It is without question that Brendan Fevola has been Carlton’s best big forward in the modern era. The mercurial superstar’s ability to take big marks and kick bags of goals was handy to Carlton during his peak and the footy world still misses his talented, energetic presence on the field.
Since Fev’s unceremonial departure from the club in 2009, the key forward position has been a problem area for Carlton, with the Blues unable to find a replacement that can fill the enormous goal-kicking void. Here, we are ranking ten of the key forwards that have been used by Carlton in the hopes of filling the Fevola-sized void.
8. Lachie Henderson
Truth be told, it feels awkward ranking a great player like Henderson so low. However, he only spent a small portion of his Carlton career as a key forward. Though, in his short time there, he proved handy enough to provide a target for his midfielders to kick to.
In saying that, Henderson at his best was, and always will be, as a backman. When a player has their best position as something this obvious, you don’t take that away from them. Henderson proved throughout his career that he’s far more useable in the backline, rather than the forward line. It’s safe to say he wasn’t Carlton’s goal kicking answer.
7. Andrejs Everitt
Everitt’s time at Carlton coincided with their worst period in the middle of the 2010s. The Carlton of this era were a mess, a rabble and undoubtedly the laughing stock of the AFL world.
It cannot all be placed on Everitt’s shoulders, of course, but for the purposes of our ranking, he just didn’t get it done as Carlton’s main man up top. Barely mustering a goal a game ratio, Carlton fans have not been missing the big man in their squad.
6. Mitch McGovern
In his short time at the Blues, following a highly touted trade from Adelaide, McGovern was hoped to be the one who could lead their forward line alongside other talents such as Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite pan out for McGovern.
McGovern simply wasn’t, and this is the story of a lot of the players here, the forward they needed, offering a really paltry return for the price they paid and the expectations on his shoulders. He has been shifted down back as well, where he has seemed to find his niche, like so many others on this list. Perhaps, he too isn’t Carlton’s answer to their forward line woes.
5. Setanta O’Hailpin
The first thing we sadly think about with this player is his chaotic training ground mishap with Cameron Cloke, but that’s ultimately irrelevant to the story of this ranking. Playing second fiddle for the first half of his career to Fevola, once the superstar left, the enigmatic Irishman got his chance to lead the line in 2010.
O’Hailpin didn’t disappoint, booting 26 goals in 14 games, for a side that were all over the place. Injuries ruined him and he was delisted at the end of the next season. It can be considered if he would’ve been a sizeable replacement for Fevola, if given better health and opportunity.
4. Harry McKay
In a small sample size, Harry McKay has proven himself capable of being a solid key man in an AFL forward line for Carlton. Steadily being given the reigns, McKay has increased his goal kicking numbers year by year, all the while proving himself a mean marking force.
In 2019, he kicked a career best 26 goals in 15 games, all the while clucking in over 6 marks per game. Carlton have cried out for a big forward that can combine aerial ability and goal kicking, so for their sake, here’s hoping McKay is going to be that man.
3. Levi Casboult
If we’re talking about the strongest players in the AFL, and the best contested markers, then Casboult deserves a lot of consideration. Throughout his career, his size and strength have allowed him to beat most opponents in a marking contest.
Where he’s been a let down has been his kicking accuracy. To sum up Casboult for Carlton, would be to look at his marking numbers versus his kicking numbers. Throughout his time at Carlton the big man has barely managed a goal a game, but comfortably plucks down 5 marks a game. A recent switch to the backline has seen him back to his best, but again, that is a worrying trend for Carlton big men.
2. Charlie Curnow
Probably the most prodigiously talented of the bunch, Curnow has everything to take him to the next step of being an elite big forward. Possessing skill, athleticism, size and strength, it’s sometimes no wonder he’s even been compared to Anthony Koutifides.
Sadly, Curnow has been marred by injuries of all sorts: knees, feet, ankles and toes. Currently, Curnow is unable to get himself consistent time on the park, which is hurting his potential. Hopefully, he can overcome his injury worries and be the player we know he can be, for we are looking at one of the most exciting young forwards in the competition.
1. Jarrad Waite
Waite, out of everyone here, possesses not only the most goals but also the best goal-to-game ratio, which is telling for a player that left back in 2014. He was the only real answer to Fev in this era, and the only key forward who was consistently bagging goals.
What led him down, like it has done for many, was his durability, having never been able to complete a full season as Carlton’s primary key forward. He left in very unfriendly circumstances to North Melbourne, but his play and importance to that club further highlighted how key he was for Carlton. Had he never left, it’s easy to say that Carlton may not have recycled so many forwards during this time.