JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Blues home is their hassle

Illustration: Mick Connolly

Illustration: Mick Connolly

LARRY has a penchant for protest. He opposed the war in Vietnam, grew his hair into an unruly Afro and evaded the draft with the artful dexterity of Chris Judd beating a tackler.

When Carlton opted to play the majority of its home games at what became Etihad Stadium, two of Larry's passions - protest and Carlton - came into conflict. If the club was to ditch Princes Park, which he considered unnecessary, he felt the MCG would be preferable to the indoor stadium, a stance held by most of the then Carlton board.

But the Blues were broke and the upfront dollars dangled by the AFL and the Docklands stadium - headed by Carlton president Ian Collins, who removed himself from Carlton's deliberations - saw the club accept a 6-5 split between the Dome and the 'G, in favour of the former.

Larry was outraged, vowing that he ''would never go'' to the indoor place. As an MCC member, his position was similar to many Demons fans, who find Etihad as geographically and culturally remote as the Whitten Oval, despite its short distance from the 'G.

But Larry has largely stuck by his pledge, barring the odd lapse when corporate hospitality is on offer. His stance on Etihad might seem irrational, or pig-headed, except on the football front. ''We go like a busted arse there,'' Larry noted of Carlton's struggles under the roof.

Carlton's record at the ground where it plays the majority of its home games is surprisingly poor. Since 2010, the Blues have won only 10 out of 21 matches at Etihad; in two of those victories last year, against today's opponent Adelaide and last week's conqueror, St Kilda, Carlton won by under a goal despite domination of the key performance indicators, such as contested ball and forward 50-metre entries.

When the Saints gave Carlton a blue Monday six days ago, discussion of Carlton's capitulation centred on the template for beating the Blues that had been established by Essendon and reinforced by the well-executed plan of the Saints.

The Etihad factor was ignored. It shouldn't be. Carlton is unlikely to make the top four, its stated mission for 2012, unless it comes to grips with the different dimensions of its ''home''.

The Blues have seven of their 15 remaining games at Etihad. In addition to the Crows, they have to play North Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda again. These are dangerous matches in which they would be more confident in the open air and spaces of the MCG. The Dogs upset Carlton at Etihad last year, as did North on the back of Lindsay Thomas' uncharacteristic seven goals in 2010.

The perception, fuelled by this column, that the Blues have a ''soft'' draw is contradicted by the Docklands fixturing. Their recent record at Subiaco ( Pattersons Stadium, for the corporately correct), for instance, is better than at Etihad.

How does one explain the apparent Docklands blues? The obvious reason is that the ground has less space than the MCG (or Subiaco) and their high-grade uncontested game, which the Saints attacked, is easier to shut down on the smaller field.

''The MCG is a much bigger ground. There's a lot more space to spread and use the ball,'' said an opposition-focused coach from another club. ''The game can be bottled up.''

The Etihad problem, in short, is an acute version of what happens when Carlton doesn't perform. The positive is that if the Blues can make it at Etihad, they'll make it anywhere.

St Kilda's successful invasion of Carlton space also underscored what a massive loss Andrew Carrazzo has been since the Essendon game. Carrazzo provided grunt around the ball, a defensive element to the midfield, and selfless blocking for Marc Murphy and Judd.

Forthcoming opponents can be expected to follow the St Kilda/Essendon script, to crowd the Blues around the ball while assigning tags to Kade Simpson and Murphy. It follows that Brett Ratten and his lieutenants might need to emphasise different ways of moving the ball and/or defending.

While they like to move the ball quickly and give Jarrad Waite and their small forwards the best chance, the price of playing fast is that it is harder to set up defensively and leaves them exposed when the ball is turned over.

Carlton's football operations head, ex-captain Andrew McKay, felt that Etihad was tougher on teams that turned the ball over because the stadium demanded precision.

''It's harder to defend if you don't hit the target.'' It was imprecise disposal, more than lack of space, that had hurt the Blues under the roof in McKay's view.

The other explanation is that there are key Carlton players who just don't perform as well at Etihad for whatever reason. Jeff Garlett likes spaces. Waite, who is absent today, is an athletic runner and jumper rather than a wrestling ''power forward''. He, too, needs living room.

If the Blues aren't confident in using Waite for the ''bailout'' kick to a contest, they might need to send Matthew Kreuzer forward to provide that down-the-line target, despite Kreuzer's preference for the ruck.

Whatever the answer to the riddle of the roof, the Blues have to find a way to win at Docklands, starting today against the Crows.

While premierships are won at the old coliseum, they won't win enough games to contend without overcoming their Etihad blues.

1 comment

  • As a Carlton Supporter I agree with Larry 100%. We always play woeful footy at Docklands, and I try to avoid going to games there. Sadly President Collins negotiated a deal with CEO Collins at a low point in the club history and now we are stuck with it.

    Commenter
    Alecco
    Location
    Carlton
    Date and time
    May 20, 2012, 2:36PM
    Comments are now closed

    Related Coverage

    AFL 2015

    Round 1
    Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
    SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
    BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
    WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
    ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
    FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
    Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    WCE 131 vs CAR 62 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
    GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
    COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
    GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
    PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
    ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
    NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
    ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
    SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
    NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
    BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 127 vs WBU 57 13:10AS
    GEE 105 vs GCF 96 15:20SS
    WCE 81 vs FRE 111 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 51 vs MEL 83 19:50MCG
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 81 vs CAR 121 11:10NZ
    ESS 49 vs COL 69 14:40MCG
    GWS 119 vs GCF 53 17:40SO
    PTA 99 vs HAW 91 19:40Adelaide Oval
    FRE 74 vs SYD 60 20:45Domain Stadium
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    BRI 65 vs WCE 118 13:10G
    GEE 67 vs NTH 83 15:20SS
    WBU 125 vs ADE 68 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 45 vs COL 120 19:50MCG
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    RIC 76 vs GEE 85 13:45MCG
    SYD 73 vs WBU 77 14:10SCG
    GCF 118 vs BRI 54 16:35MS
    NTH 70 vs HAW 130 19:20ES
    WCE 120 vs GWS 33 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    MEL 50 vs FRE 118 13:10MCG
    STK 80 vs ESS 82 15:20ES
    ADE 91 vs PTA 115 16:40Adelaide Oval
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
    WBU vs STK 14:10ES
    GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
    MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
    FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
    PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
    HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
    CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
    SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
    WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
    RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
    BRI vs PTA 16:40G
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    STK vs WCE 13:45ES
    GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs COL 16:35MS
    HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
    FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
    MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
    PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
    MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
    WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
    RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
    ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    BRI vs STK 13:10G
    COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
    WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
    GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
    ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
    PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
    NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
    STK vs HAW 16:40ES
    Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
    WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
    NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
    STK vs MEL 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
    GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
    WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
    Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
    BRI vs ADE 16:35G
    STK vs WBU 19:20ES
    Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
    Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
    COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
    GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
    WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
    MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
    Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs STK 13:10ES
    ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
    Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
    WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
    NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
    WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
    HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
    BRI vs SYD 16:40G
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
    Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
    GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
    COL vs WCE 16:35ES
    SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
    FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
    PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    STK vs RIC 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
    Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
    ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
    RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
    ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
    BRI vs NTH 19:20G
    Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
    WBU vs COL 13:10ES
    MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
    WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
    Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
    COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
    SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
    CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
    GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
    Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
    ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
    FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
    WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
    BRI vs GCF 16:35G
    GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
    WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
    GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
    STK vs FRE 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
    Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
    NTH vs STK 14:10BA
    PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
    GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
    BRI vs CAR 19:20G
    Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
    WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
    FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
    Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
    GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
    STK vs GEE 19:20ES
    ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
    CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
    WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 22
    Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
    Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
    HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
    NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
    ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
    GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
    Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
    STK vs SYD 15:20ES
    FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 23
    Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
    COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
    RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
    HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
    GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
    SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
    MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
    BRI vs WBU 00:00G
    PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
    WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    AFL 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D % Pts
    Fremantle 5 5 0 0 151.10 20
    Collingwood 5 4 1 0 147.53 16
    Western Bulldogs 5 4 1 0 104.75 16
    Hawthorn 5 3 2 0 149.86 12
    West Coast Eagles 5 3 2 0 145.92 12
    Sydney Swans 5 3 2 0 118.26 12
    Adelaide Crows 5 3 2 0 111.40 12
    GWS Giants 5 3 2 0 102.87 12
    View all
     
    Featured advertisers