Round 12 – Carlton v Port Adelaide: Life, death and football

We are a Carlton family and a lot has happened in our family this year, and this month.

Our family has had to deal with cancer this year, and it has been a roller coaster of emotions.

We have never had to deal with cancer before, and it puts your life into perspective. Carlton’s shocking year seemed to mirror ours. Health issues, work hassles, Malthouse was just one more prickle.

I’m sick of Carlton sacking coaches but this one just had to go. The players were hobbled by his game plan and ego, and I reckon they hated playing his way as much as we hated watching them get flogged. Going to games was torture, the players just had no heart. Footy as a distraction from real life problems just wasn’t working.

But at least we had a new grandchild on the way!

Two weeks ago, my daughter was in labour, and Carlton was playing its second game with John Barker in charge. I thought my personal roller coaster might be leveling out, but I was wrong.

As the new baby was entering this world, and Carlton was battling manfully against Adelaide, I was informed of the sudden, tragic death of a former junior footy teammate of my son. I was given the news by his devastated mother. He was a beautiful young man and nobody knew he had a dicky heart.

When Judd did his knee and finished his career 30 minutes later, I was already emotionally spent. We will never see another Judd, and he gave us many moments of joy. But he had just retired, whereas another man his age was robbed of life.

Minutes after the stretcher left the field, as the wonderful Chris Judd exited my life, my grandson, young William was born. A beautiful child, whose ecstatic mother hopes he will love sport as much as she does.

All these tumultuous life events have made me take stock. I love my footy but life and death are overwhelming.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I took my 13 year old nephew to the MCG. We are loyal Blues and we hoped for continued effort from our boys, after two weeks of improvement. We got it.

We could have sat anywhere in the Members, the crowd was so small. Two of my brothers joined us and we shared junk food and hopes.

Not an ideal start, Port getting the first two goals, but this is a new, unshackled Carlton. Our boys tackled and ran their hearts out, got lucky at times, and showed so much commitment that they charged back into the game. Murphy and Simmo were on-field generals, leading by example, and our young players grew by the minute. I could write a whole article on Patrick Cripps, he is a remarkable talent and eases the loss of Judd, but this was a whole team effort.

When the siren blew for our upset win yesterday, we were all jumping up and down, whooping with delight. Yes, we are starved of success, but suddenly the future is not so bleak.

20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. Bloody Malthouse! He nearly killed us. Thank God my club got rid of him.

I only hope they don’t chose the next coach on reputation. Dig deep Carlton. The players have dug deep, now it’s the Board’s turn.

I must leave now. I have to join up a new member for Carlton; the beautiful little boy who entered my life 2 weeks ago. Welcome to the club, Will.


Barb Smith


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Lovely writing Barbara,
    my thoughts are with your friends in sorrow, and with you in joy, for both the new member and something to be able to look forward too when times are tough.

    Be well


  2. Grand stuff Barb. I admire the way you have stuck through thin and thinner.
    One editorial note – “le” redundant.

  3. I was at this game, Barb. It was a ripper to watch. And pretty good standard as well.

    Our daughter, Kate, got to spend the afternoon with the umpires as an honorary trainer, going out onto the MCG at the breaks to give them drinks. Lucky girl. We watched from the grandstand, but got to see the last 4 or 5 nervous minutes at ground level from the umpires race. A wonderful experience.

  4. Barb smith says

    Sounds exciting Dips. Glad the umps were well refreshed, so could look after the Blue boys!

  5. Peter Fuller says

    Symapthy and empathy for your life events. I think it’s best to live life with feeling, suffering pain so that one can take joy in good things which happen; the alternative is to try to insulate oneself from potential suffering by unfeeling (perhaps medicated).

    Dips, delighted for Kate and her special experience. There is some evidence that she cared for the umps well. I may have missed an instance, but I didn’t see a single centre bounce called back. In my memory, that hasn’t previously happened, since the new procedure was introduced.

  6. Congratulations upon the new arrival and lovely reading. I like the way you have woven and linked things both on and off the field. It creates an engaging texture to your story.

    I’ve decided the roller coaster just keeps on rolling, ….. A little more of the Scenic railway would be nice, however, not something any of us can control.

Leave a Comment