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Opinion

Collingwood: More spin than Shane Warne

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Roar Rookie
15th November, 2020
35

Collingwood supporters were most likely still recovering from one of the Pies’ worst performances in some time against Geelong in the semi-final.

Well at least since our match on 15 August against Melbourne. Come trade time, the Collingwood football administration team said hold my beer.

It has been a few days since the last day of trades, but I am still bewildered and devastated at the outcome of the Collingwood’s trade Thursday.

Here are the outcomes of Collingwood’s trades:
– Traded Jaidyn Stephenson, Atu Bosenavulagi and a second-round pick (currently pick 39) to North Melbourne for two second-round picks (currently picks 26 and 33) and a fourth-round pick (currently pick 70);
– Traded Tom Phillips to Hawthorn for a fourth-round (currently pick 65);
– Traded Adam Treloar and two second-round picks (currently picks 26 and 33) and a third-round pick (currently pick 42) to the Western Bulldogs for a first-round pick (currently pick 14) and a future second-round selection.

The two second-round picks the Pies received from North Melbourne were then traded to the Bulldogs as part of the Adam Treloar trade. We could say the second-round pick traded to North Melbourne effectively cancels out the future second-round selection received from the Bulldogs.

Therefore, effectively Collingwood received a first round-pick (currently pick 14) and two fourth-round picks (currently picks 65 and 70) as compensation for Stephenson, Bosenavulagi, Phillips and Treloar and the Pies also gave away a third-round pick (currently pick 40). As well as reportedly paying $300,000 per year for Treloar for five years.

Adam Treloar

Adam Treloar has been traded. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

In anyone’s language the compensation for Collingwood looks very weak. Even more so when you consider the players that have been traded. Treloar had played 94 games for the Pies, was four in the 2019 Best and Fairest and had five years left on his contract.

Phillips had played 89 games for Collingwood and was 6th in the 2018 Best and Fairest and 7th in 2019. Stephenson was the sixth pick in the 2017 draft and won the 2018 Rising Star award. The only player to do so whilst playing for Collingwood.

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Stephenson wasn’t without his issues receiving a 10-game suspension in 2019 for betting on games and he didn’t have the best 2020 but he also had glandular fever in the off-season. Phillips also didn’t have his best season in 2020, averaging only 16 disposals down from almost 24 disposals in 2019.

Bosenavulagi, is a 20-year-old, who came through the Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy and showed some promise on his debut this year.

Notwithstanding the drop-off in performance by Phillips and Stephenson in 2020 it doesn’t justify Collingwood trading all four players, as a friend of mine, and fellow Collingwood supporter, noted for a Twix and a packet of salt and vinegar chips.

The worst of both varieties. (I would actually substitute the Twix for Old Gold. How Old Gold ever made it into the Favourites box is almost as bewildering as Collingwood’s trade performance).

The disappointment of the outcome of the trades was bad enough. However, two other things added to the disappointment and devastation of Pies fans – the “spin” that Collingwood trotted out after the trade period ended and the way some of our favourite players have been treated.

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Ned Guy appearing on Fox Footy on Thursday night made some of the following comments.

“We were just navigating our way through list management of it all, … keen to get into the draft. Continue strengthening our list and the draft is the best way to do that.”

“Couple of first round picks is pretty handy.”

“Couple of good years, scaling backwards, don’t want to bottom out before we bring in good talent.”

“We had some conversations with Adam and Tim, originally around whether his family was going to move to Queensland and whether he wanted to do that. It evolved from that situation and he thought he would look at another opportunity.”

Ned Guy, List Manager of the Collingwood Magpies

Ned Guy, List Manager of the Collingwood Magpies. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Guy also said Super Netball star Kim Ravaillion’s move to Brisbane was “catalyst for the discussion” to trade Treloar.

“I don’t think it is a fire sale at all. I think we just wanted to replenish the list, and to get into the first round you need to give something up.”

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“Adding better talent to our list.”

“Continual conversations throughout … with Jaidyn and his management. It got to the point where Jaidyn was keen to play for North Melbourne.”

“Part of plan we all put together.”

“I think it is a bit of a beat up, the salary cap issues.” “We don’t think it is as bad as people have put out there.”

“We’re not going to talk about players’ contracts.”

“We won’t be trading anyone out until next year’s trade period.”

Geoff Walsh appeared on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast on Friday morning and some of his comments included:

“Primary motivation to get into draft as close to pointy end.”

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“We don’t comment on any players salary.”

“I can’t let Jaidyn’s words be etched in history. Certainly, throughout the year Jaidyn was spoken to by coaches and teammates about how he could get back to his best football at the Pies.”

In relation to the salary cap, Walsh said “I think it’s been hugely exaggerated. TPP and salary caps are the bane of every club, we want to get good players within our football program. The situation at Collingwood has been highly exaggerated.”

“We understand that Treloar, Phillips and Stephenson have been good players. We were a fair way off in the last game of 2020, that shows us we need to get better and improve our list. The best way to improve your list is via the draft.”

Well at least Guy and Walsh were consistent with their messaging and / or they had both read “The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling” by Peter Philpott. I think the above comments treated Collingwood supporters with disdain and as if we are stupid. I will explain in further detail below.

Both Guy and Walsh said about getting into the draft, that this is the best way to improve our list and Walsh even said at the “pointy end”. Yes, the Pies do have two first-round draft picks.

However, we already had pick 16, so our only gain was pick 14. I wouldn’t exactly call picks 14 and 16 the pointy end and the Pies have decided to “go to the draft” in a year where 80 per cent of the nominees have not played in the last 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for not bottoming out before we bring in talent. We have traded players of clear talent Treloar (aged 27), Phillips (aged 24) and Stephenson (aged 21) and with plenty of years left in them. In exchange for that we are hanging our hat on a “lucky dip” at the draft and not if a significant number of high draft picks.

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Guy is implying that the main reason Treloar’s trade talks were instigated is because of his partner Ravaillion signing with the Queensland Firebirds. Surely, if that was the case once the Pies asked Treloar if he wanted to be traded to the Lions or the Suns and Treloar said no, that should have been the end of the matter. Therefore, there is more spin from Guy and Collingwood, which defies logic and cannot be believed.

Treloar was a passionate Collingwood man and said when reports came out that the Pies were considering trading him to a Queensland club that he wanted to stay in Melbourne and with the Pies. This is an example of the poor treatment of departing players by Collingwood.

It is not only poor treatment of Treloar but also of his partner Ravaillion, as if to blame her for the Pies trading Treloar. For the information of many in the AFL media and AFL fans, Kimmy Rav, as she is affectionately known, is a star athlete in her own right.

Ravaillion has played over 50 times for the Australian Diamonds netball team, including winning a World Championship and Commonwealth Games Gold Medal, and she won back-to-back ANZ Championships (the equivalent of the premiership) in 2015 and 2016.

Treloar also said that he was told by Nathan Buckley that other senior players didn’t want to play with him anymore. Given the love Treloar had for the club from a fans perspective this seems far-fetched and doesn’t paint Buckley in a good light. It also highlights that the Pies were trying any excuse to trade Treloar, whether plausible or not.

Nathan Buckley, coach of the Magpies, looks dejected

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Guy said it wasn’t a fire sale and both Guy and Walsh said that the salary cap issues had been exaggerated. I don’t buy that either, why would you trade these quality players for well below market value (in terms of draft picks)?

When asked about Collingwood paying potentially one-third of Treloar’s contract for the next five years, Guy and Walsh both said that they don’t comment on player contracts. Surely, Collingwood members and fans deserve to know if we are paying a significant amount of cash to have a player who gave his heart and soul for the club and who fans loved, in a red, white and blue jumper for the next five years.

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Jaidyn Stephenson had said that he had to call coach Nathan Buckley to find out that he was being traded, which blindsided him. Both Guy and Walsh said that there had been numerous conversations with Stephenson throughout the year about how he would get back to his best at the Pies. Getting back to your best at the Pies and being traded to another club is a different thing.

Stephenson has played three years at AFL level and won the Rising Star. Yes, he had some issues during 2020, both on and off field, but glandular fever can take some time to recover from. But he was the number six pick with plenty of football ahead of him and we have given him and others away for pick 14.

Collingwood officials also noted that Phillips had been passed on the wing by Josh Daicos and didn’t adapt well to half forward. Is there only one place in the 22 for Daicos and Phillips?

I am not sure Collingwood’s “game plan” for most of the season of “ring-a-ring-a-rosie” handball around in circles in the midfield helped someone who moved to half forward or someone who spends a lot of their time in the forward line. (By contrast, Collingwood’s best match of the year was the first final v the Eagles where they actually moved the ball quickly and directly into the forward line).

With Stephenson at the age of 21 and Phillips at the age of 24, after a down year for both players and spending the year away from home in a bubble, wouldn’t you as a club back your coach to get the best out of these players in 2021? In this case, apparently not.

Collingwood’s treatment of Treloar and Stephenson noted above, was poor. Trading Phillips for pick 65 is also insulting.

Guy’s comment in response to a question on Fox Footy how current Collingwood players can trust that they won’t be traded, saying that we won’t be trading anyone until next year’s trade period was facetious, given this year’s trade period is over.

After dancing down the pitch and hitting Guy and Walsh’s spin over long on for six, my take is that the below issues culminated in what happened at Collingwood this week:
– Issues with salary cap management;
– Contracted players for more than their market value because they showed good form when they were coming out of contract;
– Contracted players for longer periods than they should have (I am worried that Grundy won’t play at the level of his contract for seven years and / or will be traded out before the end of his seven-year deal);
– Back-ended contracts;
– Poor relationships between officials, including Nathan Buckley, and players and poor treatment of those players by the club;
– Were clearly not transparent with members and fans.

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I do acknowledge that if the Pies didn’t come out with spin and were transparent that would mean an official/s would have to take responsibility for the issues noted above. Although, from a fans perspective an official/s should take responsibility for Thursday.

On social media since Thursday, 90 to 95 per cent of Collingwood supporters have expressed similar feelings / messages as I have in this article. Around 5 to 10 per cent of Collingwood supporters have apparently been mesmerised by the spin, reminding me of Darryl Cullinan.

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For those who aren’t cricket fans, Cullinan used to be Shane Warne’s bunny – Warne used to dismiss him almost every time he came into bat.

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I also have not seen a supporter of another club do anything but laugh at and criticise Collingwood since the trades were announced.

I don’t remember a team ever having such a diabolical single trade day as Collingwood did on Thursday.

Collingwood’s loss is the Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Hawthorn’s gain.

The Western Bulldogs gaining from Collingwood’s diabolical trading, list management and/or salary cap management makes me think of a dearly departed friend, who supported Footscray.

(Yes, he still called them Footscray even though they changed their name to the Western Bulldogs well over a decade before his death). He would be fist pumping, laughing at Collingwood and saying “BBB” – “Burn Buckley Burn.”