Saturday, June 20, 2015

Reflecting on the Career of Chris Judd

This month Carlton player, and former West Coast player, Chris Judd retired from AFL after sustaining a serious injury. For me though the version of Chris Judd I will most remember finished up about eight years ago. That was the younger version, still with hair, that played with the West Coast Eagles from 2002 to 2007. From his first year Judd was an explosive midfielder that seemed like he was a good few inches taller than the opponents he was sprinting away from.

He won a Brownlow Medal in 2004, captained the Eagles in their premiership win in 2005, and was the consensus best player in the game in 2006. Then Gary Ablett Jr. took over at the best player from 2007 up until last year, and Judd was never really on top again, despite another Brownlow win in 2010. Injuries started to hit Judd before he left the Eagles at the end of 2007. While he certainly was valuable for the Blues in his time there, he was too hobbled to be seen as invincible.

But the 2004-2007 version of Chris Judd was one of the best players I have ever seen, and would be worthy of a spot in an all-time AFL team (even if I have said before I would probably leave him out). I rate him below Ablett and slightly below Michael Voss, but ahead of Nathan Buckley and James Hird. Pretty much everyone liked and admired that version of Judd. It was harder for Victorians at least to like him once he joined the Blues, who despite their recent lack of success are still one of the more disliked teams.

And which team won that Judd/Josh Kennedy-No. 3 draft pick trade? At the time I said I expected the Eagles had gotten the better deal, given that Kennedy’s progress to that time suggested he would be a valuable forward for years to come. Turns out I was about right on Judd playing another eight years, although he played a few less games in that time than I expected. I was also pretty much right about the value of Kennedy and the No. 3 draft pick, which ended up being Chris Masten. Still, even if the Eagles did win the trade I doubt too many Carlton officials wish they could have a do-over on it.

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