Collingwood supporters don't enjoy seeing Dale Thomas in a Carlton jumper.

Collingwood supporters don't enjoy seeing Dale Thomas in a Carlton jumper. Photo: Getty Images

On Wednesday of last week, Dale Thomas still intended to attend the club's best and fairest and the Pies surprisingly encouraged him to turn up. By Friday, after it had been confirmed to the public that he was crossing the iron curtain to Carlton, Daisy had made the sensible decision to avoid what a comedian would call a ''tough crowd''.

Buddy Franklin, too, wisely bypassed the Hawthorn best and fairest. In both cases, the departing player knew that showing his heavily sponsored face at the club's most significant gathering would be inappropriate. To leave the club and then turn up at the major function would be like bringing the new girlfriend to meet your old friends a week after the marriage break-up. Thomas and Franklin shouldn't be criticised for ducking the B and F.

Thomas is a devoted follower of social media, so he presumably saw the images of his (now former) No. 13 Collingwood jumper burning on the internet - in the manner of protesters torching an American flag - late last week. Hopefully, he did not read the following wishful thinking from one aggrieved Collingwood supporter on a fans' website: ''I can only hope that one day, Dale, our compensation pick tackles you, falls upon your ankle and ends your career.''

The implications of Buddy moving to Sydney far surpasses his bank account.

The implications of Buddy moving to Sydney far surpasses his bank account. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Thomas, if you hadn't noticed, signed with Carlton. Had he taken his surfboard to the Gold Coast, taken massive money from Greater Western Sydney or indeed anyone besides the Blues, the vitriol wouldn't be at that level. Supporters increasingly accept the new transient footballer - there exists today what a Collingwood insider called ''the fantasy football generation,'' who recognise how clubs can gain from swapping a Daisy or Heath for Taylor Adams and pick No. 11. But they don't enjoy Thomas in a Carlton jumper.

Buddy's destination also soured his exit in brown and gold eyes. Hawthorn fans, on the whole, preferred that he went to GWS - where he would be a missionary of sorts - than the Swans, who are a rival.

Once, you only had to remove numbers from jumpers and work out how to communicate with a faithful dog called ''Ron Barassi'' or ''Peter Moore''. These days, the defection of a favourite player could involve unfollowing him on Twitter, changing log-ins, removing posters that adorn bedroom walls, perhaps even concealing a tattoo.

Some Hawthorn fans have mentioned that they'll cut him out of the premiership team poster, which is the supporter's version of taking the statue of Lenin out of a square that's no longer Red. Most Hawthorn and Collingwood people I know are annoyed, but they've managed, with the supporter's survival instinct, to rationalise the player's exit.

''I want the Daisy Thomas of 2010, but I don't want the Daisy of 2012-13 to stay,'' said Con, a Collingwood man who blends sophisticated analysis with old-style tribalism. ''But, shit, it's Carlton,'' he added.

Buddy's exit likewise is being rationalised by some Hawkers as a potential positive if the money saved can regenerate an ageing midfield. Highly knowledgeable fans, such as commentator Stephen Quartermain, aren't too down on Buddy, given ''he played in two flags and gave us nine years service''.

What if he'd gone to Essendon?

''That'd be a different story.''

On the whole, Hawthorn's kids are taking this harder than the grown-ups.

The hardest part for the fans of all ages isn't dealing with the future without the player, whether that's Franklin, Thomas, Heath Shaw, Paul Chapman or even Eddie Betts. The greater challenge, in a higher technology and constant consumer society, is to deal with recollections and the past.

Cutting Buddy out of the 2013 or - for the real hard-liner - 2008 grand-final team poster/photo is an attempt to redefine the past, with the traitor excised. This raises the question of whether fans can - or should - edit their memories. Can they strive for an Eternal Sunshine of the Buddy-less Mind and shut him out, rewriting their version of history and downgrading his role?

What happens to the aggrieved fan when, watching a replay of the 2008 grand final, he sees Buddy bang one through from 50 metres out? ''You don't have as much enjoyment (of the replay),'' says Stuart, who goes to virtually every Hawthorn game - including Tassie trips - and occasionally watches the 2008 grand final on DVD.

A Collingwood fan can rationalise Daisy's defection, but at some point, when he thinks back to 2010, he might recall that Thomas was probably Collingwood's best player over the course of the two grand finals and that he booted a goal in the rematch that triggered celebrations.

What does that special moment mean today, when Daisy is tweeting with the enemy?

Collingwood Con said dealing with Thomas' celebrated past created ''a sense of genuine discomfort''. Con compared the memories of the old Thomas with ''an old girlfriend you've had wonderful moments with but didn't marry her''.

Heath Shaw's smother of the century in the 2010 grand final rematch is another moment for wistful thinking, although Shaw, as a player shown the door, will be viewed with more affection than Thomas. Ditto for Chapman, who did attend the Geelong best and fairest and gave a gracious speech.

Hawthorn, according to some rusted-ons, has helped erase Buddy's prominence in their minds via Alastair Clarkson's decision to downgrade Buddy's role and make him a role-playing cog. ''Hawthorn was erasing him during the season,'' said Pete, a 47-year-old Hawthorn man with a mathematical bent. By the time he'd left, supporters like Pete were well prepared.

In the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet's character Clementine and Joel (Jim Carrey) have been so traumatised by their relationship, they have memories of each other removed by a company called Lacuna. At the end, Joel and Clementine have met again and discovered the truth of their past. Yet, they still choose to reunite, risking a repeat trauma. If a Spotless scenario is beyond those grieving for Buddy and Daisy, the fan still has the choice of how to remember the once-loved and now-resented star who has abandoned them.

As the author Marcel Proust put it, ''Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.''