Eulogising the Daisy Thomas deal (RIP 2013-2017)

Ken Sakata Columnist

By Ken Sakata, Ken Sakata is a Roar Expert

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    On Tuesday, it was revealed that Dale Thomas and his management agreed to remove the trigger clause in his contract. The disintegration of the contract is a win-win-win.

    That’s three wins for three parties.

    The first win is for Carlton. The Blues free up a spot and cap space on a list skewing younger and not-Daisy Thomas. The second win is for Daisy himself. He trades in a year of Carlton purgatory for post-football goodwill. Goodwill is valuable currency. Daisy can seamlessly transition to a media role as a nouveau Shane Crawford or maybe a pupaic Billy Brownless.

    Win three is for me, Ken Sakata. I get to eulogise the worst AFL contract in recent memory. I expect to feel better anytime now. I’ve pegged all personal development to the end of bad Carlton contracts. When the Liam Jones deal ends, I might take up salads and yoga.

    The Daisy Thomas deal (RIP 2013-2017) is a disaster. If you believe all sports media, the Daisy Thomas deal is not only a cautionary tale for list managers but a complete 100 per cent disaster.

    If you bought a Tesla but received a Volkswagen, that’s probably a 50 per cent disaster. If you get a Toyota, that’s an 80 per cent disaster. If you buy a Tesla but receive a signed Delta Goodrem CD – any album – that’s a 100 per cent disaster.

    No doubt, you’ve been inundated with details of the ill-fated contract. A better writer would spare you and skip ahead. But I’ll need to run it back. I need the pain to feel alive again.

    It’s 2013. AFL free agency. Carlton had to choose between keeping small forward Eddie Betts and poaching Dale Thomas from arch-nemesis Collingwood. Daisy had a newly reconstructed ankle, which is a good or a bad thing, depending on whether you know anything about medicine. Carlton chose Daisy for a reported 700k a year. Eddie went to Adelaide for 500k.

    It’s 2017. Eddie Betts has lead the goal-kicking at Adelaide every year he’s been there. Eddie Betts has a forward pocket named after him at Adelaide Oval. Eddie Betts is now a two-time All-Australian.

    Eddie Betts Adelaide Crows AFL Finals 2016

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Daisy? 2.1 million dollars later, it’s debatable if he’s best used as an average AFL player or an incredible VFL player.

    I was right about the pain, I feel more alive than ever.

    As a footballing decision, the failure of the Daisy Thomas deal has inspired a complete philosophical change in Carlton’s list management. No more poaching expensive free agents, no more fiscal irresponsibility. Carlton decided to join the rest of modern football with a cost-effective commitment to drafting and developing in-house. It could work. They once did it with a teenage Eddie Betts.

    All indications point to it paying off. This past weekend, a win over Collingwood featured an electric performance by seven-gamer Samo Petrevski-Seton, poetically echoing the energy of a Collingwood-era Daisy Thomas.

    Daisy’s best football at Collingwood has always been inexorably linked to his off-field persona: vibrant, daring and magnetic. He was everywhere at once, running down forwards in the back pocket and snapping goals up front. Revisionists would have him benefiting from a midfield of Swan, Pendlebury and Beams. But at his peak, he possessed qualities beyond them. Daisy was a genuine match-winner.

    With Thomas, Carlton had bought the Collingwood blueprint of success. Thomas was brought in to play behind Marc Murphy and Chris Judd. It would shield him from a tagger-heavy competition to thrive as Carlton’s x-factor and match-winner.

    Collingwood coach Michael Malthouse talks to Dale Thomas after the AFL Round 21 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Adelaide Crows at the MCG on August 21, 2010 in Melbourne.

    Image: AAP

    Although he played 20 games in his first season, Thomas was never close to his mercurial best. The new Daisy was trying, he just wasn’t very good. Maybe it was the lack of pre-season, maybe it was the new team. Maybe it was the reconstruction.

    Fears began to mount that his troublesome ankle had drastically lowered the ceiling of his ability.

    Conscious of his limitations, coach Mick Malthouse began playing Thomas as a defensive forward against the more dynamic half-backs of the competition. The tagged had become a tagger. It seemed like a quizzical and utterly unimaginative use for a former star player of the league.

    Malthouse would be sacked early in 2015 after a premiership tilt turned into crumbling mediocrity. Thomas would suffer a season-ending shoulder injury three days later.

    The appointment of Brendon Bolton has focused on the development of a younger core of players. The shifting narrative of Daisy Thomas is being re-written again. In defence to criticism against Thomas this year, Bolton said he was valued for setting training standards and his contributions to team meetings.

    In 2017, the last year of his contract, it’s debatable if there’s a role for Daisy Thomas in Carlton’s best 22.

    Unlike the Tom Boyd deal, the last contract to come under scrutiny, Daisy Thomas won’t be afforded a last transformative act. There will no grand final, no final reprieve. The enduring opinion of its success will, unfortunately, be its definitive one.

    The deal will be remembered by Carlton’s front office incompetence and its underestimation of Daisy’s injury history.

    It’s important to note that neither were in Thomas’ control. It’s hard to begrudge a man who tried hard at a job he was overpaid to do.

    Ken Sakata
    Ken Sakata

    Ken Sakata is a sportswriter based in Melbourne, covering where sport and pop-culture collide with a keen interest in AFL. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @sakatarama

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    The Crowd Says (69)

    • May 11th 2017 @ 7:46am
      true blue said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Excellent article. The Thomas deal that included off loading Betts to Adelaide (even though he wanted to stay at Carlton) will go down as Carlton’s most monumental mistake. Off loading Jacobs because we had Warnock and Hampsen was another grand blunder. Over looking Talia (who barracked for Carlton and wanted to come to Carlton) for Josh Bootsma.was an unbelievable error. All the papers at the time were saying Carlton is going to get an A grade back man in Talia, they have really lucked out; but no Carlton blew it. That is like being in the goal square receiving a handball, so you can kick the winning goal, and then handballing to the full back.

      Hopefully that past era is behind us now. Keep Cripps, SPS, Charlie Curnow, Weitering, Marchbank, and develop MacKay, Polson, Williamson, MacCreadie, and Fisher et al. Make sure these guys don’t go anywhere. Don’t try and land Martin or Fyfe. Develop who we have instead.

      • May 12th 2017 @ 5:24am
        Walter said | May 12th 2017 @ 5:24am | ! Report

        Absolutely agree, true blue, must keep and DEVELOP these very promising youngsters from the last two drafts, along with Marchbank and Plowman. Development is the thing that’s killed Carlton since the turn of the century, going back to Luke Livingston, probably. They now have a chance to rectify some past blunders.

        Also, there’s a recurring misconception in these pages that Carlton took Bootsma in the draft instead of Talia. That’s partly true and it would have been a blunder beyond belief, but Bootsma came in a different draft year. The bloke they took in preference to Talia (destined for Carlton, as you say) was Kane Lucas. Talia went to Adelaide with the very next pick.

        • Roar Guru

          May 12th 2017 @ 9:37am
          Paul D said | May 12th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          Not exactly improving your case. Lucas was another Colin Sylvia

          • May 12th 2017 @ 10:42am
            Walter said | May 12th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

            That was my point, Paul D, although I didn’t think it necessary to state it explicitly. Failing to pick Talia was a disaster, whether you took Bootsma or Lucas.

            • Roar Guru

              May 12th 2017 @ 10:45am
              Paul D said | May 12th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

              Yeah fair call, I just wanted to put the boot into Lucas. I actually used to argue with a mate of mine at my old work, as I didn’t mind some of Lucas’ finishing – he could kick some great tight goals from the pocket, but he was just too soft and lazy for AFL.

              I always thought he would have made a good soccer player 😉

              • May 12th 2017 @ 11:04am
                Walter said | May 12th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

                Reminds me of Boekhorst in that respect, Paul D. Beautiful goals from tight on the boundary, but gives the impression of softness.

    • May 11th 2017 @ 7:58am
      Bretto said | May 11th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Possibly the only smart thing Collingwood has done in the past 5 years. Woewodin-eske.

      • May 11th 2017 @ 8:54pm
        Gecko said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

        And finally off-loading Cloke after our own nightmare mega-deal.

    • May 11th 2017 @ 8:02am
      hal said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      Daisy Thomas’ sealer cost Carlton $3.5 million, but it was worth it, as it spoiled Collingwood’s birthday celebrations.

      All jokes aside, I have been on record criticising Carlton’s recruiting policies, and what I have called a born to rule mentality. That being said I feel Carlton have turned the corner and have entered the modern world of drafting, trading, and recruiting, as opposed to purchasing a Messiah. Bolton is a good coach and is building a good nucleus of players. They have a long road ahead but they have taken the right one as opposed to the one that promises sugar, spice, and all things nice; that always ends in disaster. It is good to see a Carlton that doesn’t have the attitude of I want a premiership and I want it now. If football clubs had catch phrases Carlton’s would have been we want! I don’t think that catch phrase would be applicable now.

      • Roar Guru

        May 12th 2017 @ 10:23am
        Pumping Dougie said | May 12th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Great comment hal. That’s a brilliant summation of Carlton, both the positive and negative aspects. 😀

    • May 11th 2017 @ 8:08am
      Jack said | May 11th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      I think daisy may actually get himself another year now at the right price.
      Let’s be honest he was never playing next year at 750 k despite the trigger clause.
      Bolton would of kept him in VFL if required, now he may get another year or two with an exciting developing side. Remember how quickly bulldogs rebuilt!

    • May 11th 2017 @ 9:06am
      olrac said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Slight Correction: Malthouse would be sacked early in 2015 after a premiership tilt turned into crumbling mediocrity.

      Mediocrity would require that the Malthouse era was about average for the league, in Drafting, Wins, Development and Trading we could only have wished for league average during Mathouse’s blitzkrieg

      You could say he really “Buckley’ed” our list.

      • May 11th 2017 @ 3:04pm
        Bell said | May 11th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

        That’s very amusing Olrac – I read your first sentence and thought immediately about the pies, and then of course got to your last sentence, which is spot-on!

    • May 11th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Macca said | May 11th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      I am starting to look at the whole Malthouse Thomas fiasco as the “recession we had to have” they were both so bad it forced a change of coach, CEO and recruitment staff (plus gave us access to high draft picks) and we have ended up in a much better situation.

      Here’s hoping Charlie Curnow has the break out game he has been threatening for the last couple of weeks this weekend and the blues get their third rising star nomination in a row.

      • May 11th 2017 @ 4:06pm
        Aransan said | May 11th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

        Don’t be greedy Macca, anytime this season for Charlie would be a good outcome.

        • May 11th 2017 @ 4:18pm
          Macca said | May 11th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          Aransan – yeah it was a bit tongue in cheek but I am very confident he will get one this year and since he has come back into the side in round 4 he has been showing great signs a real break out game is just around the corner, all it would take was for him to take a couple of those big pack marks he has been jumping well at and it will turn these very solid performances into a stand out. if the blues had been competitive against Port his 19 possession 8 mark and 3 tackle game (assuming it would have been bigger had the blues been better) might have been enough to get him the nomination over Hipwoods 12, 5, 4 and 3 goals.

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