The biggest development of this season was the appointment of Jack Worrall, retired Fitzroy champion and former test cricketer, as the club's Secretary. Worrall insisted on total control of the Blues, and became the club's (and league football's) first coach. He was highly successfull, and after winning only 2 games in 1901, the club won seven games in 1902 built around Worrall's core values of discipline, teamwork and dedication.
The season started where 1901 had left off. After losing its last 12 games of the previous season, the Blues only managed 1 win (against the previous years wooden spooners, St Kilda) in the first seven rounds. Gone from the previous season were the 50 point plus blowouts, and Worrall had the club on the right track. In fact, the turnaround was so dramatic that Carlton would only lose one of its next six games, and that by only 3 points to Melbourne in round 11. In the last 4 games, the club only managed one win, but that included a one goal loss to Essendon in final round of the home and away season.
In the end the Blues would finish sixth in 1902, two games and over 30% behind Melbourne in fourth place. The true story of the year, however, wasn't wins and losses, or ladder positions, it was that Worrall had turned the ship around, and would make Carlton the most powerful club of the decade. Although Carlton would have just endured 6 years out of the finals (our longest until matched in the 21st century), Carlton would play finals football every remaining year of the decade, and would make 6 Grand Finals (including five in a row), for three consecutive wins in 1906, 1907 & 1908.
Carlton had begun its arrival as a VFL power.
Practice MatchesCarlton played Carlton Juniors at the Old Phoenix Ground in Royal Park on April 12
Carlton vs Essendon TownCarlton played Essendon Town in a practice match at Princes Park on April 26
Backs; Barlow, Thompson, Dunn
Half backs; Pettit, Watson, Powell
Centres; Rolands, McShane, Dashmond
Half forwards; Gardiner, Walton, Dowling
Forwards; Pye, Wickins, O'Connor
Followers; J. Walsh, McShane
Carl. 0.4 2.7 3.7 6.7.43
E. T. 0.0 0.3 1.5 2.10.22
Goals; McShane 2, Walton, Dashmond, Powell
Best; The McShane brothers from Geelong
Castlemaine VisitOn 28 June Carlton visited Castlemaine and played the local team.
The Blues arrived by express train on Friday night where they were met by officers of the Castlemaine District Association. The team stayed at the Imperial Hotel. On Saturday morning they were given a reception by the mayor at the Town Hall.
The match took place at the Camp Reserve, and Carlton won by the narrowest of margins 3.9 to Castlemaine 3.8
The team was driven in coaches around the Mt. Alexander district on Sunday before returning to Melbourne.
PeopleCaptain: Joe Sullivan (rds 1,2,6 and 7) and Joe McShane. Bill McNamara and Paddy Noonan also acted as captain throughout the year.
Coach: Jack Worrall
Leading Goal-Kicker: Fred Webber - 11 goals
MilestonesDebuts: Sam Stivey, Pat McNulty, Wal McKenzie, Charlie O'Connor, Andrew Dougall, George Topping, Herb Hainsworth, Fred Webber, Jim Martin, Barney Lazarus, Jim Opie, Gordon Ross, Chris Ryan, Fred Scott, Charlie Tough, Paddy Leahy, Tom Fox, Rob Dashwood, George Wickens, Archie Snell, John McFarlane, Tom Watson, Joe McShane, Henry Crisfield
New PlayersGough and Hardiman - Geelong Juniors; McAnulty - Parkville; West - Fitzroy Juniors; Delaney - Albury; Marron - St.Francis Xavier's College Kew (a cousin of Henry Young the Geelong captain); Newbound - Collingwood Juniors; Cullen - Leopold; E. J. Kennedy - Essendon (wingman); White and Eastman - Carlton Juniors; Strong and Pitt - Parkville Juniors; O'Keefe and Walsh who will be remembered as having played for Carlton two seasons back. (Herald May 04 p4)