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We’ve seen it all before.


Club in turmoil. Coach under pressure. Club President caught up in a tax scandal. Club board not seeing eye to eye with one board member resigning amid questions about whether he was pushed or did he jump? Unrest bordering on hysteria among the supporters. Team dropping from undefeated after four rounds to 13th after ten. Allegations of favoured treatment of players. Players out of form, forwards with the kicking yips, a bruising injury list with some facing the knife while another up before the AFL Tribunal. The media camped waiting on the club’s doorstep with those furry microphone things, pointed at every employee who comes out for some fresh air or a smoko, ready to pounce with some of the most inane questions imaginable. 


Yes, it’s crisis time at Carlton, the club designated by the AFL as its Friday night favourite playing the Melbourne Football Club at the home of football to kick off the first bye round on … checks, yep … Friday night.


Right on cue, the AFL comes to the rescue. 


The MRO decided that Blues player Adam Cerra has a case to answer for a dangerous tackle on Swans’ ruckman Tom Hickey but for the first time this year, a dangerous tackle charge is thrown out by the AFL Tribunal. Instead of the requirement being on the alleged perpetrator to do something to avoid the collision of the head, it’s the victim who had the onus of using one of his arms to break the fall. Anyway, it was allegedly Hickey’s bouffant hair arrangement that actually banged the SCG turf and not the head he was rubbing in pain after the incident, so justice AFL style prevailed again. 


And in an ominous move for the Demons, the Blues’ legal team will make up their half forward line on Friday night at the MCG to ensure that the free kick count sits at 24 to 9 in their favour. 


Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, the Carlton skipper is expected to make a surprise appearance for his team in a game against Melbourne. This time it comes after making a miraculous recovery from having his ankle stepped on late in the game against the Swans. When someone steps on anything remotely near that part a Demon player’s anatomy it usually escalates rapidly from nothing to a 4 to 6 week injury. But the Blues’ medics are almost as good as their lawyers.


Still, I’m not really paranoid and I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. In fact, there would have be something seriously wrong with Melbourne that even the world’s best team of doctors, lawyers and administrators can’t fix if it can’t overcome an ailing Carlton at the MCG on Friday night. After all, this is a team that embarked upon season 2023 boasting about being the fittest team in the competition, with great depth in every position on the football field, and focused on regaining lost prestige from last season’s finals stumble. 


They couldn’t possibly lose to that rabble. Surely?


I’m confidently tipping them to win.


By a point.




Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG Friday 2 June 2023 at 7.50pm




Overall Melbourne 96 wins Carlton 117 wins Drawn 2


At the MCG Melbourne 55 wins Carlton 50 wins


Past five meetings Melbourne 5 Carlton 0 wins


The Coaches Goodwin 1 wins Voss 0 wins




Melbourne 11.13.79 defeated Carlton 10.14.74  at the MCG Round 22, 2022


The Blues looked to have had this game won as the clock wound down with less than two minutes to go. Then Jake Melksham* took a great contested mark in the middle of three Carlton defenders and his fourth goal for the match gave the team hope which translated into a win when Kozzie Pickett converted truly with seconds to go.


* Melksham was given a two week suspension (reduced to one for an early plea) by the VFL Match Review Panel for a striking offence against a Werribee player in the fourth quarter of the match last Saturday. Nothing suspicious about the timing of the suspension of the hero of last year’s clash against the Blues, is there?





B A. Tomlinson S. May J. McVee
HB J. Bowey J. Lever C. Salem
C T. Sparrow J. Viney E. Langdon 
HF K. Chandler Fritsch Pickett
F C. Spargo Grundy Neal-Bullen
FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca L. Hunter
I/C A. Brayshaw T. Rivers J. Smith J. van Rooyen SUB J. Harmes EMG B. Brown D. Turner T. Woewodin 

IN L. Hunter J. Smith A. Tomlinson 

OUT M. Hibberd (managed) J. Jordon (omitted) T. McDonald (ankle) 



B  A. Cincotta J. Weitering B. Kemp
HB L. Young M. McGovern A. Saad
C S. Walsh P. Cripps B. Acres
HF J. Motlop C. Curnow J. Silvagni
F Z. Fisher H. McKay M. Owies
FOLL T. De Koning A. Cerra M. Kennedy
I/C J. Boyd M. Cottrell S. Docherty L. O'Brien SUB P. Dow
EMG E. Curnow L. Fogarty L. Plowman

IN A. Cincotta P. Dow Z. Fisher L. O'Brien J. Silvagni L. Young

OUT C. Durdin (knee) E. Curnow (omitted) G. Hewett (concussion) O. Hollands (collarbone) N. Newman ((hamstring) M. Pittonet (hand)

Injury List: Round 12 


Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 1 Week
Luke Dunstan - Knee | 1 - 2 Weeks
Harry Petty - Foot | 2 - 3 Weeks
Kye Turner - Groin | 3 - 4 Weeks
Will Verrall - Pelvis | 3 - 4 Weeks


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