Round 8 – Carlton v Port Adelaide: Kade Simpson Day

Kade Simpson was our first pick in the 2002 draft, which suggests his timing is lousy. That pick came at number 45, courtesy of the draft penalties handed down for our egregious flouting of the salary cap. Those penalties, and the farrago of arse-covering, monumental hubris and outright stupidity which ensued, meant that Simmo’s career has spanned a Carlton period more noted for tumult than success.

Debuting during the 2003 season, Simmo failed to register an official stat in his first three senior games. Lesser men might have considered their career options. But if we’ve learned one thing about our scrawny No. 6 over the years, he endures. Given that no man in the last decade has received more hospital passes, or backed into more life-threatening situations, that durability is remarkable. He has remained a rare constant amongst a playing group that has experienced mad fluctuations in performance.

If the Carlton Football Club has had a heart and soul over these last 14 seasons – and that has often been a legitimate question – then Simmo has been a large part of it. So the occasion of his 250th game was of no small consequence to the faithful.

It began inauspiciously, with Levi doing serious harm to his leg early on, depleting our already underwhelming forward stocks. Port sought to impose themselves physically from the start. It was a bruising affair throughout, with Kruezer, Cripps and Byrne all having spells on the bench after crunching collisions. Cripps was also on the receiving end of an old fashioned back-hander from Hamish Hartlett, which subsequently attracted no official sanction. The mysteries of Match Review Panels are eternal.

There was less mystery to Port’s tactics. As has been their forte under Hinkley, they sought whenever possible to link possession chains through the corridor. Carlton were generally waiting for them. The crucial tactical battle became Port’s rebounding versus Carlton’s defensive wall. The balance ebbed and flowed. As has become their wont, the Blues were able to lock the ball in their forward line for extended periods. Sans Casboult, they again lacked reliable paths to goal.

With centre clearances so crucial at Docklands, Port had to compensate for the absence of their two most senior ruckmen. As a makeshift, Trengove saw Kreuzer dominate the tap outs, but he fought on gamely when the ball hit the deck. Allied to the efforts of Hartlett and Wines, Port held sway early. Once again, Carlton found Westhoff a difficult match up. The Blues reversed the trend in the second term, mainly through Cripps, Gibbs and Curnow. The fluctuations of this tussle remained crucial to the game’s momentum.

The game remained close, though Port’s instant response to the few occasions Carlton stuck their nose in front left the impression they held the upper hand. Midway through the final term they made what appeared a decisive move. Leading by 17 points, Polec ran into an open goal and missed. It was a fateful moment.

In one crucial respect, Port’s reputation preceded them. The mantra in the outer throughout the day had remained ‘hang in there’. In a close finish, Port had shown they could wobble. Carlton now clawed their way back.

Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs knew they carried a heavy load into this season. Their response has to date been crucial, as demonstrated in the decisive passage of the game. A ground ball bobbled around Carlton’s defensive 50. With space and time denied, a delicate Gibbs chip kick set Carlton away. Simmo fed Murphy, who charged down the wing. Sam Rowe had been variously back, forward and ruck, as Carlton ad-libbed to cover injuries. He now ran through half forward. Murphy had the vision and skill to find him. Rowe launched to the pocket. Kruezer had returned to the field after a battering. He worked from deep defence to receive the long Kerridge handpass 40 out. His snap across the body put the Blues in front.

It was a magnificent team goal. A passage of poise and resilience under immense pressure. Port could find no response.

The current chatter is of the strategies and structures Brendan Bolton has brought to Carlton. Perhaps his most crucial contribution has been to infuse a belief that no two-horse race is ever over if you refuse to concede. More than just that spirit is required for long term success, but little else you might add means much if you don’t have it to start.

Who knows what four wins means in the season’s larger context? But that roar when Kruze put us in front sure felt like a club rediscovering itself.

 

CARLTON                  3.2       7.4       10.7    14.9 (93)
PORT ADELAIDE      4.5       8.9       10.12  13.13 (91)

GOALS
Carlton: 
Everitt 3, Lamb 2, Jones 2, Kreuzer 2, Murphy, Gibbs, Rowe, Tuohy, Sumner
Port Adelaide: Wingard 2, Dixon 2, Westhoff 2, Boak, Broadbent, Ebert, Hartlett, Trengove, Amon, Young

BEST
Carlton:
 Docherty, Gibbs , Kreuzer, Cripps, Curnow, Murphy, Simpson
Port Adelaide: Hartlett, Wines, Trengove, Westhoff, Young

Official crowd: 26,924 at Etihad 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 is in his 40th year as a Carlton member.

Comments

  1. Keiran Croker says

    I think Simpson is a fabulous footballer. I’d gladly have him in my team.

  2. Tony Robb says

    JB
    That was the best win in 15 years for mine. If you had asked me about Simmo a few years back the response would not have been flattering but he obviously is a club legend and leader. Unfortunately the warfies knee capped a few of our boys. Kruez is in career best form so hopefully this does not hamper that improvement and centre bounce dominance. Gibbs work in and under is unlike anything he has produced particularly the increase tackling intensity. The wrap on the youngsters is justified and i can’t wait to see McCabe get in the paddock. Very encouraging and great to see ta coach who instills the freedom to take risks and bring a team together after being torn assunder by mad Mick.
    Cheers
    TR

  3. John Butler says

    Thanks Keiran. And thank you Kade.

    TR, agree with all of that.

    Cheers

  4. Michael Viljoen says

    Well written, John.
    It was a big hearted win. I wonder how much of it came from ‘Doin it for Simmo’.

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