Round 2 – Carlton v Gold Coast: Fumbling in the Sun

Saturday, 31st March
Etihad Stadium


On a perfect early autumn day, when the smog is light, you can see Melbourne’s CBD from sixty kilometres out, as the Western Highway crests the Pentland Hills and begins its descent to Bacchus Marsh. Sixty kilometres to contemplate the season ahead. Sixty kilometres to ruminate on the merit of honourable losses, such as we’d had in round one.


The Navy Blue faithful hadn’t exactly packed the ground for our first home game. It was hard to argue the logic of many. Shadowy Docklands concrete canyons hardly beckon on a sunny afternoon. For those of us who did attend, the football wasn’t about to make us feel any better about our choices.


From the moment Jack Martin broke a tackle and opened the Subsidies’ account, barely 20 seconds into the game, Carlton alarm bells were ringing. Matty Kruezer’s late omission had left us looking threadbare in the big man department. Levi to the centre bounce was robbing forward Peter with no guarantee ruck Paul would get paid. Not that Jarrod Witts was complaining. He would end the afternoon with sore hands from belting the ball forward.


It soon became obvious the Blues were well off their game. If Champion Data kept stats for fluffed handball receives and dropped chest marks, Carlton would have established new benchmarks


Just to accentuate how far our timing was off, Liam Jones was having a ‘mare on Tom Lynch. So much has been said about Jones’ near-miraculous career resurrection, that it is easy to forget he is still relatively new to this defending caper. He’s very much a defender who backs his judgement. When in doubt, his instinct is to attack. With Carlton turning the ball over like it was going out of style, Jones over-committed too often, resulting in Lynch having way too much latitude. He had 6 by half time, on his way to a lazy 8 for the game.


Spotting the visitors a 28-point start, the Blues tried to repair the damage in the second term, but could not stop shooting themselves in the foot. Our day was summed up when Simmo took possession in the right back pocket and declined to kick down the line. Instead, he wandered off on a run across the goal face hoping an option would present. It didn’t. When finally forced to kick, he went short to a 50-50, leading to one of the most embarrassingly simple turnover goals you will see all season.


The Carlton video review for this game will take hours.


As we bumbled around, at least there was an opportunity to assess the Subsidies in the flesh. They haven’t had much luck with injury in recent years, and some key personnel have flown the coop, but it’s hard not to conclude that to date they have made the absolute minimum of all the resources and talent poured into them. Consider their wealth of key position options: Lynch, Day, Wright, May and Thompson. When added to a running brigade that has pace, and no small degree of polish, you begin to wonder why they aren’t considered in a similar light to GWS.


The Commonwealth Games have forced them on a perpetual road trip through the first half of this season. Given that history suggests the Gold Coast environment may not have been doing much for them in any case, it could just prove an opportunity for Stuart Dew to forge them into a more durable unit.


If anything is likely to stop them, it will be the persisting brittleness of their collective resolve. Even in the third term of this game, Carlton managed to have five good minutes, and should have found themselves within two straight kicks if Jed Lamb had nailed a gettable set shot. Gold Coast showed definite signs of wobbling, but soon after we coughed up two quick goals and normal service on the day resumed.


That Gold Coast brittleness could be due to a lack of genuine belief. Thus far they’ve been given a place at the table. They haven’t had to earn it. But nothing builds belief like a few tough wins. Their next two upcoming games are in Perth. Neither should be classed as unwinnable. If they can get some momentum going, they might just prove to be one of the season’s smokies.


Momentum is something Carlton could very much do with. It’s all well and good to shows flashes of promise against the premiers, but this was a poor follow up in a winnable game. The reality of young teams will be the occasional flat performance, but that doesn’t make such efforts any more palatable when they occur. If we want to build any credibility this season we need to bounce back next week.


After efforts like this, consolation must be sought in the performance of individuals. Charlie Curnow is moving and marking beautifully at the moment. Sammo made more mistakes than usual today, but is also learning how to find the ball more often. He has too much talent not to make good use of that at some stage. And Paddy Cripps is already well on the way to establishing himself as a midfield force of nature. There is still promise in the future.


The drive back west was into the last evening of daylight saving sunset. The disappointments of the footballing day are best left behind when such a show is on offer. We’ll pick this up next Friday, at the Cathedral, against a much older foe.



CARLTON        1.1       4.4       6.8       9.13 (67)

GOLD COAST   5.5       8.7       12.9     15.11 (101)


Carlton: Wright 2, C.Curnow 2, Cripps, Fisher, Weitering, Lamb, Murphy

Gold Coast: Lynch 8, Martin 3, MacPherson, Lyons, Ainsworth, Young

Carlton: E.Curnow, C.Curnow, Cripps, Petrevski-Seton, Murphy

Gold Coast: Lynch, Witts, Swallow, Martin, Lyons, Hall, Macpherson

Umpires: Meredith, Harris, Mitchell

Official crowd: 28,025 at Etihad Stadium


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. Yvette Wroby says

    It must be lovely to be a team seen as rebuilding. The time of Bolton is still new and you can see the development. I support a team where the rebuild has left huge planks and flooring missing. Work Safe needs to be called in! Go Saints….please Go.

  2. John Butler says

    I dunno, Yvette.

    You sit a game ahead as we speak. We are yet to establish if the Blues are rebuilding a mansion or a fibro shack.

    And I wouldn’t give up on the Saints just yet. We are often too quick to judge in today’s hyperventilating footy environment.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Was expecting the Blues to win this one. They had some excellent patches against Richmond. I’m sure you’re saving it to humiliate the old enemy on Friday night. Be lucky to get 40k to the game. Would still swap you Bucks for Bolton. Whaddya reckon?

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Must be awful having a home game at Docklands on a sunny March afternoon.
    Have a feeling the Subsidies are in for a big rise this year.
    See you Friday night. Not looking forward to it…

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    JB v good point re Liam Jones still learning the defensive caper I thought that the blues defenders and structures defensively were v poor against the tigers seeming to run forward like brainless sheep.
    Suns are a interesting side yes they should have performed better but was Ablett a diabolical so called leader ? Was Eade just way way behind the times ? Docherty a massive loss and Gibbs re short term

  6. John Butler says

    Phil, re Friday night, we can only hope. :)

    And the crowd will be very interesting.

    Luke, they at least opened the roof. But because they’ve designed the ground East-West, what pleases the spectators causes issues for the players.

    Rulebook, we’re clearly trying to change our style from last year. There have been some teething problems. Re the Subsidies, I think Ablett carried them through their early years. People are quick to forget that. Then I suspect he lost faith in the cause.

    Having observed Carlton this century, I think Gold Coast have just been another club who haven’t known what they’re doing, despite all the AFL input. Interesting that some of their early prominent figures are now at HQ.

    But the appointment of Dew looks like it might be a good one.

  7. Peter Fuller says

    I failed the test/obligations of loyalty, as a family commitment in Queenscliff provided me with a plausible alibi. I glanced at the screen in the pub as we left after lunch to note the score at 12.30 to go in the 1st quarter, was 0-20. That validated my foreboding about the game. Gold Coast had beaten us at Etihad last year, seemed to be rejuvenated (enDewed), and I thought that we were flattered by the final margin against Richmond. Certainly we showed a bit that night, but after the opening flurry, the Blues were comfortably held with only relative accuracy keeping us in some contention.
    As my wife has virtually no interest in football, I don’t impose the broadcast on her while we’re driving, so I just switched on to catch the score a couple of times to confirm that there was no prospect of an Easter Saturday resurrection.
    I can’t see how we can beat the Magpies, but I guess with both sides struggling to put four quarters together, anything might happen. However, it’s also worth noting that the season’s first two weeks are an indication but not a determinant of how the season will play out. for teams under- or over-performing in their opening matches.

  8. John Butler says

    Peter, if there was one to miss, this was probably it.

    But we can do much better.

    Hopefully we will on Friday night.


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