With the Grand Final played and won, the long dark no-football months of summer lie in wait for us. In an effort to bring some light to this miserable time, The Pinch Hitters intend to take a look back at the season that was and celebrate the great moments of season 2018. Today we shine a spotlight on Carlton. A season to forget for the Blues didn’t prevent them from creating unforgettable moments. Lets count down the Top Five.
5. Record Membership
Despite enduring a long and arduous season on-field, which saw the club collect its fifth wooden spoon, there was some fantastic news off-field. Carlton fans displayed their faith in the team with the club experiencing an 11.4% increase in Membership Numbers which resulted in a record total of 56,005. To reward the fans faith the Blues announced that members who renewed in 2019 would receive a free upgrade on their membership package.
4. Stars, signed and secured.
The club has assembled an impressive list of young talent in recent seasons with 12 players on the list under the age of 23 and taken with pick 16 or better in the AFL draft. Acquiring the players is just one step of the program, with retaining them much more important and it was to this end that the Blues were very successful in 2018. Patrick Cripps, Charlie Curnow, Marc Murphy, Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien, Zac Fisher, just a small list of the stars that have been resigned and secured by Carlton during the year.
3. Cripps’ Star continues to rise
Patrick Cripps was herculean in a team that had a disastrous campaign. Setting a single season record for contested possessions, Cripps was also top five in clearances and possessions, prompting many to have been convinced he was a good thing to become just the third man to win the Brownlow from the Wooden Spoon team. He would ultimately finish fourth which was a just reward for a stellar season.
In a year full of outstanding performances, he saved his best for a game against the old enemy Collingwood. Against the high-flying Pies, Cripps nearly dragged his team over the line with a three goal, 29 possession game. Ferocious at the contest, 20 of his possessions were contested, he also won seven clearances and laid nine tackles in one of the best individual efforts by any player in 2018.
2. Simmo joins the 300 Club
Already a much loved figure of the Carlton Football Club, it was no surprise that Kade Simpson’s 300th game was celebrated with vigour by Blues fans. Just the fifth man behind John Nicholls, Bruce Doull, Craig Bradley and Stephen Silvagni, to play 300 for the foundation club, he joined an elite club when he took the field against Port Adelaide in Round 15.
While it would not be the fairytale result for Simpson, it was not for lack of trying on his behalf. The 34-year-old was his usual rock solid self across halfback, collecting a game high 37-disposal as he broke up countless Port Adelaide attacks in trademark performance.
1. Preventing Essendon from Playing Finals
Blues fans’ patience was tested as their team started the season with a seven game losing streak but for many fans, an upset victory over Essendon in Round Eight made the wait all worth while. Dale Thomas played one of his best games since transferring from Carlton, Patrick Cripps was a bull and Charlie Curnow kicked three goals as the Blues earned a well deserved season opening victory. While victory over an old enemy leaves a taste to be savoured, it became even sweeter for Blues fans when it proved to be the difference between Essendon making the finals or watching from the sidelines in September.