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The Roar



Despite the heartbreak, it’s not all doom and gloom at Carlton

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31st August, 2022

Carlton fans are still pondering how a season that started with so much promise can end up in such agony.

They might be contemplating how a team who spent the whole season in the top eight ended up outside the eight when it mattered most.

How could a team who looked so promising halfway through the season end up capitulating so badly and miss out on finals action once again?

Some people might be thinking it’s just the same old Carlton. The same things keep happening every year. This side has not played finals since 2013 and once again will miss September action.

Every pre-season they promise the world, with assurances to be better and fail to deliver.

After commencing the season with flair under new coach Michael Voss, the Blues raced to eight wins and two losses. They were third on the ladder, entrenched in the top four after Round 10.

The following week, they would lose a nail-biter to arch-rival Collingwood by four points. The beginning of a slippery slope culminating in Carlton missing out on finals, losing to the Pies in another thriller. This time it was by a single point in the final round.


With four rounds to go in the home-and-away season, Carlton had won 12 games and lost six. The equation was simple – win one of those final four games and they were guaranteed to play finals. Unfortunately, they couldn’t manage that.

The Blues will clearly be ruing their missed opportunities – most notably, their Round 20 loss to Adelaide by 29 points. It was a devastating defeat to a team significantly below them on the ladder. It was a game they should have won and it was arguably their most disappointing game of the season.

But apart from that Adelaide Crows clash where they went into it as clear favourites, their final three games were against top sides, and they were underdogs for each of them.

Against Brisbane in Round 21, they started poorly and while they fought back, they eventually lost by 33 points.
Now it was down to the final two rounds.

Patrick Cripps of the Blues looks dejected after a loss.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Against Melbourne, they led with two minutes to go but a terrible final two minutes will haunt them over summer. Carlton’s lack of concentration allowed Kysaiah Pickett’s late goal.

Melbourne won that classic by five points.


Once again in the final round against Collingwood, they were five goals up early in the last quarter and with just over 90 seconds left in the match, they still led that game but the rampaging never-say-die Pies came back to win it by the barest of margins.

That one-point loss ended their season in the cruellest way possible.

Experts will suggest that losing the last four matches and missing finals, after an 8-2 start, was a monumental fail.
They let it slip so dramatically wrong! And it is easy to focus on the failure and what went wrong.

But for all the disappointment from last week’s one-point heartbreaking loss to Collingwood, it’s not all doom and gloom. With time to let the emotions settle, it’s an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the season.

While they will miss out on finals action again, if this is used to motivate them to get better then it is a good thing.
The year began with optimism for boys in Navy Blue, after bringing in Voss as coach.

Many thought acquiring Adam Cerra from Fremantle and prolific ball winner George Hewett from Sydney to boost the midfield would also see an improvement in the Blues.

And there was improvement.


Let’s not forget Carlton finished the 2021 season 13th on the ladder with only 8 wins and 13 losses.

Well firstly, the players bought into Voss’ coaching methods and style and adopted his game plan. This isn’t always easy for a coach in their first year of their rein.

Another highlight for Carlton was that Sam Docherty made a courageous comeback from testicular cancer.
And not just any comeback – the man they call ‘Doc’ was incredibly inspirational.

The 28-year old’s remarkable return entailed playing every game of the year. He averaged over 28 possessions. Not to mention his relentless tackling.

Patrick Cripps, Hewett, Cerra, Sam Walsh and Adam Saad’s running off half-back are also positives Carlton fans can be optimistic about.

Skilful Will Hayes has pace on the wing, while 27-year-old Zac Williams has upside. Unfortunately, Williams suffered the long-term calf setback that kept him out for most of the season. But with a full pre-season under his belt, the former GWS Giant should be back to his best next year.

Star forward Charlie Curnow was back in action in Navy Blue after 18 months out with a knee injury. Not only did he return from injury but he won the Coleman medal for leading the goalkicking this season.

Charlie Curnow and Jack Silvagni of the Blues celebrate.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

And the Coleman medallist has signed on for six more years despite having offers from rival clubs. Carlton fans can look forward to watching him play.

Harry McKay is another incredible presence up forward. In tandem with Curnow, they are a scary proposition for a lot of defenders.

Then there’s Liam Stocker, Brodie Kemp and Will Setterfield complementing them. Kemp is only 21 while Stocker is only 22. Setterfield has shown he can apply tackling pressure and lead the way with clearances. While some may argue he lacks pace, at just 24, this genuine inside midfielder’s best football is ahead of him.

Down back, Jacob Weitering displayed his importance to the side, keeping some of the competition’s best forwards at bay. And he’s only 24 so has a bright future ahead. When he succumbed to injury, 23-year-old Lewis Young stepped up in his absence.

Perhaps a classy key defender could assist them and provide depth should one of them be out for large parts of the year again.

Unfortunately, ruckman Marc Pittonet suffered injury setbacks this year. But in the eight games he played, showed why the Blues were keen to bring him over from Hawthorn.


Tom De Koning also filled a crucial void with Pittonet out and showed he can be a star.

And some of their loyal fans can see the improvement.

According to Anthony Mansour, a passionate Carlton member, “We’ll be better in the long run for some of these tough lessons learnt from this year. We’ve got the contested ball aspect of the game solid with the likes of Cripps, Walsh, Cerra, Hewett and Kennedy. This is a solid midfield to build a team around.”

With a strong pre-season, more synergy, and a couple of handy selections at the trade and draft table, the Blues can continue to improve. Climbing further up the ladder in 2023 is not impossible.

Jack Silvagni, the son of Carlton’s fullback of the century, Steve, can’t be forgotten either.

Another passionate Carlton supporter, Jimmy Morcos, said, “Jack Silvagni is an x-factor. He’s played a lot in the ruck this year to fill a void due to injuries. Silvagni is like the heartbeat of the team.”

It was the first year all three young small forwards, Corey Durdin, Matt Owies and number 27 pick in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, Jesse Motlop, played together. Durdin and classy Motlop have pace, can hold tackles, and know how to apply defensive pressure in the forward 50.


And it’s not like their coach doesn’t know what premiership success requires – afterall, he was the Brisbane Lions captain when he led his side to a three-peat between 2001-2003.

“Voss is a great leader and Assistant Coach Ashley Hansen is really rated within the walls of IKON Park,” the experienced solicitor said.

“Having good leadership off field is really important too and Brian Cook and Luke Sayers have done an incredible job in that space,” Morcos said.

And the experienced Coach knows that while it’s worth acknowledging the progress made this year, it’s time to raise the standard.

Michael Voss addresses the Blues.

Michael Voss addresses the Blues (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“I go off a lot of the messages that I received at the end of the season. There were a lot of really positive messages from people about how proud we should be of what we were able to achieve this year. I must admit, I was battling to place that really positive message with the absolute hurt and disappointment we had and the opportunity that was lost,” Voss said.

Carlton currently have pick 10 in the draft. They may decide to trade up to get a higher selection but even if they do not, history shows there are still gems at pick 10.


“What showed at the end of the year was they lacked depth because when injuries took a toll, reinforcements were lacking,” Morcos who is a lifelong Blues supporter and also the Director and Managing Partner at Madison Marcus Law Firm said.

Clubman Ed Curnow is likely to retire and together with Jack Newnes, Oscar McDonald and Luke Parks who the club informed will not be offered new contracts, this creates list space that the Carlton hierarchy will be seeking to top-up their list.

The close losses will really sting but they will be better for the experience.

With a solid preseason, they can move up into the top four in 2023. From there anything is possible.

Both the Tigers and Demons showed they can win a flag after missing out on finals the year before.

Richmond missed out on playing finals in 2016 but went on to win the Grand Final in 2017.

Melbourne showed they can go from missing out on finals in 2020 to winning a premiership the following year.
And one could argue that the Blues of 2022 are very similar to the Demons of 2020.


In 2020, Melbourne finished 9th narrowly missing out on finals. The following year, they won a drought-breaking premiership.

In 2022, Carlton finished 9th narrowly missing out on finals by the barest of margins. In 2023, could the Blues replicate what the Demons were able to achieve and win their first premiership since 1995?

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