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Blues' best draft bargains

Best of Fev Relive some of Brendan Fevola's highlights at the navy blue.

With officially a fortnight to go until the first night of the NAB AFL Draft, it’s time to look back on some of Carlton’s big wins at the table.

There’s been a number of success stories for the Blues on draft night, with some club greats arriving for not much — whether it’s in the national, pre-season or rookie draft.

With the past, present and future all featuring, we’ve narrowed it down to 11.

These are in chronological order from when they were drafted to the Club.

Michael Sexton

The 1995 premiership player and two-time state representative played exactly 200 senior games in the navy blue from 1990 to 2000. Back when drafting was less of a scientific art than it is today, the Blues selected Sexton - who would become a much-loved servant of the Club - with selection 54 in the 1988 draft.

Darren Hulme

‘Pup’ was an inspired selection in the pre-season draft of 1997. Overlooked in the national draft, Hulme was ultimately the 97th player selection across the competition that season — his determination and grit saw him resonate with Carlton supporters across 110 games. He polled Carlton’s most votes in the Brownlow Medal in 2001 alongside Craig Bradley and Adrian Hickmott.

 

Brendan Fevola

The enigma in the No.25 guernsey: there weren’t many who could thrill the Bluebagger army like Brendan Fevola could. Arriving at Carlton with pick 38 in 1998, Fevola burst onto the scene when he kicked 12 goals in the ‘Millenium Match’ against Collingwood on December 31, 1999. Fast forward to the end of an enthralling career, Fevola ended with 575 goals and two Coleman Medals in the navy blue.

Ryan Houlihan

Speaking of Fevola: onto the man who he crowned “the most skilful he ever played with”. Another double centurion of the Blues, Houlihan ended his career on 201 games across 12 years after making his debut at the turn of the millennium. Selected with pick 73 in the national draft of 1999, Houlihan - the record games holder in the No.33 - forged a career as a highly skilled player who was equally comfortable across half-forward or half-back.

Kade Simpson

The first current player to feature on this list, there isn’t much more that can be said about Kade Simpson that hasn’t already. The heart and soul of the football club was drafted to the Blues with a fourth round selection in 2002 in what was a difficult team for Carlton. When then-Recruiting Manager Shane O’Sullivan said ‘we couldn’t believe he was still there’, you get the sense he meant it. After over 300 games, Carlton’s warrior in the No.6 is one of the best-ever draft selections.

 

Andrew Carrazzo

The boyhood Bluebagger would go onto win a John Nicholls Medal and spend seven years in the leadership group, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Previously at Geelong, Carrazzo was ultimately rookie drafted by the Blues in 2003: from there, ‘Carrots’ proved to be a consummate professional and clubman. As someone who bled blue, Carrazzo well and truly repaid the faith shown in him all those years ago.

Eddie Betts

Another one for the pre-season draft (pick 3 in 2004), Eddie Betts was given a chance by the Blues and became a much-loved member in the time he represented the Carlton Football Club. Betts contributed 290 goals from his 184 games at Carlton, bursting onto the scene with seven goals in his first three games. He often made the impossible look easy, winning the AFL’s Goal of the Year in 2005 and twice winning Carlton’s goal-kicking award.

Dennis Armfield

You can’t simply pigeon-hole Dennis Armfield as a set of ‘steak knives’, after the West Australian was selected with pick 46 in 2007 — a pick which arrived at the Blues in the Chris Judd trade. The universally-admired ‘Dennis’ was a hit amongst Carlton fans, living and loving the jumper and everything that went with it. The two-time Best Clubman’s effort could never be questioned across each of his 145 games in navy blue.

 

Nick Duigan

The first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people when you mention the words ‘Nick Duigan’ is the 2013 Elimination Final. Famously, Duigan produced one of the great Carlton cameos, when four goals from the defender-turned-forward broke Richmond hearts. Taken as a mature-age selection with pick 70 in 2010, Duigan was as courageous as they come and immediately endeared himself to the Carlton faithful with his attack on the footy across half-back. But also — that 2013 Elimination Final!

Ed Curnow

In a similar boat to Duigan, Ed Curnow was selected in the same year and was immediately thrust into the team in Round 1 as a rookie-listed played. Formerly at the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL, Curnow has since become a leader of the Blues, forming part of the leadership group for the last three years. With 143 games currently under his belt, Curnow achieved a career-best in the John Nicholls Medal when he came third alongside his brother Charlie this year.

Patrick Cripps

Can a pick 13 be classified as a draft steal? We’ll allow it, especially when you take a moment to acknowledge Patrick Cripps’ achievements in just five years. A two-time best and fairest (the second-youngest ever), an All Australian, the record-holder for contested possessions in a season and now a joint captain of the Club. In a draft which also included Josh Kelly and Marcus Bontempelli, Carlton is in great hands with Cripps and Sam Docherty setting phase two in motion.