Carlton Blues’ Patrick Cripps might never get a chance to play finals

Carlton and Cripps once again found themselves at a crossroads and under pressure. After three straight losses to the Brisbane Lions, Western Bulldogs and Collingwood, the Blues’ percentages are now below 100, dropping to 11th and take on Skirrah in Sydney on Friday night. When Dunton’s “blood” was released, the Blues were in a must-win situation.

Cripps will be entering his 11th season without a final.

Cripps is from Western Australia and could have played in the Premier League in 2018 had he been drafted by the Eagles.

Cripps is from Western Australia and could have played in the Premier League in 2018 had he been drafted by the Eagles.Credit: Getty Images

Even Bobby, as much as he wants the Swans to bounce back after last year’s Finals misery, doesn’t want the same for Cripps.

Everyone feels the same way about the late Trevor Barker, who was the soul of St Kilda when Moorabbin was an eccentric part of the suburban battles of VFL matches. Many clubs tried to poach the ambitious player, but he remained loyal to his Saints team despite picking up seven trophies in his exciting 14-year career, scoring just one goal in 230 appearances. 60 wins…and no finals.

Inaugural Gold Coast midfielder David Swallow will make his 208th AFL game against Darwin’s Western Bulldogs on Saturday night. He didn’t feature in the Finals and has seen his Suns teammates disappear for Premier League glory elsewhere — Richmond’s Tom Lynch and Dion Prestia, and the Devils’ Steven May.

Loyalty, as Skilton knows, comes at a price. The Swallows are on the wrong side of 30 — his Suns are still treading water in the middle third of the ladder. There is no hope of a final on the horizon for the Gold Coast.

Bob Skilton didn't reach the final until he had played 218 games in his career.

Bob Skilton didn’t reach the final until he had played 218 games in his career.Credit: Getty Images

Unlike Barker, Skilton and Swallow, Cripps was surrounded by good teammates and an all-Australian: Coleman medalists Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow, Jacob Weitering, Adam Saad, Sam Walsh and Sam Docherty.

The understandable lack of success calls into question coach Michael Voss’ tactical prowess and his ability to maximize the talent on Carlton’s roster. Voss is an excellent motivator with a commanding demeanor. But his game plan has no identity.

All three stages of the Carlton game are deficient.

Bruce is the definition of mediocre. Ranked 12th in defense and 13th in offense, it is worrying that they have lost the dominance in midfield that was the cornerstone of the team’s success in the first half of last season as they finished in the top 10. Won 8 of the games.

Cripps is a calm character who rarely loses his cool. It was unusual to see him having a heated chat with Voss on the sidelines in last Sunday’s loss to Collingwood – perhaps a sign of his frustration with his side being knocked out by the coach on multiple occasions.

Carlton has no salary cap flexibility and has signed Zach Williams, Adam Sierra, George Hewitt, Curnow and McKay to ludicrous long-term deals.even fight Lackman Marc Pittonet gets a four-year contract extension.

Pitonet’s extension means young Lachman Tom de Koonen, the most talented young player besides Walsh, will likely demand a trade at the end of the season. This will further expose Carlton’s lack of young talent.


Cripps’ contract expires at the end of 2027, and his dream of reaching the Finals rests on this team. Carlton have cashed in all their poker chips.

Cripps’ best asset is his powerful, arguable ball-grabbing ability. Like Skelton, he’s best suited for success in the big finals.

It’s scary to think that he might never get his chance.

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