Hidden beneath the anger, finger pointing and misunderstandings which characterise the veritable waste facility of words devoted to all things Kurt Tippett, is the fact that that one of the league’s most promising players will be joining the reigning champions.
Actually, forget the ‘most promising’ part. Tippett has already arrived, and he needn’t carry the cumbersome tag of ‘promising’ any more. That tag is often used as an excuse for underperforming players.
At just 25, Tippett is among the very best key position prospects in the league. In fact, he’s right up there with the likes of Lance Franklin and Travis Cloke, along with several others.
Whenever you can marry the height of a ruckman with the movement and nouse of a seasoned forward, you know you’ve got quite a player.
When you’ve just won a premiership, and add a player of this quality to your list (without any compensation beyond financial), you’re laughing.
Yes, some will baulk at the price Tippett asked for and the circumstances which saw him land in Sydney.
However, what were the alternatives? A heftier ban than the half-season sanction already imposed due to a combination of negligence and idiocy by him and those around him?
Forcing him to play in a city he no longer liked, and for a club which didn’t have the best wishes of Tippett in mind throughout his service? And for that matter, a club to which he was no longer contracted?
I’m not so sure about those options.
In fact, the only thing I am sure of as far as the Tippett imbroglio is concerned is that not a single party comes out of this looking clean or admirable.
When all of the mess does get swept up, we’re left with a brilliant player who simply wants to get on with the job he does best – at a price that at least one club in the market is willing to accommodate.
Sour grapes might be the term I’d apply to a lot of the vitriol being sent Tippett’s way, particularly in regard to Tippett the footballer – the area that I’m most interested in.
Since Tippett’s second season in the AFL, there have only been eight players in the league who have kicked more goals than the 171 he’s deposited over the last four seasons.
That’s right, just eight – with only Jack Riewoldt being younger, and surely only Franklin (and perhaps Cloke) with better prospects for the rest of the decade.
The others on the list include the ageing Brown, Matthew Pavlich and Nick Riewoldt as well as the more opportunistic Milne and Betts:
Most goals over the last four seasons
Lance Franklin 282
Jack Riewoldt 247
Stephen Milne 215
Jonathan Brown 207
Nick Riewoldt 200
Travis Cloke 188
Matthew Pavlich 179
Eddie Betts 178
Kurt Tippett 171
It’s a shame that Tippett won’t be able to add immediately to the last on-field memory he left in our heads, which was a scintillating 16 possession, 11 mark and four goal performance which nearly brought down the high flying Hawks in the preliminary final.
When Tippett does return, he’ll fit smoothly into a Swans line-up which will likely be well on its way toward another series of finals football.
He’ll be a huge addition to a forward line which was already loaded with talent, and which complements one of the deepest, most versatile midfields around. All of this also happens to be backed up by the best defence in the game.
If the Tippett drama of the last month has raised badly needed questions regarding the integrity and scrutiny of a competition whose salary cap constitutes perhaps its most important pillar, then the competition has lost little through the debate.
However, if Tippett continues to be cast as a villain (cue the now stock standard footage of Tippett in the car park), then this past month has indeed been a misguided failure.