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I have a confession to make, I used to barrack for the Carlton Football Club as a boy. I thrilled to Jezza, Big Nick, and the Flying Doormat. The mighty blues were a winning team year in and year out when I was a youth. Now, Carlton are under a fierce media spotlight and the blame game is in overdrive. The Carlton Curse: John Elliott’s legacy is alive and well. David Teague in his second full season as senior coach is copping a barrage from all directions. The AFL microcosm takes losing very seriously, more seriously than a global pandemic maybe. Grown men and women frown and furiously fling weighty opinions about in disgust at the poor performance of the Navy Blues.

the Carlton Curse even affects young supporters
Photo by Charles Parker on Pexels.com

The Lineage of Failure Causing the Carlton Curse

I would point the finger further down the road to a time when the rot truly set in. This is the Carlton curse: John Elliott’s legacy that has poisoned a culture for decades. Think about the lineage of failure over many years and the names of senior coaches associated with Carlton. Big names like Denis Pagan, Mick Malthouse, and Brett Ratten. Lesser names like Wayne Brittain, John Barker, Brendon Bolton, and David Teague. All of these coaches failed to resurrect the fortunes of a once proud club. In fact, David Parkin in 1995 was the last successful coach of the Carlton Football Club.

Cheating Condemned Carlton for Decades to a Losing Culture

John Elliott Carlton president for nearly two decades oversaw a regime caught cheating the salary cap by the AFL and massively fined. Ever since then the Navy Blues have been mired at the lower end of the AFL ladder. The success of the eighties and nineties had been bought with cheating money and the poison chalice remained for others to pick up.  A succession of failed coaches have been unable to improve the fortunes of this once indomitable footy club. In golfing terms they have consistently failed to make the cut over many seasons.

The endless cycle of new coach, lack of results, sacked coach, and changing chairs in the football department has seen a quarter of a century of mediocrity at the Carlton Football Club. High profile senior coaches like Malthouse and Pagan were unable to spark the Blues back into their former winning ways. Experiments like Wayne Brittain and Brendon Bolton were equally unsuccessful in their medium to short runs. Losing AFL footy clubs invariably lack patience when faced with poor results and rebuilds. Members and fans vent their frustrations and fury at the lack of results. New administrations seek results on the footy field from their football departments. Clubs like Carlton, Melbourne before them, and North Melbourne too, can get caught in this bitter bad news cycle at the bottom of the ladder. It takes a whole lot to shift a losing culture, as we have seen with the Demons thankfully, and Carlton are nowhere near that yet. Blaming Teague is the easy option and a deeper review is required looking further to find real solutions to their malaise.


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