1976 Summary1976 was an amazing year for Carlton, a year of peaks and troughs, and a year of 'oh so close'. It started with a 57 point thumping of Hawthorn in round 1 to see the Blues sit on top of the ladder. In fact, Carlton would commence the season with seven consecutive wins by an average winning margin of 39 points. This great start put the club on top of the ladder until round 9.
Amazingly, after so many convincing victories to start the year, the club would then lose its next 5 games between rounds 8 and 12. It as an amazing form turnaround for the club, who had dominated the competition in the first seven weeks with 5 wins by 40 points or more. The losing streak had also dropped the club from the top of the ladder to third, 3 games behind leader Hawthorn.
Carlton then had another amazing reversal of fortunes, and would not lose another home and away game for the season. and then 9 consecutive wins. The club would win 9 games straight from round 13 before drawing its last match against Footscray. While this winning run contained two close victories (by a goal or less), it also included some huge victories, the best being against Richmond in round 17 by 83 points and against St Kilda in round 19 by 101 points. The average winning margin of the last four of these wins was over 68 points.
The Blues had finished off the year with 58 points out of a possible 60, and this great form saw them back on top of the ladder to finish the home and away season. Carlton had earnt a week break, and would play Hawthorn in the first Semi Final after the Hawks had beaten North Melbourne in the Qualifying Final. The Blues late season form, combined with the fact that Carlton had beaten Hawthorn in both Rounds 6 and 17, would have seen the club entering the match with great confidence. Inaccurate kicking in the first half cost the team, but they still managed a 4 point lead at half-time. A 5 goal to 2 third quarter established a mathcing winning lead for the Hawks, who would go on to win 12.15 (87) to 9.16 (70).
Luckily the Blues had the double chance from finishing on top of the ladder, and would go on to meet North Melbourne in the Preliminary Final. While the Roos were the reigning champions, Carlton had reason for confidence on the back of its late season form and a sound victory against North in Round 21. The Blues were marginally the better side for most of the day, but failed to take their chances with inaccurate kicking again. By the last break the club led by 2 points, having been in front at every change. North would kick 3 goals straight in the last term to 2.3, stealing the match by a solitary point (10.7 67 to 9.12 66).
Carlton were officially classified third, and but for 2 runs of poor form during the season, they had been the form team. Another missed opportunity.
People of 1976Captain: Alex Jesaulenko
Coach: Ian Thorogood
Leading Goal-kicker: Robert Walls - 55 goals
Best & Fairest: Trevor Keogh
For a team list from a Record of the day, click here.
MilestonesDebuts: Trevor Fletcher, Peter Brown, Jim Buckley, Leigh McConnon, Tony Pickett
Debuts (Carlton): Kevin Heath