The distractions of trade week

I’ve done fuck all work the last week. This has been my most productive day by far. Like many others I’ve been consumed with torturous wheelin’ and dealin’ of the AFL trade ‘week’. In fact it’s about ten days of relative tedium interspersed with moments of unexpected deals, rampant speculation, and craven hope. It’s hope that compels attention, regardless of what is actually happening.

As any committed sports fan knows, hope springs eternal. No matter how bad a season you’ve experienced there’s always hope for the next. Fresh starts and new beginnings are an integral part of sports myth. There’s always a new recruit, a new coach, a new approach that will make all the difference. As sports fans we ride the crest of emotion when the new star comes on board or the wins mount up; and are dumped when the star recruit does a knee, or wins becomes losses and hope evaporates.

If you’re an AFL supporter this time of year represents a kind of expectant limbo. The season is done and dusted, and all but a small proportion of supporters have been disappointed. The long tail of the season is given new impetus by the activities of the post-season, trade week and, in November, the draft. Only once December comes will it subside till early February.

So this has been trade week, and notwithstanding the drawn out nature of it there’re few footy supporters who haven’t kept a keen eye on it. This is our first go at rejuvenating our club and re-igniting our hope. This is a bite of the cherry which, if managed right, can make all the difference.

For me the ten days has been spent checking things online every few minutes – the footy forum I’m a member of, the AFL site, trade portals, Twitter, and so on. You never know when something might have popped up in the few minutes you weren’t looking! Rumour. Innuendo and unlikely scenarios are floated and shot down. Rumoured conversations and mooted deals do the rounds. So called ‘insiders’ give the benefit of their dubious contacts, exciting comment, hope and ridicule. Self-styled trade auditors will scribble down complex ‘three-way’ deals on a back of an envelope, and will publish it online as a possible outcome. The pessimists decry the likelihood of every prospect, the optimists barely contain their excitement, and the bed wetters fear everything will turn out bad. Hard-line realists like me have a more philosophical take on things: what will be, will be. It’s an objective assessment, though not immune from occasional excitement. (I also take pleasure in slapping down the bed-wetters and the nervous nellies).

This year, for the first time in living memory, something actually happened for my team. It was mooted early on, and the thinking was ‘that sounds great, but won’t get all that done’. Two out of three would be a good result. Then all the desired players nominated us as their preferred destination but, even so, what did we have to exchange for footballers of such calibre?

Step up Jackets Dodoro. He’s a bit of a legend among Essendon supporters, and also a divisive figure – I’ve always liked his style. His style can be surmised by a photo one year where he wore three layered jackets, portraying a sort of insouciant style of a recruiting Marlboro man. It captured the imagination of all supporters, hence his nickname.

In reality he’s more like a inscrutable card sharp playing expertly a hand of mixed quality. One after another he got the deals done, winning tricks with low cards, and topping it off by pulling in the big recruit trumping an ace with a pair of tens.

For a supporter of the Essendon football club it was beautiful to behold – no wonder I hit refresh so often. At the end of it there was a collective gasp of pleasure from the Bombers faithful. We killed it. In the space of a little over a week we brought in three very good players – including one who could be anything – for the price of a movie with dinner. With those moves we elevate ourselves from a dangerous mid-ranking team to a truly scary contender. One thing’s for sure, there won’t be a team more exciting next season, and the sky’s the limit.

Now I can get back to work.

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