Tony Delaney made his way west from Essendon in exchange for Fremantle's no.4 draft pick
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Since their inception in mid-1994, Fremantle has made some mind-bogglingly costly player swaps. Here is a selection of the Dockers' best trade week blunders.
Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin
The most famous, and certainly the most costly of Freo's bungled trades involved the so-called 2001 superdraft. With two of the first four draft picks, including the prized no.1 pick, nothing could have prevented the Dockers from setting themselves up for a generation - until Hawthorn intervened with the offer of a lifetime. In a bid to secure the top selection, Hawthorn offered promising key-position players Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin to Fremantle. The Dockers gleefully accepted, throwing in their second and third-round picks to complete the deal.
Fast forward 10 years and the first three picks in that draft - Luke Hodge, Luke Ball and Chris Judd - boast three premierships, two Norm Smith Medals, two Brownlow Medals, eight club best and fairests and 10 All Australian guernseys. Fremantle's no.4 pick, Graham Polak is a year retired after finishing his modest 111-game career at Richmond. Croad is also retired, complete with premiership medal, having returned to Hawthorn in exchange for pick 10 in 2003 after two unsettled years in the west. McPharlin, at least, has been a hit with 176 mostly excellent games as a versatile key-position player.
The deal: Luke McPharlin and Trent Croad from Hawthorn to Fremantle for picks 1, 20 and 36.
What could have been: Luke Hodge (pick 1 to Hawthorn), Chris Judd (pick 3 to West Coast), Steve Johnson (pick 23 to Geelong), Sam Mitchell (pick 36 to Hawthorn), Leigh Montagna (pick 37 to St Kilda).
Inaugural Dockers coach Gerard Neesham's decision to send a lightly framed South Australian utility named Andrew McLeod back to Adelaide in exchange for key forward Chris Groom looked reasonable on the surface. Key forwards are always more valuable than dime-a-dozen flankers, right? Right? Not in this case, as Freo discovered to their eternal regret.
McLeod retired in 2010 as a champion of both the Crows and Australian football, having played 340 games and won three Adelaide best and fairests. He won Norm Smith Medals in successive Adelaide premierships, just three years after leaving Fremantle. In contrast, Groom managed just seven games in his single season at Fremantle before moving to North Melbourne, where he played five more games in three years. He retired in 1998 after 27 goals in 24 games at three different clubs.
The deal: Chris Groom from Adelaide to Fremantle for Andrew McLeod and Matthew Collins.
What could have been: A champion midfielder who earned five All Australian guernseys, instead of a not-quite-right key forward.
Tony Delaney and Scott Watters
In preparation for Freo's debut season, Neesham went about populating his list with experienced, hardened bodies who could rotate through various positions on the ground. Accordingly, he traded the Dockers' pick 4 for Essendon's Tony Delaney and lured journeyman midfielder Scott Watters from Sydney in exchange for pick 21.
Like so many of Freo's first squad, Delaney struggled to cement a spot and played just 28 games in five seasons before finishing his career at St Kilda. Watters, a West Australian product who had also played for West Coast, fared better with 26 games in two years before injuries forced his retirement. While neither trade was a real success, the folly of Neesham's decision was laid bare when Essendon took star forward Scott Lucas at no.4. Lucas went on to win two best and fairests at Windy Hill and played a key role in the Bombers' 2000 premiership.
The deal: Tony Delaney from Essendon to Fremantle for pick 4. Scott Watters from Sydney to Fremantle for pick 21.
What could have been: Scott Lucas (pick 4 to Essendon), Scott Camporeale (pick 15 to Carlton), Adem Yze (pick 16 to Melbourne), Matthew Nicks (pick 21 to Sydney)
At the end of 2002, Des Headland had the AFL world at his feet. The no.1 pick from the 1998 draft was a newly minted premiership player with the Brisbane Lions, who had finished equal sixth in the Brownlow Medal as a goalkicking wingman. He also wanted to return to Perth, and nominated Fremantle as his preferred home. The Dockers couldn't believe their luck and worked assiduously to broker a deal to get Des in purple.
The complex deal involving three clubs, four players and several draft selections resulted in Fremantle losing tall utility Adam McPhee and their first two draft picks to land Headland. Unfortunately, Des never regained the form he showed briefly at Brisbane, with injuries taking their toll from 2004 onwards. McPhee went on to win the Bombers' best and fairest and All Australian selection, before - like so many others - returning to Freo in 2009 when his career was in decline.
The deal: Des Headland from Brisbane to Fremantle for picks 3 and 19. Adam McPhee also traded to Essendon for pick 55 as part of the three-club deal.
What could have been: Jared Brennan (pick 3 to Brisbane), Jarrad McVeigh (pick 5 to Sydney), Andrew Mackie (pick 8 to Geelong).
Fremantle's luring of a disillusioned Chris Tarrant in 2006 appeared a fine deal on the surface. The Dockers had a genuinely talented foil for Matthew Pavlich up forward and Tarrant, an All Australian just three years earlier, had a fresh start. Inconsistent small forward Paul Medhurst and the Dockers' first-round draft pick seemed a fair price.
The reality, as usual, proved different. Tarrant battled to reproduce his best up in his first three years in the west, while Medhurst was an instant hit at the Pies, culminating his All Australian selection in 2008. Freo coach Mark Harvey turned the deal in Fremantle's favour in 2009 by re-inventing Tarrant as a key defender. It didn't last, though, as the star full-back chose to return to the Pies after two good years in the Dockers' defence. Most gallingly for Fremantle, Tarrant formed one of 2011's strongest defensive combinations with Ben Reid - the All Australian defender taken by Collingwood with the No.8 pick used in the original deal.
The deal: Chris Tarrant from Collingwood to Fremantle for Paul Medhurst and pick 8.
What could have been: Ben Reid (pick 8 to Collingwood), James Frawley (pick 12 to Melbourne), Jack Riewoldt (pick 13 to Richmond), Chris Dawes (pick 28 to Collingwood)
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