Only surprise about the Watmough thing is Watmough told the world

Matt Cleary Columnist

By Matt Cleary, Matt Cleary is a Roar Expert

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    The Watmough thing? Only surprising thing about the Watmough thing is that it’s been aired. Most if not all of these things remain firmly in-house. Or in-pub, anyway.

    But it happens, baby. Oh yes. It happens.

    A footy team is like a really big family. They spend so much time with each other, there’s going to be disagreements.

    In a group of thirty blokes, and that many again in the staff, not everyone’s going to be best mates.

    I have an occasional beer with a current first grader, Origin player, a senior man, and he is what you’d call a good font of fair dinkum. He says blow-ups are normal. He’s seen plenty like what’s happened at Manly.

    Anthony Watmough and Daly Cherry-Evans

    Many of Manly’s recruitment and retention issues were blamed on DCE. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

    “I’ve seen punch-ups, blokes really ripping in, stuff that would’ve gone big in the news if it hadn’t been kept in-house,” he says. “At a footy club, what goes on in-house has to stay in-house.

    “And it needs to be that way, you need trust among teammates. It’s a very big thing. It’s something that’s spoken about a lot at clubs. Senior blokes will get serious in meetings – this stays in-house.”

    Choccy Watmough’s been out of the house for some years now and apparently stewing enough that he could no longer stand the burden of knowing that his side of the story isn’t out in the public sphere.

    And our Choccy went back in the tent, and set his truth free on a podcast thingy. And we’ll yap about it for a few days in the way of these things.

    And what we’ll yap about is this:

    Seems Daly Cherry-Evans was resented by senior blokes at Manly because he wouldn’t obey a pecking order that decreed he should accept less money and thus keep the band together, as Glenn and Brett Stewart, and Anthony Watmough, according to Anthony Watmough, had done.

    Further according to Watmough – and any northern beaches knucklehead who knows a bloke who knows a bloke who walks his dog with Dessie around Collaroy – our DCE wouldn’t take smaller money to keep a winning club together by playing for unders in the window of opportunity the salary cap afforded them.

    And DCE wasn’t having that, as is his right.

    Whether he should’ve, as Watmough says, boycotted training, whether Geoff Toovey should’ve dropped him as Watmough says he urged, whether senior figures on the board should’ve held any sway in selection for the weekend XVII on the park, as Watmough says they did … is a story for another day.

    Daly Cherry-Evans

    Daly Cherry Evans (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    This one purports that Choc and Snake and Gifty Glenn didn’t like the young punk, and still don’t like him, it appears, and the only surprising is that Watmough’s told the world via a podcast instead of anyone who’d listen at the Brookvale Hotel.

    Pass the popcorn and/or beer nuts.

    Now, again, this stuff happens. Players talk. They know or think they know, or think they know someone who knows, what other players are on. And not just at their club, at all the clubs.

    And there’s a seniority thing that older players believe in and younger men, it appears, increasingly do not.

    “The culture in footy has changed,” reckons my man. “Young kids are coming through a lot more confident now. There used to be a nod to seniority. If you came in to grade and one of the older boys told you to do something you’d do it. Jump? How high? Unpack all the luggage off the team bus? Yes sir Mr Lockyer sir!

    “Now it’s more people talking about young blokes being equal, about everyone being equal. I don’t necessarily agree. I think you have to have earn stripes.

    “Young blokes can come through cocky, confident. The U/20s has driven that a bit. They’re getting on TV even though it’s more a glorified Jersey Flegg comp. Reserve grade used to be a big step up, going from boys to men.

    “Now a lot of young kids hit U/20s and think they’re one step off first grade. It’s not the case!”

    There are clubs – like Manly – that try to keep it going, the seniority thing. At some clubs it’s still about earning stripes.

    But there’s a lot of let’s call them ‘confident’ kids today who seem to think that’s not how it should be.

    “They just want it all from the get-go without doing any time,” says my man. “They’re being lauded by their peers, girls, managers. Some are coming though with pretty big tickets on themselves.”

    It happens.

    You surprised?

    Matt Cleary
    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary is a sports writer from Sydney. He enjoys golf, footy and Four Pines Pale Ale, and spends as much time as conscience allows at Long Reef GC. Tweet him @journomatcleary, or read him at his website. You can find more of his golf columns over at Patreon.

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    The Crowd Says (48)

    • June 15th 2018 @ 7:33am
      Paul said | June 15th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      I wonder if this Watmough story has links to Dessie’s love of back ended contracts? It would make sense in terms of Watmough’s belief the younger or less experienced bloke takes less money and is rewarded further into their career.

    • June 15th 2018 @ 7:40am
      Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      Watmough is in no way on the right side of this one. What he, the Stewart’s, Hasler and the club did was nothing but a deliberate manipulation of the salary cap that gave their team and club an unfair advantage over clubs during that period.
      And to expect a younger player to sacrifice his own financial security so that Watmough could be repaid for things he did prior to Cherry-Evans’ arrival at the club is breath takingly arrogant.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 15th 2018 @ 8:49am
        Don said | June 15th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        There’s no salary cap manipulation in staggering player’s contracts and managing the values to remunerate everyone over the term but not everyone at once.
        If 4 or 5 players agree with the club to accept “unders” for 2 years with a guaranteed higher 3rd or 4th year salary then, as long as you coordinate player contracts so you have no more than 2 on their “back end year” at the same time it should be manageable.

        Keep in mind that clubs could also nominate a player/s as a Marquee Player and pay up to $600k a year not under the cap.
        Now, if you staggered who you nominated as a Marquee Player each year to marry up with player contract values there’s your cash for the back end contracts.

        Where clubs fail is in signing big names with an expectation they can move existing contracted players on to another club.
        They have a “boom” youngster who gets an offer they feel they have to match.
        Or they find themselves with a player who was expected to retire but was in such good form he decided he wanted to play on for another year.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2018 @ 9:05am
          Emcie said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          Yeah, I don’t think it was cap manipulation so much as it was poor cap management, it was a case of keeping the players together for as long as possible and dealing with the consequences later.

          I think the Broncos have a better system where players are on bigger money at the start of their careers and they start to take less money at the back end of their careers as they are better able to suppliment their income by cashing in on their name. It means everyone is getting what they want at the time and if they want more money by going elsewhere they’re not getting shafted out of money they sacrificed but if they want to stay it’s their own decision to sacrifice the money. It might not always work but I think its a better concept to try and pursue.

          • June 15th 2018 @ 9:45am
            ja ja klazo said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            This system works best for a team like the Broncos because of their increased access to third party deals though.

            It’s an interesting one, Manly have had some lean years but was it all worth it? A few grand finals and a couple premierships would say yes. They’ll be back.

          • June 15th 2018 @ 9:45am
            Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            It may not be against the rules, but it is a manipulation of the cap that makes the cap meaningless.
            The purpose of the cap is to spread talent evenly by restricting how much clubs can spend on the assumption that players will be paid at market value.
            The Manly players, coach and club conspired to pay top talent at less than market rate, allowing them to hold on to experienced players for longer than the salary cap would normally permit, thereby granting the club an unfair advantage over their rivals.
            The salary cap is designed to spread talent evenly so that every club has a chance to be competitive every season. What Manly did was create a distortion of the cap which unfairly inflated their competitiveness for many years and has artificially made them uncompetive in recent years.
            It doesn’t just affect Manly, it has a flow on effect to other teams due to the effect it has on the market.
            It is good to see that it all ended in tears.

            • June 15th 2018 @ 10:00am
              mushi said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

              The purpose of the cap is cost control. The “parity” line is just what the NRL feeds the fans.

              There wasn’t strikes in the NBA, NHL and NFL because palyers were agasint an even competition.

              • June 15th 2018 @ 10:37am
                Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

                Cost control is one reason, but not definitely not the only one.

              • June 15th 2018 @ 1:21pm
                mushi said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                It is the dirving reason, if they wanted parity they’d have made a littany of other changes – they didn’t because it’s a false driver.

              • June 15th 2018 @ 3:03pm
                John said | June 15th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                @ Gray-Hand:

                Given that the funding that clubs receives from the NRL is directly related to the cap I would think cost control would be the biggest one.

              • June 15th 2018 @ 5:40pm
                Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                The fact that the NRL has refused to register contracts on the basis that they do not represent the market value of the player is proof that parity of talent is a driving force behind the current salary cap regime.

                Also, NRL officials always talk about talent distribution being the reason for the salary cap – far more often than they talk about cost control.

                Why would there be rules against clubs arranging 3rd party sponsorships for players if parity wasn’t a driving force?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 15th 2018 @ 12:20pm
              Don said | June 15th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

              There’s no conspiracy and it’s absolutely within the rules and does nothing to distort the player balance across the teams.

              So, when the Tigers had Benji and Farah on large back ended deals and Canterbury had Graham, Eastwood etc on the same type of arrangement, and their teams were going badly in the competition, where did they receive any unfair advantage? They were terrible.

              Is it only an unfair advantage, conspiracy and manipulation when it works?

              • June 15th 2018 @ 1:15pm
                Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

                Of course it distorts the player balance. Watmough openly admitted during the podcast that they agreed to be ‘paid unders’ In order to keep the playing group together. So other teams were denied access either to those players, or other players who Manly would otherwise have been unable to afford.

                And yes, Canterbury clearly benefited from the backended deals? Is that even debatable? Prior to the big paydays of the final years, they were one of the most formidable teams in the competition, on the back of a distorted playing roster filled with players being paid under their market value. Once again, other teams didn’t have access to those players (or others) due to the cap manipulation.

                And both teams are still affected by it, albeit negatively.

                Incidentally – there is nothing wrong with a backended (or front ended)deal if it is a genuine reflection of the expected development of a player. But that wasn’t the case with the Hasler teams.

              • June 15th 2018 @ 1:24pm
                mushi said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                And that Gray-hand is why a slaary cap can’t be a parity driver. Money is typically a gate way decision and then after a certian point many other attributes drive an employee’s decision making.

                research on this began in the 1970s

              • June 15th 2018 @ 1:28pm
                mushi said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

                Also it doesn’t distort as the same options are available to other clubs.

                Extrapolating the adjectives used by such as considered communicator and financial structuring mastermind like Watmough (who apparently couldn’t remember the correct winger) is perhaps not the best grounding for an argument.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 15th 2018 @ 2:51pm
                Don said | June 15th 2018 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

                It’s just a ridiculous premise isn’t it.
                Somehow the players agreeing with the club and each other that they will accept a certain salary each year that, over the term of their contract is in line with their market value (otherwise the NRL would not approve it anyway) in order to continue to play together unbalanced the competition and denied other clubs access to those players?

                Every player was paid at their market value. The payment structure over the term should be between the players and their clubs.

                Also, a club cannot contract a player hugely below market value in any year regardless of whether it catches up later.

                When Parramatta tried to sign Israel Folau the NRL knocked back the deal because the first 2 years salary didn’t reflect his market value even though subsequent years were above market value to pick up the difference.

                It’s not like they were paying Glenn Stewart $200k a year then it went to $1m in the 3rd year. Not allowed to…

              • June 15th 2018 @ 4:03pm
                Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

                That would only be true if all clubs engaged in the activity, which isn’t evident. But it was clearly a chronic problem at Manly, and later Canterbury.

        • June 15th 2018 @ 12:14pm
          peeko said | June 15th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          i have never heard of this Marquee player exemption

          • June 15th 2018 @ 1:25pm
            mushi said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

            There is an amount in TPA’s that the club can have that don’t meet the TPA’s criteria for a player

    • June 15th 2018 @ 7:54am
      Forty Twenty said | June 15th 2018 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      It seems like a few senior players at Manly considered that they had carried the club from the bottom of the heap up to a 40 nil GF thumping of the Storm and beyond despite some inept coaching and head office turmoil.

      I have long thought that they should get more credit for this success and my gut feeling was that they more than Hasler were the driving force. Haslers spell at the Dogs only added to my notion.

      DCE arrived at a great time for the club and I doubt if we win in 11 without him and almost win in 13 without him.

      I felt as time went on some of the senior players had an aura about them that they owned the club and were running the show. This could have worked bar two factors , they were physically spent and their ideas were heavily clouded by mate ship.

      • Roar Guru

        June 15th 2018 @ 8:43am
        Emcie said | June 15th 2018 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        You’ve pretty much summed it up mate. The funny part about the whole saga was that at the start the players “sacrifice” was for the good of the team while it was successful, but when everyone’s back ended deals kicked in at the same time and screwed their cap the club was at fault for not being loyal. What did they expect to happen? The club to give up any chance at success for several seasons just so the senior players could enjoy their payday? Watmaugh and Glen Stewart were well past their best when they were moved on and didn’t do much post Manly and there wasn’t much self sacrificing spirit while they were holding their team back

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2018 @ 8:28am
      Emcie said | June 15th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      We’ve all seen the damage back ended contracts have done to clubs this year, not sure Watmaugh is on the right side of that argument. This comes across as an old man sinking the boot in at the first opportunity to satisfy an old grudge.

      Didn’t Watmaugh try suing Manly (or was it Parra?) for compo for a preexisting condition or something? I’m not sure he’s exactly a beacon of morality himself

      • Roar Guru

        June 15th 2018 @ 10:02am
        BA Sports said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        Your last sentence there touches on it to me.

        The Stewarts, Watmough, Matai, Lyon – all very good players, no question or arguments. But good people? Fair to say there is plenty of evidence to make the case in the negative.

        Every club needs successful elder statesman that can control the room and lead by example on and off the field. But when each of your senior leaders have closets that all have sizable skeletons in them, is it any surprise that leadership and order goes out the window? The psychological and behavioral breakdown that occurs when structure, rules, and authority are absent leads to a Lord of the Flies situation. The Sea Eagles club with their “everyone hates us” approach has, in my opinion, largley been a mask for them to justify being above the rules and believing they should be allowed to do what they want.

        So whether it is Watmough, DCE, Toovey or maybe it goes higher to the Senior Management (see P.Peters) and the Board, control has always been lacking and it was going to go off the rails sooner or later.

      • June 15th 2018 @ 10:19am
        Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        If I recall correctly, Parra needed Watmough to sue them in order to trigger a claim on their insurance. I don’t believe there was any ill feeling between him and the club with respect to that.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2018 @ 1:16pm
          Emcie said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          Is that what that was about? I did really follow the story too closely to be honest

          • June 15th 2018 @ 11:49pm
            Chris Love said | June 15th 2018 @ 11:49pm | ! Report

            Parramatta needed that so it was deemed a career ending injury whilst playing at Parramatta. The way I understand it is, the insurance company does the insurance company thing and claims pre-existing injury so they don’t have to pay up. If that stands then Watguts’ salary that season remains under Parramatta’s cap when he wasn’t going to play ever again. Parramatta were needing to offload that amount to get under the cap after the scandal. Watguts sues, wins, and parramatta are happy.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2018 @ 9:31am
      Nat said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Is this argument more about the money DCE wanted or his attitude toward getting it? Imagine asking your boss for more money then refusing to show up to work until they agreed? A couple of weeks back with the Falcons may have made a point to both him and his manager (who advised him to hold the club to ransom yet left out of this conversation). I wonder what DCE’s advice to a young rookie may be in 3yrs time when his contract is coming to an end and the show is on the other foot.

      • June 15th 2018 @ 10:15am
        Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        “Imagine askew by your boss for more money and then not showing up to work until he agreed?”
        Workers threaten to go on strike over pay all the time. It’s a pretty routine employment scenario.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2018 @ 10:17am
          Nat said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          Fair enough but that’s as a group, not the individual.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2018 @ 11:27am
          BA Sports said | June 15th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          Yes but you can’t just not turn up to work because you want more money. There are legal and illegal strikes. Unless it was sanctioned by the Players Association, an individual not showing up to work, is on his own and risking his contract.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 15th 2018 @ 3:34pm
            steveng said | June 15th 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

            Yes, fully agree BA! DCE did a dog act (as far as Watmough is concerned) and the ‘Sea Eagles’ board, officials forgot about the players that made a sacrifice (in salaries and big money) to get the club to where it got, after the rabble that they were in! That is what Watmough is saying and that is what Watmough is so dirty about.

            • June 16th 2018 @ 12:11am
              Chris Love said | June 16th 2018 @ 12:11am | ! Report

              Steveng, I think you and others are mixing two things that were several years apart. That is completely understandable the way the conversation went on the podcast and the way Watmough articulated it. But the way I understand it is and Manly fans may correct me if I’m wrong but:

              Watmough’s argument that DCE is a f#$&wit stems from the early 2012/late 2011 incident just after they’d won the 2011 title and were preparing for the 2012 season. DCE’s won an NRL ring and Rookie of the year honours and wants more money. But he’s already signed a contract for bottom dollar. Now he’s trying to hold the whole team to ransom and putting 2012 performance of the whole team in jeopardy by not turning up to training until his demands are met. Watmough being a senior leader at the club tries to get him to pull his head in and be responsible for the contract that he had signed. It seems none of the comments so far have pointed out that DCE needed to show some responsibility for his own actions. At this point I think Watmough is 100% in the right and Toovey should have shown some backbone but with a disfunctional board that was picking favourites Toovey didn’t make waves (only to be shafted by the same side board later on)

              He uses this as an example of where DCE seems to be the common factor in a number of issues, adding namely QLD not wanting a bar of him and the Jackson hasting incident.

              Then turn to the end of the 2013 season is where he’s dirty that the club didn’t re-sign his mate Glenn Stewart. Correct me if I’m wrong but Stewart was off contract at the time and wasn’t off loaded mid contract? If that’s the case then Manly in its perogative have every right not to resign any player and Watmough doesn’t have a strong case to be dirty at them. Sure they stayed for unders but that’s got no obligation on Manly to renew. They had every chance to sign a longer contract and back-end it if necessary. That didn’t happen and Watmough and Stewart need to hold their own responsibility for that.

              I think he told I as he saw it and explained his side of the whole Dessie – Tooves handlig by the board. He and the other players got burnt by Hasler when he told them furphies about the conditions of why he was leaving Manly. The players have a mini revolt and it turns out they did so on a false premise. Then when Toovey didn’t put DCE in his place at the start of 2012 and was subsequently shafted by the same people, he had no sympathy for Tooves.

              That’s just how I saw the points Watmough was making. Right or wrong but many of the comments here seem to be mixing the two and coming up with false conclusions. The whole pecking order thing between DCE’s contract upgrade at the start of 2012 and them releasing (not-resigning) Stewart at the end of 2013 were two years apart.

              • June 16th 2018 @ 7:46am
                Forty Twenty said | June 16th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

                It seems that plenty of things could have been handled better Chris Love but if the club had their time again they still wouldn’t have signed Glen Stewart to a new contract regardless of DCE and whatever he did.

                If DCE wasn’t even at the club, given their time again they wouldn’t have signed Snake and Matai to new contracts either despite their stellar contributions for a decade.

                It is normal for any club including Manly to ‘let players go’ who they feel are done and dusted.

          • June 15th 2018 @ 3:55pm
            Gray-Hand said | June 15th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

            Of course he was.

            But his contract got upgraded by 1000% according to Watmough, so I guess he and his manager played it pretty well. Still probably an empty threat in any event.

    • June 15th 2018 @ 10:05am
      Tom G said | June 15th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      It amazes me that Watmough takes a dump on his own legacy, the clubs coaches, the owners and Cherry Evans somehow is portrayed by many as the villain. Meanwhile the NRL keeps putting the boot in with refusing an exemption for Fainu. Greenberg can’t get enough of pulling the club to the bottom

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