The first match of Round Two was filled with trepidation, fear, and uncertainty. This was because Carlton was going up against a previous season Premiership team finalist, the Western Bulldogs.
They lost in round one and wanted to show the footy world that they are, well, a significant contender in season 2022. With their opposition team’s senior coach out of the mix due to AFL Covid Protocols, other coaches out, two players out, the Bulldogs probably figured that Carlton would not be the same team they were against Richmond. They were wrong.
This is not the same team it was in previous seasons. Throughout the game, Carlton was tested, brought to the possibility of being on the brink of losing. They did not capitulate as they would have done in the past, and this all comes down to one thing both on the field and off – DEPTH!
One of the most significant aspects that makes a successful team is depth in their playing group and, as we have seen, depth in the coaching ranks. Carlton came up against a team that most believed would beat them soundly, given their coach would not be in the box. The depth of their coaching team was astounding. Sitting on the bench, I saw Carlton stalwart and AFLW coach Kade Simpson and watched as he advised players coming off the field. I saw how the club rallied together, came out on top, how each allowed the other to do what they did best, both on the field and off. But I also saw how a senior coach allowed those that were placed in charge of steering the game, allowing them to do just that.
This is depth! Depth from all aspects of the club and the team. It was probably one of the most impressive sights in Round Two. But I was to be proven that this, for me, was the second most inspiring sight to see in Round Two. For that came the next night.
I sat glued to my TV screen watching the game between Sydney and Geelong in Sydney. The sheer excitement emanated from the TV screen as “gobsmackingly” watching a player creep slowly towards a major achievement in the game, reaching 1000 goals in a career. The excitement brewed to a “froth” when Buddy Franklin took a mark in the fourth quarter, and on the sixth minute of the game, as he sat on 999 goals, we watched the ball sail through the air and blow apart the air in the goalposts and watched as a crowd swarmed the field.
But what was more astounding was the way Buddy handled the swarm. And what was even more impressive was how after many minutes, the call was made for spectators to please leave the field so the game could continue. Watching this as everyone (except one) respectfully left the field was something that has been talked about around the world. There was no fighting, no demonstrations, no flares, nothing—just an excited group of fans leaving the field to resume the game after celebrating an incredible achievement.
This is the depth of what the essence of this game – footy, has. A depth that permeates throughout the code and what makes it such a unique environment. I don’t suggest for one moment that this happens all the time, but when there is a need, the depth of the substance of what Aussie Rules is all about does come to the fore when needed. We also saw in an interview with Sam Docherty, how the footy world, from all team supporters, players, administrators, came together to raise money for the Peter Mac Cancer Foundation.
We saw depth at the Carlton game, and again after Buddy kicked his 1000th goal. I love this game and love what can be achieved when the word depth becomes a part of the vocabulary.
P.S The image below is one the best tweets I’ve seen in a while!