The revelation this
week that Sydney and Essendon are seriously in
the mix to try and recruit Hawthorn champion Shane Crawford – in what would be
the highest profile trade of the 2005 AFL draft – raises some intriguing
questions as to what’s behind it all. After all, with
Crawford, you are not just hiring a gun player (albeit now nearing the end of his
distinguished career) but also acquiring a major Nine Network media darling.

With the recent
announcement of Jeff Kennett to become Hawthorn president at the club’s upcoming
AGM, he made it clear he had major issues with the club and its players
appearing on Nine’s The Footy Show
and that threw up in the air the whole question of where this left the club
champ given that Crawford and Nine go way beyond being joined at the hip pocket. This is one player who has wider ambitions for
a long-term media career. That might well mean more to him now than who’s paying
his football salary, and if push comes to shove he won’t abide Kennett telling
him when and where he can appear in the media.

So it’s hardly
surprising that given he has one year to run on a back-ended contract estimated
to be worth $800,000, that Hawthorn would now be willing to see him get on his
bike and provide the club with commensurate trading options and salary cap
relief in return. But it would also alleviate
a potential head-on coruscating battle of wills between the incoming president
and Crawford with regard to The Footy
So what might seem unthinkable
to many Hawthorn fans becomes a board room no-brainer.

Sydney is being touted
as Crawford’s preferred destination but I’m not sure he would want to leave the
comfort zone he’s established in Melbourne. And surely a player like him coming on to
the open market will excite the interest of a cashed up Collingwood? If only they can get their president, unlike
Kennett, to appreciate that Crawford appearing on The Footy Show is no bad thing for the club.

Also causing much head
scratching over trade options, is the transient status of Carlton’s Brendan
Fevola. No sooner had he reached agreement with the club for an upgraded new
contract and been touted as the Blues future marketing talisman, than the
wayward star finished the season in shocking style on the field and hardly seemed
to be covering himself in glory off the field. In fact, the club now seems to have had enough and wants
to offload him, with Richmond keen – and any number of clubs who are prepared to roll the dice.

Given his mercurial
talents, any club now
prepared to trade with the Blues to take him off their hands does appear to be
playing with dynamite, but this might be a clear cut case of club and player – very
much like the Crawford scenario, being all the better for a divorce. Still, it’s mind boggling to think that in the
space of one month, Fevola’s gone from re-signed highly required player to
surplus to requirements. If a week’s a
long time in football – a month at Carlton can be a whole career.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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