As Carlton seeks a record 17th AFL Premiership and to break it’s longest flag drought, it is piloted by a down to earth yet dominant force in Patrick Cripps.
The club’s youngest ever three-time Best and Fairest winner has taken all before him in his first 100 games as a Blue. But a deep-seated desire to lead and mould Carlton in to a September contender is the charter Cripps will spearhead through the next decade.
Cripps grew up on a 10 000 acre sheep farm outside Northampton, 470 kilometres north of Perth. He moved south to board at Aquinas College from Year 8 and came on to AFL radars with an outstanding 2013 Under 18 campaign with both East Fremantle in the WAFL and when representing WA at the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.
Subsequently taken with selection 13 of the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Cripps endured a lower leg fracture just weeks after his AFL debut, but rounded out his 2014 in the VFL, claiming second in the Northern Blues Best and Fairest from just 10 games.
The next five seasons have seen Cripps turn from promising youngster in to one of the game’s elite players. A first Best and Fairest alongside second place in the NAB Rising Star in 2015 parlayed into elevation in the club’s leadership group in 2016 as a 20-year old.
A back ailment and broken leg bookended his 2017, but the 2018-19 seasons completed the number 9’s ascent to AFL stardom. Back-to-back All Australian and Best and Fairest awards, a runner-up finish in the AFLPA MVP award in 2018, before claiming the Leigh Matthews Trophy the following year, and placings of fourth then third in the Brownlow Medal round out an extraordinary period for Cripps.
At a hulking 195 centimetres, Cripps is unrivalled for his ability to win contested possessions and clearances. But his approach at the contest belies his laid back, thoughtful, affable nature. Currently completing a degree in agricultural business majoring in finance, Cripps also devotes a lot of his time children’s cancer charity MyRoom.
Cripps is partnered with the likes of Nike and Hyundai, with the brands working in tandem with the Blues skipper as they both seek to achieve their goals.