The past few weeks we have seen the AFL clubs wheel and deal their way through the annual trade period. Who the winners and losers are from this year’s horse trade may well be debated for years to come. In this spirit, this Flashback Friday we take a look back some trades from days past, the blockbuster, the doomed, the intriguing and the bewildering.
PLUGGER FLYS NORTH
As a St Kilda supporter the trade that looms largest in my mind, and probably always will, is the trade of Tony Lockett from the Saints to Sydney. In 1994 Lockett was arguably the biggest name in the game and speculation was rife that the 1987 Brownlow Medallist’s time at Moorabbin was drawing to a close.
As the goal-kicking behemoth served a lengthy suspension, St Kilda supporters got a sneak peak of life without their key man. As they did so the press speculated whether Lockett would join Collingwood or Richmond the following season. Speculation that culminated, perhaps a little early, with the following being announced.
As you’d expect clubs are a little reticent to sell 183 game, 898 goal superstars. Despite Richmond reaching agreement with Plugger, they were unable to reach a settlement with the Saints. The Tigers loss was Sydney’s gain though, the Swans able to convince Lockett to accept their, then massive, offer of $1m over three years and extricate him from St Kilda in a complicated three-way trade.
There might have been a few uncomfortable moments when Lockett attended his first training session in the Harbour City. His last visit in St Kilda colours resulted in this infamous incident. Swans Coach Ron Barassi was strong in his condemnation and his ‘victim’ and 1995 team-mate Peter Caven did this on national television.
The AFL Legend was a sensation in Sydney, kicking 281 goals, breaking the AFL career goal kicking record and winning two Coleman Medals. In his second season, 1996, the Swans qualified for their first Grand Final since 1945. Perhaps more importantly in his time at the club, the interest he brought to the club saw membership numbers increase from 2875 to 31,175.
FREO TRADE THE NUMBER ONE PICK
The Number One Draft pick has been traded once in the history of the AFL Draft. This trade was the subject of much consternation but, surprisingly, not from the supporters of the team giving it away.
The 2001 Draft was expected, and subsequently proven, to be a ‘Superdraft’. Hawthorn wanted to get their hands on the Prized Pick and were prepared to pay a pretty penny to make it happen.
To entice the pick out of Fremantle’s hands, and to get first crack at Luke Hodge, Luke Ball or Chris Judd, the Hawks put promising forward and fan favourite Trent Croad on the table. Eager to welcome Croad to Perth, Freo also sought, and received from the Hawks, young Western Australian defender Luke McPharlin. With a 22-year-old centre half forward and a 20-year-old centre half back secured, Fremantle happily handed their number one draft pick to the equally happy Hawks.
Then Hawks recruiting manager John Turnbull said on the day of the draft that the decision on Croad had been “a considered judgment.”
“It was a situation we planned for; we’ve always planned to trade to get low picks.”
Hawthorn fans were not quite as amenable to the situation. 200 incensed supporters gathering on a spring evening at Glenferrie Oval to protest the decision and plead with their club to reverse the decision, desperate to see their man finish his career in brown and gold, not knowing then what we know now – that from the draft they would find two modern Hawthorn greats and Croad would indeed still finish his career a Hawk.
Along with Pick 1, Hawthorn also received Picks 20 and 36, these selections ultimately were used to attain Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell. Both now Hawthorn premiership captains and four time premiership players and legends of the club. Trent Croad, after 38 games in Freo purple, was welcomed back to Hawthorn in exchange for pick 10 and ended his career with a premiership medal around his neck in 2008.
Luke McPharlin became a Fremantle stalwart playing 244 games for the Dockers, including the 2013 Grand Final, and attaining All-Australian selection in 2012. Draft Pick 10 that they received in exchange for Croad in 2003 was used on Ryley Dunn who managed only eight games in five seasons for the Dockers.
Despite Hawthorn fan concerns with this trade, poor Fremantle were the ones that were destined to come out the worse for it. Not surprisingly, no subsequent holder of the Number One pick has been courageous enough to trade it in the years that have followed.
THE VEALE DEAL
After developing in a reliable key defender in 116 games at Hawthorn, 24-year-old Jade Rawlings decided 2003 was time for a change. With his brother Brady, a North Melbourne stalwart, a key deciding factor, Rawlings indicated he wished to swap Brown & Gold Stripes for Blue & White.
Wooden-spooners the Western Bulldogs, keen to land the key tall, made overtures to the ‘want away’ Hawk but were quickly rebuffed. Rawlings making it clear that North Melbourne was not just his club of choice but his only choice.
As a trade can only be completed with the consent of the player, Hawthorn sat down with North Melbourne to carve out a deal. As they struggled to negotiate with each other, both were able to secure the return of favourite son’s from other clubs. With both Trent Croad and Corey McKernan both back home, North and Hawthorn settled into conversations less friendly and more painful than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s presidential debate this week.
As is often the case, a third party was brought in to try and create a more appetising settlement for the parties, in this instance Essendon joined the fray. The Bombers rich with tall players and happy to trade, for the right price, brought the kind of compensation Hawthorn was after to the table. But with the clock ticking on the trade period, North continued to use the leverage of their position to eke more out of the Hawks.
The game of brinkmanship the Kangaroos entered into brought an interesting conclusion. In the shadows of the trade deadline an interesting three-way trade was announced.
On paper it appeared a bewildering trade, the Bulldogs trading away pick 6 and Mark Alvey in exchange for the Hawthorn listed, VFL Reserves player Lochlan Veale. At the same time the real prize became apparent when Hawthorn ended their negotiations. As a result, Rawlings would need to enter the pre-season draft to continue his career, a draft where the Bulldogs held the Number One pick. The negotiations between Hawthorn and the Bulldogs would be the subject of an AFL Investigation, but in the end, they had successfully navigated their way around the trade regulation that required a player’s approval for a trade to be completed.
‘Injury riddled’ is the best way to describe the outcome of one of the AFL’s most memorable trades, with it not producing the kind of on-field returns that its ingenious machinations deserved. Essendon selected Kepler Bradley with draft pick 6 who managed 49 games, the best return from all the pieces in the trade, in a frustrating five years at Windy Hill. Their other prize, Mark Alvey, was only able to don the red sash 14 times.
Danny Jacobs, incredibly durable at Essendon, was only able to take the field 45 times for Hawthorn as he struggled through injuries to his leg, hand, back, jaw and hip. Lochlan Veale, the man who will forever be best known for this trade, did not play an AFL game and was de-listed after one season at the kennel.
What of Jade Rawlings? The man who is not officially a part of this trade but is the very reason for it taking place. Rawlings, after a seven goal debut, struggled in two seasons at the Kennel. After 29 games his time in Bulldogs colours came to an end due to a knee injury. At the end of the 2005 season, two years late perhaps, Rawlings got his wish and was traded to North Melbourne ending his career after two games with his brother. The whole reason he was leaving Hawthorn in the first place.