Difference was that GWS recruited the vast majority of those old guys at a time when their list was made up of mostly 1st or 2nd year kids. Callan Ward (who I think history will probably judge as the most important player in GWSs existence) was only 22 when he started with GWS, but he was able to lead regardless because in footy terms, there’s a massive difference between 22 and 18. And he had a solid core of blokes like Mumford around him.
Whover GC try to bring in is going to have it much tougher. There’s a load of players there who’re 25+. You bring in a 22yo and tell everyone he’s going to be the leader that’ll turn the club around, they’re going to reckon he’s some kid who knows nothing. You bring in a 32yo who was on the way out at his previous club and they’ll reckon he’s some broken-down superannuant just looking for one more paycheque. You bring in only one guy, even in his prime, and you’re ■■■■■■■ against the wind because as Ablett showed, one bloke can’t do it all.
They need to bring in 3 senior players minimum, at least one of who should be in the peak 25-26 age group and be genuinely respected through the comp. Bringing in a Hodge is fine, but you need to have brought in a Beams and a Martin before you get much benefit out of him. I have no damn idea how you’d do this. Perhaps get in the AFLs ear and ask for a priority pick that’s conditional on trading it for a senior player? But that’s not going to help them actually attract players in the first place, of course, and it’d probably just end up with some other club laughing all the way to the bank as they run off with pick 3 in exchange for Reece Conca or something.