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♫ “That’s the way they all became the Trady Bunch” ♫

Here’s a story. (From top left, clockwise) Bryce Gibbs, Jake Stringer, Luke Hodge, Charlie Cameron, Darcy Lang, Matt Kennedy, Gary Ablett, Josh Schache

♫ “That’s the way they all became the Trady Bunch” ♫

Rohan Connolly    

It’s often said that the AFL trade period is about 90 per cent sizzle and 10 per cent sausage. History will record that to be particularly true of 2017, but also that when it was finally served, the sausage was at least a bloody big Bratwurst, exploding with full flavour.

We’re used to the last-day rush when it comes to the player meat market, but on Thursday it was more like a full-on stampede, deal after deal signed off and breathlessly announced with barely a pause, trade and draft geeks almost having seizures amidst all the excitement.

There was even some post-siren action, trade deals involving Josh Schache, Lachie Weller and Brandon Matera all officially released after the 2pm deadline had expired.

And they were merely bit players in an all-star cast of the trade period’s final, dramatic act. Just consider the names Gary Ablett, Luke Hodge and Jake Stringer, all cast in starring roles in this off-field thriller, the likes of which the Etihad Stadium corporate suites have seldom seen.

In all, there were 22 trades completed on the final day, for a final total of 34 since Monday of last week. Most this year were relatively uncomplicated when it came to the player side of the equation, though the capacity now for clubs to trade future picks can make some deals look like this week’s Tattslotto numbers.

In news terms, the biggest item of the day came first, with Bryce Gibbs’ official shift from Carlton to Adelaide, one which had been snookered at the last minute on Wednesday.

The Crows, after insisting last week they had “moved on” from the Carlton star, came back with interest, giving the Blues picks Nos. 10 and 16, a fourth-rounder (pick 73) and next year’s round two pick for Gibbs and Carlton’s round two and three selections next year.

In any assessment, you’d have to say the Blues emerged from all the to-ing and fro-ing in pretty good nick. They have two young midfielders whose best is ahead of them in Matt Kennedy and Darcy Lang, a handy back-up ruckman in Matthew Lobbe and still own two of the first 10 picks in next month’s draft.

It was a big deal, literally and metaphorically, but it was just a taster. Over the next couple of hours, Aaron Young, Logan Austin, Sam Murray, Sam Gibson, Nathan Wilson and Matthew Lobbe all officially found new homes as well.

And then came another big-ticket story, the ballad of Jake Stringer, who finally found his way to Essendon in exchange for the Bombers’ picks Nos. 25 and 30, pretty decent going on the part of the Dons for a player who, personal issues aside, was an All-Australian only two seasons ago.

Essendon and Port Adelaide come out of this trade period both with big ticks on the “adding to the talent pool” front.

The Bombers’ “triple S” bounty of Stringer, Devon Smith and Adam Saad might not be the most obvious remedies for their well-documented midfield issues, but the first two can definitely take their turns through the midfield rotations, while who is to say Saad can’t as well?

Should he do so, perhaps Essendon will have gone some of the way to winning more hard ball out of the middle as well as adding some badly-needed pace.

Port, for its part, has acquired three automatic best 22 selections in Tom Rockliff, Jack Watts and Steven Motlop and given away half-a-dozen more players, but only one of whom – Jarman Impey – was a definite in their best line-up.

The Luke Hodge deal had been coming, but seeing it delivered officially was still a landmark moment for both Brisbane and misty-eyed Hawthorn fans. The photo-shopping in a Lions jumper was effective enough, but it still didn’t look right. Guess we’ll all just have to get used to it.

And then there was the “feel-good” story, Gary Ablett’s homecoming to the Cattery, signed off with the Suns giving Geelong, a round-two pick and a future round-four pick for the Cats’ No.19 compensation pick acquired from Steven Motlop’s departure and next year’s round two selection.

That sees Ablett joining a larger-than-you-d-think band of players who finished off careers back at their original club after a stint elsewhere. But with all due respect to the likes of Trent Croad, Chris Tarrant, Paul Salmon and co., it’s arguable any have been as well-positioned as will be Ablett, even at the age of 34, to do some damage.

For Geelong, the trio of Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood is a mouth-watering prospect. And the nickname? We favour “Dangerwoodlett” at this stage, but are open to suggestions.

Once Fremantle’s Lachie Weller had gone to Gold Coast and Brandon Matera in the other direction, that left a couple of much-discussed trade possibilities in Schache and Charlie Cameron still unmoved.

But seemingly in the spirit of the occasion, they too, found a new place to dwell. The Western Bulldogs’ fans who’d filled the talkback lines and SMS machines with rage post the Stringer trade suddenly changed their tune upon their club’s acquisition of Schache for and on-traded round two and three selections, not bad for a bloke who was a No.2 draft pick only two years ago.

Brisbane, meanwhile, might have paid over the odds for Cameron with pick 12, but there’s not much doubt he can do plenty for a midfield which hasn’t batted nearly deep enough for a long time and now does so without a mainstay in Rockliff.

And that was all she wrote. Which was plenty. And, as even the staunchest trade period sceptic would have to concede, with a pretty ripping climax!

1 Comment
  1. Great summary Rohan. Big day.

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