Round 23 – Carlton v Adelaide: A Blues refrain

Carlton v Adelaide
7.25PM Saturday, August 25
Docklands Stadium


Carlton’s unhappy 2018 wound its way to a predictable conclusion, when they were comprehensively defeated by Adelaide. Given that the Crows had endured their own disappointment during their season with their fall from their 2017 minor premiership to only fall short on the last day of the previous season, this was a more severe letdown for the handful of Blues loyalists who turned up for the last rites. The Crows’ finishing the current season 12th and being only rescued from a negative win-loss season and a percentage below 100 by virtue of their two big wins over the Blues reflects their precipitous drop from the heights of 2015-17.


Adelaide won each quarter as they progressed towards an outcome which defined the term “regulation victory”. A brief summary of the match should suffice. The Crows ran in three goals three behinds before the goal umpire at the Carlton end was called on to make a decision and record the Blues opening score – inevitably a behind. Quarter time saw the Crows leading five goals to one, and this established a pattern for the match. A dominant midfield – Jacobs outpointing Lobbe and Atkins and Crouch especially conspicuous – provided the forwards with silver service. Jenkins particularly enjoyed the occasion and had his first and second goal before the match had reached the 10 minute mark.


The second term saw Carlton improve to register four goals; unhappily the visitors banged on eight, which was the half-time margin. Jenkins added one of these goals, but Gallucci in particular joined the party; his two goals in two minutes late in the term, one with a hand-pass assist from Jenkins brought his tally to three also. Such was the dominance of the Crows attack that Eddie Betts offered only cameos, with just a single goal in the opening half blitz.


The second half maintained the pattern as Adelaide added a further eight goals to the Blues’ two. Betts provided two of these as did Atkins (both had now scored three majors) and Jenkins also added another two.


The final quarter was played at a tempo reflecting an end-of-season match with little at stake, but the Crows enjoyed the occasion to the extent of adding a further five goals to the Blues solitary one. Jenkins crowned his evening by adding two late goals to achieve a season-high seven for the night. Gallucci, who had only a single game prior to this season, marked his progress with four goals and seems to have a future as an opportunistic small forward.


The quarter by quarter scores almost provided a statistician’s special of a normal distribution. Adelaide scored the perfect 5-8-8-5, with Carlton just compromising the set with 1-4-2-1.


I’m taking the opportunity to make some observations about Carlton’s season, which perhaps belong in a separate post. I am conscious of the legitimate grievances felt by supporters of teams from outside Victoria about the fake continuity from VFL to AFL and so preface these remarks with an apology as reference is made to that “fake” history.


Statistically speaking, this has been a uniquely poor season for the Blues. To find a season in which Carlton won only two matches, one has to delve into early VFL history, 1897 and 1901. Even then the outcomes were in seasons lasting 14 and 17 matches respectively compared with the contemporary 22 (thus 12 and 15 losses compared with 20 in season 2018). The Blues had managed to avoid the dreadedwooden kitchen implement in those early years thanks to the even poorer performance of St. Kilda during those early years. The Saints managed just two wins in the first five years of VFL competition.


It was long a matter of pride for Carlton partisans that the club avoided the wooden spoon throughout the 20th century. However, the extent to which the once mighty Blues have fallen is apparent from the five times between 2002-2018, when Carlton has finished last. However in the previous four instances 3 wins or more have been achieved, and this year is the first time the end-year percentage has fallen below 60.


Another quirk of this season was that Carlton in three meetings with teams from outside Victoria, performed better away than in Melbourne. In Adelaide, Carlton lost by 55 points (cfd. with 104 in the match just described). Against Fremantle, Carlton lost by 57 points at Docklands – which margin flattered them – but then won three quarters and lost by only (!!!) 29 points in Perth. Against Gold Coast the 34 point loss at Docklands in round 2 was famously reversed with a 35 point victory when the Blues travelled north. My non-tested hypothesis that the Blues do not play well at Docklands is given some support by the under-performance against Gold Coast (34 point loss), Fremantle (57), St. Kilda (64), Hawthorn (72), the Giants (105) and Adelaide (104), with passable efforts in the two matches against the Bulldogs (lost by 21 and 17 points). The better performances this season were obviously the defeat of Essendon (13 points), when our great rivals were caught during their early-season slump, the Gold Coast victory alluded to earlier, and respectable (ahem) losses to West Coast (10 points), Collingwood (20), Port Adelaide (21) and Richmond (26). Note that all of those matches with the exception of Gold Coast – away – were at the MCG. A 109 point thrashing by Melbourne and a deceptively narrow 24 point loss to Collingwood thanks to some junk time goals were the only MCG matches featuring serious under-performance.


The modest consolation which can be drawn from this terrible year is that a number of promising players were given significant game time. Provided their confidence survives some of the smashings which they endured, Dow, O’Brien, McKay and Polson all seem to offer possible futures. Petrevski-Seton and Weitering (after periods when he was limited by injury) finished the season well. Cripps was superb and provided his body can withstand the hammering that it is enduring, will be a key leader in the years ahead. The Curnow brothers continued to offer something, Ed a generally effective tagger, and Charlie a forward target. Kade Simpson proved his unfailing durability and somewhat surprisingly Daisy Thomas continued to provide some drive from defence. The return of Docherty in 2019 should stiffen up a porous defence. Matthew Kreuzer’s health issues are more sad than disappointing. The contrasting careers of Kreuzer and his mate from their junior footballing days, Trent Cotchin (Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2007 draft) demonstrates the fickleness of fate and the casual cruelty that the sport gods inflict on their subjects.




CARLTON    1.4    5.4    7.8    8.13 (61)
ADELAIDE   5.4  13.6   20.8   26.9 (165)


Carlton: McKay 3, Polson 2, Mullett, Kerridge, Simpson
Adelaide: Jenkins 7, Gallucci 4, Atkins 3, Betts 3, Knight 2, Gibbs, Seedsman, Himmelberg, Lynch, Milera, Laird, Kelly

Carlton: Cripps, McKay, O’Brien, Murphy
Adelaide: Laird, M.Crouch, Jenkins, Atkins, Ellis-Yolman, Gibbs

Crowd: 17,000

Our votes 3. Atkins (Adel.) 2. Laird (Adel.) 1. Jenkins (Adel.)



  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I couldn’t bring myself to write anything about this game Peter, which I attended with the future Pie Minister.

    Adelaide did as they pleased, so the result, while better than the alternative, didn’t mean too much.

    I reckon that they crowd figure was rounded up by about 5000 too.

    I left admiring Kade Simpson’s career and attitude. There were about a dozen blokes in the same jumper that weren’t fit to tie his boots up. Your captain looked to have given up too.

    Hats off to your endurance Peter.

  2. george smith says

    Sorry, but you lot wanted that number one draft pick that year (2007). There was a banner at your last game saying “We’ve got Kreuzer.”
    Even though you finished second last that year, you still got the number one pick for general ordinariness through that decade. Yet another gain, like the 2013 finals slot, that you really didn’t deserve.
    The problem as I see it is that you go for the big fish, without some backup around him. Chris Judd anyone?
    Also it’s easier to get pick one right than pick 58 – Dane Swan Collingwood for example. Time to get those late picks and rookie list picks right! I don’t think that Cotchin would set the world on fire at Carlton, he’d be another Mark Murphy.
    Look I’m really sorry, I remember Len Thompson back in 1987 saying don’t knock Carlton, we can learn from their professionalism, I don’t know what happened in the mean time…

  3. Can’t be fun to write about that, Peter. On the other hand, the only place that was a 100 point drubbing was on the scoreboard (granted, that’s where it matters). By the end of the game Carlton had outpointed the Crows in a number of areas that should have seen the game much closer but could do nothing once it got forward of centre. Some statistician or other noted it was the most inefficient game in recorded history in terms of conversion of possession or inside 50s or some such. The coach has to take a fair amount of blame – why he persisted in keeping numbers behind the ball when Carlton was winning the contests is beyond me. Last game of the season, let the boys run and take the game on and see what happens. Hope you enjoy McGovern next year – he takes a good grab!

  4. I’ll fess up to probably the worst prediction at the start of season 2018 – that Carlton would win more games than Collingwood! Sounds ludicrous now but it didn’t seem unreasonable in March. Things can change quickly. That’s got to be Carlton’s hope over summer.
    I’d say the same about the Kreuzer/Cotchin comparison. Hard to recall it now but there were times between 2007 and now when Carlton’s selection of Kreuzer looked really smart and his playing stocks were ahead of Cotchin’s.

  5. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks blokes for the responses, appreciated. My comment about the Kreuzer-Cotchin comparison may have been misconstrued. I was thinking of it from Kreuzer’s perspective rather than the Club (Carlton is or should be big enough and ugly enough to look after itself!). I feel genuinely sad for him because his promise has largely gone unrealised, largely due to injuries, but now compounded by more serious health concerns. Trent Cotchin certainly deserves everything that’s come his way, Brownlow, Premiership captain. My recollection was that there was at some earlier time a scepticism among some Tiger fans about Cotchin’s worth – I seem to remember some concerns about unreliable disposal. I’m sure now all is forgiven.
    George’s point about the history of Carlton’s recruiting errors is well made, and we deserve the rubbishing we’ve copped on that score. There’s a glimmer of hope that the present administration and football department are taking a more analytical approach. Any reward for that more patient approach still seems in the rather distant future, and patience has been a virtue in short supply at Carlton – administration and fans alike.
    Stainless, you’re not alone in your Carlton-Collingwood comparison, pre-season. I attended the Round 3 match between the two sides both having lost their opening two matches. Collingwood were favourites by virtue of having faced Hawthorn and the Giants, while the Blues had just succumbed to Gold Coast. However, at the time there was plenty of ill-informed debate about Nathan Buckley’s job security. In the event, an easy win launched the Magpies season. They won 11 of their next 13, including decisive wins over Adelaide, Essendon (twice) and Melbourne. They have had a relatively favourable fixture, but as I’ve ruefully observed in earlier Almanac musings, Carlton have this season have played several teams into form.

  6. My neighbour in Perth was a schoolboy refugee from Pinochet’s Chile. Poor Carlo’s first stop in Australia was in Carlton, and he has kept his footy identity and now passed it on to his 10yo son. The boy stuck fat but Dad’s indifference was startling by mid season for a rusted on fan. The season ending game here against the Dockers is an annual ritual, and Dad didn’t want to go so offered the ticket money to young Sebastian – NOT to go. The lad stuck fat.
    I told him CFC was Cripps; F’all; Curnow. He grimaced instead of fighting. Sad days.
    What do you make of young Jarrad Pickett? I worked with his father until recently. Had another injury plagued year with a pre-season broken arm. I reckon his main assets are leg speed and tackling. Any thoughts?

  7. Peter Fuller says

    I honestly haven’t seen enough of Pickett to form a proper opinion. In some cameo performances he shows flair, and your observation about his speed rings true; I’d guess at this stage of his development he needs strong support around him. It’s the fate of struggling teams to tend towards every man for himself, which doesn’t lend itself to the kind of collective endeavour that I think all but the most self-possessed young players need. That’s compounded for a young fellow who is a long way from home, and where he is struggling to establish himself as a first team regular. He has had only 7 or so games this year, and without checking I’d guess quite a bit of time on the bench. If he gets a decent run of games, he could well make a player.
    Sebastian sounds like the kind of supporter who will provide the foundation of the Blues’ revival. Go Sebastian, you champion!

  8. John Butler says

    Pater, kudos for the masochism involved in this piece. I couldn’t bring myself to think about this game once it had finished.

    You are absolutely right re Docklands: the fast track there has never really suited us. The reasons for that probably provide crucial evidence for several reasons why we have struggled this century.

    PB, re Pickett. I assess him currently as a player with real talent who has fragile confidence. He was flying pre-season, then missed a long stretch through injury. Never really got going again when he returned, though he’d show glimpses. The way the team was generally going didn’t help his cause. I reckon he’d fare better in a better team. Then again, that could be said of most.

    I’m girding myself to reflect at greater length on Carlton’s season. You have all been warned.

  9. Peter:
    Somewhat disturbingly, I actually believe that the future does not look all that bad for Carlton.
    They have some seriously good young guns, and with some astute trading (and a bonus draft pick?) could rebound more quickly than most people believe.

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