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Clokes, Pies must end this Travis-ty


Travis Cloke's contract talks could destabilise Collingwood's flag tilt.

Travis Cloke watches as Collingwood train yesterday.

Travis Cloke watches as Collingwood train yesterday. Photo: Paul Rovere

DAVID Cloke's very public bid to land a long and lucrative deal for his son Travis would be dismissed as embarrassing if the stakes were not so high.

In this astonishing season where any one of six teams appears quite capable of claiming the premiership, Collingwood sits tantalisingly close, if not at the top of those six. But the nature of 2012 means that the margin for error has rarely been narrower.

And despite coach Nathan Buckley's stated view that the protracted dispute over his star forward's future is not affecting his form, there can be no doubt it is not helping. Cloke is not disgracing himself on the field by any means, but he can play better and he will need to if the Magpies are to win their second flag in three years.

Collingwood knows all too well about outside distractions. Any hope it had of claiming a top-four spot as it rose in 2008 was cruelled in August that year by the Heath Shaw and Alan Didak drink-driving lying scandal.

In August 2011, the club had lost one game and seemed premiership-bound when - in the space of two days - coach Mick Malthouse aired his frustrations on The Footy Show over his coaching future, and Shaw and Nick Maxwell were exposed in a gambling controversy. Most at the club believe the off-field distractions may have helped cost the Magpies a flag.

Cloke snr is not the ideal person to be negotiating for his son. Not only because he lacks market experience but because this is not a job suited to any father.

When parents become too heavily involved in their children's sporting careers, it rarely ends happily.

It must remain a great source of embarrassment to Greater Western Sydney that its star recruit, Tom Scully, is supporting his father's livelihood in the AFL salary cap. Many years ago the Giants' list manager, Stephen Silvagni, was selected for his first senior game at Carlton and his father, Sergio - a legendary Blue - promptly and quite rightly quit the club's match committee.

Too often the opposite seems to happen. Far from leaving their sons to clubs of their own, fathers sign on at those clubs as well.

And speaking of the Giants, that club has repeatedly confirmed what most suspected all along: it had never offered Travis Cloke a contract. David Cloke, in fact, called them. It is perfectly legitimate for a manager to shop his player around, but less so when the player appears to have no intention of leaving in the first place.

There is also the fact that as good as Travis has been for Collingwood, the club in return has been good to the Clokes. Any off-field issues that could have harmed Cloke's name or that of his family have been deftly handled by the Pies.

It seems unthinkable for anyone who knows Travis Cloke that the 25-year-old would dream of moving to Fremantle. Given how happy he has been at Collingwood, the Western Bulldogs or Melbourne would seemingly not loom as viable alternatives.

The quality of the Magpies' list dictates the club cannot pay him anywhere near what he could command on the open market. And while Sam Reid, Brett Deledio and Michael Hurley are embarking on five-year deals, Collingwood is adamant it does not believe in them.

Cloke may yet get his five years, although Collingwood is insisting four years is plenty. The Magpies have no history of such agreements and Cloke snr's constant attempts to negotiate through the media can only hurt the club and his son's reputation.

The closer the Magpies move to September, the more frustrated their fans will become at the Cloke standoff.

Football people sometimes like to laugh at the Cloke family, more in an affectionate rather than a cruel way, but the Clokes occasionally resemble an AFL version of a WildWest gang. Old man David is the one riding around the country trying to do deals and holding grudges. Right now causing trouble.

Youngest son Travis is the most talented cowboy of his brood but he doesn't want to go anywhere and doesn't seem particularly keen to cause trouble. Right now he might be holding out for a massive pay rise and a five-year deal, but nobody believes he will leave the Magpies.

The scenario has some similarities to that of the Cash family and that fatherson team that rode roughshod over the Australian tennis fraternity during long periods in the 1980s. There were differences, of course, but like Pat Cash with a tennis racquet, no one laughs when Travis Cloke is taking marks in Collingwood's forward 50.

But people should stop chuckling, because the longer this undignified episode drags on, the less likely it is to finish up a laughing matter. Shootouts can get messy and tend to claim innocent victims. This one could claim rookie coach Buckley's very credible bid for a premiership in his first season.


  • Good old Damir Cloke at it again.

    Date and time
    June 07, 2012, 6:55AM
    • The media has a short memory - this is like Groundhog Day from D Cloke. He did it with Jason , then Cam, has already done it with Trav previously - he is an 80s moron. Living in the past - still believing he is on-field & using his hefty frame to intimidate people out of the way.

      Trav is a meek sort of guy - let him be old man

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 8:30AM
    • At the end of the day it is Trav who has to put pen to paper. He is 25 and should be able to make a considered decision as to where he wants to play, and for approximately how long and how much (maybe he isn't too switched on though). It doesn't seem like David has much more idea other than 'lots of money over a long period of time or anyone listening to me...can I approach someone else...???'

      Souf Yarra
      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 9:06AM
    • The arrogance and possible stupidity of Cloke senior. If Trav simply must receive more (and over 5 years) then the tattooed Danes, Steele, Daisy, Pendles, Reid et al must consequently receive less of the pie. Doesn't auger well for team unity and flags. 5 years is a long time in a contact sport too. The Collingwood hierarchy must be so frustrated in having to accept a player of Trav's ability being managed this way.

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 9:29AM
  • The hypocrisy of this position is outstanding. I would bet London to a brick that Cloke's form is not being affected by the contract position anywhere near as much as it is being affected by the media coverage. Leave him alone, stop writing articles like this, and deal with the reality of professional sports. This is not kid's stuff. Almost every other sport in the world deals with player transfers in a mature, adult fashion, and yet we weep and wring our hands for months any time this situation arises. Give it a rest Caro!

    Not Caroline
    Date and time
    June 07, 2012, 7:08AM
    • waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 10:13AM
  • I'm not a pies supporter but with all the bad talk about them an injuries, it is amazing they are still around. Cloke should get over himself and sign up. Nathan Buckley is doing a fantastic job and taken the pies to a new level.

    Date and time
    June 07, 2012, 7:11AM
    • How true perfectly described talk about the ugly parent syndrome in sport. David Cloke fits the bill to a tee. Go get yourself a job and leave your sons contract to a professional.

      clifton hill
      Date and time
      June 07, 2012, 7:16AM
      • Here we have the meddling father trying to enact his own faded dreams through his son. Like an old and stubborn king, the danger is he'll let the city burn rather than surrender it. He won't let go, so we may have to let Trav go.

        Date and time
        June 07, 2012, 7:16AM
        • Meddling father? What a load of ....!
          He, like any father, is trying to get as much cash as he can for his sons future, would you do any different? He knows collingwood can't afford to loose his son because they have nobody who can replace him, atm.
          Just maybe it's collingwood (what a surprise) being unreasonable. How many games has Cloke missed thru injury or form since 08, which would be 5 seasons ago at season end? So why not give him 5 years when you can always trade him later, which these articles always seem to leave out. That's right, they could give him 5 years and then trade him next year if they really wanted too, so the length of the contract is a media taking point only. He wont be over paid because collingwood can't afford to, so even if they had to trade him with 4 years left on his contract the money isn't going to put off other clubs from doing a deal. David knows this, so does collingwood, but it seems nobody in the media does because it doesn't suit their “story”.
          Also it is not Davids fault if Ross Lyon is willing to sell the whole Freo footy club to get his son, is it! Melb haven't any money except what their given so they are kidding no-one, the same for the dogs.
          Just another story meant to get people angry with David, instead of a stubborn collingwood lead by a stubborn president who always likes to be seen as being able to get everybody to march to his drum. Which he has, because there is no way in hell caro is going to take on eddie everywhere and put this at the feet of the collingwood fc, where it belongs.

          Date and time
          June 07, 2012, 8:40AM

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