Ladies and gentlemen! In the left corner, wearing white shorts, and a light blue and white top, weighing in at 96kg and standing 194cm, representing the search for a shiny trophy at all costs, and playing for North Melbourne, Mr Jarred Waite. In the right corner, wearing navy blue shorts and top, weighing in at 92kg and standing 192cm, representing what it means to be proud to play with heart, playing for Carlton, Mr Alex Silvagni.
Even though this sounds a bit of fun and “tongue-in-cheek” both players switched clubs, both players left their original clubs to play for new ones, yet both left for vastly different reasons and play for their new team for different reasons. While one plays for the pride of wearing a guernsey from a club he loves, he still performed at his previous club with the same vigour. On the other side, a player who was given time, money, support both on and off the field, left because he just could not see the team he has ancestral roots in, making it to finals. Now while this was, well, true, this is not why the supporters either booed him, or chanted “we hate Jarred Waite” on Sunday afternoon, 28th May, 2017 .
Other players have left Carlton and while some have been waved on, others left and are sadly missed, but most are treated with respect from Carlton supporters. We know it is the nature of the game. Yet the reason why Carlton supporters dislike Waite is because of a single act last year.
Instead of respecting and acknowledging his time at Carlton, the fact that his late father was a legend at the club, he chose to toss that all down in the garbage bin. After kicking a goal last year against Carlton, on the side where Carlton supporters were, he pulled up his North Melbourne guernsey and kissed it!
Now every sports person knows that when this act happens, it means that you are playing for the team with a passion and a support that is undeniable. It caused a great anger amongst supporters and rightly so. Instead of acknowledging what the club and the supporters gave to Waite and his career, his countless suspensions, injuries, he chose to throw that in the supporters’ faces. All he had to do was, well celebrate the goal and move on. He didn't.
Tailing him for most of the match on Sunday, was a player who switched clubs because his original club did not want or believed they needed anymore, Alex Silvagni. Carlton saw something in him and picked him up as a rookie. The revelation that has been Alex Silvagni, or ASOS as he is known, has been remarkable. A quiet, unassuming player who literally does not give up and puts his body on the line against others much stronger and taller than himself.
He too plays for the pride of wearing the Navy Blue, but he does not throw the support that he had received from Fremantle in the face of those supporters. He is a force down in the backline that provides a grunt and a dynamic chase for the ball that Carlton have missed since Mitch Robinson was delisted. ASOS has the same mindset for the ball that Robinson has, but with one more added factor, he is a smart footballer and knows what to do to stop his opponent.
Waite had 16 disposals and one goal; ASOS had 14 disposals and seven tackles, compared to Waite’s two. ASOS was ranked 12th in the game, Waite 17th. ASOS’s presence on the field cannot be compared to Waite’s; Waite was lazy, ASOS was not. ASOS was in every contest he could be in, Waite was not. The only thing Waite was better in that game was that he was in the team that won, but his one goal proves that he was not a key factor in that win.
Waite probably celebrated the win with his team mates, and it was just not our game from the very first quarter, even though we came back with a vengeance. Whereas ASOS left the ground saddened that Carlton lost, but the respect he holds amongst the supporters, his teammates, and commentators is something Waite will never get.
In this fight, in this round, Waite won by default, not by what he did, but what his teammates achieved. He will never be in a team that will win the Premiership and he will be viewed from Carlton supporters as an ungrateful and disrespectable player. ASOS may not be in a team that will win a Premiership (I hope he is), but he will be seen by all with respect and he will be grateful that he got a chance to play for a club he loves, while respecting where he first started. That is the difference between Waite and ASOS!