The AFL desperately needs some disloyalty

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    What a boring monogamous lot Aussie Rules footballers are. While NRL players lewdly offer themselves about, their AFL counterparts proclaim their undying love for their clubs.

    Just days after Michael Hurley (“I really do want to be a Bomber for life”) signed his life away, Brett Deledio (“It makes me a Tiger for life now”) and Domenic Cassisi (“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be a one-club player”) put themselves away for the term of their natural lives.

    And now we hear that Joel Selwood, in a quiet ceremony, tied the knot at only 23 years of age with his childhood sweetheart Geelong, and Scott Pendlebury, making his paramour Collingwood cry her eyes out last year by committing for only a year, has decided to stay with her until at least 2016.

    Despite the wholehearted hoo-ha last year about GWS parading itself enticingly in front of uncontracted stars, nothing outrageous happened at all. Alright, it lured a former number one draft pick, and four other players averaging thirty games chose to be unfaithful to their clubs, but compared to the cesspool of infidelity in the NRL the whole affair was like a Methodist’s tea party.

    Given a perfect opportunity to circumvent the AFL’s usual draft and trade restrictions, see new places and earn more money, the real stars chose to stay at home.

    Loyalty to a team can be a lovely and noble thing – particularly in an era where clubs don’t always reciprocate – but gee it can get boring. Where’s the off-season intrigue, the exhilarating fear of losing a champion player to a despised opposition club, or the strange thrill of having a hated player from another club sign with your team?

    Presently, the only exciting thing about an AFL off-season is contemplating the end of the NAB Cup.

    So, will the model of free agency, negotiated by the players themselves and to be introduced at the season’s end, make any difference to player movement?

    Surely the loyal nature of AFL footballers can be manipulated. Marriages are not always based on pure love. There can be self-interested motives as well, such as delaying a decision long enough to make the club nervous and increase the original salary offer.

    There are simple practical considerations too as expressed by Dane Swan: “I love the footy club… and I just live around the corner.”

    Brett Deledio’s committment to Richmond was not unconditional. He first made sure Damien Hardwick was re-signed and that the club had a list capable of winning a premiership. That’s a bit like waiting for your fiance to get a promotion before going ahead with the big event.

    The fact that Cassisi has stayed with a club that has no hope of winning a premiership in his playing lifetime is admirable. But perhaps no one else will have him.

    In a positive sign that not all current champions are averse to entertaining alternative suitors, Travis Cloke has put off contract negotiations with Collingwood until the end of the year, just as that heartbreaker before him, Tom Scully, did.

    And Magpie favourite Dale ‘Daisy’ Thomas has always made big Eddie nervous with comments like: “I think it would be remiss of me not to be open and to listen to what everyone has to say,” and after signing for only two years, “I don’t like the idea of signing long contracts because you get a bit stale.”

    If marauding clubs (traditional foes and not struggling new ventures) can exploit such self-interest there may be hope for some thrilling defections.

    And the Giants have warned that they are done with mere flirtation. With the arrival of free agency they’ll be using the lap dancers.

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • Roar Guru

      March 29th 2012 @ 8:15am
      The Cattery said | March 29th 2012 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Andrew
      very nice take on things – club loyalty in the AFL is too extreme and making life dull and boring!

      I do like the reference to the methodist tea party.

      It’s quite appropriate, considering Essendon is the world capital of methodists.

      • March 29th 2012 @ 8:34am
        Australian Rules said | March 29th 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        It does provide a nice counter stream to: “AFL is just about money these days” argument…particularly on the back of Scully, Ablett, Izzy et al.

        I think the reality is that the elite players can either choose huge money (i.e GWS money)…or they can be at a successful club. Pretty hard to do both, unless you’re an Ablett who won flags early.

      • March 29th 2012 @ 7:18pm
        Norm said | March 29th 2012 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

        Methodists are almost extinct……take note Bomber’s fans 🙂

        • March 29th 2012 @ 7:49pm
          Nathan of Perth said | March 29th 2012 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

          Every time I hear the word Methodists I remember the movie Blazing Saddles when the villain is listing off all the various scum and villainy he has in his gang 🙂

        • March 29th 2012 @ 7:49pm
          Nathan of Perth said | March 29th 2012 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

    • Roar Guru

      March 29th 2012 @ 8:21am
      Redb said | March 29th 2012 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      What utter tripe, give fans loyalty anyday. Talk to real footy fans.

      Ask Pie fans what they think of Scott Pendlebury.

      • March 30th 2012 @ 12:22pm
        SurlyPie said | March 30th 2012 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Glad you asked Redb: I reckon he’s a legend.

        I’m also looking forward to enjoying every single one of his 38 silky possessions on Anzac Day.

    • March 29th 2012 @ 8:58am
      Chop said | March 29th 2012 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      The draft makes getting to another team in AFL problematic, once free agency comes in, it won’t surprise me to see more player movements because the process will be much easier.

    • March 29th 2012 @ 9:27am
      Cameron said | March 29th 2012 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      The fact that this article has even been written shows the desperation some sports writers will go for the sake of writing an article. For years everyone has been complaining about players not being loyal to their clubs. Now, when they do, in order to create drama, a writer is a critic of their loyalty, ironically urging them to be disloyal and saying they are ‘boring’ if they are not. This to me says what sports writing is all about – inventing stories to keep news outlets happy.

      • March 29th 2012 @ 9:47am
        brendan said | March 29th 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Well said Cameron saved me having to get the brain into gear.

        • Roar Guru

          March 29th 2012 @ 10:03am
          The Cattery said | March 29th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          C’mon guys, Andrew is just having a bit of a laugh – in one sense, he is paying AFL players a huge compliment for their loyalty.

        • March 29th 2012 @ 10:37am
          AB said | March 29th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Wow. Don’t take things so seriously. I think you’ll find that this article is tongue-in-cheek

      • Roar Guru

        March 29th 2012 @ 3:32pm
        Andrew Sutherland said | March 29th 2012 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

        Cameron,

        As The Cattery and AB have mentioned it’s not all serious.

        Still I’m not sure your “For years everyone has been complaining about players not being loyal to their clubs” is true for the AFL. Since the draft was introduced every champion player, with a few exceptions, has played with the one club. Before that, when it seemed you had the freedom to do what you want, the same thing happened because it was a sacrilege to leave your club.

        The players who have left (champions on their last legs and fringe footballers mainly) haven’t been missed.

        Admittedly losing a player who was groomed by your club can be devastating but as I mentioned there is the satisfaction of receiving another team’s product.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 29th 2012 @ 9:50am
      Trust Me said | March 29th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      Further reason for you being on moderation TM. Roar Mods.

      • Roar Guru

        March 29th 2012 @ 10:08am
        The Cattery said | March 29th 2012 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        Not really great publicity, I would have thought, but at the end of the day, we probably don’t want to hear anything more about Ben ruining his life, the window was open for a short period to extricate himself from what was always going to ruin him, he nearly got there, but didn’t, and he is likely to become another statistic before long.

        He is a free agent now, he can do whatever he wants, he owes no one anything, but we’re no longer interested in hearing about his woes – the world is full of drug addicts, it’s not really news anymore.

        • March 29th 2012 @ 10:30am
          brendan said | March 29th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Trust me what has your post got to do with the article.Ben Cousins is a drug addict pure and simple people taking cheap shots at him should show some respect to the victims in this – his family.

      • Roar Guru

        March 29th 2012 @ 12:57pm
        mds1970 said | March 29th 2012 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

        Hardly a promotion. And are you seriously suggesting he deliberately timed his arrest to keep AFL in the newspapers?

    • March 29th 2012 @ 10:45am
      Cameron said | March 29th 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      UPDATE: Just to show that AFL players are not the only one’s who are boring, Cooper Cronk has resigned with the Storm – Boring!

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