Yesterday what we all already knew became official. Tom Scully will be a GWS Giants player next year. It was a proud day for the competition’s newest club, yet a sad day for its oldest club. But it’s about at this point where we should stop feeling sorry for Melbourne.
Yes, they’ve just lost a player they were hoping would lead them out of the wilderness. A number one draft pick, at that.
However, no matter how many press conferences they hold attempting to portray Tom as the bad guy, the fact is their claim to him in the first place wasn’t rock solid – according to their own coach for the past three seasons, the club tanked in order to win the priority pick they used to take Scully.
Okay, Dean Bailey didn’t use the T-word. So what? With the words he did use, he didn’t have to.
Yeah, the AFL decided not to investigate the matter. Again, so what? Just because the league has turned a blind eye doesn’t mean the rest of us should.
Bailey told us at his final press conference that he “had no hesitation at all in the first two years (of his coaching stint) in ensuring the club was well placed for draft picks”. Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph read through the lines with an article entitled How Melbourne tanked in 2009, looking at the team’s extraordinary loss to Richmond in Round 22 of that year.
Adrian Anderson has said that the league would be concerned should it be presented with evidence of a club deliberately not trying to win in order to gain draft picks.
That seems to describe what happened at Melbourne in 2009. It did even before Bailey made his comments.
So now, when the player Melbourne gained by not complying with league rules leaves for another club, it’s hard to muster up much sympathy. They’ll get compensation – probably the highest level of compensation possible – so on paper the Dees will still come out ahead.
But to have come this far without an AFL investigation, they should be considering themselves lucky. They most definitely should not be fronting the media pleading for sympathy.
Scully, for his part, didn’t ask for sympathy yesterday.
There was the token acknowledgement that money was a factor, he cited the opportunity to be part of a new club, basically he just said all the things you’d expect. It was pretty much a carbon copy of Gary Ablett’s press conference a year ago.
That said, it was probably fair enough he didn’t play the sympathy card.
In February we had the headline “Scully move denied”. In March it was “Scully says he could be a Demon for life”. And on it went, all year long – last month came “Lyon knuckles down on keeping Scully” and even ten days ago, “Scully future not set”.
Fast forward to yesterday and what were we reading? “Scully’s six-year deal” and “Scully best-paid player in AFL history”.
Demon fans have a right to feel led on. All year they were being fed false hope. Scully, while silent for the most part, allowed the circus to carry on.
The worst part was two days ago, when Scully was at the airport in Melbourne and asked if he’d made a decision yet. “Nah mate I haven’t, clearly haven’t,” was his response. Later that day, though, a YouTube video of him in a Giants polo was uploaded.
No one can blame Scully for moving to a club that offered him more pay. Most people if offered ridiculously more money for doing the same job at another company would do the same thing without batting an eyelid.
No one can blame Scully for moving to a club that is a very realistic chance of winning a premiership in the future. Perhaps Melbourne are in a similar position, but this season didn’t do much to reinforce that notion.
No one can blame Scully for being the highest paid player in the game. If the Giants feel like paying that much to a second-year player who may or may not live up to his potential, that’s their prerogative.
But one area where Scully has left himself open to blame is the way he let this saga drag on.
Tweet of the day yesterday went to bookmaker Alan Eskander who asked, “Why the fuss about Scully? Like Ablett, we all knew early in the season. His charade about making a decision is insulting our intelligence.”
It was a charade. It does now seem like an insult to our intelligence.
But as this story now finally winds down, there’s one glaring conclusion that needs to be reached.
Melbourne come away with two compensation picks that they would never have got had they followed the letter of the law. Tom Scully comes away with a contract and salary that should set him up for many years into the future. The GWS Giants come away with one of the best youngsters in the game.
The glaring conclusion is that everyone involved in this situation has come out a winner. Everyone single individual and club is better off.
And don’t for a second think that’s not the case.