2006 SummaryCarlton began the 2006 year as the reigning wooden-spooners and were expected to have a considerable mountain to climb to improve their performances to that required by the competition - and Carlton teams of old. The 2005 wooden spoon had, however, provided Carlton with the prized #1 draft pick, which it would use to pick up the highly talented Marc Murphy. Having won just 4 games in 2005, plus the draw against Port Power, it was granted access to a priority pick, also giving it the #4 pick, which would be used on key position player Josh Kennedy. A new emphasis on maximising the talent available in the draft would also give it Paul Bower at pick 20 and Jake Edwards at pick 36.
As far as experience goes, the Blues recruited Jason Saddington, a 142 game defender from the Sydney Swans, who it was hoped would provide an additional tall defensive option. He was recovering from a knee reconstruction and continued to experience problems with his knee, playing just 7 games. Dylan McLaren was recruited from the Brisbane Lions through the Pre-Season Draft as a back up ruckman. He played 13 of the first 14 games but spent the remainder of the season in the VFL. Irish hurling champion Setanta Ó hAilpín was elevated from the Rookie List and played the last 10 games, showing steady improvement and signs that the Irish experiment might pay off in 2007.
The Blues' defence of its 2005 Pre-season premiership would be short lived, going down to eventual Pre-Season Premiers Geelong in the first round. It would then play a series of practice matches, with an initial thrashing at the hands of Port Adelaide, followed by close wins against West Coast and the Bulldogs. Details of the 2006 Pre-Season can be found here.
2006 would see Carlton earn its third Wooden Spoon (and second in succession) with only 3 wins and a draw. The Blues appeared to employ a more defensive mindset, typical of the competition at the time, which revolved around greater possession, particularly in defence. As a result of this, there were fewer 'big' losses and a number of games in which Carlton was competitive for much of the game but a lapse for a quarter would prove costly. There were games in which it was in a winning position but could just not do enough to score victory against the better, more experienced teams. 7 of its losses were by under 20 points. The average losing margin in 2006 (38 points) was the lowest since 2002. It won or drew as many quarters as 2004, when it won 10 games, the most since 2001.
Lance Whitnall had an excellent year and took out the Best and Fairest. He was rewarded with the acting captaincy while skipper Anthony Koutoufides missed 4 weeks with a hand injury. He along with the other team leaders Matthew Lappin and Nick Stevens would find the going tough. Heath Scotland played his best year of AFL footy and had the second highest disposals and kicks in the competition. But perhaps the biggest highlight was the form of Brendan Fevola, who kicked a League high 84 goals to become the first Carlton player to win the John Coleman Medal since 1961, marking an amazing turnaround from 2005. He alone kicked a third of Carlton's goals and was 64 ahead of second highest goal kicker Eddie Betts (who kicked 20). But the Blues otherwise struggled to match it with their stronger opponents for skill and size. 2006 did see the emergence of Kade Simpson, Andrew Walker, Luke Blackwell and Setanta Ó hAilpín. Marc Murphy had an outstanding debut season until its untimely end with a shoulder injury in Round 13. Toward the end of the season, a number of youngsters would debut including Paul Bower and rookies Jesse Smith and Ryan Jackson.
At the time, the dream remained that the youth on the list would come through to provide the new face of the Carlton Football Club and a supreme lift in the not-too-distant future.
People of 2006Captain: Anthony Koutoufides
Coach: Denis Pagan
Leading Goal-kicker and John Coleman Medal: Brendan Fevola - 84 goals
Best & Fairest: Lance Whitnall
All Australian: Brendan Fevola
Milestones250 Games: Anthony Koutoufides
200 Games: Lance Whitnall
100 AFL Games: Heath Scotland
50 AFL Games: Brad Fisher; Trent Sporn, Dylan McLaren (46 with Brisbane)
50 Games (Carlton): Nick Stevens, Heath Scotland, Cory McGrath, David Teague
Debuts: Marc Murphy, Josh Kennedy, Luke Blackwell, Jesse Smith, Paul Bower, Ryan Jackson
Debuts (Carlton): Dylan McLaren, Jason Saddington
Retirements: Barnaby French, Adrian Deluca