Strap yourselves in, because we’re about to enter what some AFL fans regard as just about the most entertaining week on the footy calendar – the breakneck hustle and bluff and counter-bluff of AFL Trade Week.
It starts Monday, and already there are some fascinating names and deals on the table.
The wayward Lion, Jason Akermanis, is up for auction, but managed to throw a late curveball into his attempts to leave Brisbane for the Western Bulldogs by shooting his mouth off about the Lions (no, really) on The Footy Show grand final edition. His outburst apparently worried “senior members of the Bulldog list” as well as their president, David Smorgon. The Bulldogs and any other clubs contemplating Aker have to realise he is what he is. The only question is whether they’re up for the adventure.
Magpie forward Chris Tarrant, another who could wear the tag “wayward” pretty comfortably, is also now available to any club brave enough to want him and prepared to pony up something decent. Ditto for former Eagle Michael Gardiner, while Peter “Spider” Everitt has declared he wants away from the Hawks and is looking towards Sydney.
Outside the “wayward” category is a host of other quality players who are at least contemplating pastures new. Freo’s Graham Polak is a still-young key position player who hasn’t quite come on as everyone predicted. But he’s got talent and is attracting plenty of interest. Brisbane’s Daniel Bradshaw, another key position player, is thinking of coming home to Victoria. Geelong’s frustrating and enigmatic forward Kent Kingsley has quit and said he’s open to offers from elsewhere.
All of these players, and no doubt others we haven’t yet heard about, would have attracted serious buyers in years gone past. But here’s what makes this year’s trade period so interesting: this year’s Draft is said by some to be the best and deepest yet. This means clubs are keener than ever to trade for early picks, but equally reluctant to give them up.
It should make for an even more fevered trade week than usual. But you can still bet that most of the completed deals won’t actually happen until the last half-hour of the final day.