Invisible Cloke


By Jessica Landy

The public is sick and tired of hearing about Travis Cloke. Questions concerning his poor form and his future in the AFL are making the public restless. It is known by most of the AFL community that the power forward’s contract negotiations have been under speculation since the start of the 2012 season. Many are also aware that his recent form is not comparable to his 2010 premiership and 2011 All Australian seasons.

Collingwood’s director of football, Geoff Walsh made a statement on the 25th of July 2012 stating, “Having considered all of the circumstances it seemed the most sensible and appropriate course to suspend our negotiations until the season has been played out,” suspending Cloke’s contract talks until the end of the 2012 season. Some may say that this will boost his confidence and positive signs were there. The following week when Collingwood faced off against the newly formed Greater Western Sydney, Cloke gathered          21 disposals, compiled of 13 kicks and eight handballs and he took 11 marks and kicked six goals. Collingwood Coach Nathan Buckley commented on Cloke’s form after the GWS game, “If you have been struggling, any good form is positive for the individual and clearly for the side.” A week later in the Collingwood v St Kilda game on the 4th of August, Cloke managed only 12 disposals, made up of 8 kicks and 4 handballs and only took 3 marks. Clearly these statistics do not match his form from the week before.

Although Walsh made this statement, it really has not taken the pressure off Cloke with reports that contract talks have resumed with Adelaide placing their bid on Cloke’s future along with Melbourne, Richmond, Fremantle, Carlton and Greater Western Sydney, who are also in the race to secure Cloke.

A great deal of pressure has been on Cloke to perform; teammates, coaches and most significantly the media have all expressed their opinions on Cloke’s form and future. Questions have been raised whether Cloke is actually worth one million dollars a season. Statistics have recently proved this to be true. Round 20 saw Collingwood take on the Sydney Swans. The full forward had only 10 disposals made up of 6 kicks and 4 handballs and he took five marks, these small numbers converted to 3 goals. These numbers do not match his 2011 statistics. The public does not realise the pressure that Cloke is put under by the opposition. It was noticed by Nathan Brown from the panel of Channel Nine’s ‘The Sunday Footy Show’ on the 12th of August 2012 about how many defenders Cloke is matched up against. He dominates his opposition when playing in a 1-on-1 situation, normally two, three or four defenders play on Cloke when the ball enters Collingwood’s forward fifty and in these situations he still manages to grab the contested mark. This is why Cloke is such an important player and is potentially worth one million dollars per season.

The spotlight has been on Cloke for weeks, people speaking about him, will he stay? Will he go? Nobody has bothered to ask Cloke how he is feeling, whether it is affecting him physically, mentally or emotionally? Some will definitely assume this is the case and that the speculation is affecting him in all three ways is reflected in his inconsistent statistics. After each game during the coaches’ press conference a question about Cloke’s performance is raised. Talk about Collingwood this season has switched from Nathan Buckley as a coach, torn ACL’s and most recently Dane Swans drinking suspension, but in all of these situations questions involving Cloke have been asked. Surely this could be psychologically damaging?

The public is becoming restless hearing about Cloke’s contract negotiations. Most Collingwood supporters just want to see him re-sign.  Meanwhile the media has been exhausting anything to do with the topic because anything to do with Collingwood is newsworthy.

Although the power forward’s form may be a negative, many positives have come from his poor form and other player’s injuries. We have seen a break-out season from midfielder Dayne Beams and much improvement in players like Steele Sidebottom and Jarryd Blair since Luke Ball’s season ending injury and Scott Pendleburys stint on the sidelines. These players are starting to shape Collingwood’s future success. Other young players like Ben Sinclair and Jamie Elliott have taken inspiration from their role models, with Sinclair’s performance on the Queen’s Birthday match against Melbourne earning him a rising star nomination and Elliott topping the tackle count against Freemantle in round 14, proving the young Magpies can fly without their usual high flyers.

Travis Cloke’s future is in his own hands and plays an important part in Collingwood’s line up. The decision is his. His skills are a necessary part of his future whether and he will show if he is really worth one million dollars per season. He is holding his cards close to his chest, but the number one question on everybody’s lips is: Does he want the dollar sign or the success that comes with playing for Collingwood?




  1. That’s an easy one Jessica; he wants the dollars,or why else would he put his club, his coaches, his teammates & the Black & White Army through all this.

    Either that, or he’s one of the most stupid & unobservant people to pull on a football jumper.

  2. Well written Jessica. A bit of thought has gone into that.

  3. Andrew Fithall says

    There will be a “Cloke equivalent”, or maybe more than one, every year. We had Ablett two years ago and Scully last year. The system makes it impossible to avoid. Free agency has been introduced but suitor clubs are not allowed to sign current players during the season. I tend to agree what Gerard Whateley has said about this in other forums – we may have to head down the Rugby League path and players make an announcement that their future lies elsewhere but see out their contracted time at their current club. Any club in contention will continue to get their contracted value out of the player. Lower level clubs may opt to put time into their future players and either sever ties or simply drop the departing player. I cannot see how free agency can operate with the current system in place.


  4. Jessica I got sucked in here with talk of Cloke and hands but this is a well written piece none the less. Has to be money surely? There was a heated discussion behind me at the game bewteen fans of both clubs about how much Cloke was adding to his bill with every touch of the Sherrin.

    AF – talk of rugby league depresses me but you’re right there’s always a ‘Cloke’ each year. I don’t follow league at all but the little I see on the news up here players switching clubs is a reasonably regular occurence. However I’ve not seen much discussion about what their system does for team morale when a key player decides he wants out part way through the season. Or what the crowd’s reaction is to that player. One of the things I like about our footy is some supposed sembalance of stability in the teams at least from an ‘outsiders’ point of view. It’s a difficult one: the media aren’t going away and we’ve gone too far now to make players have proper jobs again….

  5. Stephen Cooke says

    When J.Brown was weighing up a huge deal from the Pies, his father said to him: how much money do you need? Browny realized he was on a good wicket already and stayed with the Lions. Brown’s father gave him good advice. Cloke’s father…..

  6. I advised my son to knock back 5k to go and play in the bush close to where he lives to stay where he is for $90 / win and $30 / loss. All of that is eaten up on petrol for the three long road trips a week.

    Dumb dad?

  7. Thanks for this piece, Jessica.

    Even as a rusted-on Collingwood-despiser, allow me to make the following observations:
    # Whilst the current salary cap (approx $8.7mil) is in place, no one player is worth $1mil.;
    # Because the game constantly evolves at the highest level, no club should take the risk of signing a player for 5 years;
    # Collingwood have been very wise in the way they have handled this matter, especially in calling Cloke’s bluff, given that the entire saga started with the Cloke testing his market value;
    # professional player agents are there for a reason: players should use them (rather than their dad!);
    # Travis’ decision to appear on the Footy Show was a breathtakingly naive ploy; it would have been interesting to know the thoughts of his team-mates (some of whom would be directly affected by the delay in this saga);
    # If Collingwood do not win the flag, they will cut Cloke adrift.

  8. Thanks Jessica. I feel sorry for Cloke and reckon he should cut his father adrift.

  9. Thank-you for all your postive thoughs,
    I personally think Cloke will stay, but if he doesn’t he will be very disliked by the magpie army – like when Chris Tarrant left to go to Freemantle.

  10. Jess,
    The Collingwood fans won’t be anywhere near as forgiving toward Cloke as they were to Tarrant.
    Tarrant left to get a fresh start, for the betterment of himself and Collingwood.
    Cloke will be seen as leaving for the almighty dollar.
    Time will tell.

  11. Dave Nadel says

    A lot of the Magpie army were quite positive about Tarrant when he left. For one thing the club got rid of him rather than him simply leaving. In return for clearing Taz we got pick 8, with which we drafted Ben Reid, and Paul Medhurst, who gave us excellent service for several years. If Cloke goes as a free agent we will get a lot less and as you say, most fans will not be happy.

  12. I would argue that peace of mind and harmony is not a lot less Dave.

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