Redefining the Kurt Tippett saga

james rosewarne Roar Pro

By james rosewarne, james rosewarne is a Roar Pro

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    Hidden beneath the anger, finger pointing and misunderstandings which characterise the veritable waste facility of words devoted to all things Kurt Tippett, is the fact that that one of the league’s most promising players will be joining the reigning champions.

    Actually, forget the ‘most promising’ part. Tippett has already arrived, and he needn’t carry the cumbersome tag of ‘promising’ any more. That tag is often used as an excuse for underperforming players.

    At just 25, Tippett is among the very best key position prospects in the league. In fact, he’s right up there with the likes of Lance Franklin and Travis Cloke, along with several others.

    Whenever you can marry the height of a ruckman with the movement and nouse of a seasoned forward, you know you’ve got quite a player.

    When you’ve just won a premiership, and add a player of this quality to your list (without any compensation beyond financial), you’re laughing.

    Yes, some will baulk at the price Tippett asked for and the circumstances which saw him land in Sydney.

    However, what were the alternatives? A heftier ban than the half-season sanction already imposed due to a combination of negligence and idiocy by him and those around him?

    Forcing him to play in a city he no longer liked, and for a club which didn’t have the best wishes of Tippett in mind throughout his service? And for that matter, a club to which he was no longer contracted?

    I’m not so sure about those options.

    In fact, the only thing I am sure of as far as the Tippett imbroglio is concerned is that not a single party comes out of this looking clean or admirable.

    When all of the mess does get swept up, we’re left with a brilliant player who simply wants to get on with the job he does best – at a price that at least one club in the market is willing to accommodate.

    Sour grapes might be the term I’d apply to a lot of the vitriol being sent Tippett’s way, particularly in regard to Tippett the footballer – the area that I’m most interested in.

    Since Tippett’s second season in the AFL, there have only been eight players in the league who have kicked more goals than the 171 he’s deposited over the last four seasons.

    That’s right, just eight – with only Jack Riewoldt being younger, and surely only Franklin (and perhaps Cloke) with better prospects for the rest of the decade.

    The others on the list include the ageing Brown, Matthew Pavlich and Nick Riewoldt as well as the more opportunistic Milne and Betts:

    Most goals over the last four seasons

    Lance Franklin 282
    Jack Riewoldt 247
    Stephen Milne 215
    Jonathan Brown 207
    Nick Riewoldt 200
    Travis Cloke 188
    Matthew Pavlich 179
    Eddie Betts 178
    Kurt Tippett 171

    It’s a shame that Tippett won’t be able to add immediately to the last on-field memory he left in our heads, which was a scintillating 16 possession, 11 mark and four goal performance which nearly brought down the high flying Hawks in the preliminary final.

    When Tippett does return, he’ll fit smoothly into a Swans line-up which will likely be well on its way toward another series of finals football.

    He’ll be a huge addition to a forward line which was already loaded with talent, and which complements one of the deepest, most versatile midfields around. All of this also happens to be backed up by the best defence in the game.

    If the Tippett drama of the last month has raised badly needed questions regarding the integrity and scrutiny of a competition whose salary cap constitutes perhaps its most important pillar, then the competition has lost little through the debate.

    However, if Tippett continues to be cast as a villain (cue the now stock standard footage of Tippett in the car park), then this past month has indeed been a misguided failure.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • December 13th 2012 @ 8:45am
      TC said | December 13th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      In that list (focusing on the KPFs), Tippet maybe sits alongside Cloke, being in a similar category of monster one-grabbing forwards (but when Cloak is in form, I’d rate him as a better contested mark).

      Tippett is well short of where Brown was at his peak (recalling he was a triple premiership winner by age 22); well, well short of where Buddy is, Pav, and even both Riewoldts (recalling that Jumping Jack is a different type of forward, and probably more of a specialist spearhead).

      It’s the sheer paucity of monster forwards in the AFL that has elevated Tippett to his current position of being in demand, but I wouldn’t place him in the upper echelon of KPFs of the past decade.

      Personally, I think it’s a shame that he couldn’t have made his way back to his home town, where he could have made a huge difference.


      • January 4th 2013 @ 7:03pm
        mick said | January 4th 2013 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

        I’m a Crows fan living in NSW and although I follow the Crows I go to all the Swans home games as my wife is a mad keen Swanee.

        I’m not sure how the Tippett saga will play out – Sydney have a very strong team culture, no room for the individual “superstar”

        So far my view is Tippett has not delivered to his potential, and maybe Sydney have paid too much for him – having said that he’s really a great fit if he performs – the Swans have lacked a consistent tall forward/second ruck man.

        The issue I have trouble with is all this talk about Tippett betraying the Crows – I don’t understand it ? If the club decides to cut a player they just do it – no room for loyalty considerations, it’s a business. However if a player decides to leave he’s a villain. Doesn’t make sense. Clubs can dump coaches and players at a moments notice without much criticism, but watch out if a player decides he’s better off at a different club.


    • Roar Pro

      December 13th 2012 @ 12:59pm
      NeeDeep said | December 13th 2012 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

      This has certainly been the story of the off-season, thus far. But I’m not sure what point you are trying to make here, James?

      If we’re marvelling at Kurt Tippett’s football prowess, I tend to agree with you that he’s no longer “promising” (or for that matter, a “prospect”). But I also agree with TC, that he’s hard to gauge him against the other forwards you’ve listed, as he does really play a different style of footy and the memories of his performance in last year’s preliminary final, were greatly enhanced by the emergence of the Crows other key forward, Tex Walker. Most of those other KPF’s you have listed have predominantly played a lone hand (as a KPF) in their team’s forward line for a number of years.

      Personally I think the AFL have been very soft in how they have handled this matter and in reality, if I had anything to say at another footy club, such as Richmond, or North Melbourne, perhaps the Saints or even the Bulldogs, I’d now be thinking, “screw it – for $300K and a couple of draft picks, we could do a few shonky things and perhaps have a real red hot go at a flag”!

      I mean why not – it seems to pay off when you look at the stats over the last 20 odd years. Clubs that have been involved in a little bit of skull-duggery (clubs that the AFL has given a wrap on the knuckles for this and that, to do with salary caps and so on) have won 16 of the last 21 flags. There’s about 8 clubs in that bunch, so it’s not disproportionate in the scheme of things, remembering that Gold Coast & GWS are fairly new arrivals and if you want to go a step further, Freo & Port Adelaide aren’t in that group either. So, playing by the rules obviously doesn’t pay off as much as it should. Which means maybe the AFL is being a little weak in its punishment allotments for this sort of thing – don’t you think?

      Finally, Kurt himself. “I want my mummy and daddy” and I think the Crows were definitely trying to look after Kurt in that regard. However, as it turned out, Kurt was one step ahead of everyone else (through his player manager) and already on his way to Sydney – why else would you stipulate “the club of your / his choice”? He’s certainly done a great job with the media – given them nothing!

      Which as TC rightly notes is a real pity for the Gold Coast. They really could have done with a player of Kurt’s size and skill, up forward. Unfortunately, the already strong Sydney team becomes stronger, as you’ve noted. Again, this is the AFL failing to even out the competition and as Pete Garrett once said, the “Rich are getting richer, the poor get the picture”!

    • December 13th 2012 @ 3:02pm
      TC said | December 13th 2012 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

      I’ve been surprised at how big this story has been.

      On a well known AFL forum (with no fewer than 157 boards dedicated to Australian Football), the main Kurt Tippett thread has 28k posts and almost 920k views.


    • Roar Guru

      December 13th 2012 @ 11:32pm
      TomC said | December 13th 2012 @ 11:32pm | ! Report

      I’m not sure what to make of this ‘ninth most goals in past four seasons’ argument. I mean, I think anyone would acknowledge that Hawkins, Walker, Darling and Mitch Clark are better forwards than Tippett, and they’re all younger. And I suspect that if the stat was average goals over four years, then players like Roughead and Petrie might be ahead of him.

      The writer places a lot of faith in that very selective statistic. I’m not sure it means anything.

      I guess it’s a matter of opinion, but I certainly don’t think from what I’ve seen that he’s comparable to Franklin or Cloke. I suppose Sydney do, which is why they’re prepared to fork out such an extraordinary amount of money for him.

    • December 14th 2012 @ 12:06am
      Stevsz said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:06am | ! Report

      Very astute and sensible comment by you both TC and NeeDeep. Hard to argue with much of what you have said. However, NeeDeep, I would debate somewhat your conclusion that “the already strong Sydney team becomes stronger as you’ve noted. Again, this is the AFL failing to even out the competition and as Pete Garrett once said, the “Rich are getting richer, the poor get the picture”

      Firstly, it cannot be said that Sydney is one of the rich clubs, certainly nowhere near the likes of Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon and Hawthorn. Sydney’s membership is less that half of the big four and that’s an enormous problem, especially competing in the rugby league mad Sydney market. Sydney has no clubhouse like the others, nor the marketing and merchandising departments that bring in big dollars. I believe Colless the Sydney CEO has been quoted as saying that one bad season on the ladder and loss of somewhat at times bandwaggon fans could send the club broke.

      And let’s not confuse the Salary Cap Concession Sydney receives from the AFL, often quoted in the media at $1million dollars (but in reality around $860,000 this year) as a sign of money in Sydney’s bank for player purchases such as Tippett as has been often suggested in media and social media comment. That money is spread amongst the player list to adjust for the cost of living difference with the main AFL base Melbourne and to maintain salary parity for the players. Tippett’s affordability came as a result of astute list management over recent years in relation to retirements and delistings, especially this year for the latter in the October player trade and draft bustle period. So Sydney certainly isn’t getting richer.

      And also let’s not also confuse Sydney as a “strong team” by virtue of a stable of class elite players, like the Geelongs and Collinwoods of recent years. They have one elite player in Goodes, a couple of mid class troopers in Bolton and O’Keefe, and the rest are essentially recycled second string players from other clubs who have reveled in the second chance given to them at Sydney and have been transformed by the Sydney “hard working ethos” culture created by Kelly, Kirk, Goodes and Bolton in this last decade into a team of champions. They flew under the radar in 2012 without anyone’s expectation of a flag win and if all truth be told, pinched the cup. And despite their win, you will probably find that not many other clubs would rate Sydney in the top four or six teams overall. Sydney’s success is not in their quality of player but dedication to each other as a team. There are certainly much stronger lists going around at other clubs in terms of class quality players.

      Further more Sydney has an aging list; six or seven players over 30 and imminent retirements of Bolton and Goodes. You are only as strong in a sense as the players coming through the ranks with the recruiting done by the coach and recruiting manager. Tippett fills a hole as a KPF which Sydney has lacked since Hall and therefore improves the forward potency of the team, but he also forms part of the succession planning. I wouldn’t say Sydney are getting stronger but more to the point shoring up for the near future.

      Neither of these issues from Sydney’s point of view are reflected in the AFL failing to even out the competition. That problem is more rooted in Melbourne where the big four mentioned above have huge budgets for their football departments and the other Melbourne clubs are struggling to compete.

    • Roar Pro

      December 14th 2012 @ 12:20pm
      NeeDeep said | December 14th 2012 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      Stevsz, thank you for your kind words.

      I guess the rich – poor analogy was purely off the back of TC’s statement regarding the Gold Coast Clubbers, versus the Sydney Swans and was only referring to playing abilities, not financial prowess, facilities, or anything else.

      So far as the AFL making an even playing field, I felt they had an opportunity to assist one of the new clubs and also provide a deterrent to people (players & club officials, player managers, etc.) trying to manipulate the system, by perhaps forcing Kurt to choose one or the other – Gold Coast or GWS. After all, he did want to go home and that was his whole argument about wanting out of Adelaide.

      I agree with most of what you’re saying. Sydney has got the most out of the hard workers they have recruited and their is a solid work ethic. The AFL does need to stop pandering to the big Melbourne clubs. Having said that, we don’t want them to start pandering to Sydney every 5 minutes, purely on the strength of wanting a bigger piece of the pie, in NSW.

      The cost of living is a whole different topic and I certainly have my views on that subject, but let’s not go there at this time.

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