Stephen Silvagni had retired at the end of 2001, while Anthony Koutoufides was going to require a prolonged recovery from a severe knee injury sustained in Carlton's final game of 2001.
Carlton decided to face this loss of experience by turning to players from other clubs. With Corey McKernan looking for a new home, Carlton decided to take him from the Kangaroos in exchange for Mark Porter and its first 2 draft picks- 14 and 30. A year after trading him to Geelong (for pick 11), Justin Murphy was returned to the Blues in exchange for pick 23. Adelaide provided us with former premiership player, (the injury riddled) Andrew Eccles and David Gallagher, in exchange for Kris Massie and Ben Nelson.
This left it with no picks in the draft until pick 39, which it would use on Justin Davies. It would use its Father-son selection to take Jarrad Waite, son of Vin Waite. Having had 3 first round draft picks the previous year, 2 of which were yet to play, it was hoped that Luke Livingston, Trent Sporn and Simon Wiggins would be ready to play senior football in 2002. In addition, the club had high hopes for three rookies who were elevated to the senior list- Adam Pickering, Jim Plunkett and Ian Prendergast. There were also hopes for increasing maturity from talented 20 year old Ryan Houlihan and 21 year old Brendan Fevola.
2002 was however a horror year for Carlton. In the space of just 12 months, 14 wins and a finals appearance was followed up with just 3 wins and the first wooden spoon in its proud history.
The loss of Silvagni, Koutoufides able to play just 3 (incomplete) games, combined with significant injuries to key players such as Ratten, Allan, Hulme and Whitnall, would leave a significant burden on 38 year old Craig Bradley, good to average players such as Fletcher, Doering, Cranage and Freeborn and force young, inexperienced players to have to be thrown in at the deep end (as shown by the large number of debuts in 2002, described below). A summary of the injuries experienced in 2002 is provided in this exclusive Blueseum article.
The Blues would not take its first wooden spoon kindly, resulting in the demise of Wayne Brittain as Coach and John Elliott as President.
Coach: Wayne Brittain
Leading Goal-kicker: Corey McKernan - 40 goals
Best & Fairest: Corey McKernan
150 (Carlton) games: Glenn Manton
50 Games: Ryan Houlihan
50 (Carlton) games: Trent Hotton, Michael Mansfield
Debuts: Trent Sporn, Luke Livingston, Lindsay Smith, Justin Davies, Blake Campbell, Bret Thornton, Callan Beasy, Sean O'Keeffe
Carlton Debuts: Sam Cranage, David Gallagher, Corey McKernan, Andrew Eccles
Retirements: Craig Bradley (375 games), Ang Christou (151 games), Trent Hotton (78 games, 61 with Carlton), Michael Mansfield (235 games, 54 with Carlton), Scott Freeborn (48 games), Adam Pickering (7 games).