Plato, Mick Malthouse and the Blues

By Jerry Rinse

I’ve alluded to my dislike of Mick Malthouse before in this space. Albeit briefly.

I didnt like the way he skewed the realities of life to get the best out of the men he coached. I preferred the coaching philosophies of Pagan, Parkin and even Ratten.

When Ratts was given the flick I was at a low ebb. My beloved Blues once again lost their nerve. They ditched the up and comer, ate their own and showed the football world that they had learnt none of the lessons dished out to them when they terminated the coaching career of Wayne Brittain and opted for the safety of a proven performer in Pagan. Not that everything that followed was Pagans doing, far from it. I came to love the man, his stoicalness  his forthrightness and his catch cry, control only what you can control.

But then my team went one step further as of course we all knew they would. They employed a man whose mantra was the direct opposite. Control everything. The umpires, the AFL, the opposition, the media……I was devastated and I texted a football loving friend of mine that this might be it for me. I might be heading to the VFL or beyond.

I was gutted for Ratts. I thought he had much to learn but felt he was learning it. He was cruelled by injuries to his list and his list wasnt as good as some had made out. At least not its depth. But Ratts going was only part of my problem. This new guy coming in….he was the antithesis of what I believed in as football lover. I was particualrly concerned with what others saw as his main strength – being his ability to get the best out of individuals. Nothing wrong with that in itself but it was his method that troubled me. This whole No Limits things that is being spruiked by the Carlton marketing department as a result of Micks mantra…there ARE limits Mick and Im not comfrotable with you saying otherwise. Especially for the sake of getting someone to believe something that isnt true just so he can walk that extra mile, chase that one last time, provide that match winning sheppard. It’s not sustainable, it’s not true.

Football for me is an enormous part of my life because I look for symmetry between what happens on the field and my own life. I cant help it and I like doing it and it brings me great comfort at 2am in the night when I cant sleep and I picture the team being perfectly balanced, thinking of whom might come in and who might go out and the reasons behind it all. I could go on but I wont. Actually I will. Somethings happened. Something’s changed and Im shocked at my previous steadfastness meting away and my contemplation of another philosophy. Another way of life. This game means so much to me that I’m willing to drop everything I’ve learned it would seem. I cant bare being at odds with my coach. I cant bare being out of sync with our game plan. I can only see the positives and to do so I need to change the way Im seeing it all. Herein lies the problem perhaps. There is no perfect perspective. Plato said it best but into his equation of art and math being the purest of perspectives after that of God’s, I would add football. It tells me where I am at in my own life even if the majority of what I choose to glean from its teachings is unfounded. Is it unfounded?

The friend whom I sent the text to way back in November 2012 saying I might be done with AFL asked me more recently what I was thinking of MM and my boys. I didn’t say much about my thoughts but I did say one thing….I’m in. And I am. I’m in quite deep. I’ve never seen my team play like this. There is a resilience about my team even though we are 1 and 3 down. We don’t look likely to capitulate the way we were prone to do over the years. We still have the leg speed but we look like we can wrestle our opponents, hold our ground and then do the running. We used to just run and it was breath taking but when an opponent closed down our space we got thumped. Something’s changed. Players who could be termed front runners are adding strings to their bows, and those who were so dour in their duties are getting the ball and doing things with it. It is without a doubt the stamp of Mick Malthouse and I am yet to come to grips with what this means for me and all my theories about life and football. Am I wrong? Is there really no limits on us as individuals? Or even scarier for me, do the theories we apply on the football field have no bearing on the ones we apply in life? Are they governed by separate laws?

I’m in the midst of a transition. I’m not ready to dissect the answer just yet or hear it. All I know is that when I wake at 2am and replay Yarran’s run into an open goal and desperate Dennis alongside providing a sheppard I have much to contemplate.

I’m in Mick. I’m definitely in.


  1. Reading blogs and articles on the appointment of Mick as Carlton’s coach, Cry’s for a young coach Mick’s stagnated game plan was entertaining to say the least,Watching with interest Mick coaching the Pies you knew a premiership would some day be theirs, Having young coaches with mentors ( Voss-Harvey, Hird -Thomson, Bucks-Eade, Neeld-Craig ) made one wonder if the days of an older experience coach would be a thing of the past,The excitement felt seeing the improvement in our players all the things mentioned by Jerry, I’am glad carlton didn’t go down that road

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