WITH the completion of the home and away rounds, Carlton's misery was supposed to be at an end.
But, no, the torment has continued for Blues supporters even after their side has finished with its fourth wooden spoon in 14 seasons.
West Coast, Adelaide and North Melbourne were each aided in their successful starts to the finals series by former Carlton players.
And then, adding further salt to their wounds, even the much-maligned Mitch Robinson bobs up to become a joint-winner of the Brisbane Lions best and fairest.
The departure of Josh Kennedy, who booted three goals for the Eagles against Hawthorn last Friday, has always been easier to reconcile for Blues fans due to that fact he was given up to acquire Chris Judd in 2007.
And while they may also have been able to deal with Jarrad Waite's four goals for the Kangaroos against Richmond on Sunday, each one of Eddie Betts' five for the Crows against the Bulldogs would have been like a kick in the guts.
With Carlton reluctant to fork out big dollars to persuade him to stay at the end of 2013, Betts joined Adelaide on a deal believed to be worth $2million over four years, all while the Blues signed Dale Thomas from Collingwood on a reported $2.5million over the same period.
While injuries have restricted Thomas to 25 of a possible 44 games, Betts has played all 44, and kicked 114 goals.
With a career-high 63 this season, he is second behind only Kennedy (78) for majors booted across the competition. Ouch.
In fact, those 63 are the most by a small forward since Jeff Farmer's 73 for Melbourne in 2000.
And at just 173cm, the diminutive Betts now stands in the way of Hawthorn keeping its premiership 'threepeat' dream alive when the teams clash in a cut-throat semi-final tonight.
Betts was once part of Carlton's 'Three Amigos' with Jeff Garlett and Chris Yarran. By next season all will have said 'adios' to the club, Garlett already at Melbourne, and having booted 40 goals in 2015, and Yarran certain to leave, possibly to Richmond.
Carlton also once had the quandary of having four ruckmen on its list all vying for the No.1 role. It looks as though it will be left with none in that position, with free agent Matthew Kreuzer set to follow Shaun Hampson (Richmond) and Sam Jacobs (Adelaide) out the door. Robbie Warnock remains, but seemingly only as a back-up to Cameron Wood.
While one-time Carlton midfielder Shaun Grigg's Tigers are out of the flag race, another former Blue in Jeremy Laidler will help try and curb the influence of Waite tomorrow as a Swans defender.
"Carlton could have made the eight this year if they had maintained and managed those players," a livid former skipper Mark Maclure said this week.
"It's a disaster."
After gradually pulling apart their list, putting far too many players in the too hard basket, the Blues have had the audacity to ask the AFL for a handout - a priority draft pick. But, to borrow a line from former Blues president John Elliott, "pig's a**e".
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