The game over the weekend had me going on a roller coaster ride that started off simple enough and then led to the most nerve-racking, heart-stopping, stressful ride I had been a part of for a very long time. My husband took a photo of me lying on the floor, I was exhausted mentally, and it seemed that the floor was the only place where I felt calm. After a while, I had calmed down enough to celebrate a win. Because, as said before, a win is a win, is a win.
However, this match proves what most have been saying for a while – we need to play four quarters, not blow out the first-half lead, then go missing for the rest of the game only to fight to the bitter end for a positive result. We cannot be in any finals contention if this is our mindset. Do I think that all is doom and gloom – no. In the past, we would have lost these games; instead, we fought hard to get it back to a win.
I spoke to a guy at a shop over the weekend who is a Carlton supporter, and he said that while he loved the win, he is still not 100% onboard the new Carlton. I told him that he would be correct if this was previous years, but we are not one and four, but four and one.
Yes, the wins have been hard-fought after taking the lead, but they are still wins. I do not subscribe to the notion that the state of the ladder now will be the determining factor after the bye rounds. Those clubs in the middle of the ladder are the ones who will learn more from their mistakes than those floundering at the bottom or taking a decidedly unbeatable lead.
From now and until the bye, sustaining a certain high level of playing ability takes a toll on the body of any player of any game. Those teams that fight harder to win no matter what the scores are during the match become the team that will grow in stature during a game because they will be guided and grow under the tutelage of the coaches. This will sustain them for the rest of the season. It will allow a team to spread their depth in their game over four quarters and not try and blitz an opponent all at the beginning, then fade out towards the end.
Some may not agree, but this is my view, and history has shown that a team in the position that Melbourne is in right now does not win a Premiership. It is those teams who fight during the season to get to the point where this fight for a win becomes second nature and one that sustains them in every match.
So yes, we won – just. Yes, we gave up a substantial lead. Yes, we managed to hang on. Yes, we need to play all quarters and not just a few. But yes, this will click in because if we had been one and four, the despair would creep into the players being, and they might not believe they could achieve any semblance of success. But at four and one, they do believe and will learn from this with each game played.
This weekend will be a massive test for the players, given they are playing interstate and against a team that is also in the same position we are in. The team that plays all four quarters with the same intensity throughout will win the game. I know Carlton can do it, but I will be happy with a win, no matter the margin. But I would rather not have to worry about where the nearest defib is near me while watching the game!