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There was a pall cast over the start of this year's AFL trade and draft period with the passing on Thursday evening of Demon legend Robert Flower. In the place where I was at the moment when I heard the news, there were gasps and silence and, though it's said that silence is the greatest praise, it can never be enough when one speaks of club legends of the ilk of Robbie - a loyal clubman to the very end.

Others have praised him for his excellence as a player and as a person both during and after his playing days. His poise and his balance, those majestic skills, the marking and the way he would leave opponents flat-footed and grasping at vacant space while he was off and away in their wake. Robbie was gone.

And now, he is gone and our condolences go out to family and friends. When I reflect upon the immediate future on a club level, what is our task when the end of another barren year comes, but to search to find another Robert Flower, another Ron Barassi or another Hassa Mann for our club so that it can enjoy a better future and for our young fans to be able to appreciate greatness in the red and the blue?

We used to have so many great teams and great players but it all seemed to stop fifty years ago ... except of course in the case of Robbie and a handful of others but none of who ever approached his lofty heights of excellence and majesty.

The free agency trades officially started yesterday and on Monday, the trade period takes off with the father/son selections and the meetings of the clubs' recruiting people. Behind the scenes, it's been going on for some time and while there will never be another Robbie, the question on the lips of all of Demonland is whether now is the time when we find our next champion (or two).

The Oracle will come back from time to time over the next couple of weeks with his observations ...

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