More from Patrick Cripps for Channel Seven.
You are the first Brownlow medalist since Juddy of Carlton. When you first moved to Melbourne, you really struggled with fame and celebrity. What did you do with it?
I come from a town of 800 inhabitants, I went to a boarding school in Perth. When I first came to Carlton, I was kind of goofy. He had a little weight. A lot of people said I rolled into the club. They were right. I wasn’t the most athletic guy out there. But it’s a weird feeling being up here. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of playing in the AFL, and I’ve always dreamed of playing in the AFL, and I’ve always dreamed of, you know, playing on a team that’s very successful, and we haven’t gotten there, but even though these individuals awards are great recognition for a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of team stuff that really drives you. We haven’t gotten there yet, but as a player, you know, we’ve been at the bottom for many years and we feel like we’re really building now, and you know, I’m very grateful for Carlton. to give me the opportunity, and even though we’re not there yet, I feel like we’re building a lot of momentum, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction, and it gives me a lot of drive and motivation to keep going.
Patrick Cripps.Credit:AFL Photos
2019 was a tough year and you carried the weight of the club. Was there a round and a match against Brisbane where you almost retired, was it too much for you?
Yes it was. It was a difficult moment. We had, at that point, won three of 44 games. So it was very hard. And I look at the teams now that they are going through a really difficult time and I have a lot of sympathy for them and I identify with them. And it’s hard, but like I said before, I really like optimism and hope and finding a way forward, and I feel like we’ve done it, and it was hard. Really, before that game, I had a problem, we got kicked out, and I think that was the week that Bolts got sacked and he had a huge influence on the club at the time. I went out and that week I was very close to missing the game. I really didn’t want to play. I was really mentally fried. And I remember talking to my manager, talking to my family, and I said, “I don’t think I’m going to play this week.” They said “Just give it until game day.” The day of the game I woke up and said “I’m going to play this game.” When I was driving to the game, I was like “I’m the leader of this club. I’m going to put my… my best step forward, have a lot of fun, play soccer.” That got me down the road of realizing how important the mental side of the game is and, you know, no matter what you’re going through, you can still perform at a high level, and we were lucky enough to win that game. . It was our fourth win in as many games and ever since then I feel like we’ve slowly gained momentum.
There was a time when you refused to do media too. You told the club “You can’t put me in front of the cameras.” You went to a speech pathologist.
I couldn’t put two words together, help versus the media. That is not a lie. Late 2015, early 2016, I was so nervous, it was probably lucky that we didn’t play well during that time. If he had played well and we had won, he would have had to talk to the people on the field, and if we ever did, he would try to avoid them. He was so nervous because he used to stutter a bit in front of the media. When I see the youngsters now who are really nervous in front of the media, I feel a lot of empathy for them and I remember one day I was at the club and Marc Murphy was giving a press conference and he spoke very well. In my head I said to myself “I wish I could talk like that in front of people”. At that time, he would not have been able to do that. I had some great people in my network that not only the media manager, but also the club psychologist and Michael Jameson, who was very influential in my early days, we did some mock interviews for a good six months there, and I refused to I did some media for six months and we just practiced interviews for six months and we got to the point where I was comfortable and now I really enjoy it. 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 you didn’t was because you felt, and maybe it’s because of your farming background, 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 is difficult. I am always grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity. Like I said before, I wasn’t the fittest guy out there, and they took a chance on me and in my draft year they probably, you know, wouldn’t have drafted me at the beginning of the year. So I have always felt that I am a loyal person. My parents always instilled that in me, and it’s been really tough years and I guess it’s taken a lot of optimism and hope and really good people in my corner to keep forging a path forward, and I feel like we’re really gaining some traction now as a club, And I am very optimistic about the future. As a player, I’ve always said that we’ve built this place from the ground up, and while it didn’t go well this year, that really hurt at the end of the year, but I feel like we gained some momentum. in the next year. I am excited about what we are going to produce as a club, and we have really good people in the club and I am very excited.
Round 21, we thought you had been deleted. You called up Dennis Dinuto, went out and produced possibly one of the greatest games in football history in round 23. Did you think you produced a 3 vote game?
Oh, to be honest, at the end of the game I was so numb, I’d rather not touch anything and win than play like I did and lose. But, yes, it was a strange moment. The only thing I notice is the crowd from the last game, and the Carlton/Collingwood fans are very passionate. They probably clash a little bit, but that last round as a player was very special to play. It was 90,000, two huge fan bases competing. There was momentum both ways. I remember as a kid he just wanted to play AFL football and play in front of huge crowds. I remember walking out that day and saying, “This is what football is all about, two great fan bases.” There were a lot of momentum swings in that game. You talk about gratitude, it’s very special to be able to play in those games.