It was twenty years ago this week…..

Listening to the dulcet tones of Sinead O’Connor and ‘Nothing Compares To You’ which Mr DJ informed us was top of the charts exactly 20 years ago, I was suddenly filled with foreboding about the Carlton-Geelong clash on Friday night – mostly AT the admittedly unlikely prospect of a Blues win.

For it was twenty years ago, almost to the day, that Carlton gave a final flourish to what had been a frustrating, wildly uneven season by knocking off an Essendon side firmly entrenched in the top two. In the process they increased their chances of a finals berth from mathematical to highly unlikely, just like a win over the Cats would keep alight the flickering hope of a winnable week 1 final, in Melbourne.

Carlton had entered the last month of the season needing three wins from four (with Hawthorn in round 21 absolutely imperative as it was their finals spot we were targeting), but North Melbourne, led by an emerging Wayne Carey, had ground us into the MCG sludge. Three from four had become three from three and next up was Essendon at Princes Park (for the last time ever?  Better check). In other words, we were shot.

The history books show that it all came together that afternoon, Seven from Kernahan, blinders from SOS and the little blokes, and a 20-point win. It was our best performance of a season that had already featured wins over both the previous season’s grand finalists (sound familiar?) but also ghastly home losses to the likes of Sydney, Footscray and West Coast. But the next week Hawthorn finally put us out of our misery and in round 22 players and fans went through the motions as we sleepwalked our way through our last game against Fitzroy, which we also lost. It is unlikely that many people were paying enough attention to notice our first-gamer .that afternoon, who made few ventures into the action but did kick a neat goal in the second term: some kid from Lilydale called Brett Ratten.

So that Essendon win had kept Carlton fans excited for about five minutes but its true significance became more obvious as the finals progressed. Carlton, a team of incandescent mediocrity,  had exposed for all to see the only remaining half-credible challenger to the premiership favorite as slow, tired, injured and devoid of a plan B.

That premiership favorite was Collingwood.


  1. John Butler says

    Sadly Rick, there was no repeat of history last night.

    Although I wonder if we didn’t show a problem or two for the Cats.


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