I have watched the last two minutes of the game between Freemantle and Carlton over and over and over and over again. I have watched the sequence of events that led up to the last two minutes over and over and over again. I shouted with joy, screamed with elation, but it was the last 30-odd seconds of the match that made me tear up and this was for one reason and one person only – Marc Murphy! Here’s why.
We were down four players, but not just any players. We were down Crippa, Hazza, and Cunners before the match. Then after only just 12 minutes into the first quarter, Charlie went down. The noise around the AFL world was that it would be impossible for Carlton to be able to counter the fact that one of the most exciting and talented players in the game was not going to play for a team that was languishing at the bottom. Then with Hazza out, then Cunners and then Charlie – we would have no hope of even coming close to Freemantle and that was really proven in the first quarter. But then it changed. By the time of the end of the first half, Carlton was only ten points down. In the third quarter, we were down by 12 points. Now here’s the kicker. Everyone did not believe that Carlton could sustain this pressure that the commentators were saying, in the fourth quarter with one man down. They were wrong.
The fourth quarter shows what I have been saying for a long time, that a great team needs depth in its playing field. That is the ability to step up when the stars of the game are not on the field. But then at the 20.11minute mark, the magnificent Simmo slotted a goal from the side. Then two minutes later, Kennedy kicked a goal. To top it all off when I was on the edge of my seat, and yelled and screamed when at the 26.03-minute mark, Daisy celebrated in the only way Daisy knows how as he soccer-kicked a beautiful goal. We were in front. But not for long because ten seconds later, Fremantle’s Sam Switkowski slotted in a goal. With only just over a minute left the commentators were on the edge of their seats and I was nearly falling off mine and it was this last minute that made me tear up and get emotional as I have done every time that I’ve watched this part.
Back in the center, with Silvagni on Fyfe and Ed Curnow freer to move around the ground after the center tap. This change in positions, putting Silvagni on Fyfe was genius. Krooz taps the ball out, it gets fumbled along and but it is Jack that soccer kicks the ball out to our forward area and the ball eventually goes out of bounds. Back in, the ball is tapped out, Gibbons soccer kicks it. Then Casboult has the ball, fumbles but manages to handball it over to Fisher who taps it and is collected by Murph who with his experience, composes himself and kicks what is probably the most incredible goal of the year (to my mind), and it is the joy on his face that gets me teared up. The reason is simply that for most of that play it was perpetrated by players who for quite a few, should be either dropped or traded away. I have never believed that.
Krooz is in my mind one of the best ruckman in the competition and can change the game with just one tap. Then to put Jack on Fyfe is as I said, genius. I love Jack not because of his name but because of his determination and his ability to throw his body into the game. He has been given a bad rap and I still believe that his role is not forward but towards the midfield and down back. He put the pressure of Fyfe and stifled him. His kick towards the forward line in that last minute was from a player who given more time will become even better. Then to have the ball placed in the hands of one of the most reliable grabbers in the game – Casboult, who if you look at his face, did not for one second give up on trying to get that ball out of the pack. Then the tap by Fisher who could have tried to grab it was brilliant. Then the mindset of Murph who could have walked away from the club and game, to be composed enough to turn and kick and slot it in, was the stuff of legends. I teared up.
If you look at the fourth quarter, it was the sheer grit and determination of players who have been criticized and given the thumbs down by supporters, but what you don’t understand is that it is these players that can change and shape not only a team but a game. This is the stuff that makes a young struggling team become great again. This is why these players are pivotal in ensuring that Carlton becomes great again. Maturity, composure and the ability to dig deep, fight like hell and never give up. They showed this in the last quarter and it will become what some are saying, the match of the season.
This game defined us a club because not for the win alone, but how it was won. Without our stars, with one star down in the first quarter, the rest never gave up, didn’t stop believing and showed that Carlton is not down and out yet.
Do I believe David Teague is the coach that Carlton must sign? Ask me at the end of the season. If he can continue this way, then absolutely because he has given the players a new lease on the game and the capacity to play for what we all want them to play – for the privilege of wearing the Navy Blue!