Career : 2014 -
Debut : Round 4, 2014 vs Melbourne, aged 19 years, 25 days
Carlton Player No. 1151
Games : 75 *
Goals : 31 *
Guernsey: No. 16 (2014) & No 9 (2015 - )
Height : 190 cm (6 ft. 2 in.)
Weight : 90 kg (14 stone, 1 lbs)
DOB : 18 March, 1995
Rising Star Nominee 2015
John Nicholls Medal, 2015
West Australian star Patrick Cripps was Carlton’s first round selection in the 2013 AFL National Draft, and came to Princes Park with some impressive wraps. A third cousin of West Coast and former St Kilda player Jamie Cripps as well as past West Coast Eagles Champion Chris Mainwaring, Patrick was an Under-18 All Australian in 2013, and vice-captain of WA in the National Championships.
A big-bodied midfielder with strength, discipline and outstanding peripheral vision, he had been compared to champion Greg Williams in some aspects of his play. Nicknamed “The Extractor” during the Under-18 championships, he averaged 19 disposals (12 contested), 6 clearances and three tackles in three matches for his home state. That was an outstanding effort, particularly in light of the fact that he suffered a broken leg in 2012 and didn’t start preparations for the 2013 season until well after most of his contemporaries. Carlton’s recruiting team identified Patrick as their first priority many weeks beforehand, and some rival clubs were surprised that the Blues jumped in so early for a player that was generally expected to attract most interest among selections 20 to 30.
However, Blues chief recruiter Shane Rogers was adamant that the club had landed a future gun. Speaking to the press after the draft was completed, Rogers said, “It's funny - you guys wrote that he's 'The Extractor' and that's what we've called him all year. He's got a Diesel Williams-like brain. He sees kids outside, and finds them with handballs. The club identified that we need big-bodied midfielders to feed the ball out to the running players, and that’s what we’ve got."
In guernsey number 16, Cripps debuted for Carlton in a shock loss to bottom of the ladder team Melbourne on a Saturday afternoon in round 4, 2014. A week later he celebrated his first victory when the Blues accounted for the Western Bulldogs at Docklands, only to then suffer a lower leg fracture that stopped his progress. After surgery and a four-week delay, “Crippa” returned to spend most of the rest of the season in the VFL with the Northern Blues - until Carlton’s last match of the year against Essendon, when he was recalled as the Blues’ substitute. That clash ended in a draw in front of 56,000 at the MCG, to balance Cripps’ career statistics at one win, one loss, and one draw. In September, Patrick finished second to his fellow midfielder Tom Wilson in voting for the Northern Blues Best and Fairest.
Carlton supporters braced themselves for a tough year in 2015, but few foresaw the disaster that unfolded. The Blues were well-beaten in their first three games, and the club fell into disarray by May, when senior coach Mick Malthouse was sacked. From then on, injuries to key players wrecked the latter part of the season, leaving caretaker coach John Barker to collect the wooden spoon. Amid all this mayhem, the one shining light for the Carlton faithful was Cripps. Having switched to guernsey number 9, ‘Crippa’ started the season from the interchange bench against Richmond in round one, and immediately started to blossom into an elite midfielder. When Carlton eventually celebrated a victory – over St Kilda on Anzac Day in Wellington, New Zealand – Cripps won an a Rising Star nomination when he racked up 33 possessions (23 contested) 11 tackles and eight clearances.
Midway through the season, when Chris Judd and Marc Murphy were both sidelined by injury, Cripps shouldered enormous responsibility as Carlton’s number one on-baller, and went on to play 20 of a possible 22 games for the year. He rarely failed to make the list of Carlton’s best players, and although he was ranked first among all of the Rising Star nominees for total disposals, effective disposals, clearances and contested possessions, he didn’t win the award. Instead, it went to Melbourne’s exciting young key forward Jesse Hogan.
Hogan’s achievement was made even more meritorious a fortnight later, when Cripps became the second-youngest player in Carlton’s history (after John Nicholls) to win the club’s Best and Fairest award. Topping off a sensational start to his career, ‘Crippa’ edged out his captain Marc Murphy by one point, while also taking home a swag of other trophies, including the Hyundai Most Valuable Player (voted by the fans) and the Chris Judd Development Academy Award. Earlier, Pat had been named in the AFL 22 Under 22 team – recognising the best young players in the game. His stellar season was even more remarkable in that week after week, throughout one of Carlton’s worst years ever, he had to win his own football. The Blues’ 2015 was a disaster, and Cripps was given little support in a team that finished last on the ladder.
It was a similar story in 2016. Under a new senior coach in Brendon Bolton, Carlton started with four successive losses before staging a mid-season revival that brought 5 wins in 6 games. Then in late May, skipper Murphy suffered a season-ending ankle injury, and Cripps had to assume the role of the Blues’ midfield leader once more. That made him a focus of the opposition’s planning, and guaranteed constant pressure, but Pat embraced the responsibility. In 21 games over the season, he averaged 26 disposals (16 contested) 6 tackles, and just under 9 clearances per match, even as the Blues fell away and lost all but one of their last 11 contests. Cripps’ season total of 185 clearances was the highest-ever recorded since fellow Blue Brett Ratten tallied 216 in 1999, and he also registered the highest average contested possessions in the competition.
Little wonder then, that in September, ‘Crippa’ was included in the AFL 22 Under 22 team again, before winning the Hyundai Most Valuable Player Award for a second time, and finishing third behind Sam Docherty and Kade Simpson in voting for the John Nicholls Medal. Undoubtedly one of the brightest prospects in the game, he will begin his fourth season of AFL football in 2017, with his 50th game still ahead of him.
Career Highlights2014 - Northern Blues 2nd Best and Fairest.
2015 - Rising Star Nominee - Round 4, 2015 vs St Kilda
2015 - Best and Fairest - John Nicholls Medal
2015 - AFL 22 Under 22 Team
2015 - Hyundai Most Valuable Player
2015 - Chris Judd Development Academy Award
2016 - 3rd Best and Fairest
2016 - AFL 22 Under 22 Team
2016 - Hyundai Most Valuable Player