Round 3 – Geelong v Carlton: We’re taking it one citadel at a time


Come gather round people, there’s a story to tell. Of a fabled club in a distant town. Who gathered under the leadership of King Bomber the Ambivalent, bringing joy to their long suffering fans, and misery to those who challenged their Kardinia citadel.


The fun really began when Lord Joel of the Infinite Neck joined the merry band. There was Jesus Junior, Chappy the Stout, Stevie the Pickpocket, Matthew the Impassable, Jimmy the Handsome. And lo did they have themselves some fun! Wreaking havoc through the corridor, laying waste to their foes defenses. A dynasty was born, and a legacy of virtuous football deeds was proclaimed throughout the land. Just ask them.


But time weighs on all men. King Bomber was tempted by greener pastures, only to see them turn to dust. Jesus Junior sought riches in untamed lands. King Chris the Complainer took the Kardinia throne. At first the kingdom thrived, but over time it became obvious things weren’t the same.


Renewal was sought. Sir Patrick the Bashful was enlisted to the cause. Jesus Junior returned to the fold, shorn of his golden locks, and his youth. Foreign mercenaries flooded in. The kingdom remained a power, but the golden chalice stayed agonizingly out of reach.


Then one day a Navy Blue horde ventured down the highway. They were the sons of a once mighty kingdom, long lost in the wilderness. A kingdom that once was feared, but now was scorned. But the scorned had a new king, David the Optimistic. And a new champion, Patrick the Indomitable. Others rose to the cause. There was Levi the Believer. Eddie the Magician. Jacob the Resolute. And they wrested a famous victory.


The seers sought meaning. The pundits prognosticated. What was the deeper significance of this battle? Was a new force rising? Was an old power waning? Or would the plague have the final say on everything?




Ok, enough fun. These are serious times. And football is a serious business.


Carlton’s last two results remind us that sporting misery or ecstasy can balance on ridiculously fine margins.  Carlton could easily have been left lamenting another opportunity lost on Saturday night, but this time the footy gods decreed that it was the Cats’ turn to muff their lines at the death.


If one thing has become clear since David Teague became Carlton’s senior coach, he’s a man of glass  half full inclination. After the Blues had put in a lamentable first half last week against Melbourne, Teague sought to encourage. Instead of dwelling on the hapless first 40 minutes we’d just played, he focused on the better final 10 minutes. It’s the most discernable difference he has from Brendon Bolton, who seemed increasingly besieged and grim in his time at Carlton. Carlton responded to Teague last week, but with Melbourne at their mercy they blew their chances.


From first bounce on Saturday night, it was clear Carlton intended to take Geelong on. Make them worry about us. Marc Murphy spearing one onto Eddie’s chest was just thing to help you forget sluggish starts. Importantly, Eddie converted.


Geelong don’t often lose at home, but they offered a couple of tactical opportunities. Their all-star midfield expects the opposition to chase them, so Patrick Cripps would likely escape the collective off-ball mugging he suffered against Melbourne. And whilst the Geelong defence is amongst the best at peeling off to support each other, in recent years they’ve left a growing impression they are nothing special if isolated one-on-one. Harry McKay, Mitch McGovern and Levi Casboult got on their bikes, spreading the Cat defenders. More often than not this left Levi one out, where he’s very hard to stop.


It helped that there was good supply from the middle. Marc Pittonet was finding the Geelong rucks an easier proposition than Max Gawn. Crippa just had to worry about winning the ball, something he can do in any company. Jack Martin and Mick Gibbons ran through the centre and provided smart support.


For three quarters, Carlton ran harder, used the ball better, and mostly had the game on their desired terms. With Ed Curnow holding Joel Selwood to just a game, only Gary Rohan consistently threatened for the Cats. The Blues were as good as six goals up at the final break.


Then we played the last quarter like we’d previously been playing our first quarters. We stopped like we’d been shot.


With more room to move, Geelong ran all over us. Mitch Duncan was suddenly everywhere. Narkle was finding too much space through the middle. Always, loomed the threat of Selwood, or Dangerfield, or Gazza. A Duncan goal was declared touched on review. Other chances were squandered. Then Gazza found himself 20m out dead in front for the lead. Carlton fans were thinking they’d seen this one before.


But Gazza missed. He wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe it.


Still, time remained. Through more than a decade now, Carlton teams have frequently blown these situations. We looked shaky, but managed to force the ball forward of centre. Then Eddie pounced.


The return of Eddie Betts to the Navy Blue jumper has provoked divided opinion. He struggled last week, and had to endure yet another racist moron on social media. He answered this week in the best way possible. He’s not there to accumulate midfielder’s statistics, but to make his every possession count. He either scored or created half a dozen goals this night. And in the crucial final moments, he laid the decisive tackle, found a teammate in space, then made space of his own. We wouldn’t have won without him.


So David Teague finds himself with a 50% winning record after 14 games as coach, rather than having to restore morale after yet another crushing last minute loss. The side still can’t put together four quarters, but they were reminded tonight that it’s better to lead than chase. In this most uncertain of seasons, I’m not going to pretend to predict the significance of this win. But in their long careers, Kade Simpson and Marc Murphy had never before played a winning game at Kardinia Park. That certainly requires celebration.



GEELONG     1.2    4.6     6.7     11.11 (77)

CARLTON     5.3    9.5    12.6    12.7 (79)


Geelong: Hawkins 2, Rohan 2, Bews, Guthrie, Miers, Selwood, Stanley, Taylor, Atkins

Carlton: Betts 2, Casboult 2, Cripps 2, McGovern 2, Murphy 2, Gibbons, McKay


Geelong: Duncan, Rohan, Tuohy, Narkle, Miers

Carlton: Cripps, Casboult, Betts, Weitering, Gibbons, Martin, Docherty





Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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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. JoeHuddler says

    Haha, great stuff John.

    I think, like the baggers, I was clinically dead for a few minutes until Eddie provided the sweet relief of a tackle and clean possie in the midfield. By that point I was exhausted, my nerves shredded. When Eddie found Cripps in the 3rd quarter I decided I was actually enjoying this game. I decided to have a beer. By the final siren i’d drank seven of them.

    For 3 quarters and a few minutes we were the Conquistadors of Corio. Had McKay or Silvagni taken their set shot chances in the 4th I think we’d have cruised home. In the end, we…..survived. I believe it was divine intervention from a confused deity who hadn’t heard my voice in decades. Thinking his work was done earlier in the game by momentarily replacing Ratugolea’s brain with a pumpkin, he was called into action again late to replace Gryan Miers’ with baby formula, fill Kade Simpson’s fingertips with the Holy Spirit, and possess poor Gary Ablett with the ghost of Robbie Warnock.

    After surving the near collapse, I was relieved and mostly thought ‘i’ll take it’. After all, we were in the Geelong role just last week against the Demons and – you know what – I prefer being the guys who hang on to win.

  2. Interesting point JB – compare the two veteran icons: Ablett II & The Hon Edward C Betts. One returns to the club he walked out on for money and glory for money & glory; the other returns for the good of his Club and for the joy of mateship. Which one do you think the Football Gods are going to bathe in sunshine?

    I like Coach Teague. He’s a renewing force at Prince’s Park. I’m glad we got our Carlton game out of the way early. You were stiff to catch The Striped Marvels on the night they played their only decent two quarters of football for the season. You could have easily been 3 zip.

    And I never thought I’d ever be saying this, but I’ll be barracking for The Bluebaggers on Saturday night.

  3. Hi John. Thanks for tagging me on your tweet. I enjoyed reading this one. I listened to the first half while driving home and was impressed how we systematically went about it and built in our lead. Now to play four quarters against the Dons and hopefully look forward to reading your next piece!

  4. John Butler says

    Joe, I think you’ve captured that finish much better than I managed. :)

    Wrap, you need to be careful with all this generosity to us Bluebaggers. Could come back to bite. And I’m coming to rather like Teague myself. :)

    DJL, playing the full 4 quarters would be a lovely variation. And might be a lot easier on the nerves.

    Thanks for the comments, one and all.

  5. I had half a dozen beers as well Joe.

    Frustrating game to watch. Apart from the Carlton performers mentioned, I kept noticing Jack Martin. He moves beautifully and he has beautiful skills. he caresses the footy with that right boot. He is creative. Imagine if he were inserted into the improving Suns team. (And that’s another story).

  6. They were sharp JB. And the Cats were lazy. Mentally and physically. Some of our recent selections are baffling to say the least.

    On the premiership clock, where 12 noon is the potential flag year, the Cats are at 4.30pm but the Blues are at 9.50am.

  7. John Butler says

    JTH, agreed on Martin. But don’t feel sorry for the Suns. They’ve been given more than enough chances.

    Dips, I think we have basically everything still to prove. But there’s something profoundly unconvincing about the Cats, for all the big names still in that team.

    But let’s face it. Gazza kicks that goal 9 times out of 10. And on the 10th go he puts a blindfold on and kicks it anyway. And then we’d have all been writing something different this week.

    Let’s see if we can back up.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Very entertaining piece JB. I ever so slightly, in a very miniscule way, could possibly have had the tiniest enjoyment in seeing the Blues get up. I will be be quarantining myself from watching Carlton for the next 14 days to rid myself of the condition and stop the spread.

  9. If was pretty obvious that Geelong simply assumed they would win, easily. No respect for the opposition. I was really barracking for the Blues. Wonderful game-saving play from Eddie.

  10. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks John for the report and Joe and others for fleshing out details in comments. I agree with Jan that Geelong weren’t up for the contest. I was particularly conscious of Gary Ablett who reminded me of the Tiger Crosswell quote about not being worth a cracker in mid-season matches at the Western Oval, but fired up for the big stage. I think any Geelong player, official or fan who experienced that dreadful Grand Final 2008 will forever be up for games against Hawthorn as the little master demonstrated last week;. long before his shocking miss at the death, Ablett seemed off the pace on Saturday night, and Selwood, Hawkins, Tuohy and Stewart (early) were all well below form. .
    There’s an eerie comparison between the games of the past two Saturdays. The greatest margin in both was 42 points, both times the trailing side came home with a wet sail, but fell short. However, it’s difficult to imagine that if Geelong had levelled the scores, as Carlton did against Melbourne, that the Cats would have won.
    As John has pointed out, the final few minutes reflected Geelong falling short through their mistakes more than Carlton holding them out, although Simpson’s fingers and Docherty’s soccer dive to deny goals as well as Eddie Betts’ tackle reminiscent of Fraser Brown, were all significant match-saving actions.
    That line in the Carlton theme song “the team that never let’s you down” which has so often mocked supporters in the dark days of recent years, maybe just maybe ending with the current team with plenty of goers and less fragile spirit.

  11. Highlight of my footy week was saying “bugger this for a joke” with 5 minutes left in the Eagles debacle “wonder if the Blues are hanging on?” Great entertainment. Playing for the coach and playing for each other is underrated. My Eagles seem to have Divine Right of Kings delusions of adequacy. Yeo lost in the wilderness of work rate and contest. Gov spat the dummy when greasy conditions denied him marking and sulked off to thump an opponent. Hmm. Think a few blokes would be getting dropped if we had pressing talent to replace them.
    Saw your previous game the week before against Demons. Brilliantly entertaining in a Keystone Cops fashion. You seemed to borrow the Dees last quarter game plan under pressure – hoof it long and hope – when holding your nerve and possession is the key. Half decent kicking in the last quarter and you win that game by 3 goals.
    “Geelong rucks” belongs alongside “bagpipe music”.
    Enjoy the Bombers – don’t catch anything.

  12. I just get the feeling we are going to see plenty of this type of game: one team gets off to a flyer, then is slowly (or quickly, in this case) pegged back. But the team doing the pegging back spends all its tickets getting back into the contest and cannot quite get there.

  13. John Butler says

    Luke, I suspect symptoms of unlikely Magpie empathy are being fueled by the fact your lads are travelling very nicely. Two weeks quarantine should help. If we were to manage to beat you any time soon, I’m sure the cure would be complete.

    Jan and Peter, Geelong were very obviously back on their heels to start this game. But you can only play what presents. For 3 quarters the Blues deserved their lead. Yes, Geelong could very well have stolen the win, but coulda, shoulda…..

    PB, your Eagles have sounded very sulky about the whole huddle situation. They are getting what they are sowing. In this shortened season, will they have time to set it right?

    Smokie, always a lower percentage chasing than leading. Form is all over the place quarter to quarter, let alone game to game. An argument could be put that Carlton are among the most consistent – we are putting in 3 solid quarters week after week. :)

    Thanks for the comments, all.

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