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Brendan - how could you?

Brendan Fevola


Career : 1999 - 2009
Debut : Round 17, 1999 vs Collingwood, aged 18 years, 185 days
Carlton Player No. 1034
Games : 187
Goals : 575
Guernsey No. 25
Last Game : Elimination Final, 2009 vs Brisbane, aged 28 years, 229 days
Height : 188 cm (6 ft. 2 in.)
Weight : 101 kg (15 stone, 12 lbs.)
DOB : 20 January, 1981
Coleman Medal 2006, 2009
All Australian 2006, 2008, 2009
Club Leading Goalkicker: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
Victorian State Player: 2008
Allen Aylett Medal: 2008


In 2009, Carlton Football Club’s decision to trade two-time AFL leading goal-kicker Brendan Fevola to Brisbane created a storm not seen at Princes Park for 30 years; since the traumatic defection of club legend Alex Jesaulenko and charismatic President George Harris in the great split of 1979.

At his best, Fevola was the consummate full-forward; a 100 kg, quick-thinking powerhouse with the rare ability to mark a football in front of his face while charging out on a lead at full pace and full stretch - or to pluck it from the sky with sometimes ridiculous ease. Equipped with a powerful right foot capable of posting goals without any real effort from outside 50 metres, ‘Fev’ and Carlton were synonymous for a decade. He was hugely popular with supporters of all ages, and the difference between victory and defeat for the Blues on many occasions.

But Brendan’s attraction to the spotlight, and an apparent inability to control his consumption of alcohol, led to a string of highly-publicised and regrettable incidents throughout his career at Carlton – incidents that were usually highly embarrassing for him, and for his club. After a long list of indiscretions over too many years, the breaking point eventually came during the live telecast of the Brownlow Medal count from Crown Casino in 2009.

Obviously quite inebriated that evening, Fevola was involved in a string of bizarre antics, including interjecting during the counting of votes, manhandling his club captain Chris Judd (and others) on camera, and allegedly following a female guest into the women’s toilets. Naturally, the media climbed all over the story and Carlton’s patience finally broke. Fevola was summoned to a meeting with the club committee, to be advised that he was being put up as a trade.

The news created an immediate furore, and polarised opinion throughout Carlton’s supporter base. Many fans argued that the club should again overlook another unsavoury episode that had further damaged the club’s reputation, because Fevola was just too valuable to lose. The Blues stood firm however, and Brendan eventually found a new team far away from the turmoil (and a long way from Carlton) with the Brisbane Lions.

A decade beforehand, Fevola’s career began when he was drafted at Pick 38 in the 1998 National Draft, after leading the goal kicking in the TAC Cup playing for the Dandenong Stingrays. An injury to Brad Pearce created Brendan’s first opportunity at senior level in round 17, 1999, but he was starved of possession in his first two games, and quickly returned to the Reserves.

A few months later, Fev arrived in spectacular fashion on New Years Eve, 1999, when he registered a record 12 goals against Collingwood in a one-off pre-season night game. In the wake of that performance it seemed that the world was promised, and much expected. However, after playing the first nine games of 2000, for a modest return of seven goals, he didn’t return to senior football until round 22. When Carlton lost to Essendon by 45 points in the 2000 Preliminary Final, Brendan finished the year with 26 goals from 14 games, including three finals. Slim pickings, but the signs were encouraging.

In his third season of 2001 he was steady more than brilliant in the first 11 games, only to suffer a knee injury that kept him out of action until round 20, and his figures ended up similar to the previous year; 16 games, 27 goals. His fortunes did not improve greatly in 2002, either; he managed just 9 games and 13 goals, due to osteitis pubis early in the season and a tapering-off in form after round 16. He spent the last six weeks in the VFL, incurred a suspension at the tribunal, and there was talk that senior coach Wayne Brittain intended to trade him in the off-season. But fate intervened when Brittain was dumped by Carlton, and replaced by Denis Pagan, who agreed to give Fev a second chance.

Come 2003, Fevola took full advantage of his good luck and a solid pre-season, booting 63 goals from all 22 games. Another 66 in 2004 (from 20 games) established him at last as a genuine, quality full forward. The occasional tantrum was overlooked as Fevola became Carlton’s most potent weapon, and his talent shone through in consistently impressive performances, such as his 8 goals against the Kangaroos in round 5, 2003, and his superb 7-goal performance against the Crows in round 11, 2004 at Football Park, when his spine-tingling 50-metre pressure goal from the boundary line - after the final siren - won the game for the battling Blues.

Fev began 2005 with a bang, winning the Michael Tuck Medal as Best on Ground for his eight goals in Carlton’s pre-season Wizard Cup Grand Final victory over West Coast. Sadly, his pre-season form didn't continue into the season proper, and 2005 turned into a time of anger and frustration – both for him and all Carlton supporters. As Brendan’s influence was blunted, he clashed with Pagan, and on a couple of memorable occasions, he was sent to play at full-back to ‘show him how tough it is for a defender in the modern game.’

In Fevola’s defence however, it was later revealed that he was playing under considerable duress during the latter stages of the season with a recurrence of his groin problems. This led to surgery in the off-season, and his doctor was quoted as saying that Fev’s injury was 'one of the worst groins he had seen'. Nevertheless, at the end of the year, the press was again full of rumours that Fevola was about to be traded - notwithstanding his three-year contract.

But in 2006, Brendan turned it all around at last. He told the footy world he'd given up alcohol for the year, got married to his girlfriend Alex Cheatham, and later in the season celebrated the birth of a baby daughter; Leni Jay. Apparently much more settled, he concentrated on his football and was a sensation. Midway through the season, the club promoted him into the senior leadership group to reward him for his improved attitude, and his hard work paid off when he kicked a personal-best 84 goals to win the John Coleman Medal, as the AFL’s leading goal-kicker. In addition, he was named All Australian for the first time.

All that effort to resurrect his reputation came to naught however, when, while touring Ireland with the Australian team later that year, he hit the headlines yet again when he was involved in an altercation with a barman in an Irish pub. While no charges were laid, the incident took place in the early hours of the morning, and was something of a body blow for a code trying to repair an already tarnished image among the Irish public. Fevola was immediately cut from the tour, and sent back to Australia.

Somehow, despite those events, Brendan enjoyed another successful pre-season campaign in 2007, booting 19 goals in four games to lead Carlton to a second pre-season Premiership in three years. Unfortunately, the season proper didn't go as smoothly for him, and a relapse into the habits of the past brought a one-match suspension by the club for his petulant attitude to his team-mates in Carlton's Round 13 match against Fremantle. A fortnight later, Denis Pagan coached his last game at the helm of the Blues, and was replaced by former club captain Brett Ratten.

In his first three games under Ratten, Fevola came back to his best, and kicked 15 goals – only to sustain a groin injury in round 20 against Essendon, which kept him out for the rest of the year. Fev still won the club's goal-kicking award for the fifth straight season, with a more modest total of 59 goals, but the future looked brighter for Carlton after five horrendous years.

Then, only five days prior to the first game of 2008, Fevola’s name was splashed across the newspapers again when he was filmed by security cameras urinating on a shop window in the early hours of the morning outside a nightclub. When the incident broke, Fevola was stripped of his position in the club leadership group, and fined $10,000. The following week, he publicly vowed to not drink alcohol again for the rest of his playing career, but it was a promise that proved impossible to keep. Meanwhile, his performances on the field reached new heights. In Carlton’s round 4 victory against Collingwood he broke the 400-goal barrier on the way to kicking another seven, and four weeks later played his 150th match for the Blues.

Later that same year, Fevola was named at full-forward for Victoria in the Hall of Fame tribute match against the Dream Team. Showcasing all his skills, he booted six goals and won the Allen Aylett medal as Best on Ground. In Carlton’s round 9 victory over Fremantle, he kicked an incredible soccer goal with his back turned to the goals, and joined Alex Jesaulenko in equal third place on the all-time Carlton goal-kicking list with 424 majors. The following week against Geelong, he kicked a trademark long bomb from the 50-metre arc to claim that coveted spot all for himself.

Heading into the final game of that memorable year against the second-placed Hawthorn, Fevola needed to kick eight to join Jezza as the second-only Blue to kick the magic ‘ton’ of goals in a season. He gave it a real shot, too; he couldn't manage a single goal before half-time, but ran rampant in the second half to boot seven - and be left stranded on 99 goals! Regardless, 2008 was another great year for Fev, who won his sixth straight club goal-kicking award, and finished third in our Best and Fairest, behind Chris Judd and Marc Murphy. Capping off his season, he was named in the forward pocket of the All Australian team.

In 2009, Brendan was able to enjoy his first full pre-season in five years, adding five kilos (mostly around his shoulders) to his 100 kg body. His form in the NAB Cup was ominous and he went on to have another consistent, valuable season, highlighted by some stellar games. In round 6 against Hawthorn at the MCG he booted 8 goals, and matched that effort in round 11 at the Gabba against Brisbane. In round 15 against Richmond he was unstoppable, and finished with a new personal-best 9 majors, while late in the season he banged through seven, when Carlton thumped Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

And then, quick as a flash, it all ended in anger and disbelief for every true Blue. Another stupid, unnecessary episode on a night that should have been a cause for celebration for the Carlton Football Club (after all, we had three players; Chris Judd, Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy, in the top ten of the count) brought to an end the career of one of Carlton’s great forwards.

The football media went into hyper-drive with the news of Fevola’s sacking, and throughout ensuing weeks rumours had him linked with half a dozen rival clubs. Eventually however, he was traded to Brisbane, in a deal that brought a genuinely exciting key position prospect in Lachlan Henderson to Princes Park, as well as 2009 National Draft selection number 12 – which was used to recruit Kane Lucas from East Fremantle. In return, Brisbane picked up Fevola, and draft selection 27 from the Blues.

Unfortunately for the Lions, the recruiting of Fevola will probably be remembered as one of the most disastrous trades in the modern history of the game. While both Henderson and Lucas established themselves in a Carlton side showing real potential, the Brisbane-Fevola relationship lasted barely two seasons before collapsing in bitter acrimony. Yet again, a series of alcohol-fuelled public incidents, and newspaper revelations about his long-running gambling addiction, backed the Brisbane Lions into a corner.

On Sunday, February 20, 2011 – after 17 games and 48 goals for Brisbane, Fevola was abruptly sacked by the Lions’ board. A fortnight later – said to be suffering depression - he voluntarily entered a rehabilitation clinic, and his AFL career was over.

Footnotes

Back in Melbourne shortly after the 2011 season got underway, Fevola agreed to play on a basic contract with VFL club Springvale – a situation that did not please the Scorpions’ AFL-aligned club, Melbourne. The Demons were concerned that Fevola might be bad influence on their youngsters, and that he was taking the place of someone else more deserving. But those fears proved baseless, and by the end of the year ‘Fev’ was once again scoring freely.

At season's end, he flew north to play the summer competition in Darwin with NTFL club Waratahs, alongside two good mates and former Blues team-mates Lincoln Withers and Heath Culpitt.

Then in 2012, Fevola signed an unusual contract with Ovens and Murray League club Yarrawonga, in which he agreed to play home games only.


Brendan Fevola Goals game by game
Image

Milestones

50th game: Round 9, 2003 vs Brisbane
100th game: Round 19, 2005 vs Port Adelaide
150th game: Round 8, 2008 vs Brisbane

100th goal: Round 13, 2003 vs Adelaide
200th goal: Round 2, 2005 vs Essendon
300th goal: Round 16, 2006 vs Essendon
400th goal: Round 4, 2008 vs Collingwood
500th goal: Round 5, 2009 vs Western Bulldogs

Career Highlights

2003 - 3rd Best & Fairest
2003 - Leading Goalkicker
2004 - 6th Best & Fairest
2004 - Most Carlton Votes in the Brownlow Medal
2004 - Leading Goalkicker
2005 - Pre-Season Premiership Player
2005 - Michael Tuck Medal
2005 - 10th Best & Fairest
2005 - Leading Goalkicker
2006 - John Coleman Medallist
2006 - All Australian
2006 - 2nd Best & Fairest
2006 - Leading Goalkicker
2006 - International Rules Series
2006 - Leadership Group
2007 - Pre-Season Premiership Player
2007 - Leading Goalkicker
2008 - 2008 Hall of Fame Game: Victorian State Player
2008 - Allen Aylett Medal
2008 - Leading Goalkicker
2008 - 3rd Best and Fairest
2008 - All Australian
2009 - John Coleman Medallist
2009 - All Australian
2009 - 4th Best and Fairest
2009 - Leading Goalkicker


Articles: 2008: Fevola's Massive Year | The Magical Three Goal Average | Our Greatest Flagless Greats

YouTube: Brendan Fevola 2006 - Part 1 | Brendan Fevola 2006 - Part 2 | Brendan Fevola 2006 - Part 3 | Brendan Fevola 2006 - Part 4

Blueseum: Fev's playing statistics | John Coleman Medallist | All Australian | Career Breakdown | Fevola's big goals hauls | Fev's Blueseum Image Gallery