2009 SummaryIt is fair to say that after a vastly improved performance in 2008 with an additional 6 wins, Carlton fans and players alike entered Season 2009 with a quiet confidence for finals football. Although the 11th in 2008 was still in the bottom rungs of the ladder, Carlton were only 2 wins off 6th place and had beaten 3 Top 8 teams in the second half of the year. In fact we'd hit the Top 8 for the first time since 2001, but only fleetingly.
The hopes of Blues fans were further buoyed by the recruitment of Robert Warnock, who although young and inexperienced, would not only become Carlton's equal tallest player ever but would add to our ability to mitigate one clear weak spot from 2008 - the Ruck, where we came 16th for hit-outs. Add the new fitness of Captain Chris Judd, and the possible development of youngsters Murphy, Gibbs, Kreuzer, Bower, Jamison, Grigg and Hampson, and Carlton's young list of previous years were considered ready to launch an assault on the Top 8.
It certainly began well enough, with 2 spirited victories to open the year over Richmond and then against Brisbane. Close but frustrating losses to the Bombers and Swans would follow, before a smashing of Top 4 aspirant the Bulldogs really got the excitement flowing. The ups and downs continued, with close losses to Hawthorn and Fremantle but a big smashing over Collingwood and a great away win over Brisbane.
At the half way mark the season continued to hold much promise. While the 'odd' odd Carlton fan thought we should have done better (and there were probably a few who thought we had overperformed), the Blues turned in 4th spot (6 and 5) but in a year where you could throw a blanket over 3rd to 14th, anything looked like it was possible. A smashing at the hands of Essendon didn't help, but 3 wins of the trot - the first time we'd done this since 2004 - helped us to 9 and 7 with 6 rounds to go. In those 3 wins we finally broke our drought against Sydney, for the first time since 2001.
Three weeks later another losing streak was broken, an upset victory over Geelong saw our first win over them since 2004, and then our third straight win over Port confirmed our first finals appearence since 2001. Strong late season form continued with 4 wins in a row to Round 21 - the first time we'd achieved that since 2001 - before a final round thrashing at the hands of the Crows.
But finals would await the Blues - the first time since 2001! The excitement was immense, despite being stationed up North against the Lions. An epic Elimination Final, with many lead changes and heroics on either side, were somewhat lost in the disappointment of a final quarter fadeout...
Alas, the Blues were back and would look forward to Season 2010 with a bunch of young players still proving themselves, a fully fit Waite and Warnock to look forward to and with a vast improvement behind them.
People of 2009Captain : Chris Judd
Vice Captain : Nick Stevens
Leadership Group : Brendan Fevola, Heath Scotland, Kade Simpson, Brad Fisher, Andrew Carrazzo
Coach : Brett Ratten
Leading Goalkicker: Brendan Fevola
Best and Fairest : Chris Judd
MilestonesJohn Coleman Medallist : Brendan Fevola
All Australians : Brendan Fevola, Chris Judd
Debuts : Jeffery Garlett, Sam Jacobs, Aaron Joseph, Mitch Robinson, Chris Yarran
Debuts (Carlton) : Chris Johnson, Greg Bentley
500 Goals : Brendan Fevola
100 Goals : Ryan Houlihan, Eddie Betts
100 Games : Kade Simpson, Nick Stevens (Carlton)
50 Games : Setanta Ó hAilpín, Bryce Gibbs
50 Games (AFL) : Richard Hadley, Cameron Cloke
50 Goals : Kade Simpson, Marc Murphy
50 Goals (AFL) : Nick Stevens
Rising Star Nominee : Aaron Joseph
Retirement : Nick Stevens