Changing Colours

If you haven’t had this feeling, you will one day. You’re walking down the street, feeling pretty content with life. You might be humming your new favourite song to yourself, thinking about an upcoming party or concert you’re going to, or wondering what snack you’re going to pick up for yourself on the way home. And then it happens.

Out of nowhere you see your ex. That can be either good, or bad, depending on the circumstances of the split, but what’s that? They’re with someone else!

Your heart sinks and you get that hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach. You loved that person so much, invested so much in them, and now they’re hand-in-hand with another.  You put the work into this person. You made them better and ironed out all those annoying little flaws, and now, another is reaping the benefits of your hard work.

Over the years there have been supporters of many teams experiencing that feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Tony Lockett and Barry Hall both decided to laugh with the sinners in Sydney than cry with the Saints in Melbourne – thanks Billy Joel. The Western Bulldogs howled as Nathan Brown took his talents to Tigerland, and more recently the Hawks have seen both Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell leave the nest to don the colours of the opposition, with Luke Hodge soon to follow suit.

With players seemingly having more control over where they end up playing after their rookie deals, and veterans deciding that the best avenue into coaching is to play a year elsewhere in a mentoring role, it is timely to look back on some of your club’s favourite sons who have played elsewhere.

Alex Jesaulenko will always be remembered as a Carlton great. Premiership captain/coach, and club legend; “Jezza” was wearing the famous number 25 when he sat on the back of Graeme ‘Jerker’ Jenkin in the 1970 Grand Final, coining the well-known phrase “Jesaulenko, you beauty!” in the process. His 256 games for the Blues were the stuff dreams were made of – success followed success. He was the face of the club, and their star attraction. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t.

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After leading the Blues to the 1979 flag, Jezza shocked fans when he pulled on the red, white and black of St Kilda. The Carlton legend was intolerant of issues at board level and departed the Blues for Moorabin, but he never looked right in St Kilda colours. To put it bluntly, Jezza looked a little tubby. And also old. He played only 23 games for the Saints and would be appointed the last ever captain-coach of a team in the VFL/AFL whilst there. Maybe Jezza would’ve been better off stepping away from the game after such a high in ’79. I’m sure it’s an outcome Carlton supporters would’ve preferred.

Jesaulenko was welcomed back to Carlton as interim coach in 1989, but his welcome was soon worn out. He’d coach the team for 34 games before being replaced by David Parkin in 1991, ending his coaching career in the big time.

Peter Moore did the unthinkable before the1983 season. He left Collingwood.

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Pies fans, ever known to be kind and compassionate souls, were fuming that Moore would walk out on their club. He’d been with them for 8 years, played 172 games, and won a Brownlow Medal as part of the club. Boasting names like Ray Shaw, Ricky Barham, Rene Kink and Peter Daicos, Moore was a star amongst a team of stars. In an additional twist of the dagger, Moore was the Collingwood captain at the time of his departure.

The big man was coming off a frustrating year at Collingwood in 1982, injuries restricting him to only 10 games. Things got only slightly better in his first year with the Demons, as Moore managed 16 games, but was only able to enjoy 5 wins from them.

It was Moore’s 1984 that repaid the Melbourne Footy Club’s faith. The ruckman got his body right and played in 22 games, averaging a career-high 21.8 disposals per game, over two disposals a game better than his 1980 Brownlow year. Fittingly, Moore made the Collingwood fans’ blood boil by capturing his second Brownlow Medal in 1984. He’d play three more years for the lowly Demons before giving the professional game away and returning to coach local football in Eltham.

Two full forwards do not go into one side, let alone three of them. If ever there was proof of this, it’d be at Richmond in the early 1980s.

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Michael Roach was the incumbent in the full forward position, having arrived at the Tigers and learned from the great Royce Hart in 1977. Three years later, another young Tiger named Brian Taylor tried muscling in on his territory. Blessed with an embarrassment of riches at the full forward position, the Tigers were forced to find a new home for one of football’s wild men, Mark Jackson, who toiled away in the reserves behind Roach. They sent him over to Melbourne in 1981 where he became famous for his antics as much as for his goalkicking.

Brian Taylor proved to be a bigger headache for Richmond. Though Taylor’s potential was evident for all to see, Roach was in the midst of an excellent career. He won the Coleman medal in 1980 and went on to play in Richmond’s premiership team, as BT watched from the grandstand. Roach again topped the goalkicking in 1981 before Taylor was slotted in at full forward for the 1982 season.

Taylor was well on the way to justifying the Richmond selectors’ decision when he was injured mid-season. Roach slotted back into full forward and the Tigers would fall to the Blues in the Grand Final. It wasn’t until 1985 that Richmond finally made a choice between their two spearheads, opting for the loyal Roach, which sent Taylor to the Magpies.

Watching the declining Roach playing out the goal square whilst Taylor excelled at Collingwood was a bitter pill to swallow for Tiger fans. BT kicked 180 goals over his first two seasons with the Pies. Roach 142 in the same time. The Tigers, however, plummeted down the ladder, winning only 13 games over those 2 years.

Perhaps the biggest “kick in the guts” moment for fans in the history of the game came when Ron Barassi decided to leave Melbourne for Carlton.

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Barassi was integral in leading the Demons into and through their golden age, adding 6 VFL premierships to his CV between 1955 and 1964. But Carlton were forward-thinkers, and saw more in Barassi than just a great player. They saw the tactician, the plotter, the schemer. They saw the coach. With the Blues offering a captain-coach role on a lucrative salary, Barassi made the switch to Carlton. Though he did not add to his premiership tally as a player, he did add 2 more premierships as coach. It must have torn the heart out of Demon fans to see their favourite son take another team to glory, particularly when you consider the Dees have not achieved premiership glory since Barassi’s departure.

He would return to the Demons as coach from 1981-85, but was unable to reproduce the magic he conjured at Carlton and later, North Melbourne.

Luke Hodge will wear Brisbane colours in 2018. Bryce Gibbs will finally pull on an Adelaide Crows jumper for the first time. Both former number 1 picks, they have been the backbones of the Hawks and Blues respectively for ten years. And now they’re with someone else.

There’ll be a few smiles when they meet their old teams next season. There’ll be handshakes, and pats on the back, and I am sure many fans will appreciate what they did for their club whilst they were there. But watching them run around in opposition colours is a bit like watching your partner dance with someone else. Something just doesn’t sit right.

Other notable heartbreakers

Doug Hawkins from the Bulldogs to the Lions

Lance Franklin from the Hawks to the Swans

Warwick Capper from the Swans to the Bears

Tony Modra from the Crows to the Dockers

Ross Glendinning from the Kangaroos to the Eagles

Gary Ablett from the Cats to the Suns

Chris Judd from the Eagles to the Blues

Doug Wade from the Cats to the Kangaroos

Gary Dempsey from the Bulldogs to the Kangaoos

Rene Kink from the Pies to the Bombers

Patrick Dangerfield from the Crows to the Cats

Wayne Carey from the Kangaroos to the Crows

 

Got any more players leaving that broke your heart? Hit us up on Twitter @themongrelpunt or find The Mongrel Punt on Facebook