THE curtain has been drawn on an unprecedented 2020 season for the Navy Blues.
Trading Ikon Park for 10 different hotel hubs across Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, it’s been a year we won’t soon forget.
With the final siren having rung on the final game, it’s time to look at those who featured in five or more games for Carlton or made their AFL debuts in 2020.
Here’s the year that was for Carlton’s No.18, Sam Walsh.
KEY AFL STATISTICS (averages in brackets):
Disposals: 349 (20.5) Marks: 73 (4.3) Contested possessions: 143 (8.4) Uncontested possessions: 213 (12.5) Clearances: 45 (2.7) Inside 50s: 66 (3.9) Score involvements: 68 (4) Metres gained: 5455 (386)
When it comes to backing up debut seasons, Sam Walsh had his work cut out for him. Come the end of 2020, it was clear that the young star had delivered in spades.
Heading into the season as the 2019 NAB AFL Rising Star and 2019 AFLPA Best First-Year Played, Walsh’s 2020 season was under the spotlight from the football world to see if he could replicate his stunning form.
Included in the leadership group in just his second season, Walsh did exactly that, playing every game and emerging as a genuine match-winner in the second half of the year.
Playing largely on the wing before returning back to an inside midfield role in the season’s final weeks, Walsh’s back-end to the season was All-Australian quality, starring against the likes of Port Adelaide and Brisbane in another memorable year for the young Blue.
Take a pick.
Moving onto the wing from Round 3, Walsh hit his straps at the midway point of the season, polling coaches’ votes in eight of his 11 games.
When it came to his standout performance, it’s hard to look beyond his stellar showing in Round 16 against Sydney. Polling a perfect 10 coaches’ votes, Walsh was simply everywhere on the wing, kickstarting Carlton’s 42-point comeback with a second-quarter goal and more disposals (25) than anyone else on the ground.
It may very well go down as the Mark of the Year on Brownlow night for its pure courage and commitment.
When Carlton needed someone to stand up against eventual minor premiers Port Adelaide, their second-year leader did exactly that with a stunning mark in the third quarter.
With the Power surging, Walsh ran for 50 metres with the flight of the ball into oncoming traffic, taking as courageous a mark as you will see with a red-hot Charlie Dixon steaming through.
Watch it for yourself.
THEY SAID IT
After his NAB AFL Rising Star and AFLPA nods last year, Walsh completed the clean sweep with the AFLCA Best Young Player award come season’s end.
“It’s obviously a huge honour and something that I didn’t think too much about, so it caught me by surprise,” Walsh said of the award.
- 2019 NAB AFL Rising Star ?— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) September 24, 2020
- 2019 AFLPA Best First Year Player ?
- 2020 AFLCA Best Young Player ?
It's been a clean sweep of individual awards for our young gun in the last two years, and this is how @samwalsh_18 did it.#OwnTheFuture
“I’ve grown in different areas this year… the wing role was a really positive one for me.
“I feel as though I can keep building from here and it’s great to get a bit of recognition along the way.”