Down in the most southern part of Australia, I, together with some of the Melbourne Cheer Squad were privileged to be part of the Tasmanian Carlton crew who came to watch, to a packed stadium, the battle, and it was a battle between a really top side and one that was in a re-build. We were treated to a magnificent pre-match function with fellow Tasmanian Carlton supporters, some who travelled from Sydney and us lot from Victoria, where some were not Cheer Squad members. We were there to support what is now becoming the growth of a down-and-out club. Despite the fact that we were not thrashed, but beaten by what is an extremely good side, the weekend was a great one full of atmosphere, healthy banter, and where other Hawthorn supporters stating, a healthy respect for a club on the rise, because that is what Carlton is, a club on the rise.
Carlton is a club that understands where they are at the moment, some other clubs who got soundly beaten on the weekend are delusional if they don’t heed the same warning that confronted them on the weekend that Carlton understood midway through the season last year. Three clubs got a whacking, real gut-wrenching ones at that. Essendon we know are playing a make-shift team due to the drug scandal, so let’s take them out of the picture, but there is no excuse for either Richmond or Fremantle.
Here we are talking about one team who were the minor premiers last year and another who for the past three years made it to the top 8 and were expected to perform better this year. Then on the flipside there is Carlton who were not expected to win any matches at all this year but surprised everyone when they did. Then in the past three matches we have played top teams and not got thrashed, but losing by margins that are comparable to teams with a bit more experience and higher up on the ladder.
Carlton this season started off being realistic and understanding what is needed ahead of them to send them back to the top, both Richmond and Fremantle stagnated and expected that what got them to where they were before, will get to the same place if not higher again. It doesn’t work like that. Teams that were once mediocre, recruit and become better, teams that stagnate do just that, stagnate. Carlton knows that so far their recruitment has done not too badly and that there is still a need for more refining of the team to ensure a depth that will get them back on top.
I watched the game in Tasmania on the weekend and sure we lost and sure there were mistakes made, but they played for the most part with intensity and pressure and our future looks incredible with the likes of Cripps, Silvagni, Weitering and Curnow (even though he is out injured) getting senior AFL experience under their belt and ensuring they can play with the best of them, and we still have McKay and Cunningham. By playing these type of matches when there is no expectation of making finals, is a valuable source to ensure that these players are able to perform in a way that makes them players of a champion club and what to do under pressure.
This is the realistic expectation from the Carlton coaches. Richmond and Fremantle tried to rest on their laurels and not understand what realistically they must do in order to become champions. If they don’t understand this now, then they will have a few dark years ahead of them. No club must stagnate and become complacent in their bid to be a champion club, they must continue at all times to recruit in a way that allows them to be winners. Richmond and Fremantle took 10 steps backwards this year, Carlton took 5 steps forward. With the upcoming trade period and draft picks, they will take another 5 steps forward, leaving Richmond and Fremantle behind to languish in missed opportunities.
For Carlton saw the realism of what it needs to do, Richmond and Fremantle did not, they are now paying the price.
#BOUND BY BLUE