This is why loyalty will never die in the AFL

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    Gary Ablett signs autographs for fans during the opening of Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast.

    Gary Ablett signs autographs for fans during the opening of Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast.

    In the modern world of AFL, players leaving clubs for contracts of greater financial value and plying their trade elsewhere has become a common trend.

    With the addition of the Gold Coast Suns this season and Greater Western Sydney in 2012, it is only going to become a more prominent concept.

    And we’ve already seen it in full swing. First it was Gary Ablett’s move to the Gold Coast Suns after two premierships and a Brownlow Medal with Geelong. He was followed by Nathan Bock, Campbell Brown and Jarred Brennan, just to name a few.

    The question was then raised: who was Greater Western Sydney going to target first from the existing pool of AFL players? Rumours were flying around about various players having already signed contracts with the AFL’s newcomers, but only Adelaide’s Phil Davis has validated the rumours circling his departure in albeit unusual circumstances.

    And with The Age reporting that Callan Ward is all but gone from the Western Bulldogs, it seems like this is going to be the norm for many years to come.

    But the past two weeks have been refreshing for those footy fans and personalities who gain satisfaction and comfort from seeing players remain loyal to clubs that gave them an opportunity to compete at the games highest level.

    Seeing the likes of Jackson Trengove, Alipate Carlile and Andrew Moore re-sign with the Port Adelaide Football Club is great to see despite the media speculating about their potential departure. It suggests that despite the changing nature of the playing landscape in the AFL, many players still want to remain at football clubs with their mates and try to build towards something special.

    The next name on the list is Port Adelaide youngster John Butcher. After only three senior games of AFL football, Butcher has already been linked with Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond. Butcher, who has not yet put pen to paper with the Power, is the man many believe can be the next Warren Tredrea for the club. He has kicked 11 goals in three weeks, including a six-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs.
    As a Richmond fan, I would love for Butcher to come to Tigerland as he would be a welcome addition to the forward line. But as an avid AFL fan, I would also like to see him stay at Alberton. Not only does Port Adelaide need to desperately hang onto as many key position players as possible in order to rise up the ladder again, it is also a positive outcome for the game itself.

    Well, maybe not for Andrew Demetriou and his cronies who clearly want as many players as possible to sign with GWS. But for those who still see the value in remaining a one club player, it is a great sign, and one that I personally hope still remains in the game despite the ever so changing nature of the AFL world. It is one element that separates our game from the US and European sports, where money does all the talking.

    I understand that the league must move with the times and I concede that there is benefit in the concept existing, but don’t tell me it’s not at least a little bit refreshing to see some players still wanting to build a dynasty at a football club with their mates.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • September 2nd 2011 @ 6:52am
      amazonfan said | September 2nd 2011 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      I think it’s great that players choose to stay with their clubs. However, we shouldn’t criticize or attack those who choose to leave. I liked the comments by James Fantasia (Bulldogs manager) that Ward wouldn’t be dropped for the final game, and the club will pursue him in future. I think that’s a really good attitude, as opposed to a comment by one supporter that he should be dropped and shown the door. So, yes, let’s celebrate those who wish to remain one-club players (I won’t use the word loyal as I really dislike that term), but at the same time, let’s not demonize those who choose to continue their careers elsewhere.

    • September 2nd 2011 @ 7:04am
      JCVD said | September 2nd 2011 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Do clubs force a lot of the players out? I’m no afl ban but salary cap restraints n player performances r generally the reasons most players move on. I mean if a club really wanted to keep a player they would find room to keep them there. Unless there was a significant amount of cash thrown to them…

    • Roar Guru

      September 2nd 2011 @ 7:58am
      The Cattery said | September 2nd 2011 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      There still remains a lot of cachet in being a one-club player.

      • September 2nd 2011 @ 10:06am
        Ian Whitchurch said | September 2nd 2011 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Both player and club also get access to the “soft cap” of veterans allowances.

    • Roar Guru

      September 2nd 2011 @ 8:40am
      Redb said | September 2nd 2011 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      Despite the milliions GC threw at AFL players apart from Ablett who got a one off offer he could not refuse, most of the big players stayed with their club. Its why the Suns could only get 8 senior players. GWS faces a similair challenge it remains to be seen how they go.

      • September 2nd 2011 @ 9:29am
        Football Fan said | September 2nd 2011 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Everyone’s hanging on for free agency RedB – that will create an entirely new landscape in the AFL and ‘loyalty’ will be in short supply…

        • September 2nd 2011 @ 10:07am
          Ian Whitchurch said | September 2nd 2011 @ 10:07am | ! Report

          Players like Rischitelli, who had his nose rubbed in the fact that for a club, loyalty only goes one way ?

        • Roar Guru

          September 2nd 2011 @ 11:11am
          Redb said | September 2nd 2011 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          It will create more movement but is not a free for all. 8 years service min.

          Regardless the marquee players will mostly stick becuase the clubs will make sure they get good money. Each club still has a salary cap. GC & GWS will be reigned within a couple of years.

          • September 3rd 2011 @ 11:38am
            Ian Whitchurch said | September 3rd 2011 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            Yeah. I’ve heard a rumour Melbourne’s premiership-winning captain, Ron Barassi, might take the money on offer from Carlton. Players moving like this as free agents will ruin the game !

    • September 2nd 2011 @ 8:46am
      TomC said | September 2nd 2011 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      I still maintain that the one-club culture is being artificially propped up by the rules restricting the transfer of players.

      Which is fine by me, but I don’t think we should kid ourselves that a large number of players wouldn’t leave to try to make more money if they had the chance.

      • Roar Guru

        September 2nd 2011 @ 9:08am
        mds1970 said | September 2nd 2011 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        Under normal circumstances when there isn’t a new club starting up, a player can only move clubs to go to a club of their choice if a trade deal can be arranged with their current club. The only other way is through the draft, with the risk of ending up anywhere.
        A player like Ryan O’Keefe, who tried to move to Hawthorn a couple of years ago but the Swans couldn’t arrange an acceptable trade, will finish up as a one-club player. Is it really loyalty, or only that a trade deal couldn’t be done?

        Even with a new club starting up, GWS is unable to actually sign anyone until their current club’s season is over. In the mean time, the existing club can re-sign those players – so the existing clubs have had a whole season’s head start on retaining their players ahead of GWS’s entry.

        And when talking about player loyalty, and the perceived lack of it by some players, it’s a one-way street. There is little loyalty shown by clubs. Players can be offered up as trade bait, moved to other clubs even if they don’t want to, or delisted on a whim. That Daniel Bradshaw ended up at the Swans wasn’t because of unloyalty; it was because he was traded in a disastrous move by the Lions to get Fevola (and didn’t that backfire on them).
        Similarly Michael Rischitelli, although he managed to avoid being traded to Carlton and having to relocate, the experience of being put up as trade bait soured his relationship with Brisbane; and his signing with the Suns surprised no-one.

        • September 2nd 2011 @ 9:12am
          TomC said | September 2nd 2011 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          I agree with almost all of that, mds. It’s hard to convince players that they should remain loyal to their teams when they’re well aware that if they stop performing, their clubs will get rid of them. They have to.

          I’m not sure Rischitelli is the best example though. Apparently he was already unsettled at Brisbane before they tried to trade him.

          • Roar Guru

            September 2nd 2011 @ 11:14am
            Redb said | September 2nd 2011 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            It;s the good the rules have been relaxed for players like Rischitelli.

    • September 2nd 2011 @ 10:19am
      CJ said | September 2nd 2011 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see if the introduction of “free” agency will cause the AFL to become more like American sports, where all but the most popular players are seen as little more than pawns to be swapped and sold at a whim.

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