Matthew Kreuzer has announced his retirement after 13 seasons and 189 games.
It’s an announcement that will hit Carlton fans unlike any other, probably harder than most opposition club fans would understand.
The 2007 number one draft pick is a fan favourite and will always hold a special place in the hearts of blue baggers forever. But why? Why does a man who never got a consistent run at it and never got the best out of his body get held in such high regard?
From the night Carlton fans saw him he has always been close to the heart, he made an immediate impact with a goal with his first kick and ended with two for the night on debut against the Bombes.
Fast forward to round 11 of that season, AAMI Park in the wet and the Blues are five goals down at three quarter time.
Brendan Fevola has come up empty and the Blues need a miracle, up step Matthew Kreuzer. Kreuzer kicked three last quarter goals as the Blues steamed home to win by two goals.
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After 13 years its time to hang the boots up, my body has had enough. Thank you @carltonfc for allowing me to live my dream. My family for always being there during the highs and lows. Thanks to all the supporters, there was nothing better than hearing the roar of my name come from the stands! Go Blues!
But for all the running goals from outside 50, for all the hitouts to advantage and for all the big marks to the growing murmurings of ‘KREUUUUUUUZ’ it was the dirty and gritty things Kreuzer did that grew his reputation at Princes Park.
For fans born in the 90’s and later, Kreuzer is one of the last connections to any form of success these fans have seen. Many will have missed the 1995 Grand final win, or the 1999 preliminary final win.
That generation of fan grew up with Kreuzer, he was there when things were good. That means something to fans starved of success.
Kreuzer followed up like a midfeilder, his pressure on opposition midfielders and ability to go from contest to contest while clearing a path for his teammates earned him the nickname of ‘tractor’.
Kreuzer was a man of action, known around the club as ‘Humphrey’ affectionately named after ‘Humphrey Bear’. The big man earned this name through his silent manner around the club.
Kreuzer did his talking on-field and did it loudly, everything from the long socks, black boots and tape all over screamed ‘tough’.
Throughout his time at Carlton success was scarce, and a lot of the time fans had no clue what they would get from the team and certain individuals week to week.
But one constant was the effort of Kreuzer, whether he be fit, sore or returning from another long injury lay-off. You knew what Kreuzer was going to bring and that was a priceless commodity.
Kreuzer instantly made Carlton a better side every time he walked out, the team lifted and walked taller with him along side them.
His return from the best part of 18 months out of the game in 2015 was indicative of his importance to the club, the Blues lost to the Crows in a nail biter.
But Carlton fans were buzzing and there was a electricity in the air as Kreuzer got through unscathed and had a significant impact on the game. He was so important to the fans that him returning made another loss almost irrelevant.
Kreuzer played in one winning final, the 2013 elimination final which was seven years ago this week. He broke a bone in his foot that day and played out the game.
He underwent an operation that week and cut a hole in his boot in a bid to play in the semi-final. His attempt was unsuccessful, however his coach at the time Mick Malthouse said it was one of the bravest acts he’d seen.
“His injury to me showed me what a great athlete and competitor he was,” Malthouse said.
“He broke a bone in his foot in a final against Richmond and it needed a screw. He played the game out and we won. He had the operation, he wanted to play the next week with a screw. They cut out a big piece of his boot just so he could fit his foot in the boot. He would’ve played and probably would’ve needed crutches after.
“It just shows you the type of player. He’s just got a massive heart. One of the most likeable people I’ve ever come across in football. All the boys loved him, he gave his heart and his soul to his club and his teammates. Couldn’t speak more highly of him.
“Unfortunately cut down with injuries and just couldn’t be what he wanted to be.”
It seems beyond cruel that Kreuzer’s last time on an AFL field was at an empty MCG, and hobbling off into the retirement, a man who was riddled by injury cut down right at the end.
Right now the pain for Carlton fans is real, it will sting, but the legend of Kreuzer will last long beyond his 13 year career. Princess Park will always have the murmurings of ‘KREUUUUUUZ’ hovering around.
189 games was too few, 13 years was too short, but every time Carlton fans got to yell ‘KREUUUUUUZ’ it was done with love and passion, a passion only special players bring out from the fans.
Thank you, Kreuz.