Carlton Blues 2018 AFL season preview, best 22 and predicted finish

Josh Barnstable Roar Rookie

By Josh Barnstable, Josh Barnstable is a Roar Rookie


79 Have your say

    Heading into their second season under Brendon Bolton, the Navy Blue army were buoyant after a promising 2016 campaign that yielded seven wins.

    Carlton started out competitively in 2017, going down with a fight to both Richmond and Melbourne before snagging an upset victory over arch-rivals Essendon at a rain-soaked MCG.

    After a 90-point thumping at the hands of Port Adelaide, the Blues responded with back-to-back wins against a struggling Sydney outfit and a Collingwood side celebrating their 125th anniversary.

    Carlton then went into the mid-season bye on the back of three consecutive losses, but came back from the break refreshed and in-form. They managed to pull off one of the upsets of the season in Round 12, defeating the Giants by one point at Etihad Stadium, before flying up to the Gold Coast and beating the Suns.

    The Blues remained competitive for the remainder of the season but the losses started to stack up, and Carlton failed to win a game between Rounds 14 and 21.

    The Blues snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Hawks in the penultimate round of the season to avoid the wooden spoon, but finished the year on a disappointing note, going down to a Lance Franklin-inspired Swans by 81 points.

    Bolton’s men ended in 16th position on the ladder, with just 24 wins from their last 88 games.

    There was little official movement from Carlton until late in the trade period, with their first major move coming after 231-game star Bryce Gibbs repeated his request from last year to be traded to the Adelaide Crows.

    Bryce Gibbs Carlton Blues AFL 2017

    (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    After a deal couldn’t be struck in 2016, the former number one draft pick finally got his wish, landing in South Australia along with pick 77 at the national draft and a future second and third round selection, the Blues receiving picks 10, 16, 73 and Adelaide’s future second rounder in return.

    Carlton then acquired the services of out-of-favour Port Adelaide ruckman Matthew Lobbe, before grabbing young Greater Western Sydney midfielder Matthew Kennedy thanks to a swap of picks with the Western Bulldogs.

    Carlton’s final involvement in the trade period came when they picked up Geelong forward Darcy Lang and a future fourth rounder, in exchange for pick 58 and their own future fourth round pick. Ex-Roo Aaron Mullett also joined the club as a delisted free agent.

    A number of players departed the club at the end of 2017, completing a radical list overhaul that has changed the entire look of the football club. Fan favourite Dennis Armfield announced his retirement at the end of the season, as did ruck pair Daniel Gorringe and Matthew Korcheck.

    Former GWS first round draft selections Kristian Jaksch and Liam Sumner were both delisted, as were Andrew Gallucci, Dylan Buckley, Rhys Palmer, Blaine Boekhorst, Ciaran Sheehan, Simon White and Billie Smedts.

    Armed with two top ten selections at the national draft, the Blues selected midfield prodigy Paddy Dow at pick three, before grabbing speedster Lochie O’Brien at selection ten, with both hailing from the Bendigo Pioneers.

    At pick 30, Tom De Koning became a Blue, before another Pioneer in Angus Schumacher landed at the club via selection 70. With the final pick in the draft, Carlton handed a lifeline to former Gold Coast first round pick Jarrod Garlett.

    With the one and only selection in the pre-season draft, Carlton decided to give another experienced player a crack at the big time, selecting former Port Adelaide defender Cam O’Shea. In the rookie draft, the Blues selected former Gold Coast speedster Matt Shaw, while they added Category B rookie Cillian McDaid from Ireland.

    Playing list

    1. Jack Silvagni
    2. Paddy Dow*
    3. Marc Murphy (C)
    4. Lochie O’Brien*
    5. Sam Petrevski-Seton
    6. Kade Simpson
    7. Matthew Kennedy*
    8. Matthew Kreuzer
    9. Patrick Cripps
    10. Harry McKay
    11. Sam Kerridge
    12. Tom De Koning*
    13. Jed Lamb
    14. Liam Jones
    15. Sam Docherty
    16. Darcy Lang*
    17. Sam Rowe
    18. Aaron Mullett*
    19. Angus Schumacher*
    20. Lachie Plowman
    21. Jarrod Garlett*
    22. Caleb Marchbank
    23. Jacob Weitering
    24. Cameron O’Shea*
    25. Zac Fisher
    26. Harrison Macreadie
    27. Matthew Lobbe*
    28. David Cuningham
    29. Cameron Polson
    30. Charlie Curnow
    31. Tom Williamson
    32. Nick Graham
    33. Jarrod Pickett
    34. Andrew Phillips
    35. Ed Curnow
    36. Patrick Kerr
    37. Matt Shaw (R)*
    38. Ciaran Byrne
    39. Dale Thomas
    40. Jesse Glass-McCasker (R)
    41. Levi Casboult
    42. Kym LeBois (R)
    44. Alex Silvagni (R)
    45. Cillian McDaid (R)*
    46. Matthew Wright
    *Denotes new player

    Best 22
    FB: Lachie Plowman, Liam Jones, Caleb Marchbank
    HB: Aaron Mullett, Jacob Weitering, Kade Simpson
    C: Ed Curnow, Patrick Cripps, Zac Fisher
    HF: Jarrod Pickett, Levi Casboult, Charlie Curnow
    FF: Jack Silvagni, Harry McKay, Matthew Wright
    R: Matthew Kreuzer, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Marc Murphy
    I/C: Jed Lamb, David Cuningham, Paddy Dow, Matthew Kennedy
    EMG: Darcy Lang, Ciaran Byrne, Tom Williamson

    Sam Docherty was not considered in the best 22 due to tearing his ACL during pre-season training.

    The star
    He might only enter the 2018 campaign at the tender age of 21 with just 27 games under his belt, but Charlie Curnow stamped himself as one of the young guns of the future with an outstanding second season in 2017.

    The 194cm forward missed just one match, averaging 14.1 disposals, 5.7 marks and 2.9 tackles while having an impact up forward with 20.12 and 12 goal assists. With his muscular, tall frame, Curnow draws comparisons to a young Anthony Koutoufides, and he looks well and truly on the way to emulating the greats of the former Blue.

    Charlie Curnow Carlton Blues AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Ready to breakout
    Despite standing at just 175cm and weighing 68kg, Zac Fisher quickly fought his way into Carlton’s best 22 in his debut season, playing his first game in Round 4. Fisher missed just two matches for the remainder of the season, impressing with his speed, agility and ball-handling.

    A one-touch player, Fisher already looks comfortably in Carlton’s best 22 and after another pre-season, might be ready to take his game to the next level.

    Needs a big year
    After bursting onto the scene as a 20-year-old to become the second-youngest player in Carlton’s history to win the best and fairest, Patrick Cripps has been hampered by injury issues of late, restricting his ability to contribute to the Blues’ outfit as an out-and-out ball-winning star. Heading into 2017, Cripps was shaking off a stress reaction in his back which affected his early-season form, before a broken leg in Round 16 cut his campaign short.

    If Cripps can get a full pre-season under his belt, he will be an incredibly valuable commodity to the Carlton midfield for season 2018.

    Last chance
    Having scraped 38 games together from his five years on the list, Nick Graham is facing a year in which he must perform to earn a contract beyond 2018. The speedy midfielder has never played more than 12 matches in a season, and is always on another level when playing in the VFL.

    His form in the senior side is never compelling enough to remain in the team, so he must work on becoming more consistent and damaging with ball in hand. With the recruitment of top ten draft picks in Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien, Graham’s position in the pecking order may fall further, which makes his task of impressing Brendon Bolton even harder.

    New colours
    For the fourth consecutive year, the Blues secured a talented youngster from Greater Western Sydney’s grasp during the trade period, acquiring young midfielder Matthew Kennedy. Originally a first round draft selection, Kennedy had a productive second season at the Giants in 2017, averaging 17.2 disposals, 3.2 marks, 4.6 tackles and 2.6 clearances from 16 matches.

    Following the loss of Bryce Gibbs, there is a spot up for grabs in the Carlton midfield and Kennedy appears best-placed to grab it. Darcy Lang will also be hoping that a change of scenery can bring out his best football after 44 games in four seasons with Geelong.

    The kid
    Bendigo Pioneers pair Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien both arrive at Ikon Park with plenty of expectations on their shoulders having been drafted inside the top ten at this year’s national draft. Dow, the third selection from the pool, has explosive speed which helps create separation at stoppages as an inside midfielder, while he has terrific goal sense and can play inside 50, having booted seven majors in a match for Geelong Grammar during his underage years.

    O’Brien, who snuck into the top ten of the draft, will spend the next ten years running up and down the wings for Carlton thanks to his top-notch endurance that saw him finish second in the 2km time trial at the AFL Draft Combine. He also possesses a great left-foot kick, and Navy blue fans should be buoyant about their 2017 draft haul purely on the back of these two selections.

    Paddy Dow Lochie Brien

    (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

    Supercoach star
    After a year cruelled by an ankle injury in 2016, Marc Murphy reminded the football world how valuable he is when fully fit with an outstanding season this year. The Blues’ skipper didn’t miss a game, averaging a career-high 29.8 possessions a match along with 5.8 marks, 3.9 tackles and 4.5 clearances. It was also Murphy’s best season in Supercoach for five years, averaging 108.2 points per match, with eight scores above 120 points.


    Round 1: Richmond (MCG)
    Round 2: Gold Coast (Etihad)
    Round 3: Collingwood (MCG)
    Round 4: North Melbourne (Blundstone Arena)
    Round 5: West Coast (MCG)
    Round 6: Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium)
    Round 7: Adelaide (Adelaide Oval)
    Round 8: Essendon (MCG)
    Round 9: Melbourne (MCG)
    Round 10: Geelong (GMHBA Stadium)
    Round 11: Sydney (SCG)
    Round 12: Bye
    Round 13: Fremantle (Etihad Stadium)
    Round 14: Collingwood (MCG)*
    Round 15: Port Adelaide (MCG)
    Round 16: Brisbane (Gabba)
    Round 17: St Kilda (Etihad Stadium)
    Round 18: Hawthorn (Etihad Stadium)
    Round 19: Gold Coast (Metricon Stadium)*
    Round 20: Greater Western Sydney (Etihad Stadium)
    Round 21: Fremantle (Optus Stadium)*
    Round 22: Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium)*
    Round 23: Adelaide (Etihad Stadium)*
    *Denotes rematch

    The Blues will take part in one of the biggest season openers in recent years when they take on the reigning premiers Richmond on a Thursday night in Round 1.

    Carlton leave Victoria just twice in the opening ten weeks, and will make just one trip each to Perth and Adelaide. They will head to Queensland twice, while they will go to Sydney, Hobart and Geelong once.

    Return matches against fierce rival Collingwood presents an opportunity to bank two wins, as do two games against the Suns. Also, despite their recent poor form on the field, Carlton have been awarded a return to prime time, with five games scheduled for Thursday and Friday nights, up from two and none in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

    The quirk
    Quite a few things to notice with Carlton’s 2018 fixture. They will play their first ever match in Hobart under lights at Blundstone Arena in Round 4 against North Melbourne, while it will be the Blues’ second trip to the Apple Isle in their history.

    Carlton’s venture down the highway to Geelong in Round 10 will be their first match at Kardinia Park since 1997. For interest’s sake, the venue, now known as GMHBA Stadium, has changed names six times since the Blues’ last visit.

    Carlton will also host Fremantle at Etihad Stadium for the first time since 2013, breaking a run of four consecutive games at Subiaco Oval, while the Blues will head to South Australia to face the Crows, something they haven’t done since 2010, remarkably.

    Don’t miss it
    The rivalry between Carlton and Essendon hasn’t reached any meaningful heights in the past ten years (apart from a final in 2011), but with the Blues set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1968 premiership over the Bombers in Round 8 at the MCG, tempers will no doubt be high between the two clubs who simply hate each other. Expect a crowd in excess of 65,000.

    Jack Silvagni AFL Carlton Blues 2017

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Make other plans
    In a confusing scheduling arrangement, the Blues will head to Sydney to take on the Swans on a Friday night in Round 11. It is an odd choice to have this game as top billing for the round, given the Blues have lost their last five matches at the SCG by an average of 48 points, and have won just once at the venue in the past 23 years.

    With Sydney one of the teams in the league challenging for the premiership in 2018, it could be a game that gets ugly fast.

    Final word
    There is no doubt that the Blues are on the right track. The deadwood has been cut from the playing list, replaced by exciting youngsters with plenty of promise.

    There are a few holes in the best 22 on paper. Levi Casboult desperately needs a fellow tall for assistance close to goal, and Bryce Gibbs’ departure to Adelaide leaves a huge gap in the midfield.

    The defence is not without issues either, as Sam Docherty’s recent rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament robs the Blues of their All-Australian playmaker for 2018.

    Once again, Brendon Bolton’s baby Blues will be competitive and they will pinch a couple of wins against unsuspecting opponents, but it is likely to be another year at the foot of the table for Carlton supporters, something they have grown quite used to in the last 15 years.

    Predicted finish: 16th

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    The Crowd Says (79)

    • December 20th 2017 @ 9:20am
      Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Very good write up Josh, and a pretty good best 22 although I would suggest there is no way that Williamson isn’t in it. My best 22 has Wlliamson and Byrne in and Mullett & Lamb out.

      On the issues you identify in your final word, I largely agree but remain hopeful.

      Losing Docherty is a massive loss but hopefully getting an injury free run from Byrne, development out of Williamson (plus Marchbank, Plowman & Weitering in different roles) and the recruitment of Mullett & Garlett will help offset it somewhat.

      In the midfield again losing Gibbs is huge but hopefully getting Cripps (15 games in 2017) his first full pre-season and an injury free run plus E Curnow (13 2017 games) back, development out of Cuningham and SPS and the recruitment of Kennedy & Dow will lessen the impact.

      Up forward is clearly where the greatest need is and the greatest opportunity for significant improvement. Bolton has flagged a subtle switch to faster ball movement and increased scoring and to me if we can get McKay and Pickett to grab there spot in the best 22 and kick around 20 goals each it can change the side dramatically.

      With C Curnow emerging as a genuine star and J Silvagni starting to show he belongs at AFL level and hopefully coming back better equipped physically the blues have some support for Casboult and Wright but if the noticeably bigger McKay cements his spot the flow on impact a 200cm mobile forward would have is massive. Suddenly Casbolt gets more one on one marking opportunities, C Curnow starts getting the 3rd tall and J Silvagni could end up with a physical mismatch in his favour.

      As for Pickett he showed at the end of last year glimpses of what his elite speed and natural talent could do for the blues up forward, he came back in fantastic shape and looks to put in his first full pre-season at AFL level – if we get to regularly see him running down the likes of mcdonald tipungwuti or putting in 16 possession 2 goal performances like he did against the Hawks the blues forward line suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous.

      There is obviously a lot of “what if” and hope amongst what I have said but the exciting thing for blues supporters is there are genuine reasons to be hopeful.

      • Roar Guru

        December 20th 2017 @ 10:45am
        Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Agree with all that Macca. Our depth is the pleasing aspect of our list and with another pre season into the 19 – 21 year olds I expect to see greater consistency out of them.

        Also good to see the club post a $2.4 million operating profit and membership sitting on 35,600 before Christmas. Considering that at this time of the year it has never been higher than 30,000 our new CEO must be going OK.

        • December 20th 2017 @ 1:17pm
          Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Col – $2.7m after depreciation loss in 2015, $700k after depreciation loss in 2016 and $650k after depreciation profit in 2017 – doesn’t exactly seem like a recipe for unrest at board level.

          On the membership, a record pre-Christmas sign up with the CEO holding back the major push until closer to the season bodes well, if we can make the most of a reasonable first 4 rounds (Richmond, the Suns in Melbourne, Collingwood and North) and pick up 2 or 3 wins I think our membership will be well up on 2017.

          • Roar Guru

            December 20th 2017 @ 6:43pm
            Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

            Macca, see where the Bulldogs have appointed Sam Power as their new List Manager. Power has spent the last four years at the Blues.

            • December 20th 2017 @ 9:22pm
              Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

              Yeah Col, how bad must they be going that they need a Carlton team member to manage their list! 😉

      • December 20th 2017 @ 1:14pm
        Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Macca, I’m not being cynical – but isn’t this the fourth review of Carlton 2018 appearing on this platform? Does the Roar review each team multiple times? Excuse my ignorance.

        • December 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm
          Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          Stephen – the article on the left in orange are written by roar staff, the ones on the right in blues are written by anyone who wants to write – this can led to double ups, especially when multiple people want to do club by club previews.

          • December 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm
            Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

            Okay. Thanks.

            • Roar Guru

              December 20th 2017 @ 1:39pm
              Cat said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              Expect a few more series to go up once we get closer to actual games.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 2:27pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                Look forward to that Cat. It’s an excellent platform – largely comprised of insightful and passionate supporters who know and love our game.

                But all articles must filter through the editor. So if there is an imbalance regardless of the author’s origination – it would make sense to even things out.

                Perhaps I should shut-up and write something on Essendon. LOL!

                The truth is – I try my best to place my love for our game before my club membership. The reality is – I often fail!

                PS. How’s the Masters training going?

              • December 20th 2017 @ 2:38pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                Stephen – they just want content. I don’ think they get so many articles submitted they can afford to knock them back.

                And the more popular clubs tend to get more articles and articles on more popular clubs get more posters, more posters means more advertising money.

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 3:05pm
                Cat said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                The danger is if the roar starts knocking back articles, the people willing to write for nothing, may decide to stop all together. This time of year especially there isn’t much going on to write except previews.

                I personally don’t mind a bunch of different ‘previews’ as long as they aren’t just regurgitating someone else’s thoughts. Different viewpoints are good IMO.

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 3:30pm
                Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

                It would be good for supporters of clubs like the Bulldogs, Saints, Port etc to submit articles as there does seem to be a lot more articles on the bigger clubs.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 3:44pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

                You all make very valid points.

                Funny you should say that Col – as I find myself making a conscious effort to engage on articles relating to the less popular clubs – for reasons I’m not sure.

                I think it might be time for Macca, Cat and Col to pen an article! They say we humans all have one novel deep within us.

                You guys know/love your AFL intimately. Is there one topic that particularly moves you?

              • December 20th 2017 @ 3:56pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                Stephen – I have penned about half a dozen over the years, I will probably write another before the season starts and am pretty confident in saying Cat & Col have both written some.

                I would also say that you would have noticed more Carlton articles simply starting points- most people start either Alphabetically or from the bottom of the ladder – the blues get done pretty quick either way.

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 4:04pm
                Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

                Stephen, I have penned a couple of articles, one on Carlton and one on implementing a send off rule. Macca and Cat have also submitted articles. All Roarers should give it a go.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 4:07pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

                Have all your articles been on the Blues Macca?

                That reminds me – I did Google AFL attendance figures recently. And sure enough – there was an article on The Roar – May 2014 – Author Cat.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 4:11pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

                Col, are you able to flick thru a link to your article on the send-off rule please?

              • December 20th 2017 @ 4:12pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

                Stephen – I am a firm believer that you write what you know. I can’t say for certain that everyone of my articles was on the blues (I honestly can’t remember) but I am fairly confident.

                If you click on Col’s name you should see his articles – you would have to use the search function to find mine because I submit mine the quick way rather than under my profile (which I haven’t really created properly) so they aren’t linked to me.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 4:23pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                Agree Macca. No point putting something out there – half baked. And you know your Blues better than most.

                There is a quiet confidence within the Carlton camp at the moment – I’m told. Still smiling over how much Adelaide ‘payed’ for Gibbs!

                Although the Docherty injury has taken away a little enthusiasm.

                It’s old news now and someone else will be given more games accordingly. But All Australian players are difficult to replace.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 4:37pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

                Yean Stephen losing Docherty and Gibbs will offset a lot of natural development we will get but the reason for the sense of optimism IMO is that we can see the strategy and the methodology.

                We can see that the blues have done very well at the trade table to get in plenty of first round draft pick in just 3 years (7 through the draft and Plowman, Marchbank, Pickett, Lang, Garlett & Kennedy through trades) and got some later round bargains.

                We can see that we have added quality players in every zone and a great mix of dependability and excitement.

                We can see players like Cripps, C Curnow & Weitering who you can build a club around.

                We can see the club is looking at players with speed and great foot skills as a priority.

                We can see the game plan being built, putting down “non negotiables” and then adding the layers.

                Yes it will take time but the strategy is sound and the seem to be nailing the implementation.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 5:01pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                Agree with all that Macca. The other info my CFC ‘insiders’ share is just how in awe the club is with Sam Petrevski-Seton.

                Can’t say I’ve seen much of him – but I’m getting a little tired of the carry-on. LOL.

                Although I was staggered when he was selected to play Round 1 – 2017 – as a first year player with zero practice games! Not one game ever with the club.

                I reckon that says a lot about how they rated him before he even began.

                Sometimes how a club rates a player internally can differ from the external noise. Rod Ashman played in the three Carlton premierships between 1979 to 1982. Most associated with the club at that time would argue Ashman was the most important player.

                I would never have picked that.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 5:09pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

                Ashman was very good but the blues had quite a few vying for the “most important title” Wayne Johnston for one, but Col is probably in a better position to judge, I was only born in 1975.

                On SPS he looks like a player who can do an awful lot with just a few possessions, he looks clean with his hands, has the ability to create space for himself and is good by foot off both sides of his body (there was a good video yesterday of him kicking a left foot goal from the boundary with a drop punt that was very impressive).

                The message the club seems to be giving is that all these young blokes are more than willing to go that extra mile – that seem to have built a good culture that should see these players get the best out of themselves.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 5:20pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

                ‘To bin or not to bin’. Good read Col. As a Carlton man the 1973 Grand Final provides a good case study in support of the send-off ruling.

                You may recall – Neil Balme knocking Geoff Southby out cold – early in the first half?

                That’s where the send-off ruling enjoys it’s strongest support – when someone loses control in a critical game such as a GF. And there is little thought attached to missing future games. Alastair Lynch in the 2004 GF is another example. Terry Daniher 1990 GF.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 5:23pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                It is very rare these days that anything worthy of a send off occurs in the AFL – but I will say that in the league I played in the send off rule eliminated thuggery almost immediately in the early 90’s.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 5:41pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                Right. I guess that’s the key point – is it worth introducing in order to avoid the king-hit during a critical game?

                Problem is – the game is becoming increasingly over-umpired as it stands today. And you place a send-off rule in the hands of already power-drunk officials – it could be disastrous.

                Too many umpires forget – zero people pay to attend a game of AFL to watch the umpires perform.

                If Hocking wants to put the game before politics – he’ll find a way to blunt the umpires influence on our great game. He could start by reducing the numbers per game from three field umpires back to two.

                That will dramatically increase the consistency.

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 6:05pm
                Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

                Ashy was rated very highly internally by the Blues, more so than he was rated externally. People forget he finished second in the 1981 Brownlow, 1 vote behind the winners. He was also close to going to North Melbourne in 1979 when they made him a massive offer. Carlton refused to clear him and he sat out a lot of the 1979 season, returning late in the year to only miss out on playing finals due to an injury.

                So he only played in the 1981 and 82 premierships and a couple of reserves premierships in the latter part of his career. He was named in a forward pocket in the Carlton Team of the Century.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 6:06pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

                The best umpire is the LEAST conspicuous.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 6:14pm
                Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

                Interesting Col. As a non-Carlton supporter I always viewed Ashman as one of those good ordinary players. An honest member of the Carlton mosquito fleet at that time.

                I guess to be named in the Team of the Century says a lot. The players he coached in the Carlton reserves also rated him as a great coach.

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 6:20pm
                Cat said | December 20th 2017 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

                I’ve actually got a mega multi part article in mind, I’ve never been much of a writer though, as my previous articles show.

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 7:12pm
                AdelaideDocker said | December 20th 2017 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

                I reckon you’re a pretty good writer, Cat! Looking forward to whatever you decide to write next.

                I’m also planning a ladder prediction series, to be written over the next few months. Trying to think of a way to differentiate it from all the others, though. Got a few ideas in mind, but I’m waiting to get past my ridiculously busy work schedule/Christmas/New Years before I start writing.

                Of course, if you blokes have any ideas through them my way! More than happy to write what the people wanna read!

              • December 20th 2017 @ 9:07pm
                Jon boy said | December 20th 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

                Why “”differentiate it from all others”…. Why not call it as You see it ? ..Just Curious .

              • Roar Guru

                December 20th 2017 @ 9:58pm
                AdelaideDocker said | December 20th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

                Nah, Jon Boy. I meant that I want to differentiate the style of article, rather than differentiate my thoughts. Different thoughts wouldn’t be a bad thing, as well, to be fair.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 10:12pm
                Jon boy said | December 20th 2017 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

                Gotcha,Thanks AD

              • December 21st 2017 @ 9:21am
                Stephen said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

                Cat, may I ask what the theme is for your mega multi part article?

    • December 20th 2017 @ 9:30am
      Tom M said | December 20th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Petrevski- Seaton isn’t near fit enough to play on the ball, Lang will play all 22 games if he is fit and Harry McKay will have to show a fair bit in the preseason to hold down the FF roll

    • December 20th 2017 @ 10:29am
      Don Freo said | December 20th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      I hope Pickett develops enough of a tank to go with his speed so he doesn’t have a career restricted to a forward pocket. He has wing written all over him.

      He remains one of Carlton’s great untapped resources. An injury free run might be all he needs.

      Re: Tom C and SPS, don’t worry. You’ll be raving about him this year. Carlton’s B&F for 2018.

      • Roar Guru

        December 20th 2017 @ 10:54am
        Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        Agree Don. Pickett has not been able to complete a full pre season so hopefully he can build that tank. I also liked the look of Garlett and I think we might see Le Bois get a run next year.

        Tom M, this is the first full pre season for SPS so he will have improved his fitness. He won’t be full time on the ball yet but will run through there throughout the game. As for Harry McKay he has certainly bulked up and grown a couple of centimetres. If he can get an injury free run of games I think we will see him hold down a key forward position.

        • December 20th 2017 @ 12:01pm
          Tom M said | December 20th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          Im not having a dig at Carlton but to name a best 22 with a player like SPS on the ball instead of Kennedy is wrong. Kennedy will slot straight into a full time mid roll and is the reason he chose to move to Carlton. That best 22 is a little top heavy, especially in the forward half, backline is shaping up to be rather impressive, add Docherty instead of mullet in 2 years time and it will be set

          • December 20th 2017 @ 1:12pm
            Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

            TomM – I agree Kennedy will play through the middle but it is pretty irrelevant as to whether he is named on the bench or SPS is named Ruck Rover – they are both part of hopefully a 10 man rotation.

            If you look at the side as it is named to have Cripps, Murphy, E Curnow, Fisher & SPS in the midfield at the one time has a nice balance of inside/outside types, to then have Kennedy, Cuningham, Dow, C Curnow and Wright replace them would have a similar balance.

            As for the forward line being top heavy all 4 players named on the bench will rotate through the forward line as will Fisher, Murphy, SPS and Cripps and only Mckay and Casboult are over 195cm with the mobile Curnow being 194cm and Jack Silvagni being just 191cm (4cm shorter than Cripps and just 3cm taller than Kennedy)

            • December 20th 2017 @ 1:48pm
              Don Freo said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

              You still have Jones, Mullett, Casboult, Wright, McKay, Lamb…not enough West Australians to stretch a band aid over them.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 1:53pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                2 of those (Mullett & Lamb) I wouldn’t have in my best 22, another 2 (Caboult and Wright) kicked 64 goals between them last year, Jones took on and beat star spearheads such as Jonathon Patton, Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch, Taylor Walker, Jesse Hogan, Joe Daniher and Jarryd Roughead last year and there is nothing wrong with McKay – WA players can’t be as good as you make out if they can’t cover those 6.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 1:56pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

                I forgot to throw in young Zac Fisher as well – surely he would push us over the edge.

      • December 20th 2017 @ 1:21pm
        Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

        Don Freo – Cripps, Pickett, SPS and Garlett, with that sort of WA fire power I am surprised you aren’t predicting the blues for the premiership.

    • December 20th 2017 @ 11:39am
      Darren said | December 20th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      I’m probably a bit more bullish than most Blues supporters on the The Roar. The sole reason is a core group have been together a year longer and understand the game plan. The team is now about the talented group that have come in over the past few years and I think there will be significant improvement across the board as a result.
      Along with Macca, I see Williamson and Byrne in our best team and it is Lamb and Mullett who are Emerg. But it is splitting hairs as team selection is a week to week proposition.
      Cripps and Curnow need to move into the elite category and a big crop become very good and a top 10 finish is quite possible. I’m also expecting scores closer to and over 100 with a more attacking mind set.

      • December 20th 2017 @ 1:27pm
        Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

        Darren – I agree the blues will play with more attacking flair. I think we saw it at times last year (like when we got well behind against North and then took the game on the get our noses in front) but this year with the bit extra experience and more attacking weapons I think we will see it most weeks.

        I think Cripps will be elite by the end of the year if he stays fit while I think we will see Curnow win some games off his own boot and probably end up around 30 goals before becoming truly elite in 2019. The article on David Teague in the Age today points to Curnow having the mental attributes as well as the physical to be an absolute star.

        • December 20th 2017 @ 1:55pm
          Darren said | December 20th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

          I was thinking end of the year re Curnow being elite – but you are right, even if he makes the big leap this year in performance I am expecting, it wouldn’t really be acknowledged until next year externally.

          • Roar Guru

            December 21st 2017 @ 12:49pm
            Col from Brissie said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

            Macca, Darren some positive comments from John Barker on SEN about the clubs expectations of Charlie and Harry next season.

            • December 21st 2017 @ 1:10pm
              Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

              Yeah I listened to that this morning Col, it was a good interview.

              Curnow is going to be a fantastic player, Teague’s comments about his attitude to watching his vision were the icing on the cake for me that not only is he a great athlete but he has the right mental approach to get the most out of himself.

              McKay is still a little bit of an unknown but the fact we now have Ed Curnow & John Barker (plus your first hand sighting and photographic evidence) proving he has got much bigger so early in the offseason gives me confidence that he will make a significant impact and that he is putting in the hard yards to ensure he succeeds.

            • December 21st 2017 @ 1:32pm
              Darren said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              Thanks Col. I’ve gone early with predicting Curnow will be considered elite at the end of the year. But I honestly see a massive jump in performance from him – glad to hear those who know more than me also see that potential.
              Hopefully the extra size gives McKay the confidence to clunk the marks that he keeps dropping. He only needs 3-4 more of those a game and he will be a massive headache for defences. He is phenomenally agile and skilful for his size – just needs to become a stronger target. Having him as a reliable key target will also help Casboult out as he can play that role of roaming up and down the ground and dishing off hand/foot rather being so relied on to mark and goal.

              • December 21st 2017 @ 1:46pm
                Macca said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

                Darren – all 3 of McKay, Curnow and Casboult seem to be able to cover the ground pretty well and take a great contested grab – playing them all together really should see them be able to get more one on one contests which would be a headache to any defence but also means that even if the defence manages to force the blues to kick to a contest we still have a pretty decent chance of taking a grab.

    • December 20th 2017 @ 2:01pm
      Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

      From the outside it looks like Curnow has had that epiphany that all great players need to have, “I can excel at this level”.

      Once he has had that, with his physical attributes and his brother Ed there to ensure he sets elite standards for himself it is only a matter of time before he is a dominant player in the comp.

    • Roar Guru

      December 20th 2017 @ 2:17pm
      Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

      Interesting age demographic for the selected side above. At the start of the 2018 season there would be 16 players 18-24, 7 players 25 – 30 and 2 players 30+. At the start of the 2019 season it would be 15, 9 and 2 with the addition of Docherty.

      • December 20th 2017 @ 2:22pm
        Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        Once the demographic shift more towards 9, 15, 2 (using your 26 man model including emergencies) the blues will be a force to be reckoned with.

      • December 20th 2017 @ 2:31pm
        Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

        • Roar Guru

          December 20th 2017 @ 2:47pm
          Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

          Not on that video Macca. There is another video on the Carlton website – Blues spread festive cheer. I turned 64 on the day and Murph is giving me a Birthday cheer.

          • December 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm
            Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            I got it Col, good to put a back of the head to the name!

            They didn’t throw an interstate membership your way did they?

            • Roar Guru

              December 20th 2017 @ 3:26pm
              Col from Brissie said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

              Not my way Macca, but Murph gave one to the young lass standing beside me. I got some good photos with Murph, Charlie, Doc, Levi and Bolts.

              • December 20th 2017 @ 3:31pm
                Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                They must have been very generous with their time!

                Pretty smart strategy – give the memberships to the kids and if they want to actually use them the parents have to buy one!

                It does demonstrate a point I have made previously – membership numbers don’t mean a lot – all clubs give away memberships but still count them in the total.

        • December 20th 2017 @ 3:59pm
          Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

          Yes. I’m increasingly circumspect over Essendon’s membership numbers. Don’t get me wrong – the trend is a very good one.

          But all the talk of record membership is still only generating ~$11m per annum. Compared with WCE and Collingwood $20m+ per annum.

          On rough numbers, Essendon’s membership value and revenue generation is ~$165 per member. Compared with WCE and Collingwood $300+ per member.

          A little more ‘digging’ required I suspect.

          • December 20th 2017 @ 4:07pm
            Macca said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

            Stephen – this might just be the cynic in me but the fact that Essendon went from 47k membership in 2012 to 56k in 2013 and 61k in 2015 while the club was being penalised for doping breaches makes me think that the club really wanted to sell the “our supporters are behind us” story and the pushed out cheap, limited games and possibly free memberships just so the can say – “look we have a record number of members – you can’t break us.”

            I think the revenue per member an alysis is a very good one.

            • December 20th 2017 @ 4:44pm
              Stephen said | December 20th 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

              Macca – probably not cynical. However, there are constitutional definitions and requirements to be met within each club – in order to be counted as an official member.

              EFC announced the final 2016 membership of 57,494. Which is remarkable considering the player suspensions.

              And you are correct – the three game membership package for <$100 kicked-off around 2012.

              Hawthorn first introduced the lower priced member package. And it's good marketing. It just can be deceiving unless you know the final revenue number also.

              • Roar Guru

                December 21st 2017 @ 7:16am
                Cat said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

                Actually the AFL defines what counts as an official member.

                The AFL confirmed in 2016 that it had tightened membership regulations and to be counted as a member an individual must have a name, contact details, have contributed $50 to the club and received a membership pack. The official counts also include multiple memberships held by an individual. Pet memberships are not counted but the AFL confirmed babies and toddlers are included.

                For example the Pies are known to give free memberships to all their netball members (despite several claiming to have followed the opt out procedure, they were still sent membership packs). These are counted whether the person wanted the membership or whether they ever use it.

              • December 21st 2017 @ 9:26am
                Stephen said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

                There you go. $50 is a low threshold.