Everyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE footy fan and an even bigger Carlton supporter (and proud member of the club). I support the club and its journey from being a really crappy team and club, to one that is slowly on the rise.
This season we have been witness to not only a dramatic change in the culture of the club, but a glimpse of what the future will hold. Culturally, with the inclusion of the women’s team, which has been long overdue from a total AFL perspective; we have seen the growth of inclusion of the club embracing its members and supporters. There is a more cohesive group of administrators and players.
There are players who have shown what they are capable of given their age and the re-emergence of a player once deemed on the edge of footy oblivion to now being a leading example of what can be achieved when someone believes in your abilities, yes, I am talking about Liam Jones. But this is not what I want to say in this article. My point is that sure we played a scrappy, incoherent game on Sunday against a rather unexciting Bulldogs team, even if they were Premiers last year.
We were rattled, made silly errors and lacked a bit of oomph. We missed the strength of Crippa and Ed Curnow. Alex Silvagni only played a half game really, because he didn’t rmake the impact he had made before his injury. Dylan Buckley was not really that dynamic as he too was injured later in the game. This game showed what the club needs to get in terms of depth when players are out injured. This game showed that there are some players who while playing for their careers at Carlton, proved that they just don’t cut it.
I’m not going to go into a detailed discussion whether players such as Gibbsy, Kruuz, Simmo or even Casboult will be at the club next season, because out of those four, I believe three will be, Casboult I’m not so sure. We have this huge expectation of our younger players to be confident players at all times no matter what is thrown at them. Some shine, some don’t. Some just take it in their stride and show what champions of the future they will be, some just need time.
The younger players need time to mature, grow and become the players not only the coaches see in them, but what they see in themselves, but they in turn must show how hungry they are to become the champions others see them as. Liam Jones, or Batman as he is being known as, saw his career on the line, was given a chance to become a player of a different elk and proved with every single fibre of his body and playing ability to show that. He was rewarded by not only staying with the club for another two seasons, but is becoming the pinup boy for the footy world.
The media love what Carlton has done for this guy and how he has literally looked in the mirror and said, I’ll show em! Carlton need more players of this ilk and they do with the younger players. But these players, just like Jonesy, need time to mature and grow. Jack Silvagni was bagged for being soft and weak over the weekend. I vehemently dispute this. He needs time to bulk up, to grow and become the star player we know he will become. He is showing signs of this but it takes time.
The verbal rubbish that some supporters wrote after the loss against the Bulldogs was bordering on troll-like and completely out of line. The expectation that these youngsters must be at a certain level by now is fraught with ignorance of what the process is to become a great player. Luke Hodge took a few years to become the player he is now seen as, why are we expecting all our youngsters to be anything different?
Sure, sometimes there are players who prove to be the exception and not the norm. If we want to be the club that we want Carlton to be then we must now have a bit more patience. We must stand behind what the club is trying to achieve, long-term greatness. This does not come easily and there will be more disappointments, but at the end of the day players, coaches, administrators all want what we the supporters want, success. It will happen, we just have to wait just a little bit more.
Season 2018 will prove to be a major catalyst for Carlton for all the right reasons, just wait. We are heading that way now, most can see this, the few that can’t, don’t support the club’s growth now and then join those that have been there no matter what when the celebrations begin. Believe in the future and what is being built because it’s going to look damn fine.