The Roar
The Roar


To be a force, the Blues must look to Sydney

Roar Pro
8th April, 2014
3075 Reads

I remember sitting down with a friend in 2008 and discussing how the Sydney Football Club would be one of the worst clubs in the AFL for years to come. Most of the media agreed at the time.

All of Sydney’s best players were too old or retiring. Brett Kirk, Barry Hall, Michael O’Loughlan, Jude Bolton, Craig Bolton and Leo Barry were on the way down.

Their youngsters looked ordinary. Lewis Roberts-Thompson, Jarred Moore, Patrick Veszpremi, Craig Bird, Paul Bevan, Ed Barlow and Henry Playfair were not about to become stars of the competition.

The Swans finished 12th in 2009 before returning to finals action in 2010, coming fifth. Sydney played finals again in 2011 and by 2012 were premiers. The team made top four in 2013 and is a contender again in 2014, despite a slow start.

All this proves two things. Firstly, this author is very poor at predicting the future. Second, even teams with lists that appear diabolical can turn it around. They don’t even need to bottom out.

This is particularly relevant to Carlton, who everyone has jumped on this week. The list looks heavy on old players losing their edge and light on quality youth.

But if the Blues do things right, they are only two or three years away from being a premiership threat.

Granted, good recruiting, strong development and smart list management would be out of character for Carlton, but it is possible.


Sydney developed the likes of Heath Grundy, Nick Malceski, Roberts-Thompson, Bird, Ted Richards and co into good or very good footballers. They recruited Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery. They got several more good years out of Jude Bolton and Adam Goodes.

They did not get 100 per cent out of every player on their list but they had many more successes than disappointments.

Carlton would need something similar. Andrew Walker and Kade Simpson would have to keep on playing at their current level for the next few years.

Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs would have to improve five per cent. Lachie Henderson and Matthew Kreuzer would have to emerge as top-liners.

Some of the youngsters currently not getting a game or injured, like Patrick Cripps, Sam Docherty, Levi Casboult and Matthew Watson, would have to become honest AFL footballers. Smart drafting would have to happen.

If the Blues are true to form, they’ll trade draft picks for overpriced, over the hill senior players. But if they make more smart decisions than dumb ones, they can still be a force over the next five years.