It was a case of another year, another coach down at Carlton in 2021, with David Teague parting ways with the club at the end of the season despite having 12 months to run on his contract. While key forward Harry McKay would win the Coleman Medal, the Blues were ultimately too easy to score against and it would prove to be the nail in Teague’s coffin.
The club also saw two club legends depart, with Marc Murphy and Eddie Betts retiring at season’s end. While both were undoubtedly in the twilight of their career, it was a sentimental blow for fans on top of the on-field issues.
Despite all of this, there’s always a sense of expectation among the Carlton faithful and the task of righting the ship falls to former Brisbane champion Michael Voss, who enters his second stint as an AFL senior coach.
In: George Hewett, Adam Cerra, Lewis Young, Jesse Motlop, Domanic Akuei
Out: Eddie Betts, Levi Casboult, Marc Murphy, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Michael Gibbons, Sam Ramsay, Liam Jones
Turnovers - 6th
Rebound 50s - 5th
Disposals - 18th
Clearances - 15th
Disposal Efficiency - 16th
Star player: Sam Walsh
Carlton have some seriously good top-end talent, with the likes of Patrick Cripps, Harry McKay and Jacob Weitering on their list, but 21-year-old best and fairest winner Sam Walsh arguably tops the lot.
The former #1 draft pick had a career-best year in 2021, claiming his first All Australian guernsey and polling 30 Brownlow votes to finish fourth - a scary thought considering it was just his third year in the system.
While he’s set to miss at least the first month of 2022 with an ankle injury sustained over the pre-season, there’s no reason the young gun couldn’t further improve and truly stamp himself as one of the competition’s best players - if he hasn’t already.
One to watch: Tom de Koning
Entering his fifth year in the system, De Koning seems primed to take the step from promising tall to a regular player. The Blues have been patient with the man they took with pick #30 in the 2017 National Draft, with De Koning registering 22 games in his five years in the system - 13 of which came in 2021.
Standing at 203cm, De Koning will likely make his mark as a tall forward who pinch hits in the ruck before eventually taking on the mantle of no.1 ruck at the club. Athletic for his size with a great leap, De Koning has all the tools to become a star of the game.
Under pressure: Paddy Dow
In many ways, Dow’s career thus far reflects what’s been going on at Carlton in recent seasons. The #3 pick in the 2018 draft has shown more than enough to excite supporters, but he’s yet to truly establish himself as a bona fide AFL player.
At just 22 years of age, Dow has plenty of time to turn things around and become the player the Blues wanted when taking him ahead of Luke Davies-Uniacke and off-season recruit Adam Cerra. But he must address the concerns around his ball use and improve his consistency if he is to do so.
In short, who knows? Powerbrokers at Carlton always expect the club to be contenders, but in many ways that’s the issue - there’s constant expectation, but it’s not the 1980s anymore and a lack of patience has been a contributor to the club’s issues.
As is almost always the case when a new coach comes on board, the playing group will initially be reinvigorated and you’d expect positive signs early. Off-season recruits George Hewett and Adam Cerra should prove important additions, although the retirement of key defender Liam Jones - who refused to get vaccinated - will be felt by a team who was already prone to giving up big scores.
Five matches to watch
Round 1 vs. Richmond, MCG, Thursday March 17
Round 6 vs. Fremantle, Optus Stadium, Saturday April 23
Round 11 vs. Collingwood, MCG, TBC
Round 12 vs. Essendon, MCG, TBC
Round 23 vs. Collingwood, MCG, TBC
All time games
- Craig Bradley - 375
- Bruce Doull - 356
- Kade Simpson - 342
- John Nicholls - 328
- Stephen Silvagni - 312
All time goals
- Stephen Kernahan - 738
- Harry Vallence - 722
- Brendan Fevola - 575
- Alex Jesaulenko - 424
- Horrie Clover - 396
MOST DISPOSALS: Sam Walsh - 656
MOST TACKLES: Sam Walsh - 100
MOST CLEARANCES: Patrick Cripps - 107
MOST MARKS: Jacob Weitering - 167
MOST GOALS: Harry McKay - 58