Ok, I’ll try and answer your questions/comments in time periods. In my mind I’d split things into roughly four parts:
- 2000 to 2007, Jackson/Sheedy years where the rules were to get instant success, not build for the future.
- 2008 to 2012, Knights/Hird years, the board still wanted success so tanking or spending time near the bottom was discouraged. Dodoro takes his current role and Keane joins us in 2007.
- 2013 to 2016, saga dominates all facets of recruiting and list management
- 2017+ post-saga (from a recruitment/list management POV)
2000 to 2007, Jackson/Sheedy years
These were the years when we were running on a shoe string budget. Jackson was in charge of list management (I think) along side his role as CFO. I know he was key to the Hird re-signing, and this article on Mercuri re-signing has him talking in a similar way to what Dodoro does now. Dodoro was recruitment manager and also had a game day role (which I cannot remember its title). Sheedy was involved everywhere early on - list management, drafting and trading.
On Jackson, I honestly can’t remember when I joined Blitz, but I was pretty emphatic about needing to boost recruitment spending and get rid of Jackson from early days. My (very) vague memory is its one of the things we agreed on back then. The lack of spending did not just impact the recruitment, we also weren’t spending on development or on fitness staff. Our coaching panel was one of the smallest in the league. This no doubt impacted how our kids developed, and our ability to keep guys on the park.
I’ve answered before the question of how do you measure if a player’s failure or success was due to the drafting or development by whether or not the kids you take are given second shots elsewhere. If they are, its a sign other clubs rated the talent (i.e. the draft selection), but think they can fix the player (i.e. don’t rate the development). We had guys like Harvey, Cartledge, Nash, Forster-Knight, D. Johnson, Bradley, Milne (not sure on him), Podsiadly, Lonergan, Hislop, Houli, Reimers (nearly! ), Bannister all got recruited to other clubs. That tells me that they rated our drafting, but not our development.
Beyond this, more specifically some of my thoughts on the drafting and our list:
- Dodoro “lost” a number of picks. In 1999 sanctions for rorting the salary cap cost us our first pick, and in 2000 Sheedy insisted on Davies.
- We frequently had poor draft picks, and when we did they weren’t great drafts. In 2002 we had #10 and #11, and I think both players picked had tonnes of talent. And if you look at the picks, they were pretty much as good as almost any player between #8 and #23. It was a poor draft for top end picks. In 2003 we had #6 and #13, and again, look at who went between there and the twenties. Stanton was as good a pick as any, and Bradley not too bad (should have been better if played properly). Even 2005 with #19, look who followed Dempsey. Ibbottson at #26 and Vince at #32 are the only guys in the next twenty picks better than him.
- Injuries really stuffed us. And in that I lump in our overall fitness guys and their ability to keep players fit and on track, both pysically and mentally. Laycock, Winderlich, Ramanaskus, Rioli, Cupido, Mercuri, Dyson all had talent to burn, but for a variety of reasons had limited impact during this period.
We also had the board’s direction that we had to play finals every single year. Between that and Sheedy’s preferences, it meant we gave a lot of time to reboots. Some worked for a little while, some just flopped. Alvey, Haynes, Murphy, Alan, Camporeale, M. Michael, getting Heffernen back, etc. This was no doubt pushed by Sheedy plus the rules we were meant to be in finals every year. Or you had Beverley Knight from the board pushing us to get Cole for pick #23 (luckily, as mentioned, that draft was rubbish in the twenties). I know you’ve said before you didn’t think the late picks hurt us, but I contend that its hard for a recruiting manager to get good youngsters in if he has less picks.
Finally, as you said, replacing the players we lost from the 2000 team was always going to be tricky. We’d had a phenomenal team, and thanks to Jackson we had no room in the salary cap to get anyone good. For a good half a decade we were stuck with trying to get players in with predominantly later picks. I don’t really blame Dodoro for this, I think he was restricted left and right, didn’t have funding, and really only Shane Harvey was a complete stuff up of a good pick.
I would contend we did not try and rebuild until Knights. Hell, in 2005 having missed the finals we brought in Cole, Heffernan and Comporeale. In 2006 we brought in Michael. It was only in 2007 we started getting serious about regeneration, and even then the board chose the coach who promised quick success, and no trading of established players. This was not a rebuild, like St Kilda, Collingwood, Hawthorn, Geelong (accidentally) did. The decision to still push for finals locked our list management into a process of only slowly being able to rebuild via the draft (where priority picks had just been watered down) and tinkering with trades. It was a slow regeneration, stifled by the fact that priority picks kept getting watered down further, and the side over achieved several times (e.g. 2009, 2011). And of course, we had three compromised drafts in a row. Its no coincidence that the teams best placed before those drafts (Hawthorn, Geelong, Collingwood, St Kilda, Sydney) were the stronger teams during that period.
So to summarise. We know that Sheedy interfered. We know Dodoro had a part time role. We know the cap was restrained. We know we lost our 1999 first draft pick. We know other teams rated our drafting highly enough to give our players second chances. We know that the board direction was to play finals every year. We know that we had some bad injuries to key players and key draftees. We know when we look at some of the options for our early draft picks that went subsequently, Dodoro recruited near as well as was possible. We also know when recruiting a new coach in 2007, the board went with the one who promised quick success and no sale of players.
So we know Dodoro had a lot of restrictions, and can pinpoint a lot of them exactly.