That Sinking Feeling

by Damian Watson

Many subscribe to the theory that every heart-filled sports fan occasionally undergoes a feeling which resembles one of it’s favourite team. As the weekend winds down to it’s eventual conclusion on a wet soggy Sunday afternoon in Melbourne, I certainly experienced that feeling. It appeared as if every element surrounding me represented my dull solemn mood, the weather, my teams fortunes; absolutely everything seemed to conspire against me.

This particular feeling that I speak of and have endured over the last couple of days is a depressing realisation that you have placed a large quantity of effort and toil into something and have come out with very little. It relates to a matter which I am not willing to speak of in this report, but it certainly involves the immense feeling of disappointment that every man, woman and child experiences at one time or another as you journey through the rocky road of life itself. I scoff at the remark “you only get out what you put in”, because reality indicates that on some occasions we don’t receive the recognition we deserve. It is simply a fact of life, and it is up to every human being to dust itself off, persevere and try again. Personally, that is what I am working towards.

I have no doubt that all players and officials within the Carlton Football Club are experiencing that same depressing sinking feeling as they board their flight home to Melbourne from Sydney. They can look forward to 2011 in a bid to improve and redeem themselves.

Rewind back to Sunday afternoon and I am hopeful that the Blues can temporarily discard my own personal torment by prevailing over the silky smooth Swans in the Elimination Final.

Admittedly on reflection, the expectations were low entering this do or die match at ANZ Stadium from a Carlton perspective. The Blues were clear underdogs all week, and were considered no match for the in-form Sydney unit who are playing with a mission to farewell it’s innovative coach Paul Roos and courageous captain Brett Kirk in the most respectable manner possible by delving as deep into the series as they possibly can.

It seemed my own expectations were realised by the 10 minute mark of the first term as the Bloods had already posted 4.2 to 0.2, and the signs are particularly ominous. The Bloods are roaming through the Olympic Stadium with skill, poise and determination with new Sydney recruit Josh Kennedy significantly heading the disposal count. Dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes and Kieran Jack continue to display their elite class by gaining touches at will. Ruckman Shane Mumford is also proving his value to the club by not only conveying his effectiveness in the ruck contests but also in the strength department at ground level. In a high scoring first stanza, the Blues manufacture a spirited fightback through the unlikeliest of sources. Carlton coach Brett Ratten signifies his occasional dislike of the status quo by placing defender Andrew Walker up forward and he is proving to be formidable scoring target, eventually booting three by the end of the match. The Blues however still trail by 15 points at the first break.

In the second term, despite the forward presence of ruckman Robbie Warnock, the Blues continue to rue squandered scoring opportunities while kicking to the favoured scoring end of the ground. The fact that young Kieran Jack is limiting Chris Judd’s elusiveness and effectiveness remains a worrying sign. Through the impact of young speedsters Trent Dennis-Lane and Lewis Jetta working as crumbers deep in the forward line, the Swans lead by 24 at the main break, proving that a side who dictates terms around the ground can still suffer on the scoreboard due to a lack of efficiency up forward.

At Half Time, I ponder the questions: Will the floodgates open for the Swans? or Can the Bluebaggers lift themselves out of the doldrums and peg the score back through an attacking brand of football?

Fortunately from my perspective, it was the latter.

Due to the work rate of skipper Chris Judd within the scrimmages and the sudden emergence of underrated players Heath Scotland and Jordan Russell, the Blues rapidly peg the margin back. The influence of small crumbers Eddie Betts and Jeffrey Garlett has the Carlton contingent rocking, meanwhile in contrast the Swans’ fervent efforts to score are grounded to a halt as every Red and White defender faces the immense pressure to defend their ground. By the final change, the Bluebaggers obtain a slender seven point buffer. For a moment, my personal worries mentioned earlier are shifted away from main focus as I am captivated by this classic encounter which is set to go down to the wire.

In the early stages within the final term, the Blues dictate terms around the contests and scrimmages. However the buttery fingers of key forward Lachie Henderson and missed opportunities from point blank range prove costly. The Swans begin to rekindle their form and with their forward momentum and home crowd behind them, the Bloods gradually whittle down the deficit through tough and uncompromising footy. Sure enough, the Swans eventually hit the front and when Swan youngster Trent Dennis-Lane threaded the needle from a set shot in the forward pocket to increase his side’s lead to a 2 goal buffer, the 41 000 strong crowd executed a roar which almost tore the roof off the Olympic Stadium.

As the goal was scored I stormed out of the room almost refusing to watch a second of it, my shocking week has been compounded by yet another heart stopping finals loss. I realised we were gone. My mind immediately flashed back to corresponding match last year against the Lions at the Gabba in which a 5 goal Three Quarter Time lead quickly deteriorated, resulting in a horror 6 point loss.

Any Blues fan could have been forgiven for experiencing a sense of de ja vu in terms of the result.

Although Henderson managed to toe poke a miraculous goal in the dying stages, I had already conceded. I return to the plasma in a surprised manner as Carlton speedster Jeff Garlett attempts a flying shot at goal. He is off target, minor score.

Seconds later and the siren has sounded to indicate the end of a classic encounter in which the Blues have fallen on the wrong end of a 5 point margin.

While the Swans contingent are ecstatic, the Blues lament on another missed opportunity in which they had worked extremely hard but failed to reap the rewards. Just as I had for the whole weekend.

If there was one positive silver lining to shine through for me personally, it was the realization that I was not alone in feeling disheartened in receiving little reward for hard work. I am sure the club would feel the same and in a similar fashion to myself, they will have the whole summer to ponder upon it!

Sydney Swans    6.6    11.8    11.11    14.15 (99)
Carlton    4.3    7.8    12.12    13.16 (94)

Sydney Swans:
Dennis-Lane 4, Bevan 3, Shaw 2, Jack, White, Goodes, Jetta, O’Keefe
Carlton: Walker 3, Waite 3, Warnock 2, Garlett 2, Henderson 2, Murphy

Sydney Swans:
Kennedy, Goodes, Kirk, Dennis-Lane, Shaw, Smith
Carlton: Judd, Waite, Walker, Jacobs, Carazzo, Murphy

My Votes: 3. C.Judd (Carl)   2. J.Kennedy (Syd)   1. A.Goodes (Syd)

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.


  1. Chin up Damian

    Its times like these I think of something Clint (and occasionally Dips)is known to say- “fairs got nothin’ to do with it”.

  2. Damo,

    Sad but wonderfully written article. I’m very sorry about your Blues, but I hope they, and you also, can come through stronger for the experience. The Blues were so close – I fully expect this to drive them through the preseason and throughout season 2011.

    Finals can be a cruel, cruel time – and it seems a pattern emerging that the Swans are heartbreakers.

    I hope things improve for you personally very, very soon!

    All the best.

  3. Duckie :(
    i agree with Susie, sad but wonderfully written. Just keep your head up, life sucks sometimes and we just have to go our best to get through it. (Trust me on this, id know)
    great piece once again.


  4. Damo,

    Excellent piece, it really felt like you were writing from the heart. Superb effort.

    I’ll admit, I can relate to how you’re feeling in a life sense, but only partly in a football sense. Watching history repeat itself is never fun – I’ve watched Richmond consistently deliver substandard seasons – but I am yet to experience finals heartbreak (I can barely remember 2001).

    I can’t bring myself to say “I hope Carlton improve next season”, but I think you are entitled to be optimistic about the future for the young Blues side nonetheless.


  5. Damo

    I love the report and I feel for you personally. I am familiar with those days when life is treating you badly and the sport you love just rubs it in.

    However, I’m afraid that no amount of pathos will overcome my overwhelming feeling that Carlton losing elimination finals, narrowly, from winning positions, interstate, two years running, is soooo good for football!

    Sorry to be such a spoilsport. May the off-season brings you great personal success and happiness.

  6. Damian Watson says

    Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

    I actually feel a little better now.

    It is disappointing to see the Blues depart from the Premiership race but it should be a ripper finals series in the coming weeks.

    No worries Stainless, I wouldn’t direct any sympathy towards another team that bowed out either.

  7. Steve Healy says

    Great work Damo it’s sad that that’s happened to the Blues two years in a row.

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