The Roar
The Roar


How will Carlton fare in their biggest match in 23 years?

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Roar Guru
21st September, 2023

Carlton has staged an extraordinary turnaround in 2023, possibly the most dramatic in a single season in the history of the game.

Just as June was ending, the club found itself languishing in 15th spot on the ladder. Coach Michael Voss was teetering on the edge of being dismissed, and board members were departing.

Fast forward to the present, and Carlton has emerged victorious in 11 of their last 12 matches, securing a fifth place finish. They’ve triumphed in two heart-stopping finals, most recently edging out Melbourne in an epic semi final. Now, they head into their first preliminary final since 2000, needing just one more win to reach the grand final.

In one of the most thrilling matches of all time, Carlton defied the odds once again against the Demons. The hero of the hour was Blake Acres; with the match hanging in the balance and Melbourne holding a five-point lead with just over a minute to go, Ollie Hollands marked on half-back after a turnover.

His long pass found Sam Docherty, who quickly sent it to a two-on-one in the square. Acres marked, played on, and put the Blues in front.

Carlton’s determined defence in the dying moments, characterised by courageous efforts and smothering plays, ensured Melbourne didn’t have enough time to mount a comeback.

As the final siren sounded at the MCG, a deafening roar erupted from the Blues fans. The jubilant scenes of celebration were a testament to Carlton’s bravery in facing repeated challenges from Melbourne. The Blues, from 15th place after Round 15, are now, remarkably, in the preliminary final: one win away from their first grand final appearance since 1999.

A decade of heartache and underperformance is now firmly behind them.


Their semi final win arguably stands as Carlton’s most significant since the famous 1999 preliminary final win over Essendon. Echoing the emotions of that historic day 24 years ago, the Blues delivered an inspiring performance as underdogs, and the scenes at full-time were unlike any seen before. Players who had taken years to develop were now hitting their stride at precisely the right moment.

Saturday night’s clash with Brisbane presents Carlton’s greatest opportunity to reach a grand final in a quarter of a century. However, there’s a formidable obstacle in their path. The Blues have failed to secure a victory at the Gabba in the last decade, and the Lions boast a flawless record at the venue this year.

Traditionally, the Lions have been a troublesome opponent for Carlton. The challenge for the underdogs is to put these historical statistics behind them. Michael Voss has instilled a winning culture, which they have showcased over the last three months. They need to draw upon this culture, dig deep, and overcome the odds once more.

Carlton has often been associated with being a team that’s always ‘so close, yet so far’. But regardless of the outcome of this prelim, 2023 is already a successful year for the club. That winning culture has grown, and there are promising years ahead.

However, they must not squander this opportunity; with tremendous momentum on their side, this is undoubtedly their most crucial game since their last grand final appearance at the end of the 21st century, or perhaps their last preliminary final appearance a year later.

They must believe that winning this game is not a miracle but a culmination of their efforts throughout the year. The reward of a grand final appearance would be sweet for a club that has endured two decades of hardship. However, it will require every ounce of composure they possess.

Carlton finds itself in a unique position – with a grand final within reach – and fans and staff are fervently hoping they seize this remarkable opportunity.