Tippet. Dangerfield. Lever. Cameron. Why players leave the Adelaide Crows

Andrew Roar Pro

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    Some high-profile players have exited the Crows in recent years, including Kurt Tippet (Sydney Swans) and Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong Cats).

    In the past few days it has officially been made public that Jake Lever intends to move home to the Melbourne Demons, and Charlie Cameron wants to return home to Brisbane.

    So why do players leave the Crows?

    Why indeed? Adelaide is a great club. They have a new 50,000 capacity stadium at the Adelaide Oval. High membership. Passionate fan-base. Strong culture. Minor premiers. Grand finalists.

    Part of the lure to play for Adelaide is the club’s record of accomplishment in developing players skills and abilities. If a player joins the Crows, they seem to become better players. This is true at the Hawks, the Swans, and many other clubs also.

    So why leave? AFL radio put this question to the now former Crows assistant coach David Teague. Teague is returning home for family reasons to Melbourne. He has taken up a position with the Carlton Blues.

    To the why leave question, Teague said “It is an interesting one because they get along well, they care for each other and what the group’s been through together has been quite phenomenal. Yet players continue to leave. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it.”

    And therein lies a big part of the problem. Just like Teague, many Crows were not born in Adelaide. They were not bred in Adelaide. They have no family ties to Adelaide. Eventually after a few years, they have advanced their skills and experience as a player, done their time and they desire to return home. Add to this the fortunes to now be had in the AFL, and the decision to move is an easy one.

    Patrick Dangerfield Geelong Cats AFL Brownlow Medal 2016

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    One of the critical flaws of the AFL draft system is players do not play for their state of origin club or the club they supported growing up. Dangerfield is perhaps the best example of this.

    Danger supported the Cats as a boy and perfected his craft at the Crows. But he always wanted to play for Geelong. Yes Dangerfield left Adelaide, but he also moved home to Geelong and now plays for the team which was always in his heart of hearts.

    Now take Mr Richmond Tiger himself, Matthew Richardson. Richo supported the Tigers as a boy. Played for the Tigers. Wept with tears of emotion when the Tigers won the MCG Premiership.

    This is the destination the AFL needs to get to. More players like Richardson and Dangerfield who have a genuine attraction and desire to play for their real club. Problem is these players are the exception and not the rule.

    So where does the AFL start?

    To be fair on the AFL, it is the interstate teams who should right now be taking the initiative and lead on this issue. After the trade week is done and dusted, most fans would love to hear the interstate club captains, CEOs and staff sitting around a table thrashing out a workable and equitable State of Origin draft system to take to the AFL.

    This proposal could be based on a state based system where you can only draft players from your State of Origin zone. The State based draft/trade zones would include:

    1. Queensland-NT Draft (Brisbane Lions / Gold Coast Suns).
    2. NSW/ACT Draft (Sydney / GWS)
    3. South Australian Draft (Crows/Port)
    4. Western Australia Draft (Fremantle/West Coast)
    5. Tasmanian Draft (Hawthorn or North Melbourne)
    6. Victorian Draft (Victorian Clubs + Lions / Gold Coast Suns / GWS / Sydney / Tasmania).

    The system would use overflow. If Queensland (a rugby heartland state) are unable to provide players of sufficient quality from the Queensland-NT draft, they would draft from Victoria. To a lesser extent, NSW-ACT may also need to draw from the Victorian Draft.

    In this age of technology with the budget of the AFL, I’m sure some clever computer gadgetry can be used to make this fair for all states and clubs.

    Adelaide Crows' Kurt Tippett handballs the Sherrin

    (Images: AFL)

    Next, Western Australia and South Australia, could these states produce champion teams using the talent on offer in the WAFL and SANFL? I say they probably could, so overflow most likely not needed for WA and SA. If you agree or disagree, please comment below and explain why.

    Tasmania also need a representative club that the state supports. Based on 10,000 Tasmanian members, Jeff Kennett has a strong case, the Hawks seem to be the obvious choice.

    Now I know what you are about to say and you are right. There will be obstacles. A player from Perth, wants to play for a Victorian team. Or, a team is struggling and needs help in the draft outside their state zone. I agree and I’m sure the collective brains of the AFL clubs can set up special allowances for such scenarios and figure things out.

    There is a problem though, players will still get dramatically overpaid and enticed away from clubs who have invested time, effort, club secrets and faith in that player.

    So, in addition to a salary cap for the team, a minimum and maximum salary cap for individual players is needed.

    Then the silly season might not be so silly.

    And heaven forbid, we might just see players representing the team they’ve loved since they first laced up a pair of footy boots.