In a raw and honest match review following Thursday night’s loss to the Eagles, Ratten finished the meeting by passing on “his greatest football lesson” after failing to fire in the 1993 AFL Grand Final.
Ratten’s story of how his mindset ahead of the game almost derailed his decorated Carlton career before it began, came after Dougal Howard, Jack Steele and Brad Hill were among the key player voices in a review that centred largely on a disappointing second quarter.
After dominating possession and territory in the first term, the Saints fell away in the second.
Beaten to the ball on the ground and in the air, Ratten’s young side leaked inside 50s and allowed the Eagles to gain the momentum and scoreboard ascendancy.
Howard’s willingness to call out his own, and his teammates’ unacceptable effort or ability to execute this season has been a welcome addition in a young group, and he was again amongst the most vocal.
Hill and Steele were equally prepared to put their hands up as key assistants Brendon Lade and Aaron Hamill took charge of the review.
Lade reiterated a message continually pushed by Head of Football Program David Rath: “Stop trying to be perfect”.
“Football is not perfect so stop thinking you have to be perfect all the time,” he told the group.
“It’s not going to happen that way so stop looking for the perfect kick or play.”
“Give the forwards the best chance you can, and forwards, help the kickers out by getting to a better position.
Hamill urged the group to not just defend with more desperation but defend as one.
“Defend like your life depends on it,” he pressed.
“There were moments when the backs didn’t press up hard enough and help the mids, but mids, do your role and fill the leading lanes.
“There are always going to be failures but if you help each other out, they don’t have to hurt us.”
But it was Ratten’s grand final lesson of 27 years ago that was perhaps most poignant.
The former Carlton gun shared how his mindset as a 22-year-old was one of fear.
“I remember thinking that if the Grand Final wasn’t played, we could both be premiers and that was okay,” he told his chargers.
“If we don’t test ourselves and challenges ourselves, then I don’t have to face the fear of losing.”
With his typical humility and humour, Ratten went on to describe his performance as “sh!thouse”.
“It was the greatest lesson in my life…from that point on I swore I’d never miss another opportunity,” he said.
“I had to go through that moment to understand that you have to take on fear. You have to put yourself out there.
“If it doesn’t work then at least you walk away with your head held high.
“It’s the only way you can touch the mountain, personally and collectively.”
The young Saints take on the Giants on Friday night needing to win to guarantee a return to finals football after an eight-year absence.