Carlton defeated North by 10 points at Docklands. Murphy kicked 4 from midfield, but 3 came from the goalsquare!

Round 18, 2009

Carlton3.4226.4 4012.77914.1094
North Melbourne3.4227.95111.9 7511.1884
Venue: Docklands (Etihad Stadium)
Date: Friday, 31 July (N) Result: won by 10 points
Umpires: S. McBurney, B. Rosebury, H. Ryan Crowd: 38,554
Goalkickers: Murphy, 4, Fevola 3, Gibbs, Thornton, Stevens 2, O’hAilpin 1.
Reports: TBD Injuries: Thornton (shoulder) Bower (knee)
Ladder Position: Seventh

Game Review

North Melbourne legend Adam Simpson chose the round 18 clash against Carlton to play his 306th and final game of AFL footy after announcing his retirement during the week leading up to the Friday nighter. Without the emotion and constant stream of tributes in the media which followed, the game could’ve otherwise been considered a relatively ho-hum affair between a struggling 7th and a dismal 13th.

At the Thursday night selection table the Blues made changes hand over fist to the side that was so disappointing against Collingwood a week earlier. Of these, Chris Johnson (hamstring) was the only forced change, while Bentley, Fisher, Grigg, Hartlett and Yarran all felt the blade of the match committee axe. The two biggest inclusions were Nick Stevens (returning after a month long sojourn in the VFL to find some run and form) and Andrew Walker (playing his first for the season after terrible shoulder problems). Joining Stevens and Walker were Dennis Armfield, Michael Jamison, Setanta O’hAilpin and Mitch Robinson. In what now appears to be a weekly tradition, Michael Jamison was a late withdrawal on game day with Richard Hadley his replacement.

The healthy crowd arrived wondering whether the Blues could consolidate their place in the top eight or whether the Kangaroos could snap their run of eight winless games to send Adam Simpson off in style. They all left a little disillusioned. The Kangaroos fans, disappointed that the fairytale never eventuated for Simpson and the losing streak had extended to nine. The Blues fans, concerned their team struggled for so long to put away the 13th placed side, but nonetheless relieved they were able to slug out the victory.

The first quarter was an even affair with neither side able to gain the ascendency. The Blues disposal by foot left a lot to be desired and some would say they were a little fortunate to be even. All Carlton’s goals came from the midfield, with one each to Bryce Gibbs, Nick Stevens and Marc Murphy. As the game unfolded these three would become the key players in the Blues eventual success. Stevens, in particular, displaying some of the characteristic run and finish he had been recruited for back in 2003, which had been so sorely missing in recent months.

The Kangaroos got on top during the second term with Carlton’s superstars Chris Judd and Brendan Fevola both well held by their respective opponents (Levi Greenwood and Scott Thompson) who provided plenty of close (annoying) attention. Question marks hung over Judd who was possibly still a little sore and sorry from last week. Sore and sorry only goes some way to describing how Bret Thornton and Paul Bower felt after coming off seriously second best in a collision out of a marking contest with Kangaroo Drew Petrie. Both spent extended periods on the bench in the aftermath making the Blues defence appear somewhat more fragile than usual. Both returned to the field later in the game, but may struggle to come up next week.

The Blues started the second half badly with their deficit extending to 17 points almost immediately. Something obviously stirred them into action from that point with the next twenty minutes proving to be their most productive of the match. Six goals (two from Brendan Fevola and one from the unlikely boot of Bret Thornton) changed the momentum of the match and saw them take a narrow four point lead into the final break. Indeed by games end Thornton had doubled his career goals tally to 4, with 2 majors.

If you were writing the script for your dream finish to a game, it wouldn’t be anything like how this one panned out. The quarter was dominated by North Melbourne, but they simply could not buy a goal. Nine behinds and one out on the full cost them any chance of a come from behind victory. The Blues were far from convincing, but goals to Marc Murphy (his fourth) and Bret Thornton (his second, doubling his career tally in one night) steadied the ship ever so slightly and allowed them to hold on for a scratchy 10 point win and seventh place on the ladder.

The average age of this Carlton team was 23 years and 352 days, with an average League experience of 87.3 games per player. Nick Stevens was the oldest, at 29 years and 209 days and the most experienced with 226 games. Aaron Joseph was the youngest at 20 years and 27 days old, while Mitch Robinson was the least experience with 8 games.


B: 45 Aaron Joseph 21 Mark Austin 32 Bret Thornton
HB: 27 Dennis Armfield 18 Paul Bower 33 Ryan Houlihan
C: 6 Kade Simpson 5 Chris Judd (c) 29 Heath Scotland
HF: 2 Jordan Russell 17 Setanta O’hAilpin 44 Andrew Carrazzo
F: 12 Mitch Robinson 25 Brendan Fevola 19 Eddie Betts
Ruck: 8 Matthew Kreuzer 4 Bryce Gibbs 24 Nick Stevens (vc)
Interchange: 1 Andrew Walker 3 Marc Murphy 10 Richard Hadley
22 Shaun Hampson
Coach: Brett Ratten
Emg: 28 Cameron Cloke, 16 Shaun Grigg, 40 Michael Jamison

-* Hadley replaced Jamison (groin)


550 Goals: Brendan Fevola
Losing streaks: Carlton ended North's record run of 6 consecutive wins over us with this win
Interesting Fact: Bret Thornton doubled his career goal count (to this point) with 2 goals, making it 4 all up!

Brownlow Votes

3. Bryce Gibbs, Carlton
2. Nick Stevens, Carlton
1. Marc Murphy, Carlton

Best and Fairest Votes

37 Bryce Gibbs, 37 Marc Murphy, 32 Dennis Armfield, 28 Richard Hadley, 27 Nick Stevens, 26 Ryan Houlihan, 18 Brendan Fevola, 5 Bret Thornton

The Ghost article

16 Candles

My son turned sixteen this week and on the weekend he had a party to celebrate the milestone. Watching the young-lings strut, their firecracker voices and their bright smiles amidst the faces not yet adult yet certainly no longer childish, I made a connection.

Carlton are the sixteen year olds of this competition. No more the young child easily brushed aside, no longer swayed by argument or the threat of 'go to your room' , the lads are not intimidated by the bigger, more experienced sides.

Like the party, this side almost makes the grade but just falls short. It can't be helped. No matter how much they pretend otherwise, sixteen year olds are not adults, not yet. As much as anything it has to do with time. They are, still, much to their chagrin, too young. Their bodies still not fully settled. Sure they have their wings but they haven't actually flown anywhere yet.

The Bluebaggers of 09 are like that. We make all the right noises but they are not natural to us yet and, like the sixteen year olds at that party, we really are not prepared to do the hard yards, life's too good, the future still a shimmering light on the distant road. Failure and the brick wall of reality need to be experienced before the real adult emerges.

The kids at the party were loud, had a lot of fun, made an unbelievable amount of mess (including ensuring all the dirt from the backyard was generously deposited upon the carpet), but it was a borderline party, a point at the beginning of real parties , a party still so fresh and daffodil bright that it could not be taken too seriously.

Carlton then, is at the start, shows all the signs of emerging from its childhood of recent years, but we, too, are only at the beginning. We, too, are the innocents lacking the experience to know, instinctively, what to do. Still too preoccupied with the joy to remember to always do the team things every time.

We are also like those young adults in another way. We stand still sometimes in games and watch, or we play it safe, afraid to raise our hands and say 'I'll have a go'. We pause and look for someone else to take the chance, do the dash or kick the goal. There is nothing wrong with this, it's just all part of the progression.

We all have to be sixteen before we can be twenty-one. We all have to have that first mad crush where the world ceases to spin and her smile (or his) haunts us in class. We all have to kiss lips we think are heaven's visitation and then wake up and find she has moved on. So, too, with the lads; they too have to discover that in the end, it's up to themselves – no one else can deliver the Chalice.

Some called the win on Friday an ugly win – it was. One of those acne covered, gangly, stumbling, stuttering wins that lacks the class and polish of a mature team. This team makes far too many mistakes to be anything but a beginner. It many respects, this side still has its L plates displayed in the way it tries to move the ball from fullback (place ball on ground and wait for someone else to run in and kick it, give opposition plenty of time to set up, kick to them, watch them kick a goal back over our heads), in the way it heads for the side streets and back roads rather than driving straight down the main highway, regardless of the heavy traffic.

You need experience to really take this game on, to understand your role in the team, to understand you are the equal to or better than your opponent, that effort is as powerful as talent, that success only comes from failure – in other words you cannot put an old head on young shoulders.
We must be patient. The signs are good. Again I think back to that party. It was enjoyable to watch them having fun, to see that my son has a great bunch of friends and you could see the adults many of them will be. Carlton then, has the side, has the potential, it just needs the experience. To win like it is while gaining that experience is a major plus.

It seems to me in the beginning of this season the lads ran out and played with the carefree abandon of children but as the games passed and the wins accumulated and Finals became something not talked about but a real possibility, that abandon drained from their play. They fret too much, are often afraid to take the game on, to run the lines and have a go. Isn't that the way of life. There is the carefree stage, the nervous understanding of what is expected stage and then mastery. We are not at the mastery level yet. We are on the verge of breaking through and standing there we see only what we can lose, not what we will gain.

Make no mistake, this year has been a very important year for this side, a watershed year if we make the finals. Make the finals and, regardless of outcomes, it becomes a reality for this team, it becomes part of their collective experience. Like sending your child overseas knowing, for all their nerves, once they have experienced it, they'll want to return to the airport and fly away again and again in their lives.

Reach the finals this year and suddenly the first step into this team's adult life is already behind them. Suddenly the question is not, 'will they make the finals?', but 'what will they do when get there?'

So this weeks, its the old boys of the comp, the wise old men who dislike the young upstarts they know must replace them one day. Geelong – pfft – we'll smash 'em. The Umps to take care of Fev finally, so he'll bag seven. Jammo's out but The Cats have no real FF so that's okay and Bower and young Austin will smash 'em anyway.

This week the lads will take a giant step onto the lunar landscape of finals. This week we'll bump off the Cats easily!

Fev 7
Robbo 3
Murph B.O.G.

Go Blues!

Mike and Dan

Play of the Week – Mr. Stevens Returns

Well if it wasn’t his goals that got your attention, it must have been some of that foot-passing. The return of Nick Stevens to the Carlton Seniors sure was a big issue in the press, but it was his big impact on the game that got our attention - and winning Play of the Week for that baulk and goal from 50.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Nick whilst he was doing some gardening this week, and took some time to reflect on what was a successful comeback.

Nick, congratulations on your Play of the Week for your top notch game and those two goals. Which goal was your favourite?

Thanks guys, its always nice to trouble the scorers! I didn’t mind my first one!

I think it was one of your passes to Fev, say in the third or fourth quarter, that must have been over 35-40 metres and straight on to the chest. The crowd around me just all gasped it was that good. It was good to have you back.

Thanks again guys, trust me, it was great to be back!

It's your 100th game in Navy Blue this week. There's been some highs and lows for you. Anything in particular stick in the memory - both positive and negative?

Yeah it actually crept up a little bit, I must admit until someone mentioned it to me earlier in the week I wasn’t aware of it.

It’s been a long 100 games I suppose, we’ve all been through some pretty dark days over the years. So that, along with the neck injury, have been the negatives, and right now is the positive. The way the group is developing is fantastic, we have much to look forward to in the short and long-term at the Carlton Footy Club, and it's just really exciting at the minute.

It was a good match for our goalkicking midfielders, with your 2, Gibbs' 2 and Murphy's 4. Do you think for us to make an impact on the finals the midfielders need to keep kicking goals?

We have spoken about it recently, and have emphasized it internally probably since the mid-season break. The more goals our midfielders contribute the better we will be. Murph has kicked over 20 goals; that’s brilliant.

There's been a lot written in the media over the past month. Was there anything to your performance the other night about 'proving the critics wrong'?

No, you can’t worry about that, you play at the elite level you have to learn to cope with that. I haven’t read or listened to much, instead I was working with the coaches and people at the club, and have tried to do everything right.

Your pinpoint disposal was a welcome addition to the team. Now that you are back in, do you expect to be back permanently or is it a week-by-week proposition?

I hope it’s permanent, but that’s the thing about our club now, no spot is just reserved for player A or B, you have to earn it and that’s how it should be.

It seemed like a real arm-wrestle out there. Was that due to North's tactics or just an indication of the pressure that was out there?

Yeah, it was scrappy, it was a big game for them with Adam Simpson retiring, but was also a massive game for us. I think that probably showed there were two teams that were desperate to win. North do play that way a bit, and they have had the wood on us for a long time, it was nice to beat them for a change.

What on earth was going on with North's kicking the final quarter? Have you ever seen anything like it from a side trying to win the game?

Haha, no but we were pretty happy with it!

Sometimes we seem so slow moving the ball out of defence. Do we need more runners in the team or are we just a defensively minded team these days?

I think it can depend on the game. I think we improved in the second half on the weekend. Sometimes you can be wary of making mistakes and things like that. But for a young team to adapt and improve that throughout a game is important, I don’t know if we would have been in a position to change that earlier in the year or last year, it’s really a sign of maturity.

We will go in as serious underdogs on Friday night. Does flying under the radar suit us? We seem to perform better when there is less expectation (e.g. versus St Kilda, Hawthorn, Bulldogs).

I don’t think it’s about that, there have only been three or four games this year wear we haven’t started favorites, and for a team coming from where we have been that's a big expectation. What we do know is that we have to bring the intensity from the games you mentioned to the G on Friday night.

Anyone we should be looking out for in the Bullants who you think will make an impact in 2010?

Yeah plenty. Rob Warnock is coming back and will play a lot of footy for us, and then there's Sam Jacobs… we have seen a bit of Yarran, Garlett and Robinson, and they are exciting, and Rhys O’Keeffe is going to be a good player . . . maybe he is the smokey!

How is the landscaping business going? Do you still get your hands dirty or do you work more on the business side of things?

It's going along very well. I now employ some of the boys who love getting there hands dirty. They generally work one day a week. It’s actually really important to have outside interests other than footy.

Stevo may have to fight for his spot a lot more these days than in our recent past, but with his highlights reel from the North game in his hands he’s sure to play a big role this year and beyond.

Round 17 | Round 19
Contributors to this page: Jarusa , molsey , WillowBlue and snakehips .
Page last modified on Sunday 29 of January, 2023 22:26:23 AEDT by Jarusa.

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