“HE IS, fundamentally, a Carlton person and a Carlton leader.”
Given the opportunity to mention who had a big influence on him when he first stepped foot into the Carlton Football Club, Patrick Cripps cited Michael Jamison as a key mentor for him in his early days.
However, the Carlton Life Member believes the current captain had just as big an impact on him as the other way around.
Cripps will play his 150th AFL game tonight, matching the exact number of games which Jamison played across his own decade in Navy Blue.
While the bond between the veteran key defender and budding inside midfielder may have been an odd one, Jamison is certainly thankful of the connection they created while at IKON Park.
“I think of him as a kid still!”
“I was drawn to his humility and he was just a really good kid. He’ll say that I helped him in those early days, but he helped me just as much as I helped him,” Jamison said.
“I was really surprised when you mentioned it was 150 games already. It feels like he just got here, but then you think of the times he’s been through and being the face of the Club for the last few years.”
Jamison had called time on his career by the stage Cripps had been named initially as co-captain alongside Sam Docherty, before taking on the solo mantle this year.
But the former Blue - who himself was a vice-captain of the football club - believed Cripps was always destined for a leadership role since the day he walked in the door after the 2013 NAB AFL Draft.
And when it comes to Cripps’ connection to Carlton, it goes far beyond the long-term contract extension he signed last year which saw him officially become a Blue for life.
“He is engrossed with the Club. He is firmly entrenched in the Club,” Jamison said.
“This isn’t something where he’s going to be here for 15 years and then move on and be a fan. He wants to be part of the history.
“You’ve heard him speak about going through the tough times so when the good times come, it’ll mean so much more — he truly means that.”
It’s easy to forget that when Cripps became a Blue nine years ago, he was - at the time - regarded as a controversial first-round draft selection.
However, his playing wares were proven almost instantly on the way to three John Nicholls Medals inside his first six seasons.
Back to that form now which has seen him become a 2022 Brownlow Medal fancy, Jamison believes it’s Cripps’ care for those around him - rather than his physical stature and playing exploits - which should go down as his greatest strength.
“I think people can [underestimate the role as captain],” he said.
“What’s been really noticeable is in the last three or four years, his performance has become secondary to the team’s performance, but more importantly the wellbeing of his teammates.
“Of course he wants to perform for the team, but that becomes natural when a player of his calibre gets to his experience. That want for his teammates to be better as players - but more importantly, as people - seems to be his number one priority.
“I think that’s what makes him the perfect captain for any footy club, but in particular the Carlton Football Club.”
Given the way he burst onto the scene, Cripps has only naturally become one of the most-talked about players across the competition as his reputation grew and grew.
So, what’s one thing that might be not a case of what you see is what you get for a man Jamison described as a “pretty open book”?
“He drinks chai lattes,” he said.
“I think it’s surprising for a bloke off the WA Wheatbelt, I don’t think his old man would look upon that too fondly that he drinks chai lattes. Does that count?”