Chris Judd shows true Blue class in continuing on
IT'S fair to say the second half of Chris Judd's career hasn't panned out quite as he wanted.
Literally bursting on to the scene with West Coast in 2002, the dynamic on-baller had won a Brownlow Medal in his third season, a Norm Smith Medal in his fourth and a premiership medallion in his fifth.
But the Melbourne boy he wanted to experience another back home - and it's why he plumped for Carlton over Collingwood and Essendon, who he had all 'meeted and greeted' while deciding which would be his new club at the end of 2007.
The then 24-year-old had believed the Blues were on an upward spiral after bottoming out and gaining three successive No.1 draft picks - Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Matthew Kreuzer.
'Juddy' may have won a second Brownlow in 2010, but the Blues have won just two of six finals over six seasons since his arrival, never having finished any higher than fifth (in 2011).
Tonight he will play his 135th game for Carlton, taking him past the number of appearances he made for the Eagles - and will carry on towards 300 next season.
He turned back the clock in games No. 132, 133 and 134 for the Blues, against North Melbourne (21 disposals, nine contested), Fremantle (22, 15) and Gold Coast (27, 15), and at one stage against the Suns really put the afterburners on through the forward-50m in true Judd-style to kick a goal.
His recent performances have both reminded everyone of the days he was considered the game's best player, and ensured he made the right decision in putting retirement plans on hold.
Taking a pay cut - possibly as much as 50% - he's not playing on for money, and with the Blues languishing in 13th spot with a 7-12 win-loss record, he's not playing on for a flag either.
The now 30-year-old admirably just wants to contribute a little more to a club that is "starting to turn a little bit of a corner".
Who knows, though, what might happen next year with a side showing enough right now to suggest it should be back vying for a finals berth … though how many times have we said that about Carlton in recent seasons. We certainly did in 2007.
For the stars to align for the Blues, the stars must re-sign - and it is happening.
Entering the peak of his powers, Bryce Gibbs resisted offers to return to his home state of South Australia, while Rising Star nominee Troy Menzel and the cornerstone of the defence, Sam Rowe, both inked new deals this week.
The Blues must now persuade key forward Jarrad Waite, 31, to follow in Judd's footsteps and commit for another year and resist any urge to trade away goalsneak Jeff Garlett.
Though it will be temping for the sprightly albeit incredibly inconsistent Waite, 31, to make the switch to a premiership fancy such as Fremantle or North in the twilight of his career, the Blues will get nothing if he walks as a free agent.
Garlett, meanwhile, has currency at the trade table, but as he showed when kicking 40 goals last season, can be a dangerous attacking weapon if he gets his head straight.
One more for Juddy boys.