In the aftermath of this year’s AFL draft there was a curious chorus of boos from some sections of the media and many a fan.
And that fury was sparked by the draft bounty of the league’s most modest and unsuccessful club, Gold Coast (every team in the competition has played in a grand final while Gold Coast are yet to make a finals series).
The issue was over the Suns’ Academy players, with the Queensland club scooping up four of them inside the first 26 picks, including key forward Jed Walter with pick No.3.
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One veteran Victorian AFL journalist prematurely called the players “four jets” and the general consensus was they had secured these so-called “jets” for a pittance because the draft system was “broken”.
There were also some suggestions by journalists that Gold Coast had been making “wink-wink” deals behind the scenes, forcing the club to take to social media and write: “Death, taxes and Victorians having a whinge”.
New Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick was also unamused, telling one media outlet to “be better” … but the attacks kept coming and so too the outrage (hysteria might even be more apt).
Jed Walter and Damien Hardwick during the AFL draft. Credit: AFL Photos via Getty Images
It’s no wonder the Gold Coast camp was a little miffed.
After all, the AFL world had just watched a mighty Collingwood Football Club compete in its 45th grand final and secure a record-equalling sixteenth premiership.
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Not only that, standing on the podium that day was dual Brownlow medallist and Collingwood champion Peter Moore, who handed the premiership cup to his son — now Collingwood captain — Darcy Moore in a glorious father-son moment.
Of course, not far away from all of this action was another Collingwood legend and proud father in Peter Daicos.
Peter Daicos trumped Peter Moore by having two sons in this powerhouse premiership team.
It should also be noted that these three father-son selections were All-Australians this year with Nick Daicos, the youngest of the trio and already a mega-star of the competition, almost winning the Brownlow Medal in just his second AFL season.
The Pies, of course, snapped up young Nick in the 2021 draft with a bargain-basement pick 4, despite the fact that he was hailed as the best player in his draft pool all year.
Nick and Josh Daicos with parents and partners after the Pies’ premiership victory. Credit: Getty Images
Gold Coast may be wondering, ‘where was the noise from the vocal Victorian media then?’, noting that Walter went at pick 3.
It would also be remiss of us not to mention gun Collingwood defender Isaac Quaynor.
He, of course, was drafted in 2018 straight out of Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy.
And while he didn’t make the All-Australian team this year, he was in the AA squad.
As mentioned previously, the Suns have precisely zero cups to their name from zero grand finals … and zero father-sons.
But you won’t hear a bad word from anyone about the AFL’s father-son draft rule (if a player has appeared in 100 games for an AFL club, his son can nominate to play for that club).
It’s a romantic tradition that fans and the media love … but it’s absolutely zero help to a 12-year-old club whose 100-game players are either still playing or have only just retired.
So yes, Gold Coast have some young players on their list that have come out of their Academy.
Did they pay unders for them at the draft? Well, who can categorically say right now?
Did they just add the next Nick Daicos to their line-up?