Sometimes, you wake up knowing it’s going to be an ordinary day. For me, that wake-up was at 3am, then 3.10am, and then 3.25am and so on until about 4.30am when my son finally decided to go back to sleep.
Great work, Finn. Love ya, mate.
Anyway, when you’re having a poor one, chances are you’re not in the best frame of mind, so when I decided to sit down and write a column this morning, my thoughts gravitated to bad things. The worst, in fact, and given we’re getting agonisingly close to the 2023 AFL Draft, I thought it might be a good time to look back at the worst picks at each spot in the top ten overall.
To be fair, I have limited this to picks made this century, as in a lot of ways, the draft was more of a lottery before the turn of the century than it is now.
So, without further ado, the ten worst picks at each selection since 2000.
1 – PADDY MCCARTIN (ST KILDA)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – JONATHON PATTON, JACK WATTS
Well, it’s a tough one to start with – the Saints couldn’t have known that McCartin was going to suffer multiple concussions, but when you think about what could have been, it has to sting for St Kilda fans. 35 games in five years is not the result you’re looking for from any top-ten player, let alone a first pick.
Taken right after Paddy was Christian Petracca, who, as we know, went on to be one of the linchpins of the Dees’ push to the 2021 flag.
Jack Watts was taken ahead of Nic Naitanui and was the classic golden-haired boy for the Dees… right up until it became apparent that he wasn’t, whilst Patton never got a real run at it. ACL injuries aside, he always seemed a little lumbering – like a slower and less strong version of Tom Hawkins.
And also, not as good, obviously.
Back to McCartin – he looked as though things may have come together for him after the Saints delisted him and he was picked up by the Swans. Alas, concussion came a-knocking again in a seemingly innocuous incident, and now the league is without him again. Get well, Paddy.
2 – JONATHON O’ROURKE (GWS)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – SCOTT GUMBLETON, JOSH SCHACHE
O’Rourke played 21 games across his six-year career – nine with the Giants and a further 12 with the Hawks. His career was dogged with hamstring injuries at both clubs, with O’Rourke seemingly never able to get a good run at it.
GWS were in the midst of a draft cornucopia at this stage, having the first three picks of the 2012 Draft. They can feel a little better, as at pick four, the Dees selected Jimmy Toumpas. More on him later.
Scott Gumbleton’s hamstrings just didn’t want him to succeed at AFL level. He managed 35 games for the Bombers before being traded to Freo where he added… none. He also added a punctured lung to his list of afflictions in 2010. I think he may have broken some mirrors, with the luck he had.
And Josh Schache is still on an AFL list (Melbourne). He’s played 75 games, but the writing was on the wall for him when he was traded from the Lions to the Dogs after two years at Brisbane. He has threatened to be a good player, but never really made good on any of them.
3 – DOM TYSON (GWS)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – PADDY DOW, LACHIE HANSEN
Looking at the three listed here, pick three has been relatively successful if Paddy Dow (73 games) and Lachie Hansen (151 games) are the blokes being considered as competition for Tyson.
Still, the Giants are copping it in the first three picks, huh? Well, they did have a heap of picks in their infancy, so it makes sense, and this one ain’t that bad… there is just not a standout poor pick amongst all the third selections since 2000.
I can remember when someone… it may have been Wayne Carey, suggested that Carlton trade Sam Walsh for Don Tyson and a few other things…. maybe Thomas Bugg was in the mix, as well. I bet Carlton fans were happy that wasn’t taken seriously.
Tyson always seemed to slot in as that “extra” midfielder. 13 games at the Giants before being traded to Melbourne (94 games) and finally, six games at North, meant that he ended up with a pretty decent 113-game career. However, I am not sure we ever saw Tyson reach his potential.
4 – TIM WALSH (WESTERN BULLDOGS)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – ANTHONY MORABITO, JIMMY TOUMPAS, RICHARD TAMBLING, JARROD PICKETT
Yep, I had the same reaction. Then again, the bloke played one game at the highest level, which is one more than me, so I guess he did okay.
Still, given what has been available at pick four over the years (Bont, Oliver), the Dogs would be a bit flat at having picked a dude who went on to play a single AFL game.
Anthony Morabito had his body let him down pretty consistently, Jarrod Pickett played 17 games and was then a memory, and Jimmy Toumpas, despite being talked up by hairy Garry Lyon, played just 29 games for Melbourne before switching to Port Adelaide and adding another ten.
As for Richard Tambling, he gets such a bad wrap, as he will always be remembered as the bloke picked before Buddy Franklin, but really, he always looked like a good player with zero confidence, to me.
He made the jump to Adelaide, where he played 16 games in three years after managing 108 games in yellow and black.
5 – MATT BUNTINE (GWS)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – KADE KOLODJASHNIJ
There have been some guns taken at Pick Five. Buddy, Pendles, Boak in consecutive years, and the majority of players have managed to get a start to their career.
The Giants had a shitload of early picks back in the day, and they were bound to pick up some players who just didn’t work out. Buntine is one of them. He was on the GWS list seemingly forever, drafted in 2011 and playing 67 games over his ten years with GWS. He always seemed to be the next in line for a spot – a depth player in a team that always had plenty of depth.
Kade Kolodjashnij was forced to retire from the game due to concussion issues, so this one may seem harsh. It’s not the intention – more an indication that pick five, over the years, has been really strong. (De Goey, Stringer, Cunnington, Parish, Cerra…) He played 78 games in five years for the Suns before heading to Melbourne and adding just two more before hanging them up.
Also, I spelled Kolodjashnij’s name without looking it up. Self-high-five.
6 – MITCH THORP (HAWTHORN)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – BEAU DOWLER, FISCHER MCASEY
Okay, this one hurts. Some could argue that either of Dowler or McAsey were just as bad, but the Hawks opted to draft Mitch Thorp despite already having both Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead on the list. It was, as they say in the classics, a boneheaded decision. He played just two senior games. However, the part that hurts most is that picked right after him was Joel Selwood, who went on to terrorise the Hawks for several years during the Kennett Curse years. Imagine the Hawks with Hodge and Selwood???
Dowler was picked the year before by the Hawks, but managed just 16 games after fracturing his pelvis. Sadly, it was not in Futurama “snoo snoo-style”, either, unfortunately. It occurred in a car accident.
As for McAsey, he decided that the grind of the league (also not snoo snoo-style) was not what he was interested in, leaving the Crows after ten games.
7 – LAURENCE ANGWIN (ADELAIDE)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – KANE TENACE, PAUL AHERN
We’re going back a while now. The year 2000, in fact. We were just getting over the threat of the Y2K problem that turned out to be no problem, and we were preparing for an Essendon dynasty after they won the flag. They were unbeatable, right? “If it bleeds…” Loved Lethal channeling Arnie.
The Crows were only a couple of years removed from winning back-to-back flags, themselves, and were looking at the talents of Laurence Angwin to bolster their team.
If only they’d looked a little closer. Angwin would not play a game for the club, being delisted after injury and what Wikipedia is describing as “emotional issues”. He later showed up at Carlton and was sacked amid accusations of taking ecstasy.
The Cats don’t get much wrong, but their selection of Kane Tenace in 2003 wasn’t one of their best. he played 59 games in six years, delisted in 2009. Paul Ahern was another GWS talent with a lot of promise – geez, they had some good kids. Two knee reconstructions ruined his time with the Giants, but he found a home briefly at North Melbourne, playing 22 games in three seasons.
8 – JOHN MEESEN (ADELAIDE)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – JARROD OAKLEIGH-NICHOLLS, JOHN BUTCHER
Four years after botching the Angwin pick, the Crows managed to mangle another top-ten pick. This time, the selection of John Meesen returned just two games across his three years at Adelaide. He then moved over the border to Melbourne, where he added four more games in three years. I mean, well done on grabbing a list spot for five years at 1.2 games per season – that is a brilliant little earner for the player. Not so great for the club/s.
Jarrod Oakleigh-Nicholls struggled with injury during his time at Punt Road and it got no better once he headed over to West Coast, where he failed to add to his total of 13 games.
I really liked John Butcher. That may have been because I pulled a signed draft pick card of him out of a pack, but he seemed to have a good pair of hands on him even if he looked like he’d just woken up in a gutter. He finished with 31 games and kicked 41 goals in his time at Port Adelaide. He was delisted at the end of 2016, marking seven years with the club.
9 – LUKE MOLAN (MELBOURNE)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – DAVID TROTTER
Number nine picks have been pretty good over the long haul, with 13 players since 2000 playing over 100 games. They’ll be joined by Chayce Jones, Liam Henry, and Archie Perkins over the next couple of years, so a successful rate of success at this position in the draft.
That said, if we drift back to 2001, Luke Molan brings the average number of games played down a fair bit, as he played none. He was like Homer Simpson in his high school yearbook. Games – none. Goals – none. Achievements – none. Makes it hurt a little more to think that Nick Dal Santo and Stevie J were still on the board at that point.
The other standout, for the wrong reasons, is Trotter, who managed just seven games across his four seasons with the Kangaroos. Hamstrings… they’ll get ya.
10 – NATHAN FREEMAN (COLLINGWOOD)
ALSO IN THE FRAME – DANIEL GORRINGE, RYLEY DUNN, MARCUS DRUM
And we draw to the end of our countdown of infamy. Count up? Yeah, it is, but countdown sounds better. They didn’t go naming 70s and 80s music shows “Count Up”, did they?
Managing just two games in five seasons with the Pies and the Saints, Freeman was dogged by hamstring injuries his entire career and whenever it seemed as though he was going to get a run at a senior spot, that familiar “twang” in the back of the leg would cut him down. A shame, because from all reports, he was a jet.
I’ve warmed to Daniel Gorringe. Yeah, he’s a bit f a dick, but he embraces it and his recent stoush with Stephen Quartermain was pretty funny. Self-deprecating to a fault, he managed 22 games for the Suns and four more for the Blues before he was done.
Marcus Drum played 22 games for Freo over four years before two years on the Cats’ list, where he was forced to retire for being too young (or due to injuries). Finally, Ryley Dunn managed eight games in five years with the Dockers. Freo’s next pick ten was Neil Erasmus… let’s hope he fares a little better than their previous two picks at that position.
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