This was no general meeting, but that didn’t stop things from getting heated among the assembled members of the Carlton Football Club.
Things started well enough. President Mark LoGiudice started with an introduction that covered the highs and lows of the 2018 season, from winning just two games to a new record number of signed-up members. He said the strength of the club was down to a new era of positivism and a culture that encompasses the best things about footy: inclusion, respect and integrity.
Brendon Bolton and Sam Docherty were there, and mention was made of Marc Murphy, who approached him after the season’s end and said the team needed to own the future with a change in leadership, an anecdote met with thunderous applause.
New players for the men’s and women’s side were introduced, but then came the general questions from attendees, which got predictably heated.
There is a faction in the membership who basically read a statement that they had read last year saying that the board need to resign, together with Bruce Mathieson and Jeanne Pratt because they have led Carlton to where they are now, with two wooden spoons and not even close to being in premiership contention.
Their statement was met with a lot of boos and angry feedback. Those in the splinter faction said that they spoke on behalf of the members, yet I don’t remember giving them permission to speak on my behalf.
What I don’t think they understand is that we are finally in a position to bring this club back to success. There are those who just don’t see that as they have their own agenda – they are too steeped in the successes of the past that have long passed us by.
The new motto for the club is, ‘Honor the past and own the future’. These supporters are not doing either. Rather than honouring the past, they’re treating it as if the past should and must define us. Nor are they owning the future, because to own the future means to understand the modern game and environment and to adapt and change to leave your mark on it.
They don’t understand that we as a club and its supporters must and do to honour the past and those who made the club great, but it must not define us now. Much water – a lot of it very dirty water – has gone under the bridge in the history of this great club, and we let it pass and concentrate on what’s ahead.
The club has the capacity, the personnel, the players and the coaches to return to the top. One of the best questions asked was whether, given the horrendous decisions made in the past with our coaches, Bolton was at risk of being flicked. It was a question met with huge applause, though obviously not from members of the splinter faction.
The reply was that each person’s role is based on performance, which will alone determine any decisions. They know that the road to the top will be a long one and said that no-one is going to be flicked out so casually as it was in the past.
The times have changed for the club. When once we were a splintered club, today we are a largely unified one standing in solidarity of purpose. We want to win games and a premiership – but more than that, we want to create a culture both on and off the field that ensures that this purpose delivers.
We don’t need those in the faction, who just want to push their own agenda and not look at what is in the best interests of the club as a whole. We will always honour the past, but to own the future we need to be where are today – on the right track to becoming a top team again.
We need to be a team that keeps looking to the possibilities ahead, not over our shoulders at what’s behind us. The past is something we must honour and respect, but it mustn’t define what is happening at the club today.