Congratulations Life Member July 20th 1969, Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. July 21st 2012, Levi Casboult debuts for Carlton. Levi Casboult’s journey just to get to game one was eventful enough. His persistence and the highs and lows he has experienced since is truly a story worth telling.
Taken as pick 44 in the 2010 Rookie draft, Casboult had been at the club for just over a month when he became a central figure of a disastrous Xmas break up Cruise at a club that continued to have its share of off field dramas. The then 19 year old found himself handcuffed and in a drinking game that left him intoxicated to the point that his parents publicly questioned the clubs culture.
In 2011, Casboult began the season with an eye catching 4 goal debut performance for the Northern Bullants, but a shoulder injury sustained a few weeks later saw him miss 8 weeks. Upon return, an impressive 5 goal haul in the 2nd Elimination Final v Bendigo led the Bullants to a stirring win under the coaching of David Teague.
Casboult would retain his spot on the rookie list for the 2012 season. His 2012 season suffered a huge setback for a player in the last year of his rookie contract. A knee injury would sideline him for 14 weeks. However fate as it was would reward Casboult with an unlikely opportunity. In a season in which injuries dogged the club, the Blues found themselves with injuries to Kreuzer, Warnock, Hampson and Rowe leading into the Round 17 game v Western Bulldogs. Casboult, who had only just got the all clear to resume playing was thrust into senior football as the club’s first ruck. He tackled the task with typical determination, so much so he managed to get 3 Best & Fairest votes for his efforts in the club’s unlikely win. The following week he would kick his first goal in senior football in the side’s stirring come from behind win over Richmond. Casboult would hold his spot for six games, including an impressive 3 goal performance v Essendon in Round 21. However the club’s shock loss to the Gold Coast would rock the club and see the departure of Brett Ratten as coach. Casboult would kick 5 behinds in that game. A kidney injury would mean Casboult would miss Ratten’s last as Carlton coach but he had done enough to earn a rookie elevation onto the senior list for 2013.
With the arrival of Mick Malthouse, Casboult would start the season in the seniors but after two losses, he found himself dropped and not recalled until Round 10. Malthouse experimented with playing him as a tall winger, where his marking prowess was seen as a gateway to forward entries. A solid display v Richmond in Rd 21 in which he booted 3 goals wasn’t enough to guarantee a spot for the Elimination Final appearance courtesy of Essendon’s drug scandal penalty off the back of a come back win against the odds at the final match played at Football Park. However an injury to Kreuzer opened up a chance to make his finals debut v Sydney in the First Semi Final in his 17th senior game. To date it remains his only taste of September.
The club’s on field struggles post 2013 would see the start of a very turbulent period for all at the club. Player turnover became the norm as did unrest in the coaches box. At times Casboult would produce games where his marking prowess was considered up with the elite in the competition, only to let himself down with his conversion rate. In 2014, he had to wait till Round 4 to gain senior selection, but held his spot for the remainder of the season, kicking two bags of 4 v Hawthorn and St Kilda respectively in Rd 13 and 16. His 19 games would reap 15 goals.
2015 would again see him fighting for his spot as the club was rocked by the sacking of Mick Malthouse after Rd 8 to be replaced by John Barker. Casboult would manage 16 games for 24 games, passing 50 games in the process in a season that sadly saw the Blues earn the wooden spoon. Season end would see the appointment of Brendan Bolton as senior coach and the committed rebuild put in place. Casboult, with the departures of the likes of Waite and Henderson in recent seasons was now the most senior key forward on the list.
In 2016, he would play 20 games, often playing a support act in the ruck as the club began what they dubbed The Journey. Again though his kicking at goal was seen as a massive issue. So much so, the club brought renowned forward Saverio Rocca to work with him. The partnership started to reap rewards with Casboult booting a career best 34 goals in 2017 to be the club’s leading goalkicker.
The 2018 season would prove a disaster for the club. In a year which netted just two wins, Casboult would end the season in the vfl and on suspension, having played just 10 games for 12 goals. Now a 104 game player, he would miss 4 weeks during the season due to broken ribs and a further week with a finger injury. Come year end he was being shopped around during trade week. Ultimately no club were willing to take a punt on him so he eventually signed a one year deal for the Blues. However his chances of regular senior footy in 2019 seemed slim. Then came a move to defence during the pre season. Just like Liam Jones in 2017, the move seemed to gel with Casboult and after a couple of impressive performances in vfl practice games and the defensive posts of the senior side needing bolstering, Casboult became a revelation as an intercept marker in the defensive 50 and ultimately the perfect swingman in a season in which he was reunited with his first coach, David Teague. Casboult’s season saw him finish a highly deserved 5th in the Best & Fairest and with a real belief of his importance to this side.
His start to 2020 continued to cement his place as one of the club’s most valuable players be it in the ruck or in attack and another top ten finish in the B & F. Levi Casboult has now racked up 141 games and booted 148 goals. To put in context, since making his debut 2012, only two other players have played over 100 club games at Carlton during his time at the club, namely Patrick Cripps and Dale Thomas. He has been a football survivor during a very lean period in the clubs history but he also looms as a key figure in the clubs return to the top 8.
So to Levi Casboult we say thank you and we salute your ability to overcome adversity off the field and determination on it. A True Blue hero.