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Adelaide saga recalls Blues horror of 2002

The big stick ... Then AFL chairman Ron Evans, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Demetriou reveal the penalties 10 years ago.

The big stick ... Then AFL chairman Ron Evans, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Demetriou reveal the penalties 10 years ago. Photo: Ken Irwin

It was simply one of the most theatrical nights in footy and there wasn't a Sherrin in sight.

And the dramatic climax to the evening's proceedings came after 2am – well after most people's bedtime, even for a Friday night – instead of approaching time-on in the final quarter of a gripping night match.

The night we're referring to was nearly 10 years ago to the day and it remains one of the most tumultuous evenings in footy history – in modern times, at least.

The brutal reality ... Carlton's contingent reacts to the penalties after they were announced in 2002.

The brutal reality ... Carlton's contingent reacts to the penalties after they were announced in 2002. Photo: Ken Irwin

It was the night the AFL Commission wielded the biggest possible stick on Carlton, slapping the repeat offender of salary cap breaches with severe draft penalties and a massive fine that many thought would threaten the very existence of one of the foundation clubs of the AFL.

When then AFL chairman, Ron Evans, and then chief executive, Wayne Jackson, flanked by then football operations chief, Andrew Demetriou, announced at an early morning media conference that the Blues were to be fined almost $1 million lose the first two picks for the national draft less than 48 hours later, everyone was gobsmacked.

The fine was unprecedented and aside from dealing with the financial implications, Carlton also had to come to terms with the painful reality that the best two young footballers in the land, namely Brendon Goddard and Daniel Wells, had just slipped from their grasp. For days and months to come Blues supporters would react with venom.

After a commission hearing that lasted more than seven hours, Jackson said the Blues had been found guilty of "a complex and deliberate scheme designed and implemented to hide payments and deceive the AFL". That fact was already known but few observers genuinely thought the league would come down so heavily on the team.

The media conference was held after 2am and the mood was patently hostile. There was clear and open animosity between the AFL and Carlton's representatives to the point where the Blues were so angered by the outcome they refused to let AFL officials attend their own media conference, where they responded to the league's penalties.

The Ian Collins-led administration had only recently taken over the club's leadership and the penalty quickly hit home.

"I think it is the lowest point in Carlton's history," the new Carlton president said on that night.

The events of Friday November 22, 2002, have loomed fresh in the memory of this correspondent because of this week's AFL Commission hearing where the Adelaide Football Club – and several related parties – will answer charges of draft tampering and other related offences.

There's no suggestion the Crows have gone anywhere near orchestrating the same sophisticated process of breaching the salary cap as the John Elliott administration at Carlton, but the league is not happy that draft tampering and salary cap breaches have again reared their head in the AFL.

It has already been derided as the Kurt Tippett Saga. Ten years ago the Carlton affair had several different monikers and implicated some big names at the famous club in Stephen Silvagni and Craig Bradley.

No one expects the Crows will be hit to anywhere near the same extent as the Blues were 10 years ago, but the league has a history of coming down hard on individuals and groups who threaten the "key planks" of the competition's equalisation strategies – the salary cap and the draft.

Truth be told, Carlton was not a first-time offender so they could have expected a right whack. They were fined $872,424 (plus a suspended fine of $57,576) and their first draft pick in 2002 suddenly became No.45 overall. They used it wisely, picking up the club favourite Kade Simpson.

The impact on Carlton was expected to be profound in the short and medium term. But it took years for the Blues to rebuild. Winning the pre-season competition, the AFL's Wizard Cup, in 2005 was seen by some as the end to the club's ills. But it was nothing more than a false dawn.

With the Crows preparing for their day of judgment on Friday, it is hard to accurately predict the outcome that awaits the club. But we can at least speculate on their motives after their gesture to "withdraw" their first two selections in last week's AFL draft.

The scenario is different. Adelaide comes to the league with its tail between its legs after confessing to the AFL late in last month's trade period that it had come to a secret arrangement with Tippett to trade him to the club of his choice for a minimum second round draft choice when his contract expired this year. The Crows also agreed to underwrite $200,000 worth of third party payments when it re-signed Tippett at the end of 2009.

Ten years ago the commission dropped something of a bombshell on the competition and the Blues. Now it seems the Crows are doing everything possible to mitigate against their past wrongdoings.

We'll find out soon enough if another fateful Friday awaits a big AFL club.

27 comments

  • Keep on keeping on Wellsy - we love you in the right colour blue at North

    Commenter
    Detonator
    Date and time
    November 28, 2012, 4:32PM
    • Hmm, Carlton...copped their right whack, and have been virtually irrelevant ever since. Ian Collins did his best to get back at the AFL by the way he ran Colonial/Telstra/Etihad...let's just call it Darklands. It seems Carlton didn't learn their lesson, given Chris Judd's third party payments from that evil corporation, Visy (remember they were colluding with Amcor to drive up packaging prices?). Given this history, and when you throw the name "John Elliot" into the mix, you can begin to understand the layer of filth that surrounds the Carlton football club.

      Commenter
      Wes Mantooth
      Date and time
      November 28, 2012, 4:35PM
      • Wes, you forgot to mention the Carltanking end of 2007 to secure the Kreuzer cup. The filth layer is a lot thicker than most think...

        Commenter
        Pleiades
        Date and time
        November 28, 2012, 5:37PM
      • Wes, you seem to think only Carlton have rorted the system? We all know that up to 6 other clubs have all been busted and just in case you are wondering as to the extent of some of those rorts, Ess were fined half a million for the same thing in 96' plus draft exclusion. As for the Visy payments, they were AFL approved so how is that under handed? You are a goose Wes.

        Commenter
        azzaman
        Date and time
        November 29, 2012, 9:16AM
      • Agree 100%, they are every bit as despicable as Collingwood, but have more a lot more rat-cunning than the poor old Pie bogans.

        Commenter
        Elijah Baley
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        November 29, 2012, 8:39PM
    • Adelaide will get the wet lettuce leaf treatment from the AFL

      Commenter
      GB
      Date and time
      November 28, 2012, 4:51PM
      • The "scenario is different" comment is not quite right. At the time, Carlton's new administration also went to the AFL cap in hand (or cap out of control) and tail between legs... those chiefly responsible for the breaches had previously been removed by the members and were not involved at the club. That didn't change the punishment and i don't see why it should have any impact on whatever is dished out to Adelaide. Trigg has known about this since 2009 and has deceived the AFL.

        Commenter
        Leg Side Wizard
        Date and time
        November 28, 2012, 4:55PM
        • Gee Wes what a miserable existence you must lead.Tell us who you support see if your team is lily white.Bet you wont have the jatz crackers to tell the truth.

          Commenter
          hmmmm
          Location
          brisbane
          Date and time
          November 28, 2012, 5:09PM
          • So you're implying from my comment that I must lead a miserable life? How on earth do you reach that conclusion? All I've done is state facts, apart from agreeing with the author of the article that they copped their right whack. Plain and simple. Don't go casting assertions a out people you don't know! Grow up...are you a teenager?

            Commenter
            Wes Mantooth
            Date and time
            November 28, 2012, 7:00PM
        • Worries me that what adelaide has done can be seen as 'minor'. Where is the deterrent for another big club with plenty of cash and on the cusp of a premiership (as Adelaide thought they were in 2009) to break the rules to their advantage on the quest for winning the flag? The AFL almost had the ultimate embarrassment this year when Adelaide nearly made the GF with Kurt Tippett on their list. Adelaide picking and choosing its punishment really worries me from an integrity point of view. Why wouldnt another club do what Adelaide has done- offer up their mediocre draft picks as a piece offering and move on. Adelaide's cheating nearly bought them a flag.

          Commenter
          ab
          Location
          adelaide
          Date and time
          November 28, 2012, 5:23PM

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