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‘Fossil’ still discovering his best footy: Cripps

Carlton co-captain and former AFLPA Board member Sam Docherty will play his 100th game on Saturday afternoon against North Melbourne. Fellow co-captain and close friend Patrick Cripps has penned an insightful piece for on what makes ‘Doc’ a much-loved figure at the Blues. 

Thinking back to when I first met ‘Doc’ feels like a long time ago now.

We both arrived at Carlton at the end of 2013 – Doc from Brisbane and myself through the draft.

My first impression of him was the genuine care he has for the people around him and his love for the game of footy.

We share the same manager – Matty Bain (Stride Sports Management) – and he was always pumping Doc up to me saying that he’s a great bloke and an elite half-back.

We actually played our first game together for the Northern Blues against Williamstown in the VFL.

We came back from 37 points down that day to win by a point – it’s a pretty good first footy memory to have.

I’ve always known Doc had strong leadership capabilities.

One of the things that has always stood out about him is the amount of time and effort he puts into his game.

We’ve always bounced ideas off each other from both a football and leadership point of view and that’s grown to us both becoming co-captains.

Over time, our friendship has grown to one where we can say anything to each other with confidence and know that we’ve got the support of one another.

Being around a football club can be tough when you’re not winning but, for me the most pleasing thing working with Doc has been our ability to keep the group close.

You hear a lot of the Carlton guys say it, but we’re a tight-knit group and it’s starting to show on-field. We still have a fair bit of improvement left but everyone is enjoying their football.

None more so than Doc.

He’s had a challenging couple of years with two ACL injuries and being stuck on the sidelines, but his care for the club and leadership never wavered.

Doc had just torn his ACL for a second-time and the day after we were doing our 2km time-trial. Despite his own personal challenges, he stood on the sidelines supporting the boys.

That moment showed how committed he is to our club – not that we needed any reminding – and how much respect the group has for him.

You can see from the small sample of games this year just how much it has helped having him back out there.

His ability to not only create offence but also be a strong voice behind the ball is something that stands out.

He’s a bit of a fossil around our joint – we’re pretty young at the Blues – but he’s about to hit his prime at 26, which I think is the exciting part.

We’ve shared many moments in our friendship, but one of the proudest was running out together in Round 1 this year for the first time as co-captains.

Although it’s the second season of us sharing the captaincy, it was the first-time we were able to be on the field together as the club’s leaders.

The excitement on Doc’s face was like he was playing his first game of AFL again.

Even though we lost, I was so happy for him to be back out there.

Doc has a relentless drive to be the best player he can be.

He strives to make others better and fosters a supportive environment – it’s what makes him such a great captain and I think people are beginning to see, externally, what makes him such a highly regarded person at our football club.

The Carlton faithful know how important he is to our team and how lucky we are to have him.

One of the best things about footy is the people you meet and the memories you create. Doc is one of those blokes and I can’t wait for the memories ahead with the big fella.