Before you read the article, TEST YOURSELF ON THIS QUIZ on the topic of Carlton's 'First Picks'!!

At the end of each season, the mystique around the utilisation (or otherwise) of that first pick awarded to your Club explodes in arguments across the footy world. Should we utilise it to pick that ruckman we've needed? What about that key defender?!?!?! Or should we trade it? The views are diverse at Carlton, let alone different from Club to Club. The Blueseum set out to address what has happened with our first picks since the inception of the National Draft.

Now every year, each Club gets allocated a selection in the first round. Some get priority picks which have the potential to bring forward your 'first pick', and unfortunately on the other hand Carlton fans may reluctantly remember losing such early picks to penalties in 2002 / 2003. At the end of the day, every Club gets a pick in the top 20 or so and generally every Club gets the choice of whether to use it (on any number of options) or trade it (for a specific option). Without getting into a full discussion on all of our selections and trades (and the debate on whether a 'priority pick' is a 'first pick'), we have focussed on that 'First Pick' that we have been entitled to and highlight below what Carlton did with them:

That First Pick…
Phase YearPickDecision / ActionPlayer(s)Carlton Games (End of '08)
N/A198612UtiliseDom Fotia18
N/A198712UtilisePeter BubnerNil
N/A198812Traded Away (Essendon; + Pick 26)Glenn Hawker27
Rebuild?19897UtilisedStephen Edgar14
Rebuild?19902Traded Up + Utilised (Warren McKenzie - Sydney)James Cook25
Load-up?19915Traded Away (Melbourne)Earl Spalding102
N/A199213UtilisedAndrew McKay244
N/A199318UtilisedSimon Beaumont152
N/A199415UtilisedScott Camporeale233
Load-up?199519Traded Away (St Kilda)Craig Devonport1
Load-up?199619Traded Away (Collingwood; + Pick 65)Mick McGuane3
N/A19977UtilisedKris Massie43
N/A19986UtilisedMurray Vance5
Load-up?199916Traded Away (Fremantle; + Pick 46)Stephen O'Reilly12
Rebuild?20004Traded Up + Utilised (Aaron Hamill - St Kilda)Luke Livingston46
N/A200114Traded Away (North; + Porter (Complex pick swap))Corey McKernan41
N/A20021Pick lost to penaltiesN/AN/A
Rebuild?20032UtilisedAndrew Walker87*
Rebuild20049UtilisedJordan Russell70*
Rebuild20051UtilisedMarc Murphy80*
Rebuild20061UtilisedBryce Gibbs66*
Rebuild20071UtilisedMatthew Kreuzer43*
Rebuild20086UtilisedChris Yarran6*

It is a fascinating history, littered with intersections to the strategy of the day. Whilst Carlton has traded away our 'first pick' 6 times in this era (picking up Hawker, Spalding, Devonport, McGuane, O'Reilly and McKernan), there is a noticeable intersection with periods of 'Loading Up' whilst Carlton was a good team in the 1995-1996 and 1999-2001 eras to try to maximise success. It should be noted that in 1999 we also traded away our 'second pick' to secure Mick Mansfield, with the ensuing debate about whether we gave up too much on the back of a Preliminary Final performance continuing to this day.

The success of players secured from trading away is poor at best, with only Spalding playing in a Premiership let alone playing 50 games of AFL football! In that group only McKernan and Spalding played more than 30 games in Navy Blue!

On two instances Carlton traded away a player to secure an early pick; in 1990 we traded Warren McKenzie to the Swans for Pick 2 which secured James Cook. In that year we also had Pick 7 which we utilised on young WA player Damian Hampson. A decade later, Carlton secured Pick 4 from St Kilda when it lost Aaron Hamill, and picked up Luke Livingston with that pick.

One interesting point for debate is Carlton's loading up post the Premiership in 1995 and over 1999-2001, whilst off the back of our solid finals performances in 1993-1994 we continued to draft top talent in the form of guns Andrew McKay and Scott Camporeale. Such draft performances from a distance would seem to support the idea of keeping your top picks even when you're a good team....

But by 2003, with our Club struggling, the rebuild mantra appears to have firmly taken hold with 6 successive utilisations of our 'first pick', creating the core of a new list and hoped for success in our near future.

Blueseum footnote: In Season 2007, Carlton traded away our Pick 3 for Chris Judd, but retained the Priority Pick in Pick 1 to recruit Matthew Kreuzer</i>

The National Draft