Every year since 2001, every Carlton supporter has gone down a dark and gloomy road from the scandal that rocked the club to the turning over of five coaches in ten years. We have played out the demise of this great and one of the oldest clubs in the AFL world in the pages of history that have not been that kind to us. We have seen amazing players who should have more to their resumes than what they left with and while we have seen some success, there has not been much.
We have seen how each and every time a coach gets tossed out, there is a promise that the next one will get this club to where it needs to be. And through all of this, supporters, real, true die-hard, bleed blue, supporters have stuck by the club. For the past twenty years, we have played as a victim of a circumstance that was not of the supporters doing, and it is they who have suffered the most in this regard. I am tired of playing the victim as it is not one that I subscribe to in my life in any way shape or form, and the club as a whole, in its entirety, also needs to stop playing the victim and stop with the talk and get with the action.
This year, we have seen the club succumb once more to being in the realm of the media in all forms, not for the right reasons, and the club has again had the dark clouds loom over Ikon Park. We have been fractured and split. Yet we have seen maybe a glimmer of sunshine amongst the dark clouds with the change of a CEO, a President, some of the Board and more importantly, the Head Coach and the assistants. Yet even though we have once more gone down the road of sackings, and they were massive ones, the glimmer lies in that maybe, just maybe, it is right this time. But no one, not even Luke Sayers, can comfortably state that all of what happened in the past, is now behind us, with any firm commitment. For some, it is words that have been said before, and there needs to be action, not rhetoric.
Sure, there have been massive changes at the club, and hopefully, they will be for the better and get this club back to where it belongs – at the top. Sure, we have the playing depth that can hopefully garnish success but saying it is vastly different from actually showing it. I am not someone who will go along with the crowd that state that the changes made will ensure success when there is not one person in the world who can guarantee that in this sense, with absolute certainty. And those who do hold some scepticism are fully entitled to harbour that. Does that mean they are any less supporters or supportive of the club and the team – absolutely NOT! They are still fully paid-up members, supporters, fans, die-hard, bleed navy blue people. But they want to see the change, not just hear it. They want to see that the Board will do precisely what it must do – support the players, the coaches and those around them to ensure that one thing and one thing only must be achieved – success. They want to see that even if obstacles and bumps in the road thwart this journey, that they will back all those involved to the very end. You can talk the talk, but you need to walk the walk to garnish any real credibility, and that starts with drawing a line in the sand of our past and say “ENOUGH!” Right here and now, the rise of the Carlton FC begins, and we will not allow our past twenty years to dictate our future. Do that and show that, and I can guarantee one thing – those hesitant supporters will not be anymore. Only then can we stop playing the victim of our past and become a success for the now and the future.
A video on YouTube has summed up the past twenty years of our club, and if you watch it, you could be sad and angry with what has happened, but now we have a chance to put that back into the basement of history to gather dust, where it belongs. We now have to cross that line from the past and look ahead to the future. It does not come with concrete guarantees, but it will come with a chance to heal and move forward with pride in the Navy Blue. This has to be something that everyone at the club, from the Board to the grounds people, have to get behind, fully and completely. Because without that, we will keep running on a wheel that just does not stop. We have to stop and stop now.
We have to step over that line of the past and concentrate on the possibilities of what the future could hold for the club. It starts not with words, not with changes within the club, but with a determination that these changes will be the foundation of eventual success. It begins with action on the field and the culture within the club. Do that, and our past will gather dust in the realms of history. If not, then the cycle will continue, and all that would have changed would be just the changing faces of people.
I am hopeful, cautiously, but hopeful. But never doubt for one second that I will not continue to support the club or pay my membership or go to games wherever they may be, but I am one of those who is tired of words and want to see action. Not in particular areas, but across the entire club, which means action in changing our culture to one of pride of representing the Navy Blue no matter if you are a player or an administrator.
The heart of our club lies in its history of success, not in the history of the past twenty years, especially the last ten. It’s time to reignite that and collectively walk over that line of being a victim to being a success. That is what I want to see.