On Wednesday 29th November, I attended the Carlton Members Forum. On the panel were Andrew McKay, Head of Football; Emily Pilling, GM of Consumer and Marketing; Simon Kelleher, CFO and Mark LoGuidice, President and we were introduced to our new CEO, Cain Liddle. We also were introduced to the newbies of the AFL team by Bolts and Murph and to the newbies of the AFLW team by Damien Keeping and Lauren Arnell.
For the men’s team, it was really exciting to see what we have picked up to replace those that have left, been de-listed and to fill in the gaps that we have lacked. Bolts talked about culture in the club, in the team and the need to ensure that we become a team with depth and a passion for playing for the Navy Blue. Of how we are now starting to get the team that will take us forwards and upwards. Keeping spoke about how the women’s competition is vastly becoming one of the major highlights in the footy calendar and seeing that women are now starting to see that they can make a career out of a sport that was once closed to them. The acceptance of the women playing this great game was voiced by one member who said that he felt proud that when he attended a match at the beginning of the year, that a friend of his, yelled to the opponents “get off her!”.
After all this, we heard from Liddle about what he sees as the future for Carlton in terms of growth both on the field and off. How that he will try and make Carlton a great club again with memberships not stagnating but growing.
It was then left to the members to field questions to the panel and it is here that I wish to address. There are far too many “supporters” who are members who keep going on and on and on and on and on and on (you get the picture) about what was in the past. They go on about how come we lost some major players to other clubs (yes, even Fevola was mentioned), and wanted assurances from the panel and the Board that this would not happen again. There was a question, no a statement made by a few who wanted the Board to resign due to it being more of a “boys club”. That they are tired of hearing the same old “re-building, re-starting” of the club that they have heard in the past. There was one who was really exceedingly rude not only to the panel but to others who attended the forum.
We cannot be a club that continuously looks to the past in the hope that this will achieve glory for the present and future. We cannot keep harping on about who has left, some many years ago. They have gone, get over it. We will never, and no-one has ever, progressed forward by looking continuously backward. Bolts stated when he came on board that we will be pressing the “restart button”. He has not deviated from this, and neither has the Board or the rest of the club. In every facet of the club, the “restart” button has been pressed. To achieve a complete change not only in the playing group but in the culture of the club, it takes time. To achieve a level of success that we, the supporters and members want, takes time.
We want depth in our playing group and a commitment from the club to ensure that we become a club of choice. This is slowly happening and it seems that for some it is not quick enough. I do not want to be the Bulldogs or the Fremantle’s of the game, who achieve some level of success one year then sink to the bottom the next. I want to become the Hawthorn, the Geelong, the Sydney of the game. In these instances, it took TIME! It took these clubs to press the restart button and rebuild its team and its culture to achieve a level of competitiveness success that they have.
We must not fall into the quagmire of continually looking back and seeing the glass as half empty, as progress will NEVER be achieved if we do this. We have never stated before that we are rebuilding until Bolts came along – NEVER! Malthouse hated that term and Ratten never stated it. It is time for those who just won’t stop looking back to either come along for the journey or leave. It is time for us, the supporters and members to get behind what is happening at the club as a whole.
We cannot allow those who want to deride and to continually push down the progress made in the last two years to have their way, for if they do, we will always be down in the bottom of the game. So, there is a choice that you need to make, support the club and the team in its entirety. Support every aspect of the club that is doing everything they can to ensure that it becomes a force in the game again, or if not, go support another club.
We cannot have those who say they love the club keep trying to want to change everything about it and expect that this will achieve success. We need stability, consistency, and tenacity both on the field and off, only this will ensure success. It started with Bolts and SOS, and we are slowly seeing the benefits. We will see success, we will see Carlton become great again, but not if for you the glass is always half empty and stuck in the past.
Bring on 2018!