- Jul 24, 2015
- AFL Club
- North Melbourne
My understanding of it is that Peter Bell went into the 2000 season without a contract. He was simply asking that the club give him a contract on the same very modest money but just with some employment security. He wanted to take out a home loan so he and his Perth-born girlfriend (who would become his wife) could set down some roots and establish themselves. No bank would give him a mortgage without an employment contract. The club told him to wait until the end of the season. Remember that he starred in the 1999 grand final, he was 24 years old, and he actually won the Syd Barker that season (2000). The club refused to negotiate and meanwhile, his girlfriend's father became very ill and she rushed home to be at his bedside. West Coast and Fremantle both became aware of his situation and they waved massive contracts in his face. He refused them and went back to North and pleaded with them to simply give him a contract so he could get a mortgage. He felt he owed North for saving his career as you mentioned. The offers from West Coast and Freo kept escalating, and then at the end of the season, he and his family decided that enough was enough and he accepted the Freo deal. Only at that point did the club decide to start negotiating. They offered to match the Freo deal. They could have secured Bell for less than half that amount if they'd only agreed to be fair. I'm not sure, but I think Bell's girlfriend's father may have died. By that stage, the go-home factor was well in play for both of them, and Bell was well and truly over the feeling that he needed to be loyal to an organisation that had disrespected him all year. He signed the Freo deal and Greg Miller sent out a letter to all members suggesting that Bell was a mercenary.
EDIT: Just to be clear this is referring to Miller not anyone else...