Carlton best and fairest winner Heath Scotland. Photo: Paul Rovere
NEW Carlton coach Mick Malthouse says he is looking forward to introducing players to a game plan he has honed over 28 years of coaching, and one he thinks can help the club play ''consistent finals football''.
Malthouse addressed a gathering of 1400 people in a video message at the Blues' best and fairest award last night.
''We won't be making many changes to the list,'' he said. ''I am looking forward to getting the boys together for a solid pre-season and into a game structure that I believe, over 40 years of football, I have the capacity to say that I understand the game a fair bit and I am looking forward to introducing those young players and our senior players into a format that is highly competitive.
''What we are trying to do is minimise those lows and maximise the highs, and hopefully raise the bar so the players can see what it is like to play consistent finals football.''
With last year's winner Marc Murphy and runner-up Chris Judd missing chunks of the season, veteran defender Heath Scotland was rewarded for his consistent year by winning the John Nicholls Medal, the first best and fairest award of his 14-year career.
In a close count that went down to the final round, Scotland edged out small forward Eddie Betts by just nine votes, while captain Judd was third, despite missing five matches.
Judd admitted the Blues had to earn back the respect of rivals, something he believes the club has not had for a decade.
Carlton president Stephen Kernahan also challenged the players to come back and ''have a real crack'' next season, pointing out that missing the finals this year was not good enough.
Scotland missed just one game during a turbulent year for both himself and the club. He was the team's leading possession winner, averaging 26.3 disposals a game, playing in defence and also through the midfield.
Scotland's year got off to a shaky start after an incident at a New South Wales holiday spot in January that now leaves him facing assault charges.
The 244-gamer has re-signed with Carlton for another season.
Betts was the club's leading goalkicker with 48 goals and earned his second straight All-Australian nomination.
It was his highest finish in his eight seasons at the Blues and the 25-year-old was leading by five votes going into the final round.
Brock McLean finished fourth after a superb second half of the season — his highest finish since joining the club three years ago — and his highest at any club since he was runner-up at Melbourne in 2008. Murphy rounded out the top five, even though he missed six games with a shoulder injury.
Rookie Tom Bell was named the club's best first-year player.