FINALS NEXT YEAR? WHAT’S IN THE CUPS, BOYS?
YOUNG midfielder Nick Graham had a typically Gen-Y reaction to a coaching appointment made for Carlton’s kids.
As Brendon Bolton was unveiled the Blues’ next coach last Tuesday, Graham, 21, punched the 36-yearold’s name into Wikipedia.
“I learnt that (Bolton) was a schoolteacher and he’s never played AFL before which is a bit weird, considering most coaches have,” Graham said.
“But the main one for me was people always pumping him up for his development, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Graham is so impressed he is already talking finals for a Blues side which has been locked in a wooden spoon battle with Brisbane.
He draws inspiration from the Western Bulldogs’ immediate finals entrance under another Hawthornbred coach, Luke Beveridge.
“The future is really starting to emerge at Carlton and people are starting to see that,” Graham said.
“We might (have) hit rock bottom but you can bounce back up pretty quick ... even though we will be redeveloping, we’ll be aiming to push for finals again.”
Rising Star favourite Patrick Cripps said with Bolton in place the Blues had a solid platform for next season, including likely No.2 draft pick Jacob Weitering.
“(Developing kids this year) has to be the positive because there’s probably not too many others,” Cripps said.
“We’ve got some young talent at the club but in the next few years we’ve got to get a lot more.”
As Graham, Cripps and fellow baby Blues Blaine Boekhorst and Dylan Buckley discussed the future, one common Bolton strength captured their excitement – his development background, supported by a teaching diploma. Chief executive Stephen Trigg and football boss Andy McKay told players it was Bolton’s credentials as a nurturer of prized talent which gave him the edge in a tight race to replace Mick Malthouse.
While the Blues loved interim coach John Barker and the freedom he instilled, the nurturing side of Bolton was music to their ears.
“We know how good Johnny Barker’s been and if he’s edged Johnny out, he must be a terrific person and a terrific coach,’’ Cripps said.