More from Patrick Cripps on Channel Seven.
You’re the first Brownlow medalist since Juddy from Carlton. When you first moved to Melbourne you really struggled with fame and fame. what did you do with it
I come from a town of 800 people, went to boarding school in Perth. When I first came to Carlton I was a bit fat on the gills. I had a bit of weight. A lot of people said I rolled into the club. You were right. I wasn’t exactly the sportiest guy. But it’s a weird feeling being up here. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of playing AFL and I’ve always dreamed of playing AFL and I’ve always dreamed of playing on a team that’s having a lot of success and we haven’t got it yet quite there, but although these individuals awards are great recognition for a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of teamwork that really drives you. We’re not there yet but as players we’ve been down for many years and we feel like we’re really building up now and you know I’m so grateful to Carlton for giving me the opportunity and even though we haven’t yet so far I feel like we are building a lot of momentum and that gives me a lot of satisfaction and it gives me a lot of drive and motivation for the future.
2019 was a tough year and you carried the burden of the club. Was there a round and match against Brisbane where you almost got knocked out, was it just too much for you?
Yes it was. It’s been a tough time. We had won three out of 44 games back then. So it was really tough. And I look at teams now that are going through a really tough time and I have a lot of sympathy for them and I can relate to that. And it’s tough, but like I said, I’m very optimistic and I’m hoping and I’ll find a way forward and I feel like we’ve done it and it’s been tough. I really had, before that game, I had a stinker, we got kicked out and I think that was the week Bolts was sacked and he had a huge impact on the club at the time. I went out and that week I was really close to missing the game. I really didn’t want to play. I was really mentally fried. And I remember talking to my manager and my family and saying, ‘I don’t think I’m going to play this week.’ They said, ‘Just give it until game day.’ Game day I woke up and said, ‘I’m going to play this game.’ Driving to the game, I thought, ‘I’m the leader of this club. I’ll be at my best, have a lot of fun, play football.” That made me realize how important the mental side of the game is and no matter what you’re going through, you can still do it at a high level play and we were lucky enough to win this game. It was our fourth win in many games and since then I feel like we’ve slowly built some momentum.
There was a time when you refused to do media as well. They told the club, “I can’t be put in front of the cameras.” You went to a speech therapist.
I couldn’t string two words of help together in front of the media. That’s not a lie. At the end of 2015, beginning of 2016 I was so nervous, it was probably luck that we didn’t play well during that period. If I had played well and we had won I would have had to talk to the people on the ground and if we had ever done that I would have tried to avoid them. I was so nervous because I used to stutter a bit in front of the media. Now when I see young people who are very nervous in front of the media I have a lot of empathy for them and I remember I was at the club one day and Marc Murphy was doing a press conference and he spoke so well. In my head I said to myself, “I wish I could talk like that in front of people.” I couldn’t have done it then. I had some great people in my network who were not only the media manager but also the club psychologist and Michael Jameson who was a big influence in my early days, we did some mock interviews there for a good half year and I refused I did some media for six months and we just practiced interviews for six months and got to the point where I’m comfortable and really enjoying it now. But yeah, it wasn’t easy going there for a while. And now I’m happy to chat in front of everyone.
You’ve been lured home so many times, but the reason was that you felt, and maybe it’s because of the farming past, that you haven’t finished the job you started at Carlton. The last time Carlton had ultimate success you were a few months old.
Yes. It was 1995. Yes, it’s a tough time. I am always grateful to the club for giving me this opportunity. Like I said, I wasn’t the fittest guy, and they gave me a chance, and my draft year, I probably wouldn’t have gotten drafted earlier in the year. So I’ve always felt like a loyal person. My parents always taught me that and it’s been some really tough years and I suppose it took a lot of optimism and hope and really good people in my corner to keep moving forward and I feel like we’re really getting there now are gaining some traction as a club and I’m really optimistic about the future. As a player I’ve always said we built this place from the ground up and while it didn’t go our way this year it really hurt at the end of the year but I feel like we picked some momentum into it next year. I’m excited to see what we’re going to produce as a club and we have some really good people in the club and I’m really excited.
Round 21, we thought you were wiped out. They called Dennis Dinuto, got out and in round 23 produced what is arguably one of the greatest games in football history. Did you think you made a game with 3 voices?
Oh to be honest I was so stunned by the end of the game that I’d rather get zero touches and win than play like I did and lose. But yes, it was a strange time. The only thing that stands out to me is the crowd at the last game and Carlton/Collingwood fans are so passionate. They probably go at each other a bit, but in that last round as a player, it was so special to play. There were 90,000, two large fan bases that got into it. There was momentum in both directions. I remember as a kid all I wanted to do was play AFL football and play in front of big crowds. I remember walking out that day and thinking, “That’s what footy is about, two big fan bases.” There were a lot of swing changes in that game. You speak of gratitude, it is very special to be able to participate in these games.