Round 10 – Carlton v Adelaide: Judd’s Last Stand.

Carlton v Adelaide

1.40pm, Saturday 5th June

Melbourne Cricket Ground




You never want to hear it at a sporting venue any time after ANZAC Day. It is impossible to write the next paragraph without sounding overly dramatic and I will not make excuses:


I was there and I will never forget it.


There was a moment, in the maelstrom of Carlton’s strong start, where Chris Judd arrived at a contest in the forward fifty as the third man. Ball in dispute flashes of navy guernseys thrashing about on the ground with desperate intent. The second man at the contest waited for the clearance. Judd simply stood back, like that cowboy who silently stands at the end of the main street, his only movement a hand twitching above his holster.


The ball finally sluiced free of the first contest, only for the second man to ping a desperate handball out to Judd. There were bodies everywhere. Adelaide defenders spreading from the contest, Carlton forwards whirring about the fifty arms raised.


Utter chaos.


And Chris Judd just stood there, ball in hand. His Clint impersonation creating time that wasn’t there. Everyone was so busy looking to peel off into the space that he simply became invisible. So he remained patient, waiting for Cripps to cruise into space. Then, and only then, he finally pulled the trigger. Firing a handball through the congestion straight to his man- 35 metres out, Carlton goal. I suspect Cripps didn’t even know the handball was coming. I don’t even know if he realized how much space he was in. Chris Judd did. Juddy always knew.


It feels sickening to use the past tense.


Some moments transcend the game. There was life before Judd hit the ground and there is the world we are now forced to live in. My mate and I knew immediately. We saw Judd writhe in pain and in a slow motion heartbeat saw the end. That’s when the silence descended. A lone voice suddenly boomed- ‘Its his shoulder!’ I’m not sure even he believed it.


The size of a champion’s heart is measured in courage. When Judd stood up there was no doubt what he said to the trainers. It went something along the lines of-

‘I’m walking off. This is the last time I will get to do this and I’m not getting carted off the MCG in my last game.’


He didn’t make it. The umpire appeared to say that if he wanted play stopped he needed to call for the cart. It’s perhaps for the best that I’m not an umpire because I would have held up the game for as long as it took.


The rest of the game had a lot to recommend it. Even in the shadows of the footballing equivalent of a Kennedy-assassination moment, the match fizzed along. Carlton could have won. Certainly Adelaide became rattled when they realized that the Blues weren’t going away. It was a good contest all round. But it will always be the day I saw Judd’s career end.



My mate and I had made our way to the game for one reason- It was a perfect Saturday afternoon for footy. We don’t support either side but we do support the simple truth of the game: That the dappled winter sun that mellows in the third quarter across the ‘G to create the hues of a Turner landscape is eternal.


Only recently I’ve come to realize that I have another mate whose whole world revolves around his football club. I thought nothing of that fact until I realized that what that meant was that he only (really) watches Richmond games. His whole football experience, therefore, is based on what it means for Richmond. To misquote CLR James, misquoting Kipling- ‘What of football does he know, if only Richmond he know?’


It is completely incompatible with the football code my Hawthorn mate and I have always lived by. We just love the game, it doesn’t matter who’s playing we would rather be there than anywhere else.


Carlton v Adelaide peaked our interest; we just didn’t know it would be a wake. When you watch a game of footy that lacks your team’s presence it becomes a conversation point: Would you rather have Dangerfield or Sloane? (We both agreed on Sloane) Would Lachie Henderson be better suited as a Centre-Half-Back? (Probably All-Australian) Is Eddie Betts the best small-forward in the game? (Yes.)


I have no doubt that my Richmond mate feels for Judd ending his career this way but I doubt he spent much time thinking about it past the moment. It didn’t happen against Richmond and it wasn’t Cotchin.


My Hawk mate and I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop thinking about Chris Judd. His career will of course be eulogized all week. He will be celebrated by the numbers and they will stack up to a champion’s career but football is more than that. Thinking about Judd is more than Brownlows and B&F’s. What I see when I think of the man is snapshots of his skill. That burst of pace, neck tucked in and legs pumping, as he blew off the chasers. That heel-click shuffle of his feet as he stopped and waited for the target to line up with his kick. The way he nursed the ball at head-high through the tackle and then shot out a handball. It’s the idiosyncrasies that define a footballer, its what you remember them by.


Carlton almost beat Adelaide. Chris Judd did his ACL. We will remember the latter point forever. Football only matters because we get the pleasure of watching players like Chris Judd. He wasn’t my team’s champion but I went to see him play and ended up seeing his career end. At least I can say I saw him play, on perfect winter’s days made for watching footy.





ADELAIDE 6.3  8.9  10.13  14.15 (99)

 CARLTON 4.1  6.2  11.3  14.6 (90)





Adelaide: J Jenkins 5 T Lynch 2 C Cameron E Betts M Wright N van Berlo P Dangerfield S Jacobs T Walker.


Carlton: L Casboult 3 D Armfield 2 M Kreuzer 2 A Everitt L Henderson N Graham P Cripps T Bell T Menzel Z Tuohy.


Adelaide: Jenkins, Dangerfield, Thompson, Sloane.


Carlton: Murphy, Cripps, Simpson, Casboult.
Umpires: Luke Farmer, Andrew Mitchell, Nick Brown.
Official Crowd: 32,035 at MCG.


Our Votes: 3-Jenkins 2-Dangerfield 1-C. Judd







  1. Peter Fuller says

    Brilliant, Tom and thank you. I’d jotted down a few thoughts about the end of Juddy, but after what you’ve written they are superfluous.
    The mental picture you create of him standing still while the contest raged around him is memorable, and says so much about his genius.

  2. Well written Tom. This is by far the best piece of writing on Judd since his career started. Your perspective as a footy follower more than a singular team fanatic has brought a different hue to the story. The elements of sadness through bearing witness to his ability to be the calm in a stormy sea, put his career in proper context. Regardless of playing finals, no one would have complained if he had been carried off the ground by team mates in the final round. Most likely with the opposition team forming a guard of honour as well.

    On that, the image of the cart driving off with the Adelaide fans standing and clapping him, is hopefully an enduring image. Surely if we can forgive Judd the chicken wings and pressure points, we can show the same respect for Adam Goodes.

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