Career : 2010 -
Debut : Round 1, 2010 vs Richmond, aged 20 years, 101 days
Carlton Player No. 1123
Games : 89* (74 at Carlton)
Goals : 67* (64 at Carlton)
Guernsey No. 23
Height : 196 cm (6 ft. 5 in.)
Weight : 95 kg (14 stone, 13 lbs.)
DOB : 14 December 1989
Lachlan “Lachie” Henderson made sports headlines in December, 2009, when he was a central figure in the transfer of Brendan Fevola from Carlton to the Brisbane Lions. In one of the biggest football stories of the year, the Navy Blues parted with Fevola – our prolific, wayward, Coleman Medal-winning full forward – plus National Draft pick 27, in exchange for Henderson and selection 12.
Once that deal had been done and the relative draft selections made, Fevola and Geelong Falcons midfielder Callum Bartlett became Lions recruits. In return, Carlton picked up Henderson (a former top 10 draftee) as well as promising West Australian midfielder Kane Lucas. But only a few short months later, Brisbane’s decision to recruit Fevola became a massive blunder. He was sacked after just 17 matches for his new team, and Carlton emerged from the situation as a very big winner.
Two years beforehand, Henderson had been drafted by Brisbane at selection 8 in the 2007 AFL National Draft. The Lions rated the well-built 196 cm youngster very highly, and took him in preference to the likes of Ben McEvoy, Patrick Dangerfield and Cyril Rioli. Determined to play AFL football from an early age, Henderson had graduated from the AIS-AFL Academy that same year, having completed his schooling at Geelong College and having played TAC Cup Under-18 football for the Geelong Falcons. The son of Ian (a country veterinarian) and Vonnie (a former ballet dancer) Lachie hails from Birregurra, a small township near Colac in western Victoria.
Making his League debut for Brisbane as an 18 year-old in a thrilling 2-point victory over Collingwood at the Gabba in round 2, 2008, Henderson progressed quickly. By 2009 he was regarded as the likely heir apparent to the Lions’ outstanding centre half-forward and captain Jonathan Brown – at least until his name was splashed across the sports pages as a rumoured trade for Fevola.
Knowing that his prospects of a regular senior place at Brisbane would be even further out of reach with Fevola in the team, Henderson quickly embraced the idea of a return to his home state and negotiations were swift. Before Christmas, Lachie was training in the summer heat at Princes Park, and looking forward to establishing himself at one of the game’s oldest and most successful clubs.
Henderson made his first appearance in Carlton colours in the club’s first 2010 pre-season NAB Cup game against the Sydney Swans at the brand-new Blacktown Oval in Sydney’s west. Wearing guernsey number 23 – made famous by the likes of Bert Deacon and Paul Meldrum - his form was excellent throughout the series, and it was no surprise when he was one of three new faces named in Carlton’s line-up for the first round clash against Richmond on a balmy Thursday evening at the MCG in late March.
Lachie kicked the second goal of the game that night, to open his account and set the Blues on their way to an emphatic 56-point victory. He followed up with another eye-catching effort and three majors in Carlton’s second-round game against his former team Brisbane, and by the end of the home and away season his 18 matches had produced 23 goals. The Navy Blues finished eighth, and qualified for the finals for a second successive year.
Facing a sudden death Elimination Final against the Sydney Swans at Homebush Stadium, the Blues selected Henderson at full-forward for his first AFL final, and the big bloke worked hard to offer a target for his midfield runners. Presenting tirelessly, he ended the game with two goals, and almost pulled the game out of the fire in the last minute when he marked on the 50-metre arc and dished off a handpass to Jeffery Garlett streaming past. Jeff would normally have nailed the shot, but this one just missed, and Carlton lost by 5 points.
During the 2011 pre-season, Henderson suffered a hip injury that sidelined him from scheduled training for eight weeks. This meant that he was underdone when the season proper began, so he spent most of the first half of the year at VFL level with the Northern Bullants. Back to near his best at last for round 12, he was up and about at centre half-forward as the Blueboys demolished Brisbane by 61 points at Docklands Stadium – but it was his role in Carlton’s huge win over Richmond three weeks later at the MCG that caught the attention of even the most casual spectator.
In the absence of injured full-back Michael Jamison, Henderson was asked to play on the Tigers’ star forward Jack Riewoldt (the reigning AFL Coleman Medallist) that afternoon, and was a revelation. Although “Jumpin’ Jack” finished the game with four goals, Henderson matched him all day - wearing him tightly on the lead, and never for a moment allowing the Tiger spearhead any space or time.
From then on, and throughout the latter part of 2011, ‘Hendo’ looked very comfortable in the key defensive role. Although Jamison returned on the eve of the finals, Henderson was still assigned to the opposition’s most dangerous forward and stood up in both of the Blues’ memorable finals matches – a big Elimination Final win over Essendon, followed by a harrowing 3-point Semi Final defeat by the Eagles.
When season 2012 got underway, Lachie played solidly throughout the first eight games before being a late withdrawal from Carlton’s round 9 meeting with Melbourne at the MCG. A serious groin strain had begun to trouble him, and despite the best efforts of the club’s medical staff over the following weeks, it didn’t respond to treatment. At the same time, a raft of injuries to key players triggered a mid-season form slump for the Blues, and put the team’s finals aspirations in serious doubt.
By round 16 (when Carlton was soundly thrashed by North Melbourne) Henderson had managed only three matches in eight weeks. The likelihood of a finals berth for the Blues was rapidly diminishing, so the decision was made that Lachie would undergo immediate surgery, with the aim of giving him the best possible opportunity to begin 2013 trouble-free.
Breaking the news to Carlton’s despondent supporters, Football Operations Manager Andrew McKay praised Henderson’s attempts to see out the year, saying; “Lachie is a tremendous team player, and his efforts to continue have only added to the respect everyone at Carlton has for him. Even with a further five or six weeks rest, there was no guarantee that he would be able to resume playing this year, and he would still require the surgery. Thus the decision was made to have the operation this week.”
In hindsight, that was a masterstroke by the Blues, because Henderson began 2013 in excellent shape, and went on to have a stellar individual year. Under a new senior coach - former West Coast and Collingwood Premiership mentor Mick Malthouse, Lachie and Carlton endured a rollercoaster season, before being catapulted into the finals in sensational circumstances and eventually losing to Sydney in a dour Semi Final. In the process, Lachie emerged as one of the Blues real weapons – a genuine big match performer who was equally effective in attack and defence.
One of five Blues to play in all of Carlton’s 24 matches for the year, ‘Hendo’ kicked 26 goals and was probably responsible for saving just as many more. He was the club’s top aerialist with 6.4 marks per game (taking 153 overall) as well as ranking third in the competition for contested grabs. Highlights of his season included both matches against St Kilda (when he averaged 16 disposals, 11 marks and 3.5 goals per game) and the Semi Final defeat by Sydney (22 disposals and 9 marks, mostly in defence).
In October, Lachie starred once more at Carlton’s end of season dinner, finishing third behind Kade Simpson and Andrew Walker in voting for the John Nicholls Medal, and taking home the club’s Most Determined and High Achiever awards.
Earlier in the year, after Henderson had signed an extension to his contract, Carlton’s General Manager of Football Operations, Andrew McKay had this to say about the 23 year-old’s prospects; “Lachie is improving year on year. It will be a good test for him to see just how good he can become. It's a bit like a golf handicap; the better you get, the harder it is to improve.”
BackgroundAt Geelong Falcons Under-18s Henderson was:
- A member of the Under 16s AIS-AFL Academy (2006)
- Wore guernsey no. 25 in 2006 and 2007
- A member of the 2006 and 2007 Under 18s Victorian Country Carnival sides (No. 22 in 2006, and No. 30 in 2007)
Milestones50 AFL Games: Round 1, 2012 vs Richmond
50 Carlton Games: Round 5, 2013 vs Adelaide
LinksBlueseum: A summary of Henderson's playing career | Henderson's Blueseum Image Gallery
Contributors to this page: Jarusa
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