Carlton veteran Dale Thomas will call time on a decorated AFL career at the end of the season.
There’s something special about this time of year.
The winter chill has been replaced by warmth and greenery and hay-fever, the tabloids are full of stories about horses that I’ll never read and – without football – this is a period where I can pause to breathe and reflect.
It is a time of inconsequence. As a Carlton supporter, late October is my grand-final.
There are few publicised injuries, no unmet hopes and the lack of on-field success that has become fundamental to my identity is about six months away. The superstars that chose other, less worthy clubs don’t matter either.
A good player is a good player, regardless of the jumper they are wearing.
But hypothetically turning a rugged half-back flanker into a bonafide midfielder, and discussing the assets of a fringe forward to the point where they theoretically become unstoppable is the sort of fuel that keeps me going until they fall short of my unfair expectations.
And have you seen Sam Docherty’s knee? I don’t need to see it. I just don’t. I can feel it in my heart and my guts and my bones that it is, he is and – by extension – they are premiership bound.
Because there is a list of names that are so full-to-the-brim with potential and possibility that this page is barely wide enough to contain them.
Paddy Dow, Charlie Curnow, Patrick Cripps and Jacob Weitering, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Harry McKay, Jack Silvagni and Tom Williamson, Jarrod Pickett, Zac Fisher, Caleb Marchbank and Lochie O’Brien, Will Setterfield and Mitch McGovern and… throw them all together without explanation, it spells dynasty.
So why bother with the season when the pre-pre-season is so full of positivity.
The low-stakes chatter about what the Blues could be is so much better than the crushing, despairing reality.
A small repressed part of me knows that maybe they aren’t there yet. Their development takes time that I might not have and the hours and hours and hours that I have spent accumulating Carlton-related information has not materialised into anything rewarding.
Perhaps, this is it.
A series of rebuilds that continuously falls flat. A team of coaches replacing another team of coaches who are ultimately unsuccessful or just successful enough to be replaced by other, unsuccessful coaches.
A squad of players to which I become emotionally attached and I call out to them but they don’t hear me and then they leave. A psychological process of enthusiasm and misery that goes around and around like a rotisserie chicken.
For Carlton supporters – or maybe just me – most of the football season is very bleak.
But not late October.
Because of the prospect of next year. The successful next year. The premiership-winning, happy, joyful next year.
And, if next year doesn’t pay off, there’s always the year after.