Trades can go pear-shaped in a number of ways, a fact St Kilda knows only too well. Swapping a first-round pick for a star who played zero games is exhibit A, but it isn’t the Saints’ only trade regret.
Normally you can at least wait a year or two before realising a trade hasn’t gone the way you hoped.
In the case of St Kilda’s Andrew Lovett move, barely three months had passed between the star recruit arriving and being sacked — and he played no games in between.
Lovett is the worst-case scenario, but he isn’t the only Saints trade that went pear-shaped.
Every club has skeletons in the trade closet, and it is sometimes a fine line between recruiting genius and trade disaster.
With the benefit of hindsight, here are four trades the Saints might like to take back if they had the chance.
ANDREW LOVETT FOR PICK 16
Lovett seemed the perfect fit when he was traded from Essendon in exchange for a first-round pick in 2009. The Saints had just fallen short in a Grand Final and Lovett promised an injection of pace and classy ball use after showing flashes of brilliance in 88 games for the Bombers.
St Kilda beat Geelong, Brisbane and Port Adelaide to Lovett’s signature, but the move ran off the rails when he was charged by police with rape in February the next year. He was sacked by the Saints and later acquitted but never played an AFL game and his life spiralled out of control, ending with alcohol and gambling addictions and an assault conviction last year.
The draft pick ended up at Port Adelaide which used it on Jasper Pittard, while the Bombers netted Jake Carlisle in the deal.
TOM LEE FOR PICK 12
The Saints were in rebuild mode in 2012 and they parted with their first pick in a deal with GWS to secure mature-aged WA forward Tom Lee, who had previously been listed by the Crows. Lee was supposed to ease St Kilda’s reliance on Nick Riewoldt, but he played 17 games in four years, kicking 18 goals.
The Saints will argue they also landed picks 24 and 45 in the deal, but unfortunately they didn’t make great use of them, recruiting Nathan Wright (35 games) with the first pick and sending the second one to the Eagles along with Jamie Cripps in exchange for draft picks they used to recruit Brodie Murdoch (22 games) and Josh Saunders (22 games).
BARRY BROOKS FOR PICKS 6 AND 31
You can still find a fan thread on BigFooty from 2002 in which outraged Port Adelaide fans declare the Power’s decision to send young ruckman Barry Brooks to the Saints as “the most baffling trade I’ve ever seen”.
Brooks had been recruited by Port with pick 15 in the previous year’s draft and spent his first season in the SANFL, but St Kilda saw enough to cough up two draft picks to get him to Moorabbin, including one the Saints had acquired in a deal with Hawthorn for Peter Everitt.
Brooks played 10 games in four years at the Saints and was delisted at the end of 2007.
Port Adelaide used one of picks to recruit Steven Salopek (121 games) and the other as part of a package to snare Kangaroos gun Byron Pickett, who won the Norm Smith Medal in the Power’s 2004 premiership.
TOM LYNCH FOR PICK 37
St Kilda used pick 13 in the 2008 draft on young forward Tom Lynch, but he was gone three years later after playing just six senior games, with pick 37 coming back from the Crows (a pick Adelaide netted by trading ruckman Ivan Maric to Richmond).
Lynch has since developed into one of the AFL’s best medium-sized forwards, kicking 180 goals in 128 games. The deal wasn’t a total disaster for the Saints, who used the selection on Jack Newnes, who has played 155 handy games.
BEN MCEVOY FOR SHANE SAVAGE AND PICK 17
This is harsh on Savage and Luke Dunstan, who was recruited with that pick, but it wasn’t the game-changing move the Saints were hoping for.
In full rebuild mode they offloaded their popular ruckman in a bid to regenerate the side, but Savage has been solid rather than a star while McEvoy played in two premierships and finished second in the Hawks’ 2017 best-and-fairest — all while the Saints struggled to figure out who their No.1 ruckman was.
Dunstan and Savage finished eighth and 10th in this year’s Saints B&F (Savage’s first top-10 finish) and, at age 24 and 28, have a few years to turn the deal into a big win.
FERGUS WATTS FOR PICK 17
The Saints liked what they saw in the 14th pick in the 2003 draft in his five senior games for Adelaide, handing over a first-round pick two years later for the young forward, who also happened to be the son of the Saints’ CEO at the time.
He played in Round 1 the next year but was then dropped, suffered a broken ankle in the VFL and never added to his AFL games tally. He has had much more success in business as founder and managing director of marketing firm Bastion Collective.
Fortunately, the Crows didn’t make St Kilda pay, using the pick on Darren Pfeiffer who was delisted without playing a game.