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The Sacking of Robert Walls

Robert Walls is a Carlton legend, having both played in, and coached the Blues in premiership years. After serving a coaching apprenticeship at Fitzroy between 1981 and 1985, Walls immediately took the Blues to a Grand Final against Hawthorn in 1986, his first year as Senior Coach. He went one better in 1987, winning the flag after beating the Hawks and gaining revenge in the Grand Final.

After finishing third in 1988, the Blues beat Collingwood in a Semi Final to earn a double chance. A loss to the Hawks in the Semi Final, and then another defeat to Melbourne by 22 points in the Preliminary Final meant an end to the Blues season.

The following season proved to be one of the most dramatic in Carlton's history, culminating in the end of Walls' tenure as coach of Carlton:

“In a season that’s been a struggle I felt that we would all work our way through it by sticking together. I wish the players nothing but the best. As for myself, it’s certainly not the end of the world. One door closes, another opens.”
Robert Walls

Within an hour of a surprise three point loss to the Brisbane Bears in Round 10 at Princes Park, Carlton’s eighth defeat in ten games, the knives were out at the highest level, and heads were about to roll, none more public than head coach Robert Walls’.

“Having been around Carlton for a while I thought it might happen three or four weeks ago if they were going to do it. The fact they’ve done it now surprises me.”
Mike Fitzpatrick

What followed was one of the most eventful days in the club’s history, when chairman of selectors Wes Lofts stood down and was replaced by former premiership ruckman, Mike Fitzpatrick, shortly after Walls was told of his sacking by the club’s executive director, Ian Collins.

“Today is what it’s all about and where Carlton is today it shouldn’t be. The basics are there. We’ll be getting back to those here at Carlton.”
Alex Jesaulenko

Jesaulenko received a telephone call on the Saturday evening after the Bears game offering him the coaching role. Collins flew to Canberra the next day.

“He communicates quite well with his players. That different style will bring out the best of some of the players. Robert’s a lot more theoretical in his approach and a technician. I think Jezza’s more single-minded and more demanding in his training methods.”
Ian Collins

The Carlton committee became concerned over the growing distance between Walls and his players. The issue reached a head during the pre-season competition, when Walls walked out on the players during a team dinner after only a handful of players returned questionnaires by the due date.

Club sources say the atmosphere between players and coach quickly went downhill thereafter.
Contributors to this page: molsey , verbs and steve .
Page last modified on Thursday 28 of September, 2006 13:32:16 AEST by molsey.