Let me say this straight off. I am under no illusion as to where the club is at the moment and where it will end up by the end of the season. I don’t expect us to light up the season this year, as I expect us to grow and develop our playing group and to hone in our ability to dig deep and become a successful team and club on game day when the need arises. We are not there yet, but we are getting there.
Now I don’t want to hear from people who tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about or that I am wearing rose coloured glasses and am blind to reality. Here is my response.
1 – David Teague.
Let’s be perfectly clear on this. David Teague’s coaching position is not under threat. He was appointed senior coach at the beginning of what was a horrible year in our lives. In 2020 he was given the reins of the job and then began to shape the team and club in the way that he believes will provide us with that success. Now, after one and half years, there are calls for him to be sacked. So let’s delve a little deeper here and understand reality.
Alistair Clarkson was appointed Senior Coach at Hawthorn in 2005. In his first year, the club won five games. In his second, they won nine. Third, fourteen and in 2008, they won their first Premiership, and we all know what they went on to achieve in future years.
So it took Clarko three years to achieve the success he was intent on building. So why are we asking our Coach to do what Clarko took three years to accomplish in one and a half?
Then there is Damian Hardwick. He started coaching in 2010. They won the Premiership in 2017. It took Hardwick seven years, repeat, seven years to get the team to a point where they won a Premiership.
If you look at his record as a coach, in 2010, the team won six games. 2011, eight, 2012, ten. The club became known as the “finishing ninth again” team. Why are we asking our Coach to do what Hardwick has done in one and a half years, what Richmond achieved in seven years?
This then leads on to point two.
2 – Our History.
Carlton has been a club that has been steeped in the history of this game. It has been one that has been full of raging success, yet in 2002 the AFL found Carlton had breached salary cap protocols during the 2000 and 2001 season. Not only were they fined a substantial amount of money that was then the highest ever given until the Essendon drug scandal. They were then stripped of early draft picks for not one year but two. In 2003 Carlton was given a priority draft pick where the club picked up the magnificent Andrew Walker, but the damage to the club had already been done.
It was not the club of choice for most players, and given that for two years, they were denied the chance to secure top draftees to grow and develop them for the future. This has an enormous effect on the club’s future.
Now do not say that well, Essendon seems to be coping ok after their drug scandal. And you would be correct, except that you are not. For that club did not then go through what my third point.
3 – Sackings/Hirings/Sackings/Hirings/Sackings/Hiring.
In 2012 Brett Rattan was sacked, and in a very arrogant move by the club, they hired a coach, who while was a Premiership one, really had an ulterior motive in becoming a coach, which the club found out during his third year. Now I have said this before but will repeat it again. After achieving his record as someone who holds the record for the number of games coached, he threw down a gauntlet and before his third year had expired, he challenged Carlton to either fire him or re-sign him! I know this because I heard it on the radio on my way to work that day. Now, what decent person who has the best interests of the club in mind says that? Only someone who is so self-centred that they are blind to the needs of the club.
We all know the outcome, as he was fired, and John Barker took over, but the damage to the club was done. Star players left, supporters were left feeling shoved out of the club. It was not a place that experienced players really wanted to be at.
Then in 2016, Brendon Bolton was hired. Given his time at the club, he did the one thing that needed to be done. He began to rebuild both at a player level and fan-based as well. He gave the club back to the fans and started the rebuild of the team. With this, we gained players in our group who are going to be greats of the game.
I had met Bolts several times during his tenure at the club, and I always felt him approachable and warm. But as the days and games wore on, I saw cracks, and this was proven when I met him again in a game in Tasmania. He was cold, distant and somewhat aggressive in his manner. I then saw him during the game, where he seemed out of depth.
Then in mid-2019, he was sacked, and David Teague took over and eventually signed as senior Coach for the club.
What does this mean for a group? It means these sackings and hirings bring instability at a club and to a group of people who intend to build success. All these sackings and hiring’s do not allow players to just continue and not be bothered by the changes, for they do cause ripples in the flow of stability, and they do take time to settle. Why are we then expecting a coach who has only been at the helm for one and a half years actually suddenly wave his hands and boom, instant success.
4 – What we can’t do and what we must do.
We cannot, repeat cannot keep thinking that the club that was once was will be again. It won’t happen. We cannot keep thinking that it has been so long since the club has seen anything resembling success if you look at what the past twenty years have been for us. We cannot keep thinking that to sack another coach will bring success, given the past twenty years. It won’t; it never will. We must insist on stability within the club, which means giving a coach, who I firmly believe can give this club some semblance of success, a chance to do just that. We cannot and must not keep going down the path of instability that has been a part of this club.
We must do something that, for most, seems to be a hill too big to climb. We have to give the club just a little bit more time to provide the club and the players’ stability that will only see growth. We are only in round ten, and with each and every match played, we will grow and become stronger both physically and mentally.
5 – Finally
I do see where the club is right now and what it can be. Stop with this need to sack and fire, get rid of players and coaches when if you look back to what we have been through, we ain’t that bad! Stop with these statements that you will not be a member or attend games because of where the club is right now. In the words of a legend of English football manager who took Liverpool to such great success, Bill Shankly said, ‘if you can’t support us when we lose or draw, don’t support us when we win.’ He also said that ‘a lot of football is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are.’ Carlton will not have that mindset if we keep going down the path of continually asking legitimate coaches and players to get sacked. We have to understand what the club has been through in the past twenty years and know that where we are heading right now is where we will achieve success. History has shown that it can be done. We just have to wait just a little bit longer. But given what we have been through in the past twenty years, this may be a big ask for some, but hey, the end result will make the past fade into a very distant place.
It can be done; it has shown that it can be done.