The re-awoken soul at Carlton and Princes Park

Carlton players and supporters celebrate as the final siren sounds for another win. Image: carltonfc.com.au

Something is back at Carlton and Princes Park.

It’s more important than just the winning feeling that is infectious and becomes habitual.

A Football club that has sat idle and in the wilderness for the better part of two decades, Carlton is 7-2 and is enjoying thier best start to a football season since 1996. It’s a position not generations of Carlton supporters have ever seen before.

Football is just a sport, But it’s a football club that means so much to so many people regardless of the code.

A history, a tapestry, an honour roll of icons, and storied moments in time that make the club what it is.

Former Western Bulldogs captain Robert Murphy always spoke about football clubs having a soul. It’s an essence of a living being. A spiritual or immaterial part of a life form.

While clubs are made up of all sorts of great people and players that come and go that carry the tag of a ‘heart and soul player’, there is something intangible about the soul of the football club being the spirit and connector that etches all the threads together that make the club what it is.

While the off-season changes spread through Ikon Park for the umpteenth time with new important new positions and posts being filled by powerful people, that wasn’t going to be the thing that would see Carlton finally turn the corner they have been seemingly sitting at for years with their blinkers on.

Amid the rollercoaster that has been the opening nine weeks of the season, results were important first and foremost but the purpose of Carlton in 2022 was to become a respected club once again.

Carlton fans have certainly been on that emotional rollercoaster. The uplift of beating Richmond and breaking the Round one duck to going 3-0 for the first time in a decade to winning heart stoppers by single-figure margins. Getting cut back down to size with defeats on the road to powerful responses and having the game sealed by three-quarter time. To being a game clear inside the top four of the ladder and not knowing how to react or feel. All the while getting pillaged by injuries having used 36 of 43 listed players on the list.

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The results have come and with the wins and attention and spirit, The soul has been restored and re-awoken at the Carlton Football Club.

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It’s an air of connectedness from the fan base to the players to the staff that hasn’t been seen or felt for close to two decades at Carlton.

While 2021 saw the need for systemic and cultural changes at the most stubborn club in the competition, the fundamental shift in attitude both on and off the field has helped bring Carlton back to the forefront of competition for all the right reasons.

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It wasn’t just a new president, a new CEO, a new coach, a pair of new gun midfielders, and the return to form and fitness of key pillars such as the captain and the spearhead forward, not one single appointment or individual changing the fortunes of the club on their own. This is a club finally, all on the same page for the first time this century and as such is an alive, living juggernaut that is sweeping Melbourne and the competition in 2022.

And it might have all started with a simple gesture of shaving thier heads for one loved teammate and club family member who is right now the football story of the year.

The team is playing a highly watchable brand of football and the fans are finally seeing an identity in the way their team plays the game. Tough, contested, brutal, uncompromising. A word for so long would be the last word you would think of to describe the club, especially in recent seasons.

It’s only 10 weeks in. While there are no conclusions being jumped to or September holidays being cancelled just yet, as the weeks into the season roll deeper and deeper, more Carlton people young and old are slowly turning to chance their imagination as to what might just be possible this year and in years to come.

Will Carlton win the Premiership this season? Probably not. But as Ferris Beuller once eloquently put in his monologues detailing his rules for life on his day off, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”

Carlton fans are smiling again because thier club is alive and well and has its soul back again. A big club that is starting to enjoy life in the competition again who is only really, finally, just getting started.

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