1942 to the VFL had dealt with the problem of having 11 teams and only 16 rounds in a fairly uneven way, some teams would play two byes and other teams only one. This obviously disadvantaged some clubs, like Footscray and Carlton who finished fourth and fifth on the ladder respectively from 14 games, while the top 3 clubs had played 15 games. The VFL came up with a novel approach in 1943, which would be much fairer. All clubs would play the first eleven rounds, and hence have one bye each. After the 11th round the lowest club on the ladder, which proved to be St Kilda, was eliminated ensuring all remaining clubs would play 15 rounds.
Carlton started the season with two wins, but after a bye in round 3 they had four consecutive losses to Collingwood, St Kilda, Essendon and Melbourne. The club had been competitive in these matches, however, losing by only 27, 12, 6 and 5 points respectively. In spite of these losses and lying eight on the ladder, the club was only two games out of the top 4.
The Blues fortunes improved in the second half of the season, winning 7 out of 9 games, and losing its two games by only 4 points and 15 points. The last loss (against Fitzroy) came in the final home and away round, and had Hawthorn beaten North Melbourne in this round (they lost by a solitary point) we would have missed the finals. As it stood Carlton had snuck into fourth place at the end of the regular season due to its good late season form.
We would meet Fitzroy again in the first Semi Final, but would be totally outclassed, kicking only 5 goals for the day to lose by 51 points (13.16 94 to 5.13 43). We would miss the finals in 1944, before winning our first premiership since 1938 the following year in the infamous "Bloodbath" Grand Final.
This season would be considered one of so close but so far. Despite finishing fourth on the ladder after the home and away rounds Carlton had the highest percentage (125) and 3 of the 6 losses were by one goal or less. Convert just one of those close losses to a win and Carlton would have finished top of the ladder with a second chance and facing (eventual premiers) Richmond who we had strangely only played once for the year for a convincing 44 point win.
Coach: Percy Bentley
Leading Goal-kicker: Jack Wrout - 33 goals
Best & Fairest: George Gniel
Most Consistent: Bob Atkinson
Best First Year Player: Jim Clark
Most Improved: Jack Howell
Best Utility: Bob Chitty
Best Club Man: Jim Mooring
Best Team Man: Mick Price
Special Trophy For Serviceable Play: Ron Savage
Life Membership: Jack Wrout, Mick Price
Ron Boys, Ron Hines, Mac Wilson, Alan Rayson, Jim Clark, Graham Tudor, Neil Tucker, Ted Tuohill, Ken McLean, Tom Dillon
300 pounds raised.
Curtain raiser was a baseball match between Carlton-Essendon combined v US Army team.
The locals won 7-2
Backs; Chitty, Gneil, Tucker
Half backs; Sanger, Anderson, Clarke
Centre; Fitzgibbon, McLean, Brown
Half forwards; Collins, Wrout, Turner
Forwards; McInnes, Baird, Sleith
Rucks; Savage, Bennett
Rover; Mooring (acting Capt)
Three additional replacements were allowed at half time. Howell came on in the last quarter.
Carlton lost by 11 points
Carl; 3.4 7.8 9.14 9.18.72
Ess; 5.7 6.12 10.17 10.23.83
Goals; Chitty 3, Sleith 2, Bennett 2, Baird, McInnes.
Best; Chitty, Brown, Mooring, McLean, Savage, McInnes, Gneil, Fitzgibbon
New men, Ken McLean, Clarke, Turner, Teasdale, Tudor played well.
Reported; Cassin and Betson Essendon and Anderson Carlton.
"Such reports arising from a pre-season game are unprecedented." (Herald April 30 p8)
The three reported players were severely reprimanded at the League tribunal.