Let’s embrace trades with open arms

Luke Farry Roar Rookie

By , Luke Farry is a Roar Rookie

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    It’s early October and unless you’re a Tigers fan your attention has shifted to the trade period and how your side can improve on season 2017.

    The rumours and speculation over the coming weeks will become too much for some fans. The thought of losing a star will knock some fans around and make the offseason feel like a trip to hell. On the other side, meanwhile, the possibility of recruiting the enemy’s key player will be enough fuel for workplace banter to follow.

    As fans, though, I’m confused as to where we stand with players moving on. When is it okay for a player to request a trade? Should we be disappointed with the specific player? Do we lay blame on the club trying to lure our star? Everyone will have a different opinion as to who is to blame, but I think there are deeper underlying issues as to why players are changing clubs and requesting trades.

    The most high profile trade debate in the media at the moment is whether or not Jake Lever will get to Melbourne.

    After playing 56 games in three seasons Lever has become a stalwart down back for the Crows. Unfortunately for Adelaide, Lever has requested a trade to Melbourne, and this has left a very sour taste in the mouths of a lot of Adelaide’s key officials and players.

    The fallout from the trade request hasn’t been swept under the rug – quite the opposite in fact; it was reported that Lever wasn’t allowed to attend the best and fairest dinner as a result.

    This had me thinking about why Lever would want to leave. I tried to relate Lever’s position back to my own personal life. I imagined that an opposing business offered me a greater contract than my current one, allowing me to move to an area I would prefer to live in for a longer period of time.

    After considering all this for a grand total of 8.4 seconds I would sign the contract, call my previous employer and say thanks for the opportunity but this offer is a great opportunity and I’ll be leaving the business.

    For some reason, though, Adelaide and many of their fans feel like Lever owes them something, and apparently the fact that he is a third-year player means he can’t leave and must turn away a preferred lifestyle and accept less money.

    (Image: AAP Image/Ben Macmahon)

    This seems backwards to me, and by more than just the 30 minutes between time zones. Fans need to understand that one-club players are becoming very rare, and the quicker they do, the quicker they will begin to accept regular trades.

    As fans we are misled by football clubs. We only ever look at what’s best for our side, not what’s best for some of the individuals playing in our sides, and not just the stars.

    Spare a thought for the ‘average’ AFL player who plays just 29 games at the highest level. These players must go and find a job in the real world, and the difficulty many players face in doing this isn’t respected at all. When players are recruited they are expected to be at the football club full-time – good luck finding time to complete further study simultaneously.

    The football club also has the opportunity to create a culture and atmosphere that can be worth far more than financial return. There are many examples of players taking pay cuts to help their club recruit a key player in their bid to win a premiership, including Hawthorn and Geelong in the past decade.

    The club has the opportunity to build this culture to develop and grow these young players. If they create this culture, the elite player will more than likely think twice and possibly even turn down the lucrative offer to leave for a financial gain. Every AFL club has the opportunity to build this culture and become a modern day ‘destination team’.

    The debate around blaming the club that manages to lure their star is also a pointless one. This falls back to the fact that the opposing club has obviously has done an incredible job in building a case for why your player’s life and career is going to be enhanced by leaving your club. Look back internally at your own club and ask, ‘What have we offered?’. Or, as discussed earlier, put yourself in the player’s shoes and ask yourself what you would prefer Does it make sense for the player to move on?

    It’s 2017, so as AFL fans let’s mature and realise that every time someone leaves our clubs it’s probably not personal and filled with hate; it’s likely a career decision made because the player has been offered greater opportunities or needs a new start.

    Back your club to create a culture that will make it hard for your player to want to leave or even consider opposing clubs. That’s the type of club I hope to support.