This is why loyalty will never die in the AFL

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    Gary Ablett signs autographs for fans during the opening of Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast.

    Gary Ablett signs autographs for fans during the opening of Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast.

    In the modern world of AFL, players leaving clubs for contracts of greater financial value and plying their trade elsewhere has become a common trend.

    With the addition of the Gold Coast Suns this season and Greater Western Sydney in 2012, it is only going to become a more prominent concept.

    And we’ve already seen it in full swing. First it was Gary Ablett’s move to the Gold Coast Suns after two premierships and a Brownlow Medal with Geelong. He was followed by Nathan Bock, Campbell Brown and Jarred Brennan, just to name a few.

    The question was then raised: who was Greater Western Sydney going to target first from the existing pool of AFL players? Rumours were flying around about various players having already signed contracts with the AFL’s newcomers, but only Adelaide’s Phil Davis has validated the rumours circling his departure in albeit unusual circumstances.

    And with The Age reporting that Callan Ward is all but gone from the Western Bulldogs, it seems like this is going to be the norm for many years to come.

    But the past two weeks have been refreshing for those footy fans and personalities who gain satisfaction and comfort from seeing players remain loyal to clubs that gave them an opportunity to compete at the games highest level.

    Seeing the likes of Jackson Trengove, Alipate Carlile and Andrew Moore re-sign with the Port Adelaide Football Club is great to see despite the media speculating about their potential departure. It suggests that despite the changing nature of the playing landscape in the AFL, many players still want to remain at football clubs with their mates and try to build towards something special.

    The next name on the list is Port Adelaide youngster John Butcher. After only three senior games of AFL football, Butcher has already been linked with Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond. Butcher, who has not yet put pen to paper with the Power, is the man many believe can be the next Warren Tredrea for the club. He has kicked 11 goals in three weeks, including a six-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs.
    As a Richmond fan, I would love for Butcher to come to Tigerland as he would be a welcome addition to the forward line. But as an avid AFL fan, I would also like to see him stay at Alberton. Not only does Port Adelaide need to desperately hang onto as many key position players as possible in order to rise up the ladder again, it is also a positive outcome for the game itself.

    Well, maybe not for Andrew Demetriou and his cronies who clearly want as many players as possible to sign with GWS. But for those who still see the value in remaining a one club player, it is a great sign, and one that I personally hope still remains in the game despite the ever so changing nature of the AFL world. It is one element that separates our game from the US and European sports, where money does all the talking.

    I understand that the league must move with the times and I concede that there is benefit in the concept existing, but don’t tell me it’s not at least a little bit refreshing to see some players still wanting to build a dynasty at a football club with their mates.

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