Silver Buttons, Brass Bands and Hypocrisy

I’ve pretty much had a gutful of the hoopla that the brass band and silver button brigade of Chris Scott, Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood taking a joyride to the city of churches to speak to Travis Boak has brought about this week.
Caro’s article in the wheezing broadsheet today just about made me vomit up my honeycomb yogurt.
Fancy Caro trying to turn it into a political spat by sensationalizing Trevor Nisbett’s laughable comments about raiding Geelong for players in retaliation for their ‘brazen’ stealth mission into Radelaide to speak to Boak?
I mean, this is the same Geelong that has had to endure the AFL/Gold Coast franchise pillaging it of its best player/assistant coach/fitness guru (and trying for the chief no less). The same Geelong who had to endure the Essendon Footy Club negotiating (and seemingly coming to terms with) its senior AND assistant coaches mid way through its premiership defense season of 2010.
And then for Andrew Ireland to chime in! Andrew Ireland – the man who picked away at the twitching, still warm corpse of the Fitzroy Footy Club after that rather less than ‘respectful’ episode in 1996.
And the same Sydney Swans who have circled and swooped on just about every club that has had salary club issues in the past 5 years to pluck players out and offer them inflated and unmatchable contracts to lure them to Sin City, under their extra ‘cost of living’ allowance expense account. I seem to recall Shane Mumford disappeared on a mega contract from the Cats to the Swans very shortly after he missed the 09 Grand Final side. At the time it almost seemed like Mumford had been talking to the Swans for a while. But, no, surely not…?
To be honest it’s about time the Cats started fighting back. I recall a Kevin Sheedy quote from a couple of years ago outlining how all clubs should target Geelong players with massive offers to try to break up their ultra successful team.
In the past five years there have been massive offers from other clubs (usually during the season, as strangely enough that tends to be when players are coming out of contract) for the likes of Ablett, Selwood, Bartel, Varcoe, Mumford, Menzel, Gillies (yeah, i know), Enright, Johnson and Mackie. To name a few.

And this all came just a week after it was reported that Melbourne, Fremantle AND Carlton had all offered Travis Cloke contracts.
Had these clubs not spoken at all to Cloke?
Port Adelaide seemed to have no problem when Boak came home during the bye and spoke with the Cats.
Was it just that Port supporters were affronted that Scott and co had the ‘brass buttons’ to be filmed in the Adelaide airport, that the club decided they needed to be seen to take offense to it?
Lets not kid ourselves anymore.
When players are weighing up their future they talk to other clubs.
Big deal.
Yes, I used to have a problem with it. I believed in the blind and naive loyalty we all seem to expect from our players (but never our clubs).         I also believed in Santa for a while.
That was up until the AFL itself set it sights on a marquee name to head up their spanky new franchise, paid for the Ablett extended family Christmas in Midtown Manhattan at the end of 2009, and then placed a percentage of the ridiculously inflated contract offer into a non salary cap inclusive ‘promotional allowance’ in order to finally lure our clubs’ favorite son away from his family nest.
After 12 months of that sort of eye-opening heartache and trauma, I stopped pretending that this game is anything less than big business nowadays.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I still believe in Santa though.

About Tim McBain

A long tortured but now proud Geelong man. Product of the 70's. Likes late nights, country music, Test Cricket, red wine, Woody Allen films, airports and mushroom risotto. Lives in Melbourne.


  1. Tim – spot on.

  2. Ok, Tim, you can let go of the hammer now.
    Because you have well and truly hit the nail on the head.
    Beautifully summed up, and I am not even a Cats supporter.

  3. Thank you Tim. Like you, I could barely keep my brekkie down.
    The articles written about this have been hypocritical AND biased in the extreme.
    You are quite right about Kevin Sheedy’s article written about a 1/4 of the way through Geelong’s 2010 season – he said the only way to beat Geelong was to scuttle them from the inside. As he was employed at the time by the AFL to establish GWS, and as a former coach of the club that plundered Geelong’s coaching staff, I am assuming he had inside knowledge of both the AFLs involvement in GAjr’s move to the Gold Coast, and Essendon’s moves on Thompson and MacCartney.
    It was the GFC who confronted Thompson about the proposed move, as it was coming up to the trading period, and not a word had yet been uttered by him to them, about his intentions.
    RC for the broadsheet, used his best crayon recently when writing of the tribunal system, to suggest that Whitecross of Hawthorn unfairly copped two weeks earlier in the season because Selwood had “cannoned into him” – which is like saying that refugees fall in the water because they want to go for a swim!
    The press/media seem to run with a practice that worked well for the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany (and any other organisation with empirical aspirations): tell a lie often enough, and it becomes accepted as truth.

  4. Good piece Tim. Couldn’t agree more.

    The message from some officials seems to be that clandestine discussions (late night phone calls perhaps?) with players/coaches coming out of contract at other clubs are fine but open, transparent meetings are not. The latter must be condemned as discourteous in the extreme, or a ‘blatant raid’ as Caro so delightfully puts it, and it should be open season and full scale retribution on clubs that engage in such activity.

    You just shake your head.

  5. The mainstream press has become unreadable. Thank goodness for the Almanac.

  6. Andrew Else says

    Your point is well made but surely The Cats have made a rod for their own back with their own self-righteousness over the journey?

    I seem to recall a lot of ‘not the Geelong way’ piffle going on after Thompson defected.

    Not sure I can cry any crocodile tears for you over the Mumford scenario either. Wasn’t your incumbent ruckman from another club? Hardly any different from Jacobs or Maric moving. Cost of living allowance or no

    Let’s be honest, the Power story got legs because of a colourful press release. Plus, it was clearly more brozen than approaching via a manager (which from all reports is how its usually done)

  7. Mark Doyle says

    The only issue here is the ridiculous and hysterical media beat-up by mickey mouse journalists such as Caroline Wilson, who relies on cheap headlines gained by asking loaded questions to various AFL club employees as the basis of her sports writing and spoken comment. Unfortnunately, most supporters rely on the illinformed and meaningless speculation of journalists for their footy knowledge and are gullible enough to accept it.
    There is nothing illegal or immoral in clubs talking to players, coaches or officials from other clubs about their future. It only becomes illegal under AFL rules and contract law if a person signs an agreement with another club whilst having a valid contract. With respect to the recent meeting in Adelaide between the Geelong representitives, Chris Scott, Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood, and the Port Adelaide player Travis Boak, I believe that Brian Cook should have made a courtesy phone call to Keith Thomas to advise of this meeting.
    It should also be remembered that most, if not all, players and coaches are loyal and committed to their current employer. Supporters and club employees (players, coaches and administrators) should always accept any person’s decision to change employment for any reason. Blokes such as Mark Thompson, Brendan MacCartney, Gary Ablett jnr. and Shane Mumford all gave great service to the Geelong Footy Club and the first named three will probably be given life membership in the future. Mark Thompson is the equal with Reg Hickey as the best ever coaches of Geelong and Gary Ablett jnr. is probably one of the best twenty Geelong players of all-time.

  8. Well said Mark. By the way, re Caro, waiting with baited breath for her forthcoming article on Buddy’s speeding fine indescretion. Does she ever actually write about the actual act of kicking a sherrin?

  9. If Caroline Wilson wants to cover politics, as she so clearly does she should move to Canberra. All she ever reports on is stuff that happens in boardrooms or at HQ. I cannot for the life of me remember a time when she actually wrote an article based on what happened on the field of play and she is somehow one of the voters for the Hall of Fame. How is that possible when its quite possible, based on her writings that she never actually watches games, she doesnt need too seeing as she never writes about actual Football.

    Plus the AFL media are so behind the ball on Free Agency its ridiculous, I follow US sport religously and I can tell you that Free Agency is going to have a far larger impact on the competition than the introduction of the two new teams, this is a Seachange in the game and will drastically affect its coverage and everything about it. Teams like Melbourne, the Bulldogs, North Melbourne and St Kilda are going to find it very difficult to be competitve because as the US has shown even with a Salary Cap players still like to play for Marquee franchises as that gives you much more off-field earning potential because it raises your profile. Can you imagine what a star Brent Harvey would have been for the last decade if he played for Collingwood?

    And Wilson is just breathtaking in her ignorance of this fact. The great debate of the next 20 – 30 years in the AFL will be about how to build a winning team, do you do it through Free Agency or a commitment to the draft. Does the AFL have an adequate compensation picks formula created to compensate teams who lose marquee free agents, you will see small clubs commit to a building through the draft whilst other clubs are happy to trade picks for players and sign marquee free agents, again this drastically changes the entire concept of list management. If Free Agency existed 4 years ago Chris Judd would be a Collingwood player, they were always his first choice and Collingwood due to the massive exposure that comes the way of Collingwood players are going to be the Front Runners for every marquee Free Agent that they decide they want to have a crack at.

    But the so called doyen of the AFL media is to blind to understand this, its madness and reason number 2685 why she should no longer be the ‘Head Football Writer’ at the age, an affirmative action hire of the worst kind

  10. Brian Cook says

    Well said Tim. Enjoyed reading your synopsis. Brian Cook

  11. Skip of Skipton says

    Mumford was a Rookie listed player when he understandably accepted a decent long-term contract from the Swans. The Cats had no room in the cap to upgrade him and pay him his worth. Not with Blake contracted at the time. I don’t recall any crocodile tears or sour grapes over Mumford leaving. It was just the way the dice fell.

    I was glad to see the back of both Thompson and Ablett after the 2010 destabilisation. I’d say the 2011 flag vindicated my judgement.

  12. Ken Richards says

    The first rule of on-line forums is not to feed the troll.Only one does not expect the troll to be the ‘Lead Football Writer’ for a national daily. So the inevitable comment only vindicates CWs worth to said broadsheet. The only way to get CW to write about the footy rather than the antics of boardroom and backroom is to ignore her when she does. And we’re just never going to do that. Mock anger and confected outrage are just too much fun for the punters.

  13. Many jurnos, clubs and supporters sookie when the player poaching goes on against them.

    After being openly mugged by Essendon and Demitrio in 2010 the Cats closed ranks, knuckled down and won the next available flag against one of the most protected clubs in contemporary footy with a team that had been written off.

    In the 70’s American TV western “The Guns of Will Sonnet” Walter Brennan was often heard say “no brag- just fact”

  14. Caro is a KNOB!

  15. Richard Naco says

    Has Caro written some stuff lately?

    I only read the sports pages these days, and pick up my fill of hard news from ABC News 24.

    Good article, but then I’m very biased.

    GO CATS!

  16. Interesting to see Brian Cook on On The Couch last night (what a champion) – I felt like he was one of ours after his comment (above). (I checked the email, it’s legit.)

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