Yep, I am quoting Peter Garrett, these days. The rich get richer, the poor get the picture.
And so it goes for Collingwood and Fremantle as one of the brightest stars in purple requests a trade to the black and white, continuing a trend that sees players vacate the Dockers, and another trend that sees Collongwood as the preferred destination for wantaway players.
There is a Mongrel writer who shall remain nameless (but hia initials are definitely DJK). He has been banging on about the culture at the Fremantle Football Club being a problem for the past two years.
It reached a fever pitch this time last year, when the Dockers lost five players following a pretty damn impressive season, where they were the best road team in the AFL. His theory was that players don’t just get up and leave a club that has a great feel to it and that is doing things right. His argument that the Dockers were somehow responsible for their own losses stuck with me.
And he has reminded me of it often.
Not that I believed it, of course – he is a West Coast supporter and as such, hates Freo. It goes with the territory, so I had to factor that in. Also, the players they lost last season, outside Blake Acres, were, in my mind, quite inconsequential. Griffin Logue was a key defender without a position, stuck behind Luke Ryan, Brennan Cox, and Alex Pearce. His move made sense. Darcy Tucker moved on to become another number in the unsuccessful North Melbourne team. Rory Lobb went on to disappoint a whole new fan base at the Western Bulldogs. And Lloyd Meek headed to Hawthorn after the acquisition of Luke Jackson. There was no place in the Freo side for him.
At the time, I remember thinking the loss of Acres was a significant one. He had really come on in his role as a wingman at Fremantle and genuinely looked like a pivotal part of their club. He was also coming off a career-best season in purple. This was proven correct when he was one of the best for the Blues across their three finals.
The moat biting loss was that of David Mundy to retirement, but that can’t be contributed to anything other than extreme old age.
Of course, the horrible performance of a team that should have been back in September action this season added fuel to the fire, particularly when it became apparent that their young wingman, Liam Henry, was looking for the door.
“Culture,” I was told again.
I disregarded it. Players leave all the time, right? It occurs at every club.
And then Joel Hamling wanted out. Should that have rung alarm bells?
Nah, again I don’t think so. He’s a free agent, and really, after six games in four seasons, it wasn’t exactly as though Freo were losing an integral part of their lineup. I gave them a pass on that one, as well.
Then came the news on Lachie Schultz and I received another message. I expected I would.
After being delisted and placed on the rookie list after the 2020 season, Schultz finally re-signed with the Dockers last year and continued to establish himself as one of their most important players. His story is supposed to be one of those good news stories, where everyone is just rapt to see where he is considering where he’s been.
For Freo, it’s now anything but.
Far out, this one has to hurt. When you look at the makeup of this Fremantle team, between Schultz and Sam Switkowski, the Dockers had a great one-two punch when it came to small forwards. Their pressure, creativity, and goal sense saw them kick 49 goals, have 236 score involvements, and 63 tackles inside 50.
The absence of Schultz (first on the team tackles inside 50, second in goal assists, second in goals, and third in score involvements) will have a profound impact, irrespective of what Fremantle receive from Collingwood in return. His tenacity is simply something you don’t just replace. He had the makings of an All-Australian small forward.
Still does, but it won’t be for the Dockers.
There are some stating that Schultz is contracted for 2024 and he should be made to honour that deal. That’s not a great way to look at the situation. It simply isn’t the way things are done in the league, particularly when ‘family reasons’ are given for the trade request. He will have his request honoured, because no club wants to have the reputation of being the team that refuses to look after their players when their families are involved.
So, does the man whose initials arw most definitely DJK have a point? He tells me that since 2017, Freo have traded 15 players. West Coast have traded three. I’d argue that West Coast were probably too reluctant to trade at all, and that’s why we see them where they are.
I don’t think it is cultural, but the lack of success makes it easy for those stones to be hurled.
And that brings us to part two of this article – what will the acquisition of Schultz do to the Collingwood forward line?
Taylor Adams is looking to leave, which normally would be filed away as an unrelated matter, but as Adams spent a lot of time across half-forward in 2023, perhaps there could be room for all the smaller players that float around the Magpie offensive fifty, after all.
Jamie Elliott plays more like a key forward, but he has only two players shorter than him on the current list – Bobby Hill, who is a certainty to start, and Joe Richards, who is… definitely someone. That leaves Jack Ginnivan as the guy who will likely be contending for a place in the team with Schultz.
And I am not sure I would like to be in Ginnivan’s shoes if that is the case. After being relegated to the VFL following the addition of Bobby Hill (an addition that was proven to be a great win as Hill won the 2023 Norm Smith Medal). How will he go when there are two high-quality small forwards to contend with, as well as a marking target that is shorter than he is?
If you were Jack Ginnivan right now, what would your thought process be? I mean, outside of the fourth leg of the quaddie at Caulfield this weekend?
This is, of course, a man who slotted 40 goals in the 2022 season and was the talk of the town for plenty of the year. He was a lightning rod for attention, and not always the good sort. However, his 2023 record saw him play just 14 of a possible 26 games, and he started as the sub in five of those. His position in the Pies’ best team was tenuous.
Does it become even more tenuous with Schultz in the mix? You’d have to think so. Ginni has a mountain to climb to reclaim his spot as the number one small forward in the Collingwood team. He has a pretty decent hill to ascend to even be considered the best second option.
Make no mistake, losing Lachie Schultz makes Fremantle worse. It doesn’t mean that there is something rotten at the club, or that there is about to be an exodus. Family is family. They come first.
And the move also makes the Pies better. Adding a player the calibre of Schultz to an already-potent forward set-up creates a real opportunity to push this team to new heights.
Why couldn’t he have requested a trade to Hawthorn? Damn it…
Like this content? You could buy me a coffee – I do like coffee, but there is no guarantee I won’t use it to buy a doughnut… I like them more. And I am not brought to you by Sportsbet or Ladbrokes… or Bet365, or any of them.