager and motivator.  A few weeks ago the players told the coaches to rak off, they were gonna talk amongst themselves.   Doubtful they were discussing their collective mindset, as subsequent games indicated.  Rumour has it, they vented about a micro-managed gameplan that robbed them of initiative and enjoyment.  Perhaps they would have been more open to the plan if it was delivered by a 6’4” premiership player.


Brendon’s the senior coach and his head was always gonna be first on the chopping block but it wasn’t all his fault.  Silvagni has a lot to answer for, not the least being Alex Fasolo, but it makes for an odd comparison to his time at the Monaros.


Sure, they had draft picks from arsehole to breakfast time, but the signups were well thought.  Talented youngsters Davis, Ward, Scully, plus the likes of Dean Brogan and Luke Power, experienced players past their prime who could help teach the draftees and do a good bit of onfield gruntwork to protect their young teammates.  A few years later, Shaw and Mumford, players  of immeasurable value.  It’s almost a textbook lesson in how to create a competitive team, one that played a preliminary final in its fifth season and hasn’t been too far off the pace since.


Of even more immeasurable value was the inspired choice of foundation coach.  Kevin Sheedy has a stature in the game that only Ron Barassi and Leigh Matthews could match.  He was behind the curve of the modern game in many ways but he gave the fledgling team a sense of being.


We will never know what goes on behind closed doors.  We don’t know how much latitude Steve was allowed at Carlton.  We do know he signed nine ex-Monaros, of whom Marchbank and possibly Kennedy are worthwhile.  Perhaps in 2036 a carefully scrutinised ghost-writ autobio will be released and we might get half a clue of his opinion on Brendan signing on for the worst job in football and the associated boardroom discussions.


LoGiudice and Judd have a lot to answer for.  Incidentally, Chris’ wikipedia page states that he is a registered organ donor and drives a Hyundai i30 but makes no mention of his career after retiring as a player.  He lost his cool and took a cheap shot at Garry Lyon Monday eve, which suggests a lot of tension.  MLG saying that the strategy is still intact would cause stress to anyone inside the CFC sanctum.  Especially those who might have asked “why are we entrusting our rebuild to an unproven coach?”


Brendon had a 100% winning record when he took over from Al Clarkson for a few weeks.  But you or I could have done that.  He took on a job he was ill-prepared for at a club living in the past.  Yep, they even got Robert Walls back a few months ago.  A bunch of fans are thrilled at the prospect that Ratten might return. Sure, he had a decent record but would he really want to walk back into the club that shafted him for the glory that was Malthouse?


Yeah, nah, but, look, going forward…


Carlton need a coach with experience and stature.  1000/1 Paul Roos & Al Clarkson, 100/1 Ross Lyon, now we’re running short of candidates, the odds on Brad Scott would be in single figures.  He did a lot with few resources, he’s good with players, won flags with Lethal’s Lions.


Brendon, being sacked was the worst thing that has ever happened to you in your professional life. But the best thing in your personal life, you have a handsome payout and your wife smiles “I’m happy they sacked you, that job was killing you” and your kids are laughing and saying “Can we go to the park now Daddy?”


You’re better off out of that loop, lad.  Take an extra long weekend and enjoy life.


P&C, A Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Inc

Brought to you with the assistance of ‘Johnny Rivers Live at the Whisky A Go Go’



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. i’m really excited at the thought of a Brett Ratten homecoming. My guess is were LoGiudice to jump or be pushed, Ratts could walk in with nobody still there from his sacking. I don’t subscribe to the theory that ex coaches can’t return. David Parkin was sacked – and them came back to win another flag. So it can happen. Don’t tell me the unfinished business wouldn’t ratchet up his desire a cog or two. Bring it on. If Voss gets the job i might have to find another winter sport to follow.

  2. Well said Earl. Not much more I can say about Bolts and the Blues but your musical taste is even better.

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Doo doo do waah
    Shooby doobie
    That’s a policy I can get with.

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    Hey PB, saw Johnny Rivers at Jazzfest in New Orleans a few weeks ago, he was sensational! For many in the group I travelled with he was the surprise packet, and their highlight of the festival. He certainly was my top pick, voice is still fantastic and his guitar playing was fab, I didn’t realise he played so well!

  5. Jealous Col. Great to know Johnny is still going strong. Great career as both a singer and songwriter in styles from rocknroll to R&B and country.
    Looking forward to a match report on New Orleans. Were you with Brian Wise from Rhythms Magazine and 3RRR Off the Record? He is a Jazzfest regular (but a Hawks supporter I think).

  6. Colin Ritchie says

    Certainly was with Brian Wise from 3RRR, my third trip with him. He is a Hawks supporter, one-eyed! The match report from Jazzfest is slow coming at the moment but I’ll get there.

  7. E.regnans says

    #loveit Earl.

    “You’re better off out of that loop, lad. Take an extra long weekend and enjoy life.”

    It’s a strange mix of factors that must come together for one team of young physical over-achievers to beat another 17 teams of young physical over-achievers – no doubt.

    Luck probably the biggest factor.
    Time for a holiday.
    *winds down the drivers’ side window*

  8. Hey Earl, when I first saw the title of his piece I wondered were you a teenager coaching or maybe someone coaching teenagers? Personally, I’m not a coach but can often resort to being a coach critic. Somehow, I suspect many Almanacas are also in the same boat. Cheers

  9. John Butler says

    Earl, the relationship that has developed between GWS and Carlton, with all the shared personnel, is a subject for deeper consideration. I suspect a lot of the change in the football world is explained by the differences between the two clubs.

    As for SOS, he’s made some mistakes for sure, but I find it hard to buy the idea that he could be genius at one club and a dunce at another.

    I doubt Bolton’s predicament would have been improved by platform shoes, but I kinda see your point. But don’t forget, he started ok in his first couple of years. As the gap between expectation and reality widened, I think he got swamped by the pressures. And other people’s need to cover their arses.

    I hope Bolts has a good break.


  10. Earl O'Neill says

    Everything I write is liberally sprinkled with obscure puns and references, I put a bloody neon sign on it this week!
    Come on, someone has to get it.

  11. Dave Brown says

    Clarko’s 5’10” (allegedly) but he talks 6’6″

  12. Bolts = Michael Landon (Little Joe from Bonanza) lookalike? I Was A Teenage Werewolf.

  13. Earl O'Neill says

    Good work, Peter.

Leave a Comment