My tribute to Juddy I apologise prior this post but I feel this is a very self indulgent post but I need to do it, not because it needs to be said but rather because I will feel better for doing it and putting it here in this place where we all live and breathe what happens every round of every season to our teams, players and fellow supporters I may be understood. I hated Chris Judd. Sorry, let me correct myself, what I meant to say was – I hated that Chris Judd played for the Eagles and not my team Carlton. Being a west aussie and having to watch close up this prodigy turn the team that I despised the most into a force to be reckoned with was hard to take. I could handle the fact that the Eagles were dominating footy again, what I couldn’t handle was why didn’t this prodigious talent act like all the other self absorbed primma donna players on their list who treated the state and inhabitants as a hindrance to their escapades. How could he, at such a young age, so graciously deflect praise and the constant comments from media pundits while continuing to play like a veteran exceeding his years. It hurt me that he played for the Eagles because I he seemed to embody past champions who I had learnt of through my family and their history. We respected their talent and held them in high regard not only because of how they played but also how they held themselves in public. The ones whose character was questionable was always known and although they may have been great players they weren’t great people which are the two elements that actually make up a champion (my grandfather told me that). This Chris Judd he had both. I barracked against his team in two epic grand finals. He took home a norm smith, in my opinion it should have been two and also held the cup up as a winning premiership captain. Not that he wanted to be captain, but when the prima donnas lifestyles and issues started catching up with them (regardless of the rest of W.A turning a blind eye and condoning in a way) and the club needed to steady the ship they told him they needed him and although reluctant he did the selfless thing and agreed, regardless of the fact he would be thrown into more media, appearances and promotional roles which although he could have been carrying out previously for considerable financial reward he had brushed off too do his “job” and play football to the best of his ability. Then it happened. The biggest news in sport this state had ever seen, bigger than the America’s Cup, bigger than Northerly taking on the eastern state'rs, even bigger than the drug habits of half the eagles list at the time – “Chris Judd is leaving the Eagles to return home to Victoria” The papers printed pages of type, talk back lines clogged up and the news every night on every channel led with the story. I laughed. The team I despise lost the greatest player of a generation and apparently he had always told them that after that amount of time he would go home, so he did. Then I thought, he couldn’t come to Carlton could he? We were pretty ordinary due to fines, draft restrictions and generally in a mess of our own doing. But his choice was the blue’s and a million fans around the country rejoiced. Maybe he is the messiah and can lead us out of the wilderness? I remarked to my best mate, it’s great but who’s going to get the ball to give it to him so he can schimmy those hips, break the lines, take a bounce and drill those passes or goals. We weren’t exactly flush with contested ball winners, well actually any sort of winners at the time. So Chris Judd comes to Carlton, takes the captaincy because not only did he have experience but again because the club needed it, he became the face of the club which in turn helped the balance sheet, sold jumpers, tickets and basically helped turn it around off field. Wow, what would he do on the field, we thought….. No contested ball winners at Carlton but some good young kids who wouldn’t be able to do that yet so he becomes a contested ball machine, throwing his body around and into packs with gay abandon and somehow extricating the ball to space for the “outside” boys to use. I could keep going on about what he has done for the club, the members, the game, but what he gave to me and probably most other Carlton supporters was Hope. I could go on and recollect the game against Sydney about 5 years ago where he single handedly won the game in Sydney on a wet night with a record ( at that time I think) in contested possessions, or the amount of times he dragged us back into games alone or through an act of brilliance, or the brownlow medal he won at the blues and 3 F+B’s. Basically I just want to say thanks Juddy. I have loved Carlton ever since I was a little boy, have seen some good times, the worst times and then you came to my beloved team and gave me hope again, not that we would win the GF every year but that if someone that I respected so much thought my club was worth being at and giving everything for then there was hope. I will miss you not only for your football talent but also for the way you held yourself and how you earnt respect back for my club. I wish it didn’t end that way for you, you deserved a send off to fit your standing as a true champion. Now today I have to explain to my four year old why our favourite player (look dad It’s juddy) won’t be running around again on the field. Juddy – A true champion. He gave his all to the game, hope to a million and some respect back to our club.