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Opinion

The trade period: A Collingwood supporter’s take

Sam Watson new author
Roar Rookie
13th November, 2020
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Sam Watson new author
Roar Rookie
13th November, 2020
45
2251 Reads

What. The. Fasolo.

That’s the PG version of the thoughts from almost every supporter of the Collingwood Football Club at the moment. Like nearly all Pies fans, I am absolutely fuming about what transpired at the end of the trade period.

The frustration levels are at an all-time high and I’m going to tell you a bit more about why myself and many other feel this way. However, I will also quickly touch on a few ways in what can make this disastrous day a distant memory.

But first, let’s start with a snapshot of our trade period.

Out: Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom Phillips, Atu Bosenavulagi, Pick 26, Pick 33, Pick 39, Pick 42.

In: Pick 14, Pick 65, Pick 70, future second-round pick.

Okay, I was nearly sick on myself after writing that…

If someone had’ve told me at the start of this year that we were trading Treloar and we’d get Pick 14, 65, 70 and a future second-round pick I would’ve almost said that’s unders for a player of his calibre.

But no, we’ve also chucked in Stephenson, Phillips, Bosenavulagi and four more relatively high draft picks.

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Jaidyn Stephenson of the Magpies

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

We’ve been absolutely fleeced. It’s a disgrace.

Obviously, every club was aware to our salary cap struggles so we were never going to get full value for the players we were dealing, but it’s still so bloody infuriating.

So, let’s break down the players we’ve dealt and why I’m annoyed about our trades and the way they were executed.

Adam Treloar
This is a tough one.

Treloar is a good player, sometimes a really good player, maybe a great player.

At his best, Treloar can rack up disposals, break lines with extreme pace and kick some awesome goals. He has had some amazing games for the Pies.

However, his disposal has been frustrating for quite a while now. There’s no use getting heaps of the pill if you’re going to turn it over half the time.

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It also felt like this season he was playing as more of an inside midfielder and he often didn’t have the strength to break tackles. Plus, he has had quite a bit of trouble with his body over the journey.

There have also been reports that he was hard to coach and didn’t get along with some players but the jury’s still out on that one.

From my perspective he seemed like a very dedicated clubman who was always proud to be in the black and white.

But for the reasons I mentioned above – ball use, midfield role, health – if you’re looking to trade someone to free up a bit of cap space, fair choice.

It’s devastating to see any player go, especially someone with as much ability and passion as Treloar, but it’s a brutal business and sometimes you have to cut a few loose.

But what aggravates so many supporters is the way it was handled.

The information coming out through the media made Collingwood look like the most heartless people in Australia.

First, they were worried about his family, then they were worried about his ability to fit in at the club until it eventually evolved to the point where he was told he wasn’t wanted at all.

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There were so many comments that made the club look very cruel, but it could’ve been fixed in one simple way: being honest, with Treloar and the fans.

We all know the major concern was about Treloar’s salary and the tightening cap.

Obviously, it would’ve been extremely detrimental to his trade value if he was told he was needed to relieve cap space, but everyone knew that anyway and the return we received reflected that.

If Collingwood had’ve come out after the period ended and said “We absolutely love Adam and he’s been great for our club, but we really needed to relieve some cap space” things would’ve been so much better.

It might’ve been an initial shock for supporters and Ned Guy would’ve had egg on his face but ultimately it would’ve been a better look for the club.

All the members want is for the club to be transparent with what’s happening and unfortunately transparency is the last thing happening at the Holden Centre.

The whole Treloar media fiasco wouldn’t have ever started if they were honest with him from the start. Instead they went down a conniving and heartless path.

Adam Treloar

(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

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That’s definitely not great for current players and potential recruits to see…

The loss of Treloar is pretty saddening but I’m not absolutely devastated. If we needed to relieve cap space, so be it, it’s acceptable to ship him off. Most Collingwood supporters are okay with that, but again, it’s the way in which it was handled that has frustrated so many.

But it’s the following trade that really got my blood boiling.

Jaidyn Stephenson
Are you actually kidding me?

You cannot be serious.

You draft a bloke with Pick 6, he wins the Rising Star but once he gets in a bit of trouble and has one bad year, you give him away for nothing.

Some people might forget that in 2018, Stephenson was the spark plug for our season. We lost the first two games, and everyone thought it was going to be another crap year for the Maggies.

Then we barely beat a bad Carlton side, and nobody was really convinced we were going to be a flag threat, but then something special happened.

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The bloke we just gave away for next to nothing kicked five goals and we absolutely smashed the runners up from the previous year.

From then on, our X-factor was Stephenson.

He looked like the fastest player in the AFL and his goal sense was awesome.

I thought that he was the next big thing at Collingwood – I even considered getting his number on my jumper, I grew out of doing that when I was about ten though.

He started off 2019 in pretty good form and then the betting scandal hit. I won’t get into that, he was ridiculously dumb, but I reckon the penalty was pretty harsh. Maybe I’m just a biased Collingwood supporter though.

He returned for the 2019 finals series and had a pretty decent game first up – 18 disposals, one goal and two goal assists. Then he played just as well the next week, with 16 disposals and two goals.

So, at that stage myself and many Pies fans were still very bullish about his future.

Jaidyn Stephenson

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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As we all know he had some struggles this year and there were certainly some aspects of his game that were pretty disappointing, but he still played some good games, kicked some great goals and he’s 21 years old!

Are you kidding me? You just give up on a young player when he has one bad season?!

It was a tough year for a lot of footballers in the hub, so I’d say it’s definitely forgivable for him to be a bit off. Plus, he had glandular fever in the new year, which caused a severely interrupted pre-season.

That’s just a few major reasons why getting rid of him is so bloody stupid.

And don’t give me the disciplinary issues spiel either. If Collingwood got rid of players with disciplinary issues in the past, we probably wouldn’t have won a flag since 1958. Everybody’s young and dumb sometimes, he’ll get better.

And if his salary is the main issue – which it probably is – then it’s even more stupid. I’d trade Josh Thomas (28), Rupert Wills (27) and Brayden Sier (22) all before Stephenson. Yes, I mean all three of them instead of him. Surely their combined salary is just as much as Stephenson’s.

And much like Treloar, the way it’s played out is so disheartening.

To hear him say he wanted to stay makes it even more heartbreaking. What happened to the whole “Collingwood is now a loving and happy club” thing? That certainly has gone out the window, at least from an outsider’s perspective.

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It’s an ugly situation.

At his best, there’s not many players like Stephenson, it’s going to be hard to find someone like him again. And I’ll just quickly mention the bloke coming to Arden Street with him.

Atu Bosenavulagi
I’ll be honest, I don’t pay close attention to the twos, so I don’t know how he went there this year, but that debut senior game he played against Geelong this year was astounding.

He looked quick and clean and managed to get his hands on the ball quite a bit.

So, to throw him – a 20-year-old – in as the steak knives seems so weird.

Maybe he didn’t perform like they were hoping in the reserves games this year but surely give him one more crack at it?

It was another baffling decision.

Tom Phillips
This is the icing on the Collingwood stupidity cake.

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When Phillips first started at Collingwood, I had my doubts, but after Nathan Buckley’s persistence he started to turn into a pretty decent player.

Some in the media even had him as an All Australian smokey in 2018 and 2019.

His ball use improved, and he started to be a bit of a barometer for the Pies. When he was on, we were usually playing pretty well.

Like Treloar, he seems like someone who loves the club and maybe unlike Treloar he seemed to fit in really well and be a bit of a charismatic personality with a positive influence.

But he did frustrate me at times this year, especially against Brisbane where three of his turnovers directly resulted in goals. And Josh Daicos has improved immensely and has now pushed him off the wing into a half-forward role that he struggles to play.

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So, with his decent contract and his declining usefulness in the side, trading Tom Phillips is unfortunate. But like Treloar, it was needed.

But what myself and many other Pies fans are irritated by is the return we got on the trade. Pick 65. You’re joking.

I know we’re desperate to offload cash but surely you can get something a little bit better than that for a bloke who has been playing pretty decent footy for three to four years now.

We’re getting laughed at by other supporters.

And a lot of the blame is resting with this bloke.

Ned Guy, List Manager of the Collingwood Magpies

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Good luck finding a Collingwood supporter who has a nice thing to say about Ned Guy at the moment. He is public enemy number 1.

To say he’s royally stuffed this up is an understatement. There’s been some serious mismanagement in terms of list and salary, and he is rightfully the pin-up boy for the trade period disaster.

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There are definitely others to blame but unfortunately for Guy he’s going to receive most of the wrath from the black and white army.

When I heard he was going on radio and TV after the period ended I gained a bit of respect for him – that’s tough to do.

But that respect was completely lost when I heard his answers.

Maybe it was a directive from the higher-ups but to get on there and try and spin this into a positive light and say we’re replenishing through the draft is utterly ridiculous.

I know there’s quite a few Collingwood nuffies but how stupid do you think we are?

You don’t just trade four decent players, four picks, get pick 14 back and try to say we’re going to the draft to improve our list.

No, no, no.

If I hadn’t have been paying attention to the US election I would’ve said what Ned Guy said is the biggest load of BS I’ve ever heard.

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No way, no how, was this Collingwood trying to get better through the draft.

Everyone knew it was a salary cap dump, why else would other teams get our players for such a bargain?

And even if we were honestly trying to get better through the draft, how stupid is that?

Some of our best players – Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom – aren’t getting any younger. We need to win now.

Scott Pendlebury of the Magpies celebrates a win

(Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Plus, many others – including myself – would argue we’ve actually ended up with a worse bunch of picks in the draft than what we had.

Collingwood fans would’ve been able to stomach this a lot better if Ned Guy came out and said this: “Sorry players, sorry fans but unfortunately we’ve got ourselves into a position where we can’t afford to keep all of our players, so we need to offload a few to other clubs. Young players have improved and with improvement comes higher salaries, so unfortunately there’s a few that must go.”

I understand he couldn’t say anything about our cap while negotiating deals, but afterwards full transparency would’ve been appreciated.

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The other issues with player contracts are for an article or ten another day but I really hope I never write something like this again.

How can it all be forgiven? While I remain incredibly angry, I do admit there are ways where this can all be forgiven.

The first is simple: win the flag next year.

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It’s probably not going to happen but if it miraculously does, this disaster will all of a sudden look like the smartest day in Collingwood history.

If we can somehow win one in the next few years obviously it will all be forgiven.

If the players we got rid of fail to fire at their new clubs, it’ll sting a bit less and if the players we draft turn into guns then yeah, we’ll be happy.

There’s a high chance things can go seriously pear-shaped and the infamy of this trade period will live on for decades but I’m not giving up yet.

If flags were won in the trade period, we’d have the wooden spoon, but luckily, they’re not.

I hope the club knows what they’re doing.

I genuinely wish Treloar, Stephenson, Bosenavulagi and Phillips all the best at their new clubs, it’s very sad to see you all go.

To the Pies players – please fire up next season, and to the Pies players on really good money – you better really fire up.

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Go Pies.

Floreat Pica.

P.S. At least everyone knows we’re not cheating the salary cap like Carlton did.