After seven rounds of action and two lopsided preliminary finals, only one match is left in the 2019 AFL Women’s season and on Sunday, the Adelaide Crows and Carlton Blues will fight it out for the premiership at the Adelaide Oval.
Sam Docherty was looking forward to playing his first match in more than a year after being sidelined by injury in 2018 – but the Blues co-captain reinjured his ACL on Monday, and we can only imagine the disappointment and despair he and the club must be feeling.
Every supporter is feeling it too. The support Dochers will get from both the club and the fans must be really heartwarming. After being named co-captain with Patrick Cripps, he must now push that disappointment to one side and focus on his recovery, in the same way he did when he first injured his ACL. He must continue to be a leader off the field.
There is speculation about who will step into Docherty’s shoes. My question is: Does there need to be a replacement when you look at the leadership group? I say no, because in the leadership group Carlton has an ex-captain and two magnificent stalwarts of the team in Kade Simpson and Ed Curnow. There is no need to take the reins off Docherty and give them to someone else.
Also, because Dochers will stay close to the game, just as he was this year, he will lead from the boundary. His leadership may not be on the field, but it will be present, and for a leader that is what you need – presence.
As for those speculating that Carlton will once again finish at the bottom of the ladder, I can only say that I disagree. No team comprises just one player. The club this year in the draft and trade did the one thing that it needed: it developed depth. The depth in the playing group means that if one man is down, there is another who can step in.
Depth means that there are those who can step in and fill that gap. We have the depth to do that now, and with one more space to fill in our list and the prospect of placing Docherty on the long-term injury list, we can enlist the services of a senior player to fill that role – maybe it won’t be in the same way, but it can be filled.
There is no question that Dochers will be sorely missed. He is a great player and a great leader of the club. But after the disappointment has evaporated, he will do what he has done throughout his career and lead by example. He will become a leader and mentor off the field while recovering. He’s all class.
The club will now, while supporting Docherty in every way possible, fill the void that Dochers has left. Depth is paramount to forming a successful team, for no matter how great a player is, if that player goes down, it is the depth of the playing group that will define the success of that club.
No-one player wins games; it is a group of players led by strong and fierce leaders, whether they be on the field or off it.
Sam Docherty will be back stronger and better, but his leadership will never be too far from the action.
Get better soon, Dochers.