The Roar
The Roar


Fremantle and their recruiting blunders

Roar Pro
10th April, 2010
5918 Reads

There’s a lot of love going around for gun Fremantle recruit Michael Barlow at the moment, especially from the Fremantle football club, their fans, and, of course, Dream Team players who selected him in their side.

His amazing start to his AFL career is evidence that the Dockers recruiting staff are finally getting it right.

But they have made some absolute howlers since their inception in 1995. Here are some ‘highlights’ of their lowlights:

1. Andrew McLeod for … Chris Groom

Before the 1995 season began, Fremantle traded the rights to Andrew McLeod to the Adelaide Crows for Chris Groom who had been at Adelaide for two injury interrupted seasons.

The recruiter who championed this move is probably now a bucket boy at a local footy club somewhere.

McLeod went on to become a great of the modern game. He was an integral part of the Adelaide successive flags back in 1997 and 1998, winning back-to-back Norm Smith Medals in their grand final wins.

Last year he passed the 300 game mark, and even though he is nearing the end of his career, he continues to provide a valuable service to the Crows on the park.


Once he’s retired he’s certain to join the illustrious AFL Hall Of Fame.

On the other hand, I don’t know how many games Groom played for the Dockers, and I don’t really care. I’m sure Fremantle fans don’t.

He moved onto North Melbourne a year later without making any impact on the game.

He’s probably now a bucket boy at a local footy club somewhere.

2. The Trent Croad Saga

Hawthorn wrongly placed a large amount of blame on a young Trent Croad for their preliminary final loss to Essendon in 2001. Croad missed a crucial shot on goal in the dying moments of the game.

The Freo men pounced on the dejected Croad and signed him to a lucrative contract. The Dockers gave up pick 1 in return and the Hawks used the pick to recruit champion Luke Hodge, who later became vice captain and played an important part in their 2008 premiership success.


Croad had two inglorious years at the Dockers playing predominantly out of position at centre half forward. The Dockers confusingly traded him back to the Hawks for pick 10, which they used to recruit Ryley Dunn, who turned out for Fremantle on eight different occasions over five years.

So, in effect, Freo traded pick one for pick 10, or Luke Hodge for Ryley Dunn. Hawks still have Hodge, while Dunn is plugging away at WAFL level for East Fremantle.

Trent Croad’s flourished after his return to Hawthorn and was a key member of their 2008 premiership season.

3. Todd Ridley and Tony Delaney v Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas

Fremantle thought it would be a shrewd move to raid the Essendon cattle farm and brought back a couple of bulls in the form of WA pair Ridley and Delaney. Instead they turned out to be cows.

In return, Essendon were given compensation picks, which they used to snare celebrated pair Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas.

Lloyd and Lucas went on form one of the most potent forward combinations in recent history, which culminated in a premiership in 2000. Lloyd went on to become captain of the club and has an end named after him at Eithad Stadium (albeit for Bombers’ games only).


But I’m sure Dockers fans have fond memories of Ridley and Delaney, too.

4. The ones that got away

The Dockers have gained a reputation of allowing football careers to blossom by allowing their players to move to opposition clubs.

Some of these players include Peter Bell, Winston Abraham, Heath Black, Troy Simmonds, Jeff White, Paul Medhurst, Adam McPhee and Brett Peake. I’m sure there’s a heap more I haven’t mentioned.

What is all the more comical is that Fremantle have recycled on numerous occasions and brought some of these players back to the fold after they’ve realised that some of these players can actually play.

I can’t think of any other AFL club that exercises this policy as frequently as Fremantle.

It’s taken the Fremantle footy club fifteen years to work out a decent recruitment policy and although we’re only two games into the 2010 season, it looks like they might be heading down the right track.