The Carlton Football Club last won its AFL premiership in 1995. The victory on that September afternoon was spearheaded by coach David Parkin and skipper Stephen Kernahan. It is also interesting to note that Carlton’s best and fairest was won that year by none other than Brett Ratten.
How ironic that, with Kernahan now in charge in as club president and Ratten as the senior coach, they are now parting company.
While it can be argued that the Blues have underperformed in 2012, compared to their high expectations, there are valid reasons for this perceived failure.
Not the least including the continued absence of key personnel through injury and suspension at critical points through the season. This was certainly not aided by consecutive losses to the Eagles and Cats by less than two goals after seemingly being in control of both matches at various stages.
On the face of it, the Blues’ 11-10 record, with a winnable match this Sunday against the Saints, is hardly a disastrous year.
The way Carlton has overreacted to the defeat to the Gold Coast Suns is frightful.
The truth is the Suns are an improving team, and the fact that in six of their ten matches at Metricon this season, they either have recorded victories or suffered narrow defeats by less than three goals, defeats which happen to include matches against current finalists Geelong, North Melbourne and Fremantle.
As it turns out, the 12-point defeat to the Suns wouldn’t have mattered anyway, for had the Blues managed to claim the four points, the Dockers win over the Kangaroos was enough to end the finals chase once and for all.
Let’s remember that the Carlton board saw fit for Brett Ratten to be reappointed as Carlton’s coach for two more years after last season’s campaign.
While it is fair to say the club has struggled in certain matches this season, the act of pulling the pin on Ratten’s coaching career is 12 months premature, and could even be considered as just an act of cowardice.
It appears the Carlton board has fallen for the notion of the grass being greener on the other side.
Who is to say the next coach, no matter whoever he may be, can produce a result any better than Brett Ratten?
He has taken a side that was uncompetitive in most matches, upon his appointment as full time coach in 2008, and turned the team around. In four of his five completed seasons, Carlton has produced at least a fifty percent winning ratio.
The Blues fans can now expect to be competitive in most matches, and even challenge the superpowers. An example is the twin victories over Collingwood this year.
The decision to end Ratten’s coaching career, a full year before his contract was due to expire, is just the Carlton board falling victim to the continued media hype, and the perceived idea that Mick Malthouse and Mark Thompson are miracle workers.
Simply put, premierships are extremely hard to win in this era, so much so that to be a consistently competitive side and making finals is considered success in today’s game.
For Brett Ratten to be cast aside after his team won eleven matches this year is a travesty that should never have happened, and the Blues may live to regret this decision, just as they eventually did when appointing another experienced coach in Denis Pagan a decade ago.
That venture failed miserably, and the lesson that should have been learned by Carlton is that no matter what a coach’s previous record is like, to come to a new club is never a guarantee of success.
The monetary cost of paying out Ratten’s contract and hiring the new coach is not a wise investment. But more importantly, stabbing a club legend in the back is a disgraceful way to end Ratten’s tenure as coach, and he will have every right to never return to the Club again.
One hopes for Carlton’s sake it does not miss the finals next year, or the loyal supporters of Brett Ratten may never forgive those who acted in error.