Rules: The minimum draft age was 16. Clubs were allowed to select only one WA player each and South Australia was off-limits because of the introduction of Adelaide. Players in Queensland and NSW/ACT could only be selected by clubs other than the Bears and Swans respectively, if the player was older than 19 and not required by the 'local' club. Faced with these restrictions the league reduced the number of choices from 8 to 6. In exchange for the SA moratorium, the Crows were excluded from the draft (they could pick any South Australian, but only South Australians).
Background: The talent pool was clearly shallow and most clubs shied away from investing too much hope in the draft. A number of the Victorian clubs, notably Richmond and Fitzroy, couldn't afford to recruit established players so stuck with country footballers and young unporven youngsters. Clubs were believed to be looking to Tasmania as perhaps the only recruiting ground which hadn't been ravaged.
The Under-19s competition was still in operation and clubs had only to list players who had been drafted, and those over the age of 19. Essendon and North Melbourne at this point for example had very talented reserves sides drawn from their metropolitan zones (these zones would later provide the basis for the Northern Knights Under-18 teams).
Pre-Draft: Pre-draft picks included Brisbane taking Darryl White from the Northern Territory which had become their 'zone'. Mitchell White and Glen Jakovich were fair additions to the Eagles squad.
There were a number of notable trades. Brisbane traded Mark Roberts to North who also secured Peter Mann from the West Coast Eagles. Geelong gave up forwards David Cameron and Shane Hamilton to get Brisbane's number 1 draft pick. The most noteworthy trade though was Hawthorn getting the rights to Darren Jarman, who turned down the chance to join the Crows. Incidently the Rohan Smith listed is the Port Adelaide one, not the Footscray one. Channel 7 commentator Russell Morris left Hawthorn for St Kilda.
Players: Richmond drafted Mathew Clarke who'd make his name at Brisbane and Nick Daffy. Despite the restrictions on recruiting South Australians, Richmond skirted the rule because these two played in Mt Gambier and were registered with clubs in the Borders League (VCFL). Melbourne got Allen Jakovich who allthough a Western Australian was with a SANFL side, and somehow Brisbane found a way to recruit two WA players in Peter Worsfold (John's brother) and David Ogg.
Matt Clape, Alen Jakovich, Todd Ridley, James Cook, Jason McCartney, Scott Crow, Mathew Young, Stuart Anderson and Paul Sharkey have all been modestly succesful. Mathew Clarke, Mathew Burton, Fabian Francis and Derek Hall would all have to go to different clubs to make their mark.
The only two definate successes were James Hird and Jamie Shanahan, a TFL premiership ruckman, who was selected 92nd.
Bits and Pieces: Jason McCartney kept a diary on behalf of the Age newspaper detailing the weeks leading up to the draft. In it he reveals the confusion and uncertainty that a young footballer feels. McCartney from Nhill in Victoria (near the SA border) was hesitant about moving to Melbourne. He went to Adelaide as a guest of Glenelg and watched the AFL grand final on the big screen, and watched Glenelg loose the SA Grand Final the next day. The 16 year old was devastated by Collingwood's victory. He went to the Glenelg after match and to a few nightclubs to drown the sorrows.
With Sydney and Brisbane having the first draft picks he signed for Glenelg on a two year deal. When Sydney and Brisbane traded their selections his hopes lifted. Geelong told him that they would take Hooper first and would be attempting to get the second pick to take McCartney. Geelong were unable to manufacture a trade and Carlton ended up with the selection (they swapped ruckman Warren McKenzie to Sydney). Ian Collins, Geoff Walsh, Bruce Comben and Kinnear Beatson all drove up to Nhill to meet with McCartney, and the next morning David Parkin rang him to ask if everything went well.
On draft day Carlton opted for Tasmanian James Cook. Parkin said that he felt that Cook had the potential to be an even better player. Collingwood drafted him and McCartney openly admitted he was devasted and that Collingwood was last on his list of clubs.
The trades which made the above possible were Carlton swapping McKenzie to Sydney for 2 pick overall, and Collingwood swapping Terry Keays to Richmond for 4th pick overall. One recruiting oficer commenting about the decision making of Syndey and Richmond said, "those clubs deserve to be in the position they are in if they are going to make choices like that".
Those of you who have read the rules (above) would be asking if ACT players had to be 19 and unwanted by the Swans, how was it that a 16 year old James Hird was recruited to Essendon? I honestly don't know but obviously the Essendon recruiting manager found a loop-hole. Next time people tell you about how extraordinary it was that Hird could be drafted at 79th, you will remember that things were a little more complex than they first appeared.
Preseason: Micheal McLean joined the Bears after having been not encouraged to stay with Footscray. Sean Simpson switched from St Kilda to Geelong and the Cats again demonstrated their ability to revive careers. David Cloke was encouraged to saddle up for one more season at Richmond who were finding recruiting a ruckman nearly impossible. Kevin Dyson was recruited to Melbourne. Collingwood audaciously recruited the retired Gerard Healy in the hope of persuading him to play on, but he didn't.
Midyear: Four players managed 22 games between them. Of the rest, with the exception of Steven Handley who was drafted by Geelong, none of the others played. Handley was the only success of a draft which was being criticised as unneccessary.
Analysis: 28 of the 94 players drafted in November went on to play senior football. There are 17 players from this draft who are still active. In addition to this are Glen Jakovich, Mitchell White and Darryl White who were pre-draft picks. Pre-draft selections in very week drafts can be particularly advantageous.
Winners and Losers: The losers were probably Sydney whose draft picks didn't play and Footscray who only managed to get 7 games from one player, Paul Gow. The winners, well there probably weren't any; perhaps Essendon for getting James Hird.
Rules: The minimum draft age was increased to 17 which forced the clubs to sift through the previous years talent pool for the second year in a row. Again there was a moratorium on South Australian players, and players from NSW, Qld and the ACT had to be either over the age of 19 or have been delisted, to be recruited by a club other than Sydney or Brisbane. For the first time it was open slather on Western Australia.
Background: At the end of the 1991 season the AFL Under-19s competition was abolished. This meant that the AFL clubs had to list their young players. This is the time that teams like Essendon and North promoted their good young players. The move to 'tie up' this talent meant that very little Victorian talent was available. Recruiters made an effort to sign up all the kids in one hit as oppossed to waiting to see how the developed. Melbourne chief executive Tony King suggested that after pick 15 the "pool will get pretty shallow". Melbourne decided that to improve they would turn to the draft. They traded away, or delisted, 8 of the 38 players who had played in 1991, including Brent Heaver, Fabian Francis and Earl Spalding. Melbourne believed they needed to increase their depth to match Hawthorn and West Coast, history shows they needed a bit more than that.
Brisbane declared that their priority would be the Claremont sextet of John Hutton, Paul Burton, Andrew McGovern, Jason Norrish, Darren Kowal and Rob Malone.
One anonymous recruiting official declared "there is not much depth in the whole thing, it's a non-event, next year will be a beauty". Give the man a cigar, because he was exactly right.
Pre-Draft: Jason Ball was taken by the West Coast as their priority zone selection. The only pre-draft selection as the AFL tried to finally remove this feature of the drafts.
In trading Carlton did very well to gain the services of Earl Spalding who had settled on Carlton after West Coast showed no interest, Ron De Iulio from North, and Greg Williams. Williams was aquired when Carlton gave Simon Minton-Connell to Sydney, Peter Sartori and Ashley Mathews to Fitzory. Sydney also gained Darren Kappler from the Roys, and Fitzroy gained draft picks. Also of note is the famous Sean Denham - John Barnes swap which is surely one of the most mutually beneficial deals ever done.
Collingwood and Fitzroy swapped Brad Boyd and Tony Woods. Adrian Fletcher went to St Kilda, as did Craig O'Brien. Jason Taylor went to Hawthorn in exchange for Dale Fleming.
Players: I'll leave others to assess the quality of the successful draft picks, namely; Jason Norrish, Andrew McGovern, Darren Kowal, John Hutton, Jeremy Guard, Phil Gilbert (all Claremont) and fellow Western Australians Marcus Seecamp, Michael Symons, Stephen O'Rielly, and Mathew Connell. There were also Tasmanians Andrew Dunkley, Andrew Lamprill and Ryan O'Connor. The only successful Victorian draftee was Shane Crawford, who was originally a New South Welshman.
Most of the other selections were players who had been delisted elsewhere, and there were a number of players who were redrafted by the same club; the likes of Glen Manton, Richard Taylor, Mathew Hogg, Brad Sholl and Paul Dimattina. Brisbane coach Robert Walls called his ex-Fitzroy protege Matt Rendell out of retirement to ruck at the Bears. But really there was almost no point in having a selection after pick 20.
Bits and Pieces: As you can no doubt imagine the WAFL clubs were not at all pleased with the wholesale assault on their playing stocks. The raid was partly because of the one player per club rule which had 'artificially' protected the WAFL. With it removed there was always a chance of clubs going back to get the players they had 'missed'.
Claremont was understandably furious, 10 of their premiership team were drafted and Geoff Miles was traded to Geelong by the Eagles bringing the total to 11 . They considered taking action under the Trade Practices Act, and the club said they would hold the AFL responsible if the club folded. Claremont had played in the past 5 WAFL Grand Finals and won three premierships. Senator Susan Knowles raised the matter in Federal parliament. Claremont of course had a right to be angry, but as for potentially bankrupting the club, they received over $60,000 in compensation.
For the Victorian clubs the demise of the under-19s meant a number of tough decisions had to be made. Richmond for example knew they had a good midfield and so listed all the rovers, only to find out a few years later when Mathew Clarke made his mark at Brisbane, that it was the ruckman who was making the rovers look good.
Preseason: The preseason was effectively an extension of the National draft. Clubs looked mostly to redrafting and taking players who had been good in opposition under-19s teams, but had not been listed. Redraftees included Ben Graham at Geelong and Justin Peckett at St Kilda who had been under 19's players who had not made the initial list.
A few of the more notable selections included Tim McGrath and Alex Ishchenko. Ishchenko announced his retirement and was delisted by the Bears. Unbeknown to the Bears, Ishchenko had come to an 'arrangement' with North who drafted him. The rules were changed to ensure that players who were delisted had to nominate in the future. Dale Kickett went to his third AFL club, and Glen Kilpatrick a former captain of the North Melbourne under-19s went to Essendon. He would later be delisted by the Bombers, win a Magery Medal playing for West Adelaide, and be drafted by Geelong.
Well known player manager Ricky Nixon was drafted to Hawthorn, and Tim Watson was selected by the West Coast but Watson insisted he was retired. He did of course later return to win a premiership at Essendon.
Midyear: The midyear draft saw some of the clubs continuing to tie up the best of the Under-19s players. Collingwood drafted Jon Hassall back to the club. Brent Heaver was recruited to Carlton and Mathew Febey was drafted by Melbourne for the third time, this time he would finally make it into the senior team. Darryn Cresswell, ex-Geelong, had returned to North Hobart and was selected by Sydney.
Analysis: 35 of the 89 selections played senior football, but this was as much to do with shrinking list sizes as anything else. 22 of the players are still active, but importantly only 9 of these are still with the club that originally drafted them. The fact that the preseason and midyear drafts produced so many players was a pointer to the 'sameness' of the talent available, with very few standout players.
Winners and Losers: Richmond and Collingwood were certainly losers, failing to find a senior player. The winners would have been Fitzroy, Melbourne and Essendon.
Rules: The minimum draft age was 17. Brisbane and Sydney each had two priority slections at the National draft. For the first time Adelaide participated in the draft. This was the first draft where there wasn't some form of restriction on recruiting players from at least one of WA or SA.
Background: The nature of the draft had changed forever. No longer was it merely a device to recruit country footballers to Melbourne clubs and to send players hurtling around from one state to another. Now, for the first time, the best Victorian Metropolitan talent was on show in the Under-18s for all to see. The timing for the restructuring had been good. Adelaide were entering the league and were going to raid SA, the Victorian clubs and Sydney were happy to play in their sandpit tieing up their good young players already in their youth systems, and West Coast had been collecting stars from the WAFL for quite some time.
Pre-Draft: The 1992 draft started with a batch of good father-son selections, including Mathew Richardson, Luke Darcy, Dustin Fletcher and David Sierakowski. The number of pre-draft trades had settled done since the previous year's circus, and the success rate of the trading sky-rocketed. Clubs had begun to realise that allthough trading was not the way to acquire star players around whom a team could be built, it was the single most effective way of bringing in some good solid value to the squad. Dion Scott, Scott Watters, Jayson Daniels, Ed Considine, Dean McRae, John Blakey, Dean Laidley, Dean Anderson, Liam Pickering, John McCarthy, Mathew Robran, James Manson, and Leigh Tudor all were succesful at their new clubs.
Players: The 1992 National Draft would be the first genuine draft in many respects. There were no pre-draft picks and no zoning and clubs had the whole of the country to choose from. None of the clubs were directly related to junior developent in their states so all clubs had an equal chance to look at indepantly 'prepared' prospective recruits. The recruiting managers almost wet themselves with glee and had 124 selections the draft table.
Looking at the draft it is easier to see the failures than the success. Drew Banfield, Andrew McKay, Justin Leppitsch, Nick Holland, Leigh Colbert and the list goes on and on. Every club seemingly points to this year as an example of when 'we done good' but in relative terms you would have had to try hard to not make good selections. Martin Pike, Michael Prior, Brayden Lyle (with the last pick - 124). The 1992 National draft, the first true draft was an outstanding success. Almost unquestionably the greatest pool of talent made available to the clubs during the draft era. Che Cockatoo-Collins, Jamie Tape, Mathew Rogers, Adrian Whitehead, Scott Direen, Daniel Southern. It seemed that you could almost pick a name at random and have a very real chance of ending up with a potential 100 game player. Shane Bond, Kym Koster, Paul Bulluss, Martin McKinnon, the list goes on and on.
Bits and Pieces: Daniel Southern was drafted by the Bulldogs after having attempted to nominate for the previous year's draft despite being underaged. He was described at the time as being as 'keen as mustard' and history would support that. Footscray had traded their veteran midfielder Darren Baxter because, (to quote Terry Wheeler, then coach) "we have a group of young players who need their opportunity", that group, he said, was Rohan Smith, Nigel Kellett and Leon Cameron.
Richmond offended their veteran Dale Weightman when they ignored his advice. Weightman had suggested that his nephew was a fine young player and a Richmond supporter to boot. Richmond instead took the advice of Mal Brown and recruited Wayne Hernaman from South Fremantle. Oh Geelong recruited Weightman's nephew .... Leigh Colbert.
Hawthorn showed a sense of humour in recruiting Jonathan Robran. His brother Mathew had refused to play for the Hawks and when a trade couldn't be organised Mathew Robran returned to SA and sat out of football for a year. Brett Chalmers was drafted but found to have broken draft rules. Two other players were found guilty of breaking the rules, Andrew McKay and Robert Pyman. Andrew McKay none-the-less ended up at the club of his choice while Pyman ended up at North. Pyman had written to a number of clubs, including North, saying he wouldn't play for them. Pyman has hardly demonstrated the ability to justify wanting to pick and choose where he wants to play.
Preseason: At the preseason draft Brisbane and Sydney had concessions but only Adrian Fletcher made the most of his chance. Essendon 'manipulated' the draft to ensure that highly rated Sydney player Ben Doolan could find his way to Windy Hill. Craig McRae, Brett James, Shayne Breur, Paul Prymke and Nick Pesch all got their chance after missing Adelaide's initial sweep for talent. Melbourne also recruited Glen Freeborn but against coach Neil Balme's advice and Freeborn probably thanks Balmely for his premiership medallion won playing for North. Richmond recruited Chis Bond on the recommendation of his former Carlton team-mate and ex-Tiger Ian Herman, Bond went on to win a best and fairest at Richmond.
Midyear:The clubs finally got their way and the 1993 midyear draft was the last. A lot of the selections played football, but the lists were shrinking at the same time. The most succesful player? How many of you knew that Anthony McGregor played 41 games for Fitzroy?
Analysis: 55 of the 124 draftees became players. The other interesting aspect was that selection number and player quality started to match up more and more. Of the top 43 draft picks, 30 played senior football and 26 are still active. Only 25 of the bottom 81 played for the club that drafted them, and 21 are still active.
Winners and Losers: A lot of football recruiters have been trading on the reputations they built at this draft, hell I could have come up with half a dozen senior players in 1992 (and to quote Schulz from Hoagan's heroes, I know nothhhhink). But you are saying, "surely there was at least one club who missed the party", and you'd be right; who'd be a Melbourne supporter. Martin Pike played elsewhere and Damian Gaspar has only recently made any impression. St Kilda and North Melburne also have cause to be dissappointed.
Rules: 17 was the minimum draft age, there were no other restrictions.
Pre-draft: The only father-son pick was Jarrod Molloy for the Lions. Pre-draft picks saw Stefan Carey and Brad Seymour go to Sydney.
In the trading Brett Chalmers was swapped by Collingwood to Adelaide. Collingwood had worked so hard that their 'innovative' strategy had seen Chalmers banned and Collingwood fined. They had then drafted him, but he didn't play and the wonder-ruckman was packed off home leaving egg all over the face of the Collingwood recruiting department. Richard Osborne found his way to Footscray after an unsucessful season with Sydney.
Nathan Buckley effectively told the Bears who wouldn't play for them and instead of letting him enter the draft, the Bears agreed to let him go to the club of his choice, Collingwood. The Bears got little in return. Similar 'bully-boy' tactics saw Richmond persuade Fitzroy to part with Michael Gale, Paul Broderick and Mathew Dundas in exchange for Richmond skipper Jeff Hogg. Richmond won that exchange. Richmond also recruited Hawthorn ruckman Greg Dear who was surplus to requirements at Glenferrie.
Players: When the draft proper came clubs weren't expecting the same open slather of the previous season, and the clubs elected to have only 66 picks between them (almost half of the previous year). Sydney had done its homework and had they been able to keep their two selections (Darren Gaspar and Adam Heuskes) in Sydney they may have laid the foundations for a very succesful side. Nigel Lappin was a good second pick for the Bears while Justin Murphy was a good pick by Richmond on behalf of Carlon it seems. Chris Johnson, Brad Johnson, and Fraser Gehrig are among the good young players who have begun to make their mark in senior company.
Bits and Pieces: Richmond had attempted to sign Tony Lockett but the deal fell through when St Kilda and Richmond couldn't agree to a trade. Richmond player's had been told that money was tight and that pay rises would be difficult yet they were throwing money at Plugger. Jeff Hogg and Craig Lambert decided to ask for pay rises and were refused. so they left. Hogg clearly made a mistake, having in the end to take a pay cut to join Fitzroy. Lockett would end up leaving Saints for Sydney the following year.
Preseason: The preseason draft seemed to take the place of the trading of previous years. The clubs used it to pick up the extra squad players they needed for 'depth'. Players like Barry Young, Kristian Bardsley, Rod Keogh, Peter Filandia and Dean Rice were all selected. The exception to the rule was Craig Lambert who was offered a lucaritve deal to join Brisbane.
Analysis: 48 of the 66 picks went on to be senior players. 38 of the group are still active.
Winners and Losers: A winner would be Collingwood who selected Schauble, A. James and Patterson, a loser would be Adelaide elected to have only one November selection, and wasted it. Another winner is Hawthorn who recruited 5 senior players.
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