It’s very easy to get lost in the mayhem that is the AFL.
Just ask Patrick Cripps. He was a John Nicholls Medallist at the age of 20, an All Australian at 23 and captaining the Club in Round 1 when he was 24.
Almost instantly, he was a household name amongst Carlton supporters and the wider football world.
It’s why the midfield gun does his best to “sit back and reflect” once in a while. After all, when it all comes down to it, he’s just a kid from country Western Australia.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to sit back and enjoy the position you’re in, to be lucky enough to play AFL footy,” Cripps told Carlton Media.
“It was a dream of mine as a kid growing up. I came from from a small country town.
“Sometimes when you’re in the footy world, you get used to it and it becomes a job.
“When you take time to reflect and be grateful for the opportunity you have, it’s a pretty special place to be at.”
It’s been quite the ascent for Carlton’s No.9, who was preparing for his first year as skipper this time 12 months ago.
While he didn’t have co-captain Sam Docherty alongside him on the field, Cripps dealt with the added responsibility with aplomb on his way to a third John Nicholls Medal.
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However, it’s clear that personal accolades aren’t what Cripps is in it for.
“You’d love to keep winning, mate: that’s the goal,” he said.
“The captaincy to me is one where I want to help people get better and help drive the standards of the Club to achieve success.
“You don’t have a personal ego attached to it. If you can help guys create a good culture and get the best out of themselves, that’s what we’re here to do.
“‘Doc’ and I work really closely together to do that — it’s probably what I enjoy most about being captain.”
It’s been a lot of hard work in recent years for Carlton and Cripps, who - in the middle of last year - admitted he was “knackered, physically and mentally cooked”.
However, a resurgence in the back-end of last year and a strong pre-season has seen a reinvigorated playing group at Ikon Park.
With crowds roaring and optimism flowing, it’s no surprise that Cripps labelled those final months as “the most enjoyable 10-week block I’ve played”.
“There have been some really tough times but you felt the energy that the crowd was generating,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of talent: hopefully they bring that early in the year, the crowd gets roaring and we get a few wings on the board in the first few rounds.
“Be optimistic and be positive: that’s the message we’re going with. We want you guys [Carlton members and supporters] to have fun out there.”
For so long, Cripps has been regarded as the lone force in an emerging if not raw Carlton midfield.
In what he described as a “first-class” pre-season, Cripps said he was looking forward to the on-ball brigade firing on all fronts.
“There are so many names you can choose from: Will Setterfield, Sam Walsh, there’s more you can throw onto that,” he said.
“The biggest thing is that they’re working out how to play consistent AFL footy. Their bodies are now in a position where they’re strong enough and they’re fit enough to last a whole season.
“The best thing about the midfield is you work closely together and you try and build as much chemistry as you can. The more you play together, the more you get that.
“It’s a pretty good, dynamic mix we’ve got in there.”