Scotland desperate for first flag
Heath Scotland. Photo: Getty Images
Carlton veteran Heath Scotland says he will play next season as if it were his last, and is desperate to go out with his first premiership.
Scotland last night won the John Nicholls Medal as Carlton's best player for season 2012, the first best-and-fairest award of a 14-year career that has spanned two clubs and 244 games.
The 32-year-old has re-signed for another season and is hoping the arrival of new coach Mick Malthouse will be the missing ingredient to help fulfil the club's potential and deliver a fairytale end to Scotland's time at Carlton.
"I'm 32, I will be 33 during next season and I really don't know how many games I've got left," Scotland said after last night's best-and-fairest count at Crown Palladium.
"I'm one injury away, maybe, from being finished," he said.
"So every game could be my last and I haven't tasted the success of a premiership yet.
"Everyone at the football club is so desperately seeking that.
"But I've probably got less chance than the rest of them in terms of age and games left to achieve that, so I am extremely desperate to achieve that and I am hoping that this year can produce it."
Most importantly, Scotland genuinely believes the Blues have a strong enough list to challenge for the top four next year, and believes Malthouse is the right man to draw everything out of the players.
"I think it was there this year, but for a number of factors, it fell away," Scotland said.
"But I think we've got the list there, I think the club is in the right position and I've got no doubt that, if we all work hard enough in the pre-season and we can keep our list together, that we've got the talent to produce the goods come the end of September," he said.
Scotland is qualified to speak about Malthouse's coaching philosophies and their effect, given he started his career at Collingwood under the former Pies coach.
"He'll demand a lot of respect," he said, when asked if he expected Malthouse to lift the standards at the club.
"There is no doubt he will work tirelessly to get the best out of our list, and I think he will."
It has been suggested that Scotland had a falling out with Malthouse at Collingwood, and that was a factor in him seeking a trade at the end of 2003.
However Scotland has emphatically denied that, and said he was looking forward to sitting with the triple premiership coach to find out what his role would be in 2013.
"It's been nine years since I've had anything to do with Mick so . . . hopefully I've got a part to play in his side and we can go on strongly," he said.
Scotland was noticeably humbled by the award last night, which he won ahead of small forward Eddie Betts in a close count. He even went as far as to say he felt the main reason he won was because "everyone just fell down through injury".
"With the quality of players we have at the club, I would not have even considered myself a chance, to be honest," Scotland said.
But his captain Chris Judd, who finished third in the count, was quick to interject, saying Scotland thoroughly deserved the medal for his consistent season.
Scotland polled in 16 of his 21 matches and was the Blues' leading disposal winner, averaging 26.3 a game, as well as total marks, playing in defence and also through the midfield.
"One of the things I really admire Scotto for is his work-rate — not only on game day, but particularly his work rate Monday-to-Friday," Judd said.
"He always does his extra boxing on Monday night, it doesn't matter if we've played Sunday or Saturday, he is always out there busting his hump. He is one of the blokes that really sets the standard in that area."
Scotland made a point last night of thanking former coach Brett Ratten, who was sacked just before the club's last game after the Blues failed to make the finals this year.
"I had a rough year about four or five years ago and Brett really challenged me. Since then, I've probably been a lot more consistent as a player and that's due to the work and relationship that I've built with Ratts," he said.