What was gained on the weekend…

Photo courtesy of AFL

On the way to the game on Sunday, I bumped into three friends; one was a Carlton supporter, the other two went for Collingwood. I turned to the Collingwood supporters and asked the question, ‘what happened?’ They both replied that Collingwood, well, are shit and more than likely will win the wooden spoon. I said that one of the biggest mistakes the club had made was during the draft period, and they both said, getting rid of Adam Treloar. I agreed completely, for it was a knee-jerk reaction to a situation at that club where they had to ensure that they didn’t go over the salary cap. Collingwood lost out, Western Bulldogs gained.

Also, on the weekend, I saw the headlines of a newspaper article stating that a certain ex-coach wrote that Patrick Cripps has been a ‘shadow of himself this year’. He genuinely believes that he has the insight on how to treat this ‘off-form’ player, basing it on his own experience as a coach. Now I lost all respect for this coach when he was hired off the back of a knee-jerk reaction by the then Carlton Board getting rid of Brett Rattan, knowing that the coach they wanted to replace him was, yep, Mick Malthouse.

I have no respect for him and his viewpoints or in his supposedly ‘constructive’ insights into our club that he helped in setting us back years. Let’s backtrack a little. When Ratts was booted out of the club, and Malthouse hired, I disagreed but was willing to see how it played out. Things looked, well, pretty decent for a while until star players wanted out of the club, and we started losing. The final nail in the coffin was after he had reached his milestone of being the coach who had coached the most number of games. With his contract up at the end of the season, I was listening to an interview with him on the way to work, and he basically threw down the gauntlet – either (he said) the club either hires me or fires me.

He knew full well that given this and how the club was faring, they would not solidify an ongoing contract. He knew that by stating a blatant and very aggressive ultimatum, the club would sack him. Which they did.

The timing of this was, to say the least, to suspect to believe anything else than other he was miffed (a tame word) that he could not reach that target at Collingwood and connived his way into becoming the coach at Carlton to achieve his ultimate goal. For why did he say what he said just after the game when the record was won? That ‘knee-jerk’ reaction took the club not two steps backwards but many steps back after he was sacked. The supporters lost its club for Malthouse distanced the players from those that mattered the most at any club. its supporters. With him then gone, we lost our stability but gained the club back to the supporters.

Knee-jerk reactions at a club in any sport are a huge gamble, just like playing roulette at the casino. You put your chips on a number and color, hope for the while ball to drop into where you want, but the odds are so against this happening. Knee-jerk reactions only serve to dismantle a club and its culture, and therefore its participant’s belief in the system they are in. Right now at Carlton, the system is stable, solid. What has been gained is that players are starting to believe in what is happening at the club; its systems, its processes and its culture.

At the game against Essendon, despite being behind after the first quarter, at no stage did the players give up. The game could have gotten out of control, but it didn’t. Instead of falling behind the play, they, none of them, gave in and put themselves front and center. They took advantage of the gaps in Essendon’s gameplay and used it, scoring goals, especially in the third quarter when we piled on six goals to their four, and after piling on four goals in the second to be only two points behind.

After the game against Brisbane Lions, people came out and blatantly said that Teague needs to go and go now! After only being at the helm for just one-and-a-half years, the club must not, and it will not make knee-jerk reactions that will send a club spiraling downwards, making it harder and harder to climb back up. We have to ensure that stability is paramount at the club for the players and for the club’s growth. This will come only when all the cogs of the footy team work together in a system that while not easy, is fraught with both disappointment and utter joy. Stability allows a group of people to become a team for each other, not just themselves. Author Stephen King said that ‘talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.’ Babe Ruth, a legend in the baseball world, said, ‘the way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.’

The Carlton FC has the makings of becoming a club that plays as a whole that will bask in the glory of its successes. From its players to the coaches, to the admins and the supporters. By working hard to ensure stability and consistency, not giving in to historical knee-jerk reactions and building a group of players who play for each other will determine our success. We may have a few ‘stars’ in our group, but given the culture at the club right now, those stars know and understand what it is going to take to achieve that success.

Photo courtesy of AFL

We will lose some games, and we will win some, but we have to stop going off the diving board into a pool of thorns when things don’t pan out the way we want. We have to work hard, allow for growth and know that stability at the club will bring us the success we all want. Hard work, self-belief and knowing that the team play for each other will get us there. We gained this on the weekend.