Buckle up, it’s a long one.
Back in 2012 I thought that we were on a similar trajectory to three teams, namely North Melbourne, Richmond and Port Adelaide and it kind of felt that our three teams, plus Freo and Sydney, were the teams that would take it up to Hawthorn.
North went 8th (2012), 10th (2013), 6th (2014), 8th (2015)
Port went 14th (2012), 7th (2013), 5th (2014) - losing a prelim to the Hawks by 3 points, 9th (2015)
Richmond went 12th (2012), 5th (2013), 8th (2014), 5th (2015)
This is not the kind of trajectory that you might have expected for those young teams based on recent AFL history and I think that the key reason for that is that about 30-40% of the talent pool was ripped out of the 2011/12 drafts due to Gold Coast and GWS. The change in the talent pool meant that older players played on for longer as there was less density in good players to push them out of spots. This, to me, is the primary reason why Hawthorn has stayed up for so long without any real competitors emerging from the pack.
Fast forward to 2016 and we see both North and Port struggling around the edges of the eight and Richmond and Freo languishing nearer the bottom of the table. Sydney has been able to stay up, but they’ve also had COLA, been able to trade in Franklin/Tippett, had a F/S acquisition in Mitchell and a fair bit of assistance from the northern academies in Mills and Heeney. e.g. Access to top end talent hasn’t been an issue.
Hawthorn, through either luck or amazing player management, have got 13 blokes on their list over the age of 27, all of whom seem to be playing career best footy. They are a pack of ****s.
Meanwhile Essendon was booted out of the finals in 2013 and had draft restrictions in both 2013/14 thanks to the AFL penalties. We managed to strike gold in 2013 with Zerrett, Fantasia and Ambrose and looks like we repeated the dose in 2014 with Laverde and Langford. We then really bottomed out in 2015 and went to the draft with some early picks and look like getting some absolute class players in Parish, Francis and Tippa, plus Redman, Brown, Hartley and fingers crossed some other talent out of it. We’re going to have another early crack this year and should add some additional top end talent to the list.
Key to that is that Merrett was for the Crameri trade, Langford was for the pick from the Ryder trade, Francis was for the pick from the Carlisle trade and Redman or Morgan was for the pick from the Melksham trade. Arguably we don’t lose those players without the saga. We also probably wouldn’t have drafted Brown or Hartley nor traded for Luenberger.
So… net effect of the saga:
Outs: Crameri (27yo) , Ryder (28yo), Carlisle (24yo), Melksham (24yo)
Ins: Merrett (20), Langford (19), Francis (18), Redman/Morgan (18), Brown (25), Hartley (23), Luenberger (28)
2013 missed out on our 1st (PA - Polec *trade, Rich - Lennon, NM - Mcdonald F/S) and 2nd round (PA - Impey, Rich - Hampson *trade, NM - Dumont) picks but gained the pick for Merrett
2014 missed out on our 1st (PA - Ryder *trade, Rich - Ellis, NM - Durdin) and 2nd round (PA - Ryder *trade, Rich - Menadue, NM -Vickers-Willis) picks but gained a pick in the middle of the 1st and 2nd (Laverde) and the pick for Langford
2015 probably would have been picking in the 8-14 range (PA - traded for Dixon with 2016 2nd rnder, Rich - Rioli, NM - traded to Haw - Burton), instead got 5, 6, 29, 30
2016 probably would have again been picking in that 8-14 range, instead we’ll get pick 1, 19, etc.
So… long winded post but:
Purely from a list management and premiership window perspective, do you think we’ll look back on the saga as a positive or a negative?
Would you have preferred to go through what we have and have optimism ahead of you, or go through what port, north, freo and richmond have?