Ah, AFL Trade Week.
Is there another event in all of sports that has so much hype for so little reward? Routinely, trade week means nothing. Just rumors, innuendo, and the inevitable news that a player who was mediocre on one team has decided to go and be mediocre on another team.
BUT NOT THIS YEAR FRIENDS!
Thanks to free agency, ASADA, homesickness and general greed, we got ourselves a REAL LIVE TRADE WEEK that featured ACTUAL TRADES.
All can agree that this is an improvement.
So you’ve read the news and updates, but for hard-hitting AFL analysis, you know to come here. Well done son. Well done.
Let’s check out some of the winners first.
It’s a good time to be one of the AFL’s elite clubs!
Thanks to free agency…come to think of it, it’s not actually free at all, but comes at the cost of a somewhat arbitrarily decided draft pick that affects literally every other club, if only slightly. Let’s begin calling it ‘cheap agency’ instead.
Thanks to cheap agency, the recently successful clubs – Geelong, Sydney, Hawthorn – are in a pattern where as long as they show competent management, they almost can’t lose.
This year Geelong picked up Mitch Clark (for Travis Varcoe), while Hawthorn his the jackpot with young gun Jono O’Rourke and key defender (and former All-Australian)
Danny James Frawley.
Sydney actually lost one of their key players, in veteran (and their best player in the Grand Final) Nick Malceski, but seeing as he’s 30 and they nabbed Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett in the previous two trade weeks, we’ll call it a draw.
Meanwhile, as the Western Bulldogs proved, the poor get poorer. And the Bulldogs were pretty damn poor last year.
Somehow a club that is still under investigation by ASADA, who were lucky to make the finals, who have amazingly still chosen James Hird as their coach for 2015, have managed to end up with Adam Cooney, James Gwilt, Jonathan Giles and the #17 pick from a free agency that lost them disgruntled big man Paddy Ryder.
Sure, some of those are reclamation projects, but nothing seems more stunning to me than Cooney choosing the Dons over the Dogs and Roos because of James Hird!
What does James Hird have that the Dogs and Roos don’t have, exactly?!?
Ohhhhhhh. I get it now.
Drugs. It’s the drugs.
I didn’t think I’d ever hear the name ‘Liam Pickering’ spoken with the phrase ‘mega-deal’ in serious conversation, but here we are in 2014. Pickering (Precision Sports Entertainment Group) is part of a new breed, along with the various agents in Elite Sports Properties, Velocity Sports and others, who are GETTING THINGS DONE for players. Any doubt as to the strength of player power in today’s AFL was removed when Pickering stated that Tom Boyd would leave GWS for Victoria next year and the Bulldogs responded by giving the 9-gamer a deal worth more than SIX MILLION DOLLARS. Everybody, stand in front of Peter Gordon’s office and form an orderly queue with your hands out.
This time last year, there was a mass exodus from the Gabba after losing five players they wanted to keep: Sam Docherty, Elliot Yeo, Billy Longer, Patrick Karnezis and Jared Polec, who went on to have a stellar year.
They pick up Dayne Beams, Hayden Christensen and Dayne Beams’ growing array of body art while only losing Joel Patfull and Jack Crisp. Not bad Brisvegas, not bad at all.
Nobody seemed all that fussed about pick #37 being included to secure Paddy Ryder across to Port…nobody except Daniel Gorringe, who was stranded at Gold Coast as a result. Port had discussed handing #37 over for the native South Australian, who had requested a trade, but used it in the Ryder trade instead.
So Gorringe was left on the dance floor, watching everyone else slow-dancing with the pretty girls, while he was stuck at the side of the room with the kids with large dental wear.
The Rhyce Shaw Medal for worst on ground during trade week!
Hmm. In fairness, shouldn’t we call this the Chris Groom Medal? Or the Wayne Carey Medal?
This is already getting tricky. Looks like it’s time for some SUB-CATEGORY MEDALS!
The Chris Groom Medal
For the trade that looks like it could come back to most violently bite a team.
Kyle Cheney and Luke Lowden to Adelaide
A strange one, perhaps, but I’ve got a lot of time for Kyle Cheney. A hard-running, ball-carrying wing/defender is a useful thing to have when you can get it for the right price – just ask Port Adelaide with their 2013 pick-up of Jared Polec. And frankly, the Crows have been missing a flame-haired defender since Ben Hart retired.
While nobody can guarantee that Cheney’s hair won’t clash with the Crows’ alternate jumper, we can guarantee that in a pretty weak Crows team he’ll have a chance to secure a spot in the first 18 – something that was hard to do at the Premiership factory that is Hawthorn FC.
I hate myself for saying that. Hawthorn. Ugh.
All the Crows did to secure Cheney (and Lowden) was to trade down a few third round draft picks, aka NOTHING. Well played Adelaide.
The Wayne Carey Medal
For the team that trades long-term success for short-term mediocrity
Tell me, Paul Roos. You’re meant to be setting Melbourne – and Simon Goodwin – up for success, right? It bringing in Jeff Garlett and Heritier Lumumba, while losing James Frawley and Mitch Clark, in that job description?
The good news is that they get picks 2 and 3.
The bad news is that those young players come into an environment where the previous high young draft picks – I’m thinking Watts, Scully and Trengove here – have either bailed (Scully), tried to bail (Trengove) or been shopped heavily (Watts) – while in the last five years, thanks to expansion, you’ve really only received Jimmy Toumpas (barely played last year) and Christian Salem (too early to tell).
Oh yeah, and they get to be mentored by Collingwood clubhouse cancer Lumumba (the alliteration is free) and Carlton’s self-appointed nightclub bouncer Garlett.
There has been a lot of bad luck with Melbourne over the last decade…but a lot of ineptitude as well. Time will tell which this ends up being.
The James Hird Medal
For the most annoying, drawn-out saga imaginable.
Patrick Ryder to Port Adelaide
So the one trade that everyone knew was happening from day one ended up becoming almost the last trade completed, finally processed at 11:48.
And the AFL world let out a collective, “ugh.” Finally.
There was an awful lot of fist-shaking and ridiculous demands from Essendon, who briefly (and ridiculously) thought they were deserving of Hamish Hartlett or Ollie Wines in return for Ryder. Port, to their credit, didn’t blink, and ended up with a second ruckman to
remove challenge Matthew Lobbe for his spot in the 18.
The Ben Cousins Medal
For the most bone-headed move of the off-season
Tom Boyd to the Western Bulldogs.
I fear for the Bulldogs. They’re not a great team, to say the least. They just lost their 2 time Charles Sutton Medal-winner (I know, I had to look it up too) Ryan Griffen and their #6 draft pick for 9-gamer Tom Boyd, who was promptly rewarded with a $6 million plus contract.
On the one hand – genius. The Bulldogs lock in a #1 draft pick, key forward for the future and don’t have to stress about negotiations for another 7 years.
On the other hand – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Boyd has not proved himself in the AFL. He enters a team with, really, quite a lot of good young players – Macrae, Bontempelli, Liberatore etc. That kind of payday is going to set his new peers asking some questions. It’s also going to set the AFL asking questions, for example, “Hey, Western Bulldogs…are you sure you have that kind of money? Haven’t you been, like, on the brink of folding for the last decade? So…you sure about this?”
Meanwhile, in the other direction goes proven superstar Griffen, still in his prime at 28, along with the #6 pick which will prove very handy for GWS.
I’m hopeful that this isn’t the beginning of the end for the Bulldogs club. I’m sure I’m over-thinking this. I’m sure the Bulldogs young core will be looking pretty dynamite around 2017.
But a few dirty looks in the clubhouse…1 or 2 badly timed injuries…and this could be the disaster to end all disasters at Whitten Oval.
For the full list of trades, click here
Next week: An Adelaide Crows retrospective.