FORMER Carlton footballer Matthew ‘Skinny’ Lappin, thesedays domiciled in Queensland, had hoped to be at Carrara’s Heritage Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon to see his Blues potentially lock in a finals berth for the first time in a decade with victory over the Suns.
But football has ironically deprived him of that opportunity, as Lappin is the resident coach of QAFL outfit Surfer’s Paradise, which meets Aspley at the Hornets’ Graham Road Oval in Carseldine at 2pm.
“The timing isn’t great, but it is what it is,” Lappin said. “In any event our place on the ladder can’t change so I’ll have my phone handy in a corner of the coach’s box to keep tabs on what’s happening.”
Watching on from afar these past eight weeks, Lappin has been “blown away like everyone” with Carlton’s incredible metamorphosis.
“I didn’t see this coming,” said the Blues’ prodigiously-gifted 196-gamer. “It’s been a total 180-degree turnaround and a real credit to everyone involved who stuck fat and kept it together – and they’re playing a sustainable brand of football by the look of it.
“I’ve loved watching it and I’ve been pretty vocal about it on my Twitter account. They’ve kept building with the addition of the right pieces.”
Originally drafted by St Kilda at selection 40 in the 1993 AFL Draft, Lappin strung 55 games together before being traded to Carlton with selection No.58 (later used to draft Ian Prendergast) in exchange for its selections Nos.22 and 53 (later used to secure James Begley and Troy Schwarze) in 1998.
The Blues knew what they were getting with the prodigiously gifted Chiltern footballer, whose Carlton tenure would cover 196 games through nine seasons – amongst them the 1999 preliminary and Grand Finals – and would result in him earning All-Australian and international honours.
Following his on-field retirement, Lappin remained with Carlton as an assistant coach, and as a playing assistant coach with the Northern Bullants. He served as Carlton’s forward line coach from 2008 until 2010 before completing four years as an assistant coach at Collingwood from 2011.
Lappin relocated to Queensland and in early 2015 was appointed Gold Coast’s Head of Development. In August of that year he again donned the boots, this time for the Suns’ reserve grade team as a result of the team’s player shortages due to injuries.
In 2018, Lappin pursued his coaching interests as Head Coach of Southport Sharks’ Junior AFL Academy before accepting the coaching role with Surfer’s Paradise, and as self-confessed sun-lover he considers he’ll be in Queensland for the long haul.