The former Blue’s near finals misses that has him matching Patrick Cripps

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Snap Shot is a weekly column taking a look at the lighter side of football.

That it took Patrick Cripps 180 games before he played in his first final is now well known but what is less well known is that Western Bulldogs and former Carlton defender Liam Jones now moves to second on the list of current players who have played the most games without playing a final.

Jones, though, it’s fair to say, has been desperately unlucky not to play in a final after 179 games and he is the only current player now in the top 10 of most games without a final to not have spent time at either the Gold Coast or Greater Western Sydney.

Patrick Cripps celebrates a big goal in the premiership quarter of his first finalCredit: Getty Images

He was dropped, along with three teammates for the Bulldogs’ qualifying final in 2010 after playing his fifth consecutive match in the final round of the season, and did not earn a spot in either the semi-final or preliminary final.

In the next four more seasons Jones played at the Western Bulldogs they missed out on finals action before he was traded to Carlton in 2015. The Blues finished that season on the bottom while the Bulldogs returned to finals under Luke Beveridge and then won the flag the next year.

Carlton remained out of finals action until last Friday but, of course, Liam Jones is no longer a Blue having retired from the AFL due to the AFL’s vaccination policy ahead of the 2022 season. He then returned to the Bulldogs for 2023.

That move didn’t pay off with finals action after the Bulldogs’ loss to West Coast in round 23 shoved them down to ninth and out of the finals, with Jones not only watching the Blues make an historic return to finals but knowing it was his former club’s loss to the Giants in the final round that ended the Bulldogs year.

Cripps and former captain Sam Docherty also broke a run of outs that had stretched 30 years for Blues’ skippers when they were part of a Blues victory in their first final.

Previous Carlton captains Marc Murphy, Chris Judd, Lance Whitnall and Anthony Koutoufides were all part of losing teams in their first final with the Blues.

Finals eluded Liam Jones again in 2023Credit: Getty Images

Snap Shot had to go back to the 1993 qualifying final when Carlton beat Essendon with a team containing three future Blues’ skippers – Brett Ratten, Andrew McKay and Craig Bradley – as well as their legendary captain Stephen Kernahan, to find Carlton captains who enjoyed a win in their first final. McKay and Ratten’s first final was in 1993 while Kernahan and Bradley won their first final in 1986, coincidentally at the MCG against Sydney.

“It’s what you play footy for, big games. It’s not just me. A lot of us haven’t played finals, Doc 12 years, a lot of the boys, eight years,” Cripps told Channel 7 post-game.

Down, down, and out

Everyone can do with a hand at times but rarely is an extra one necessary at the coin toss before a big final.

So rest assured we won’t be seeing the Coles Mascot waving its big red hand in the background of the coin toss as football lovers, and the two club captains Melbourne’s Max Gawn and Collingwood’s Darcy Moore, did on Thursday night before the qualifying final.

Big Max was able to point out which end the Demons were kicking too without any help.

Darcy Moore lost the coin toss but won the game, celebrating with Jeremy HoweCredit: Getty Images

For the next two matches Coles employees will get to toss a few more coins ahead of finals as part of an internal rewards program that comes with the AFL sponsorship (no real harm there) but a Coles spokesperson confirmed we can wave goodbye to the hand that was about as welcome as the Big Red Sherrin that promoted AFLX.

“We can confirm our team members are excited to continue to be part of the special coin tossing moment in the finals series (except the grand final) and the ‘big red hand’ was a one-night only assistant and has headed back to stores,” a Coles spokesperson said.

VAFA Thriller

Kicking the winning goal in a final is something that lives with a player for life, so there is no doubt Collegians’ mobile ruckman Ben Woodfull will dine out on his effort in the VAFA premier division second semi-final.

The 20-year-old – who was George Wardlaw’s teammate at the Oakleigh Chargers in 2022 and a former Wesley College student – has played for Williamstown in the VFL before making a huge difference at Collegians in the latter part of the season.

But it was his effort to coolly slot a goal from close to 50 metres with a minute remaining against University Blues that put him in club folklore as Collegians came from four goals behind with 10 minutes remaining to win.

It was Woodfull’s first goal for the season putting the Jared Rivers-coached Collegians into the grand final.

On the coach’s whiteboard

Before you go, here are …

Five key lines Snap Shot believes were used by Carlton supporters in the aftermath of their first finals victory in 10 years:

Blues CEO Brian Cook (left) enjoyed Carlton’s finals win. Credit: Carlton Football Club

They said

“I just wish he’d kicked that ball at the end. They would still be singing Country Road out there I reckon if he had” Lions coach Chris Fagan on how Charlie Cameron’s goals light up the Gabba

But they meant to say

“I just wish he liked Dire Straits as much as I do. They would still be singing Money for Nothing out there I reckon if I had my way.”

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