1991. The expansion was both in preparation for the admission of the Fremantle Dockers into the competition in 1995 and also as a way of the AFL providing more finals games and hence generating more revenue.
1994 was another year of strong performances from the Blues, but perhaps more famous for our straight sets departure in the finals. With much the same team that fought out the 1993 Grand Final, Carlton was dominant through the season with 15 wins from 22 games.
Coming second, we were the single win away from ladder leaders and eventual premiers West Coast. The fans were excited - we would give some youngsters a go in Matthew Allan, Adrian Whitehead, James Cook and Troy Bond, and had recruited the mature Barry Mitchell to augment our midfield. Other guys to get their first games for the Blues in 1994 included Peter Green and Tony Lynn.
Not only that, it seemed as though Fraser Brown and Brett Ratten were coming of age and able to swap in and our of the centre with 1993 hero Greg Williams. The Blues played an exciting brand of football and looked set to crack September.
But an inspired Melbourne, led by Sean Charles, David Schwarz and Martin Pike, and later an undermanned Geelong, knocked us out in consecutive games to leave us short yet again. In fact, much of the press at the time began to say we were too old and too slow to make it. Despite this commonly held view, Carlton stuck to its guns and largely retained the same list for 1995 - after all, we had come in the Top 2 for successive years so it appeared very little needed to be changed. The only senior casualty was Tom Alvin, who would retire at the end of the season after 218 games for Carlton.
Little did the press realise that these losses would drive the Blues onwards & upwards to Premiership success in 1995. The development of Anthony Koutoufides and the recruitment of Brad Pearce and Matt Clape didn't hurt either...
Coach: David Parkin (4th year in succession)
Leading Goal-kicker: Stephen Kernahan - 82 goals
Best & Fairest: Greg Williams
Adrian Whitehead, Troy Bond, James Cook, Peter Green, Matthew Allan
Debuts (Carlton): Brad Pearce, Barry Mitchell, Dean Rice, Tony Lynn
Brownlow Medal: Greg Williams