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While there’s no doubt Carlton returned to pre-season training in January still nursing a significant Christmas hangover, the fallout and embarrassment from that now infamous booze cruise has been far worse than any headache for Chris Judd.
The Blues leadership group pledged a new years resolution, vowing to be better behaved and apologised for the events that took place on behalf of its players. But in accepting responsibility, Chris Judd has once again exposed his lack of leadership.
Guilt is in many ways only by association, but its not Judd’s behaviour that’s the issue, more his inability to take control of a situation. Which in turn begs the question; does his lack of influence indicate a lack of respect from his team mates?
Carlton’s young, impressionable and exciting playing list is on the way up, however they’re in danger of falling or even imploding if the right direction and guidance isn’t there.
On field Judd is held in the highest esteem, he’s courageous, has a strong work ethic and sublime skills, not forgetting he’s a premiership player and a Brownlow Medallist. But there in lies the problem; the respect he demands on the field from the playing group it seems is almost non-existent off it.
This is the fatal flaw ruining his ability to lead the Carlton Football Club.
If you look back at his captaincy at the West Coast Eagles, on one side of the white line he led the club to a premiership, on the other it was a different story.
The Eagles were a club riddled with social problems and bad behaviour during his tenure at the top. Now before you start jumping up and down, I understand Judd was initially filling the void left by the disgraced Ben Cousins, and I accept he can’t be held fully responsible for the events that took place.
However, I’m merely stating the point, they happened on his watch.
At Princes Park, he filled yet another leadership vacuum, arriving with a million dollar price tag, and once again inheriting a bad boy culture, this time alcohol was at the heart of the problem. Brendan Fevola’s list of off field indiscretions stretched as long as his right boot, and that drunken night at the Brownlow was only the tip of the iceberg, but once again Judd was there and failed to act.
The latest blight came just before Christmas at the now highly publicised player organised booze cruise. Three players were subsequently arrested and a young rookie felt so intimidated by his peers, he drank himself into unconsciousness. The controversy rocked the boat even further, landing Judd and his leadership group in hot water for again falling short of their responsibility.
On top of a hefty fine, Carlton banished bad boys Andrew Walker, Eddie Betts and Ryan Houlihan from the club for a month and have restricted them from playing in the NAB Cup. So don’t get me wrong, I know the players in question are fundamentally at fault for their actions, but surely the presence and consent of their skipper helps clear any conscience of wrongdoing?
Chris Judd still remains the great white hope at Carlton, but having pledged to lead his team in becoming better role models, perhaps its now time for Judd himself to look up to one.
When Tom Harley took over as captain at Geelong, it changed the entire football club. His authority and fortitude to suspend the wayward Steve Johnson for 6 weeks set a standard that hasn’t been broken since.
Three grand finals and two premierships later…. now that’s a sobering thought!