Dear Carlton FC Players
I just want to relate something to you about me, as a supporter and the club that I love so much.
When I arrived in Australia, from England, I saw this exciting game which I did not know about nor understand, but I loved it. I started following Carlton FC because its nickname, the Blues, is the same as the team I supported in English football – Chelsea.
I decided to do some research about the club and its players that I had come to love. You may know this or not, but irrespective of that, to know where you are going, you need to know where you come from.
The club was formed in 1864 – we all know that. It is one of the oldest clubs in the now AFL. Did you know that between 1876 and 1882, there was a player, George Coulthard, who was deemed to be ‘the grandest player of the day?’ At the age of 27, he died from tuberculosis. Carlton went on to have incredible highs and disappointing lows.
Did you know that the 1945 Grand Final was called the “Bloodbath Grand Final”? Carlton were after nine weeks, faltering near the bottom with only three wins and six losses. They picked themselves up, dusted off the dirt, for the grounds were not as they are now, and won its remaining matches, finishing fourth. It went on to beat every team in the finals series and win. That match is a testament to the resilience and determination of its players. This occurred just after peace was declared at the end of the Second World War.
While this match was considered a ‘bloodbath’ and it was, as it was dirty, gritty, sometimes violent. Seven players got suspended, but what it showed was that a group of players were determined, nay insistent that a world war and losses both on the field and off would not deter them from what they all wanted…a Grand Final win.
Each player in that match, who you have to remember, were not a professionally paid and trained sportsman, took pride in putting on that navy blue jumper with that emblem in the middle. They put on their shorts, socks and boots and looked at themselves in the mirror and said to themselves, we can do this. The adversity they faced made them even more determined to do everything they could to get to where they wanted to be…a winner.
You stand at the moment in a time where history will look back and determine how you will be seen and remembered. It is easy to toss in the towel and walk away, saying it is too hard. And maybe you could achieve what you want in a place where the result is easier, simpler to attain. But at what cost? For you may celebrate and attain glory, but when all the noise has died down, the cheers have faded, and you are alone, that hollow feeling inside will creep in because you took an easier route.
The best victories, the best successes are ones where, like the team in 1945, fought for every damn ball, every goal, every play for the pride of wearing a jumper steeped in history. They did not take the easy road to success because they knew what it meant to rise from adversity. They dug deep, looked at themselves in the mirror and asked their reflection what is it that they wanted.
Now it is your turn. Your turn to look in the mirror and ask your reflection…what is it you want? What do you want to achieve in your profession that affords you a chance to achieve what you have dreamed of achieving since you can remember? Do you want to take the easy road that is hollow and superficial, or do you want to fight for every second and achieve a success that nobody sees coming? Do you want to become a player who, when they put on that navy blue jumper with that emblem in the middle, they fight for every single ball, tackle, mark and possession?
You have a chance to be as the players were in 1945, to become part of a “bloodbath” of a season where you can turn it around from where you stand now. It is in your hands and yours alone. It is not the coaches, or the administrators or even the supporters – but your hands. Don’t listen to the “white noise” prevalent in our world; believe in what you know you can bring to the game in 2021. It is not the end but a beginning. Because if a group of men fresh from a world war can turn around a season where their team was languishing at the bottom, you can too. You just have to want it bad enough and the pride of putting on that navy blue jumper with the emblem in the middle.
I believe you can do it. Now you have to.
Yours in Navy Blue