Can the Blues’ small men win the flag?

Andrew Sutherland Roar Guru

By Andrew Sutherland, Andrew Sutherland is a Roar Guru

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15 Have your say

    Before Friday night I knew Carlton had improved – and that Collingwood will not win the premiership – but I still didn’t see the Blues’ humiliation of the Pies coming.

    At times on Friday the older Carlton fans must have thought they were dreaming.

    A couple of the newer ones couldn’t believe their eyes either and wandered out onto the MCG during play, to be arrested, but also to confirm it was really happening: that their team was about to complete a ten goal drubbing of its most hated foe and in so doing finally confirm itself as a genuine premiership contender.

    The Blues’ performance brought back memories of the club’s famous mosquito squadron that swarmed around with deadly impact in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. It was like watching Rod Ashman, Trevor Keogh, Wayne Harmes, Ken Sheldon, Phil Maylin and Alec Marcou again, but with better haircuts (Ed Curnow being the exception).

    The term ‘rover’ is no longer used but Carlton’s onballers, as they’re called today, have inherited the art of roving from their illustrious predecessors. Betts twice roved the ball off the pack for goals, and Murphy swooped on the pill in the goalsquare for two more.

    Carlton’s enduring love for the small men is beginning to pay off again. Granted three number one draft picks (thanks to years of mediocrity) and seeking a big money recruit they went for the midfielders Judd, Murphy and Gibbs.

    These three have been dominant the last couple of years and have been responsible for the team’s steady rise.

    Until now though they’ve had a bit of the Harlem Globetrotters about them: endowed with exquisite skills but never being in the real contest. Last year they lost all six games against the best four teams.

    The main reason for that was their lack of key position players. The club’s leading goalkicker was the relatively wispy Andrew Walker. And the scarcity of big backmen meant a weakness in defence.

    This year they still lack some big men but things have changed. Their hardness at the ball, and the numbers in the contest have reminded us of what Collingwood used to do.

    And what a group of little fighters they are. The least talented ones, Robinson and Armfield, are their hardest runners and the toughest in the clinches.

    Carrazzo can’t kick far but he can nullify a champion like Pendlebury, get twenty-nine mainly contested possessions of his own and kick a goal without ruffling that impossibly neat hair of his.

    On the fringes are the silky smooth Gibbs and Simpson, and the slow but crafty Scotland. And everyone seems to be able to kick a goal. The Irishman Tuohy kicked a goal from a set shot (a rarity these days) fifty metres out, and Yarran the defender wandered down to drill one too.

    Of course the taller men were dominant as well. Their last number one draft pick, the boyish Kreuzer, dismantled Jolly in the ruck, Henderson held the powerful Cloke, and Waite was superb on the lead, and with his hands.

    For a while in the second quarter Collingwood got back into the game – within nine points of their possession dominant opponents – on rebounds. Buckley put extra men in defence, frustrating the Blues as they failed to capitalise on numerous entries into the forward half.

    But in reality Collingwood were gone. Swan was the only gun firing, shrugging off each tackle as he always does but having no one to deliver it to.

    Pendlebury and Thomas were smoking too – like a couple of Heinkels limping home from a bombing raid, at the mercy of the Spitfires.

    Carlton should not get too carried away as Collingwood were absolutely awful. Part of that was a result of the enormous defensive effort by the Blues but clearly the Pies didn’t look like they wanted it. They have plenty of improvement in them.

    They are magnificent to watch but can Carlton’s small brigade defeat the more powerful contenders like Geelong and Hawthorn, or even West Coast, to win the premiership?

    To do so I think they need a Scarlett type down back, or a Cloke clone up forward and unfortunately they won’t be eligible for a number one draft pick for some time.

    Whatever their true credentials are, Carlton have made the premiership race a more compelling one.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • April 15th 2012 @ 9:10am
      Ironmonger said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Agree…i didn’t see such a humiliation coming. I thought the O’Brien v Betts match up was wrong any Eddies goals were the difference in the first quarter. Daisy had a shocker too…no influence at all. Swan last night reminded me of Jarod McVeigh of last year. Gets his hands on the footy all the time but you would often rather he didn’t because his option taking and/or disposal is poor. And didn’t Kruzer smash Jolly in those centre bounces. Winners for Carlton all over the ground and Collingwood, who were using words like “legacy” a couple of years ago, look like a lost team of yesterdays heroes…

      • April 15th 2012 @ 1:54pm
        Bludger said | April 15th 2012 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

        Put simply, 2012 is Carlton’s season to lose the flag.

        Of course it will come down to injuries and weather on the day. If it is wet and windy then it could slow them down, but really I cannot see anyone stopping those Mighty Blues winning it now.

        Question for me is, is it possible that Carlton achieve the unthinkable and win it all. Never lose a game and become immortal?

        • Roar Guru

          April 15th 2012 @ 9:07pm
          The_Wookie said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

          many of us carlton people predicted that this would be the year we became genuine contenders. 3 rounds in and we’re heading in the right direction.

    • Roar Guru

      April 15th 2012 @ 9:16am
      The Cattery said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Blues mentioned on AFL and rugby threads.

      One on the rise, the other on the decline.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 10:46am
      Ian Whitchurch said | April 15th 2012 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      This part of the season is about sorting who are elite, who are fighting for the spoon, and who are the middling sides.

      Carlton and West Coast have argued for being in category one.

      Melbourne and the Doggies are arguing for being in category two.

      Collingwood are making an argument for being a category three side … but it’s early in the season, and we’ll see how things go.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 11:58am
      lachlan said | April 15th 2012 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      Early part of the season really doesnt mean much if pies can get a fulll squad on the park they will be a hard team to beat. Taking nothing away from carlton but pies were down to two on the bench for most of the game. They are still missing didak, tarrant and ben johnson jolly looks injured reid looks like he is struggling beams and maxwell are coming back from injury dawes can hardly take a mark this a well from full strength collingwood side.

      • April 15th 2012 @ 1:00pm said | April 15th 2012 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

        Full squad ? No Leon davies no Leigh brown no kracker no mccaffer no ball this season ? Wouldn’t want another person to do his knee, I’m afraid they don’t have much coming back this year. Not to forget blues had no Warnock or Walker and I reckon McLean could be in front of some players soon they could be unstoppable

        • Roar Guru

          April 15th 2012 @ 9:09pm
          The_Wookie said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

          Warnock now finds himself behind TWO in form ruckmen who can go forward and are more agile than he is. He could find himself at GWS next year if he doesnt get any games *sigh* Mclean is too slow for the current Carlton style of play. Walker will be back in a week or two, no rush.

          We look forward to the Bombers

        • April 15th 2012 @ 9:19pm
          lachlan said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

          McLean won the bullants best and fairest last year and couldn’t get into the carlton squad. There not going to play warnock unless hampson or kreuzer get injured. I will give you that walker is in there best 22. I hate the pies but like geelong you dont win that many games without being a really good side. Dont get me wrong i dont think they will win the premiship but a hard team to beat they will be.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 8:16pm
      John Seabrook said | April 15th 2012 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

      I’m sure I speak for the vast majority of civilized society in the hope that Carlton’s mercurial rise continues. That way, we can all rejoice at the rapid descent by seasons end. God help me, but I found myself willing the Pies to win on Friday night! That’s how serious this situation is becoming.

      • Roar Guru

        April 15th 2012 @ 9:10pm
        The_Wookie said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

        it seems odd but Carlton are at the reverse end of the Pies season. The pies are getting injured, while all the Blues injured are coming back now.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 8:16pm
      Nathan of Perth said | April 15th 2012 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

      Hard to say – Carlton hammers Pies, but NM beats Geelong. Does anyone think Pies are better than Cats or that NM is as good as Carlton? So many difficult to reconcile the results so far!

      • April 15th 2012 @ 9:23pm
        lachlan said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

        Yeah this early in the season its hard to tell NM dont fill me with that much confidence even though they played really well today but i think you will find come the pointy end of the season the usual suspects will be up there and richmond will finish 9th.

        • April 15th 2012 @ 9:44pm
          Nathan of Perth said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

          And of course reconciling West Coast and Carlton is impossible. Such wildly different styles.

          Saw a Carlton supporter once lament that if Carlton played their home games on Subiaco’s field and West Coast played on Etihad’s field, they would have been first and second last year and this.

          • Roar Guru

            April 16th 2012 @ 3:08am
            The_Wookie said | April 16th 2012 @ 3:08am | ! Report

            We’d like more games at the G to be honest, and our style of gameplay just seems better suited to subiaco than Etihad where our record isnt as good as we’d like. Watch us on the G this season though. Theres a block of games coming up where we have the Hawks, Geelong and the Weagles, and once thats done we’ll know where we are

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