Round 19 – Gold Coast v Carlton: The Sunk Cost Fallacy Cup

This contest shaped as a test of supporters’ commitment as much as the players’. Both of these sides have recently given their fans plenty of cause to question the wisdom of their emotional and financial investments. That’s the trap of supporting a footy club: you invest so much you feel obliged to double down in the face of all available evidence. At least Carlton supporters can lean on history when looking for emotional support. All Suns supporters can call upon is the seemingly endless promise of potential. And nice weather.


The form line pointed to the Suns, coming off perhaps their best ever win against Sydney. The Blues, on the other hand, had endured a dismal lead-in. In hindsight, Carlton’s clanger-fest against the Suns in round 2 had presaged the gruelling  season to come. As injuries and losses accumulated, things had not improved.


Searching for positives, Blues fans were going to get a full glimpse of the intended future in this game. The injury to Liam Jones and the omission of Levi Casboult meant the Carlton spine read (back to front) Weitering, Marchbank, Cripps, C. Curnow, McKay. This was really the first time this group had lined up as such.


The Suns were missing Tom Lynch and Sam Day from that round 2 encounter, but they did have Peter Wright. Courtesy of a couple of iffy free kicks, the big fella saw the Suns lead by 3 goals after 12 minutes. Blues fans braced for more of the same. At least we managed to complete a first quarter without losing someone to injury, the first time in a month that had occurred.


Instead, Gold Coast lost David Swallow, who emerged concussed from a Paddy Cripps tackle. His absence told in the second term, as Cripps and Marc Murphy took charge in the midfield. Carlton dominated field position, but couldn’t score. Rory Thompson was proving a good athletic match-up for Charlie Curnow, and Steven May continued on from his previous effort against the Swans, intercept marking at will.


Finally, Murphy put Cripps through for the Blues to goal. Soon after, Jack Silvagni centred to Liam O’Brien, and Carlton had closed to 2 points. That was the margin at half time, in a slog largely notable for the profusion of errors from both teams in dewy conditions.


Things picked up quickly for Blues fans after the long break. Charlie and Harry were finally hit up on leads, Darcy Lang out bodied his opponent in front of goal, and Paddy Dow exploded through 50 to complete an end-to-end transition. When SOSOS finally got some reward for his efforts by soccering through another, the Blues had surged clear on the scoreboard. By the time Murph fed Jed Lamb to kick another, the quarter had seen us score 7 goals to 1. It was Carlton’s most productive scoring term in years. Given the preceding weeks, this felt too good to be true.


Steven May was moved forward to try and revive the Suns in the final term. Increasingly frustrated with events, he ironed out Ed Curnow. It was for little effect. When Lang mongrelled through a left foot snap the game was sewn up early.


When you’ve won 1 of your last 27 games, any win will do Carlton fans. The manner of the victory was encouraging, even if confined to a single burst. Cripps was immense, as usual, and Murph continued to regain form as he regains fitness. Matt Kennedy again proved useful, and Darcy Lang produced his best effort in Navy Blue, to go with two goals. Charlie kept working, getting the better of Thompson the longer the game went. Marchbank and Weitering looked more sure of themselves in the absence of Liam the Unpredictable. Sam Petrevski-Seton finally kept his feet.


But it was the effort from Paddy Dow that delighted most. Thrown in the deep end this season, his growing poise and confidence with the ball is one of the more encouraging developments in a fallow season.


After that great win over Sydney, the Suns managed only two goals after the 12 minute mark of this match. Steven May provided a presence at both ends, Jarrod Witts continued to be one of the unsung AFL success stories with his effort in the ruck, but there wasn’t much else to say for them this night.


There’ll be some at AFL HQ quietly pondering the concept of sunk cost fallacy in relation to the Suns. Whilst their existence added value to the AFL’s broadcast deal, that money is being swallowed up at a rate in excess of $20 million per season. In their ninth year of existence, the Suns remain a creation of commercial agendas. As a footy club, they still struggle to retain key players. They are the genuine concern of relatively few people.


But Carlton supporters are hardly in a position to cast stones at others. No one in Navy Blue will be getting carried away with this effort. It is a brief respite in an otherwise tough season. Much more will need to follow before we can declare any greater significance for this win.



GOLD COAST   3.3   3.6   4.8   5.14 (44)

CARLTON        1.2   3.4   10.6   12.7 (79)

Gold Coast: Wright 2, Bowes, May, Powell

Carlton: Dow 2, Lang 2, Cripps, Curnow, Lamb, McKay, Murphy, O’Brien, Silvagni, Wright

Gold Coast: May, Witts, Harbrow, Brodie, Longergan

Carlton:  Cripps, Murphy, Petrevski-Seton, Lang, Dow, Marchbank, Weitering

Umpires:O’Gorman, Gavine, Williamson

Official crowd: 10,776 at Metricon Stadium


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About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. “…you invest so much you feel obliged to double down in the face of all available evidence.”
    Where have I heard that before? Bluebaggers (insert struggling club name here) Anonymous meetings would be well attended these days.
    The empty stands at most games in Queensland and many in NSW are a concern. Is the Swans legacy strong enough to survive the Buddy gamble? How long will the debt be repaid on and off field in $ and players foregone?
    I have been watching old videos of golf and the proximity of the crowd to players before the roped off era provides a fascinating social profile of faces and appearance. Footy needs a crowd for atmosphere and context. There is only so much you can do by close up. Horse racing is the ideal put on for TV sport as it requires no human involvement or attendance (most jockeys are sub-human). Heard yesterday that the NSW government has put half a million into the dishlickers just a few years after banning it as cruel. If the contestants only need half a brain – cut out the middleman. Must be a by-election in Dapto.
    Glad to see you are getting some return on your emotional investment in the Blues. Did you catch up with Clem and Quang in the Mars Bar on Sunday arvo? I’m worried about him.

  2. John Butler says

    PB, it’s not classed as therapy if you have a member’s ticket.

    The long-view history of this particular period of AFL Empire building might make for interesting reading.

    Now I best be going. I believe the jockeys’ union may be trying to contact you. :)

  3. Stainless says

    You’re right that the win itself means little, (although it must have been enjoyable after such a tough year), but you can at least take heart that when the ODNBs turn the corner, there will be some genuine excitement. Don’t think we can say the same for Gold Coast. “Creation of commercial agendas” indeed. PB’s extension of this concern to NSW is valid too. On-field success is currently masking the problem.

  4. John Butler says

    Stainless, I feel sorry for those who do care about the Suns. There must be a few.

    Also for the players. A significant portion of several years’ talent has been tied to this exercise. You only get one playing career.

    If we’re being realistic, we can’t know for sure if they have any chance of working for years to come. The cost of this might be monumental by the time we know.

    At least GWS feel more like a real footy club.


  5. Terry riordan says

    The Gold Coast Suns are doomed they should be packed up , rebranded and relocated to Tasmania where there is a football culture who is in need of a position in the national framework of the AFL.

    Local interest in the Gold Coast AFL competition is as l understand quite viable but it does not transfer to the Suns who are plagued by a lack of culture and tradition, a painfully thin supporter base and a cold and lifeless stadium. The Brisbane Bears could not survive there and I seriously doubt if the Suns can

    The Gold Coast population is very transient and most people are from somewhere else a lot are from the southern states but their allegiance is to teams from their state of Origen this is evidenced by the recent Carlton game which had a crowd of just over 10,000 which l think is the best for Carrara this season.

    Interestingly my wife barracks for Hawthorn so we decided to attend the Brisbane / Hawthorn game earlier this season we did not prebrook but arrived at the ground as the siren sounded there was a reasonable queue but on On arrival at the ticket box we were informed the was no general admission tickets available next option was approximately $80.00 a ticket but if we wanted a guaranteed seat together the cost was in excess of $100.00. Consequently we left

    At the time l thought ” gee they must have a really big crowd , that’s good for football ” l later found out that the official crowd was 20,000 … Gabba capacity is mid 40,000

    My point is the AFL does not care about Queensland except for TV rights

  6. Well this comment section is joyful reading as a Suns supporter…

  7. John Butler says

    Terry, the only thing I’d caution is that we often make long term judgments based on short term considerations. If Carlton require years to rebuild properly, the job of building a team from scratch is much greater again.

    Jarrod, I don’t doubt the passion of those who love the Suns. I just wonder how many of you there really are. You have to face the fact most footy people outside your club are indifferent to it. That can be an opportunity in a sense, as well as a challenge. But you continue to bleed playing talent, which hardly helps convince anyone.

    Anyway, as I said, Carlton people have their own worries to focus on.

    Thanks for the comment folks.

  8. E.regnans says

    1 out of 27.
    Fine writing, observations, again J Butler.
    You’re good at this.

    At the pub last night with some gents.
    Carlton supporter: “The rest of the AFL must be really missing a competitive Carlton. We make the competition better. All the other clubs. They miss us.”
    Rest of us: (look quizzically at each other)
    Doggies supporter: “Mate; we don’t give a shit.”

  9. John Butler says

    Ta, E Reg.

    One thing you’ll rarely accuse a Carlton person of is under-estimating our place in the universe. :)

    Old habits die hard.

  10. JB – there will come a day when that “traditional” Round 1 stoush regains its status as a genuine blockbuster and the ODNBs will win. I will hate that day, but I acknowledge that it will happen. I guess that’s the point. I don’t know if I will ever have that feeling when it comes to GCS.
    Your point about the long term is well made too. The only club that can be said to be truly successful and established in heathen territory is Sydney – and look how much time, false starts and AFL millions that took. And the Swans had the advantage of the “Bloods” history and support. Gold Coast may well be approaching a tipping point a la Sydney in 1993, when the bankrupt club was given a lifeline by the League. Sydney survived because they were regarded as too important to fail. I wonder if the Gold Coast market will be similarly regarded?

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