Good clubs don’t lose great people. Whatever you think of Grant Thomas, it’s hard to argue with this contention as Brendon Goddard, 2002 #1 draft pick and life member of the St Kilda Football Club, prepares to finish his playing days at Essendon.
However, the reality is a lot less black and white than that. Good clubs lose quality people all the time, and it’s not always reflective on the club they are leaving.
Anyone inside football would tell you there are very few clubs run as well as the Adelaide Football Club. Awash with cash, state-of-the-art facilities, a successful culture and an imposingly large supporter base, the Crows have long been an example of how a club should be run. They are clearly a good club.
Yet, over the course of three off-seasons, Adelaide has lost three high profile key-position players in Nathan Bock, Phil Davis and Kurt Tippett. At least two of those players, Bock and Davis, were seen as either leaders or leadership material. All turned their back on a well-run club to pursue their footballing destiny elsewhere.
So why did they leave? We don’t know where Tippett will end up yet, but today the Adelaide Football Club indicated that he was one of the better paid players at the club. Regardless of Bock’s and Davis’ salary at their original club, they both left for the greener financial pastures of the league’s two newest clubs.
So does it come down to just money? There is a returning home factor to Tippett’s departure, as his preferred destinations appear to be the three closest to his childhood home on the Gold Coast. Davis saw a Greater Western Sydney team making a connection to his hometown in Canberra and decided that was an important consideration in his future. Bock had no such considerations, but was and is considerably older than the other two.
Which brings us back to Goddard. Signing what will be his last AFL contact of signifcance, Goddard was not satisfied with a St Kilda offer than didn’t take him past his 13th AFL season, and did not make him comfortably the highest paid player at St Kilda, now that the last year of Nick Riewoldt’s current contract has kicked in and halved his salary. Goddard will now conceivably be the highest paid player at Essendon, better paid than the current Brownlow Medallist and Essendon captain, Jobe Watson.
So money (amount of money per season and amount of years at a level of money) was a key consideration of Goddard’s decision. His management has also indicated likelihood of success was also a key consideration.
This is a debatable point. Goddard fills no position of need at Essendon, unless he transforms himself into a ball-winning clearance machine or quality negating small defender. Essendon are a proud club with a proud history, but only two clubs (excluding the expansion clubs) haven’t won a final in the last eight seasons: Richmond and Essendon. Given Goddard’s history of finals heroics, perhaps he fills that need best.
What his move does say is that, essentially, it’s not his fault St Kilda didn’t grab the ultimate prize, and he needs to find a new collection of teammates. As Goddard prepares to be Nick Riewoldt’s groomsman at his upcoming wedding in Texas, this correspondent struggles to see how this move isn’t a direct affront to the St Kilda captain and five time best-and-fairest’s ability to deliver a premiership on his watch. Remember Riewoldt is the only St Kilda player to make any public criticism of Luke Ball’s departure to Collingwood after the 2009 season.
Ball left for perceived lack of opportunity. You can’t say that about Goddard, who may have been St Kilda captain had he chosen to stay at Seaford. That now goes into the hypothetical ether, along with what would have happened if Fremantle had never traded away Andrew McLeod.
So Goddard pursues his footballing future in a red sash. It is fair that after 10 years and 205 games he can make that pursuit at the club of his choice. But it’s not necessarily a reflection on where he has come from, just where he wants to go and how well he is remunerated while he is there.