1997 Summary1997 saw the introduction of Port Adelaide Power to the AFL, although the competition remained at 16 teams after the Brisbane Bears and the Fitzroy Lions merged at the end of 1996. The merger gave the composite Brisbane Lions priority access to most of the Fitzroy list, and that factor eventually saw the Lions become a force and collect three consecutive Premierships between 2001 and 2003. At the same time, Port Adelaide tried to recruit a number of former Adelaide boys, including Carlton's young star Scott Camporeale. But 'Campo' decided to stay with the Blues because he believed that he was more likely to play in a Premiership team in navy, rather than teal blue.
After four straight years of finals appearances, Carlton fell to 11th place in 1997, as the Golden Era of 1993-1996 came to an end, and we bade farewell to some of the greats. Stephen Kernahan, Greg Williams, Justin Madden, Earl Spalding and Mil Hanna all brought the curtain down on their great careers after 1996, paving the way for the emergence of a new core to take the club to the end of the century. Iconic ruckman Justin Madden was retained on the list all year, but ended up not playing a senior game and retired before the season was through.
In one of the big pre-season stories, Collingwood star Mick McGuane left the Pies to join the Blues, who gave up their first pick in the draft (19) to obtain him. McGuane however, never really reached match fitness, and played only three games for his new club. His addition at the of age 29 made Carlton the oldest side in the competition. Even so, the year did start full of promise, with victory in the Pre-season Ansett Cup.
After Mc Guane, our next draft pick was Sam Smart at #38, but he would play just one game. Lance Whitnall was a Father-Son selection, and proved to be an astute choice. 'Big Red' was mature enough to play senior football straight away, and would eventually captain the Navy Blues. Anthony Franchina was another inspired choice at #81 (going on to play 105 matches), while Darren Hulme was taken in the pre-season draft and eventually racked up 110 games. In addition, we also secured Ben Nelson (40 games) and Andrew Balkwill (1 game) in exchange for Brent Heaver, who was traded to Port Adelaide, where he managed just 16 matches.
People of 1997Captain: Stephen Kernahan
Coach: David Parkin
Leading Goal-kicker: Anthony Koutoufides - 28 goals.
Best & Fairest: Brett Ratten with his second win following on from 1995.
This was the first time since 1985 that someone other than Stephen Kernahan would lead the goal-kicking. Kernahan would score 23 goals 23 from 16 matches, suggesting that perhaps this was indeed the right time to retire.
MilestonesDebuts: Lance Whitnall, Adam White, Andrew Balkwill, Ben Nelson, Sam Smart, Anthony Franchina, Mark Porter, Darren Hulme and Jacob Anstey
Debuts (Carlton): Mick McGuane
Last games: Earl Spalding, Stephen Kernahan, Greg Williams, Mil Hanna, Andrew Balkwill, Sam Smart, Mick McGuane