I hope Carlton picks up a handful of the delisted free agents. It might fly in the face of a sound list management strategy, but the narrative resonates with me.
Isn’t that enough?
I’ve always been picked last, or around the middle, depending on the event. Not quite fast enough, tall enough and good enough. Scared of the ball, the person with the ball and, on the odd occasion, terrified of everyone when I have the ball.
Physically and mentally, I’m like Swiss cheese. I’ve bowled 10,000 tennis balls against a wall, and I still can’t land it. My very amateur tennis career can be divided into two parts: being up 4-2, and losing 6-4. Even this story, it’s not particularly good.
So, when I see a list of players that have been jettisoned, my first instinct is to welcome them. My clan. To a team that that has been told a million times over that they are a rung below. At the same time past their best and five years away.
There are players on that list of delisted free agents who made it for a while but – ultimately – didn’t make it. Who could make it if the game were different, if their coach was different, if they were played in a different position, in a different time, if the team they played for was less successful, or more successful.
There is a case for giving these players a second chance and, over the years, we have. We’ve picked up so many players who were cut once, offered a glimpse of hope, then cut again. The frustration among Carlton supporters is growing.
To me, that frustration is misplaced.
I’m from a different, more empathetic generation. One that doesn’t recognise genuine, long-lasting footballing success. The Chris Judd age was the closest thing, and even that period of mediocrity felt awkward and uncertain.
At this point, I’m probably conditioned toward failure. I don’t think I’d belong to a team that parachutes in the Patrick Dangerfields and Dylan Shiels and Tom Lynchs of this world.
They just aren’t raggedy enough.
I’m all about the Jacob Townsends. A big-bodied midfielder and a smaller bodied forward who was on the fringe, changed positions, clawed his way into a premiership-winning team, killed it, eventually lost his place in that team and was politely abandoned.
Bring me the Daniel Menzels. Four knee reconstructions, came back a hero, kicked goal after goal and told to never return.
There’s a host of players with different backstories that I have made up: Jarryd Blair, Kyle Cheney, Michael Barlow, Hugh Goddard and so on. They are all facing different circumstances and challenges but, in an obscure and slightly irrational way, I identify with them.
I hope they come to a team that wants them.
Or, at least, a supporter who does.