Sunday, 15 July 2012

No 3 Ghost of Optus Oval article

Top of the Pyramid

    Well Ratts started it and it got me thinking, if I were to name 3 players, 3 players from Carlton I think are the best I have seen, who would I choose. So after many sleepless hours (well a few minutes before I dozed off as easily as warm butter sliding across a plate – how easy is sleep when you’ve belted the Pies by more than 50 points at the M.C.G. in front of 82 odd thousand – have you noticed how beautiful this autumn week has been? The natural order restored, the world sways to the chant of  ‘dut dadut  dadaaa’) I have reached my decision.

    1: Alex Jesaulenko  - How to explain to those who never saw him just how complete a footballer this bloke was? Best spectacular  mark I have seen (hence the cry of ‘Jezza!’ by thousands of kids kicking the ball in the streets of a Saturday afternoon in that faraway time when Victorian clubs only played each other in scattered suburban grounds as different from each other as each club’s jumper at 2:10pm.

    But even if he did not mark the ball balanced on top of a five or six man pack, the thing was, as the pack toppled like a house of cards Jezza would land panther-like on his feet, crouched, ready to move, gather the ball and be on his way while the rest of the pack picked themselves up off the turf. The rovers must have hated Jezza, he never gave them a chance to rove the ball off the packs, instead he gathered it and was away while they still waited for the chaos to fall still.

    But that’s not all. He kicked beautifully – still the only Bluebagger player to bag the ton in a season, was a half forward flanker who played Full Forward, Centre and Centre Half Forward, and when his legs grew weary and his back ached because defenders stoped trying to beat him and simply crashed into him as often as they could, he did not retire, instead he moved himself to the half back flank and there he showed the other skills he possessed. A fierce tackling technique that wrapped the opposition’s player up tighter than a kitten in a ball of wool and the ability to read the play so that he knew, before the forwards did, where the ball was going.

    There is often discussions about how past players would go in today’s game (Could Big Nick ruck maybe not but stick him at FF and with today’s rules protecting the forward he’d slay ‘em!) but Jezza would be just as damaging today as he was all those years ago. Jezza was the best I’ve seen.

    2: Greg Williams – This game is called football for a reason, the purpose is to get the oddly shaped pill (a football) and belt it through your goals more times than your opponents. You need to get the pill to win and no-one I have seen was better at getting that ball than Greg Williams. Dual Brownlow winner (should have won three but some mad umpire did not award him a single vote for a 40 odd possession game against Melbourne. He was robbed I tell ya, robbed!) and a consistent ball winner no matter how many sinks and battleships the opposition threw at him. Tough as nails but with an ability to stand outside of time and simply pluck the ball free from the madness of our day to day lives. Einstein would have worn Greg Williams’ number on his duffel coat.

    He had many flaws, was slow, had a bung knee, small but none of that mattered. He got the ball and then handballed or kicked, often to a team mate who hadn’t even realised he was in the best position to receive the football.

    Greg played a different game to most and his skills simply dragged every other player in his team along with him to victory. Watch his game in the 1995 grand final, watch the magic he weaves to unravel Geelong even before they understood the game was already gone.

    3: Wayne (The Dominator) Johnston  - 4 time premiership player Johnno was just a must to have in a side playing on a big occasion. The bigger the occasion the stronger Johnno’s will to win. Johnno loved to kick a goal but he loved it just as much when he used his body as a battering ram to crash into opponents and render them useless (just ask Hawks ‘The Dipper’).

    It was Johnno’s will to win that places him 3rd on my list. When we needed a goal to start the onslaught or to halt their run, he was the man. When we needed a desperate lunge, a crashing of the pack or a hard run from wing into our forward line, he was the man.

    A raking left foot kick, it was his sheer capacity to push himself and the team on to victory that makes him remain a glowing figure in the pantheon of players in my mind. Others might have been better footballers but 4 flags are testament to his capacity to help the Bluebaggers win the big ones.

    So that’s my 3 but it could easily have been 4 or 10, so many champions have blessed this team with their skill, their courage and their willingness to giver it their all for the famous Old Dark Navies. Dad’ll be fuming that Big Nick didn’t get a mention (so here it is dad) Kouta was awesome and how can I leave out Sticks, or Doully, SOS or Braddles or Swan. It’s a hard task but these are my 3, the pinnacle of a pyramid of great players that stretch all the way back to SOS’s dad and Ragsy Goold through to our present day Chris Judd (whose game on the weekend took my breath away)  with Marc and Gibbsy and the Kruise building their own claims as they develop into the next generation of Carlton champions.

    Who are your top 3?

    Go Blues!

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