I sit down and strap myself in – waiting. The equipment checked, making sure all is in place. A button pushed. The sound of motion reverberates, and screams and yells echo. It has begun.
It starts slow, laborious and disappointing. Then momentum begins, and fear takes hold. Then you rise, and as you do, you feel nervous, as trepidation sets in, because you know there is going to be a downside.
There it is. That fear as you slide down, then something happens—a change. You rise again. Excitement brews tingled with a feeling of nervousness as that little voice inside your head that tells you, that you will fall again. But no, you don’t. You glide bumpily to the end.
Then you stop. You stand up, legs shaking, and a feeling of euphoria shows on your face, and you say out loud, ‘What just happened?’
This analogy is how it feels to be a Carlton supporter right now. Where you take a seat in season 2020 that is like a roller-coaster ride, yet you never leave the ground or the safety of your own home (if you can’t get to the matches). That is how it felt like in the game against Sydney on Tuesday 8th September 2020.
Every supporter was pretty flat from the game against GWS and even though our expectations that we were going to beat Sydney, we had that niggling feeling that it could go pear-shaped.
For the first part of the game, that was how it felt. However, the boys dug in and dug in deep. As the minutes counted down, in the end, it became another game where the last few minutes decided the eventual outcome.
It was an ugly, gruesome game to start with and our decision making and inadequate entrance to our forward line, was, as David Teague has said, inefficient and needs some work. Yet despite that, the players never gave up or gave in. This level of grit is something that in previous seasons, would have seen the team falter and get hammered on the scoreboard.
This year is different, and the match on Tuesday night showed that.
They refused to give up or give in, and with little tweaks, when the ride came to a close, we came out winners: ugly, but a win.
If you watch that game again, really from the time of our first goal, two things. TDK! That’s it, just TDK. At only 21, his skills as a ruckman are getting better and better with each game played. As a young ruckman, as he experiences more senior games, his abilities will become more robust, and the mistakes made will disappear as he learns how to handle the pressure.
Matthew Cottrell! Nothing else. Why? Well because a player who has only played five senior games, steps over that line of being unsure, to that line of, yep, I can do this. He flew in the air, taking with him, every supporter. He kicked that goal, bringing with him every supporter. He celebrated in a way, where every supporter celebrated with him. He made a small moment of a game, to become a significant one. Here’s why.
When everything was bleak, Cottrell, pushed aside those around him and leapt into the air making a statement that, ‘This ball is mine!’ The poise to settle himself down and kick that goal shows how far he has come as a senior player and how, at only twenty years old, with more senior games, he will be that extra zing on-field that every club needs.
We may get to the top eight this year, we may not; but either way, season 2021 is looking just that little bit brighter and exciting, and even if some of us, including myself, do not like roller-coasters, this ride, I will go on again.
The only way to celebrate this week, well, I will leave that to Cottrell, for no-one does it better!