Gazza should take a leaf out of the Pav book

By Tristan Taormina

Mathew Pavlich is a Docker, and will be for life. The speculation around the Captain’s future was finally put to rest when the 29 year old signed a three year deal that will see him end his illustrious career in the West.

Whispers have circulated around AFL ranks that the South Australian-born superstar was seeking a move back to Adelaide as the Crows made a last minute bid to lure Pavlich back to ‘where it all started’. The Crows have openly suggested that the key selling point in the deal was Pavlich’s connection with Adelaide where he grew up playing for Woodville West Torrens. What didn’t take precedent in the eyes of the Adelaide Football club was that it would take a lot more than the go-home factor to persuade Pavlich to make the switch to the cashed up crows. Pavlich even suggested this, albeit candidly, in this morning’s press conference “everyone knows my heart and soul is with this footy club and besides, Adelaide didn’t offer me enough money” he laughed.

Everyone that has had the pleasure of knowing Mathew Pavlich is all too well aware that not even money can persuade a man with such integrity to leave behind a legacy that he can call his own at the Dockers. Had he been a two club player, the go-home factor would have served the Adelaide Crows very well and probably would have seen the captain return to South Australia long before now. For all we know the Crows probably tried to offer Pavlich the key to the city and why wouldn’t they? But surely the crows aren’t surprised at the “thanks but no thanks” inevitably handed back to them.

Mathew Pavlich is not Gary Ablett. He may be as brilliant. He may be as superb a leader. But Mathew Pavlich is also loyal.  Harsh on Gary Ablett?  Maybe, but what of free agency when an uncontracted player can choose to move freely around the competition based on a highest bidder policy. The introduction of the Gold Coast Suns has given us a taste of things to come.

Come 2013, are we going to have enough Mathew Pavlich’s left in the game to show our kids the importance of loyalty, not only in football but in life?  You only need September to roll around to make it all too aware that footy is more than the big bucks.  Americanising the game with lucrative deals will only see loyalty amongst fans diminish at the same rate as these highly paid athletes.

Rightly or wrongly, aspiring footballers will look up to Gary Ablett, maybe even more so than The Mathew Pavlich’s of the game. After all, we can’t shy away from loving footy brilliance that only Gary Ablett seems to possess, and up until now footy brilliance is all that’s needed to show the way. This is not about the Brendon Fevola’s of the game, who have been smearing its reputation since neanderthals roamed the earth. It’s more than that. It’s about values in football. Perhaps a neglected facet of our game as long winded documentaries about smug drug – taking footballers seem to saturate our headlines. Yes there is a place for all of that and I will probably write about Ben Cousins next week, but are we ready to see the values that really matter to our supporters shoved aside for the sake of ‘commercialisation’ and the longevity of the game financially.

The AFL will survive, it always has, but will it survive a new breed of player chasing money over loyalty. What’s most distressing is rather the new breed of supporter who in no fault of their own will be all too happy to support without loyalty. Where is our game heading when not only players but the supporters are inclined to have allegiance with two or three clubs in their lifetimes? Yes, money does make the world go around and yes, we don’t blame Gary Ablett for making a life after football that so much easier.  But, for the sake of loyalty and integrity in football, it’s the Mathew Pavlich’s we’d invite over for dinner.


  1. Jake 'Cobba' Stevens says

    Fantastic work. Sad but inevitable…

  2. Tristan – this is a vexed issue. Can we expect players to remain loyal when clubs flick them onto the scrap heap the moment they pass their useby date? Unfortunately this has been going on for decades. Right back to when Barassi left Melbourne for Carlton. The players need to consider their own future, the clubs need to have success, the salary cap helps keep the league “equal”, restircting player movement is really restraint of trade. Somewhere in all that is the solution.

    I actuallt think the AFL has it about right, except for when they muddy the water by giving new clubs extraordinary and unfair advantages.

    I reckon in about 10 years young Gazza will regret his move.

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