THE SPIRIT of Carlton legend Stephen Kernahan might have inspired the Blues before their upset 15-point win over Essendon at the MCG on Sunday, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has revealed.
Kernahan, captain of Carlton's Team of the Century, was in the Blues' rooms pre-match to present a guernsey to debutant Tom Williamson and spoke with typical passion about what it meant to represent his beloved club.
After the Blues conjured a boilover over their previously undefeated arch-rival, Bolton said Kernahan's words had an impact as Carlton notched their first win of the season.
"It was a really important moment for us before the game when (Stephen) 'Sticks' Kernahan came in and presented young WiIliamson with a guernsey and just told him what it means to play for our club, and I reckon a little bit of that spirit rubbed off," Bolton told reporters post-match.
The victory came after a disappointing loss to Richmond in the season-opener and a gallant defeat to Melbourne last week, and Bolton said it showed the development his young side was making.
The effort was built on a club record of 111 tackles (Essendon laid 98), in a statistical area Bolton had emphasised with his players as they prepared to play in heavy conditions.
"We've got a mantra of continuing to grow and learn, and when you've got conditions like that, it comes back to a little bit of old-school days – I felt like I was back in Tassie a little bit there with all the wet weather," Bolton said.
"You've just got to win the contested possession (and) tackle count. It's not pretty, and it's a bit about heart, and with such a young side I'm extremely proud.
"I'm not sure of the crowd, it'd be close to 50,000 (it was 48,022) – we were rapt they came out to support us in conditions like this. Hopefully they're enjoying the growth of the kids as well."
The Blues coach was pleased with his team's response over the past fortnight, since having their "pride dented" in round one.
He reiterated his determination that, given the Blues' rebuilding phase, they wouldn't be defined simply by wins and losses, but neither would they absolve themselves from the responsibility of winning.
What they do want to be defined by, though, is unity and pressure acts.
"We want to be more consistent quarter to quarter, and from round one to now we've grown a little bit each time and we've got more consistency. That's the step up from last year to this year," Bolton said.