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The trade/draft action opened on Friday and North Melbourne drew first blood capturing free agents Shaun Higgins and Jarrad Waite. Carlton received no compensation for the latter due to his advanced age (in football terms) but the Bulldogs will gain a second round draft pick for the younger Higgins who has been in the wars with injury and has fallen down the pecking order in favour of the number of young midfielders now at the kennel.

The early focus today will be on the father-son and academy bidding meetings which will see the entry into AFL ranks of a dozen new faces nominated by their respective clubs last Friday - The first picks

The players won't necessarily go to the team that nominated them because of the bidding system that comes into play. However, the nominating clubs can match best bid by another club by taking the player with their next draft choice after the bid.

The interest here for Melbourne will be whether it selects father-son nomination Billy Stretch who the AFL site describes as follows:-

Billy Stretch (Melbourne)

The promising wingman has been nominated as a father-son selection by Melbourne, where he trained for a week in January and his father Steven played 164 games, winning a best and fairest. The South Australian, who can also add zip across half-forward, was named as a midfielder in this year's Under-18 All Australian team and he finished the season strongly with SANFL club Glenelg.

Here are some highlights -

Billy Stretch

Stretch was a stand out at the AFL National Draft Combine last week and his stocks have risen lately which means that Melbourne will most likely be required to part with its second round draft pick for the youngster.

These father-son/academy bidding meeting will be followed by the opening of the trade week with recruiters of the 18 clubs locking themselves away like the old horse traders used to do in past days. The objective is the same - to snare some thoroughbreds to the stables but in this case, the horseflesh is the cream of the country's footballing talent.

We're told to expect an early frenzy on the market with the announcement of deals that have been simmering slowly in the background and finalised on the first day.

One Herald Sun writer has speculated about each club's prospects in terms of dream and nightmare scenarios and called Melbourne's in this way:-


Dream Scenario:
Adelaide does a backflip and agrees to trade Dangerfield for Melbourne's first round picks and Heritier Lumumba arrives for no more than pick 39.

Worst Nightmare:

Only get Pick 33 or 52 for Mitch Clark, James Frawley has walked and the AFL doesn't agree with their demand for Pick 3 in compensation.

What a laugh for the journo to suggest that Melbourne people suffer nightmares? Surely, the man is oblivious to the fact that Melbourne has suffered so many reversals of fortune in its recent history that its fans neither suffer nightmares nor sleep at all for that matter. They live through what others might call "nightmares" during the daytime.

On the free agency side of things, James Frawley is expected to formally nominate Hawthorn as his destination early in the day. This will be another dagger in the heart of the concept of equalisation. That is not to say the aim of free agency should be to equalise the competition but there is something wrong when the most poorly performed club over the past five years loses a key player at the prime of his career to the best performed. The trend is clear after three years with lowly clubs simply not getting a look in and the best players always ending at the top clubs.

The Dees will most likely get pick three as compensation but the clubs with picks nearby aren't happy about this (similarly, they also complained loudly about Melbourne's now rejected application for draft assistance a few weeks ago).

At the same time, Sydney for some inexplicable reason will be able to select a player considered to be a top three midfield draft prospect from its academy for around pick 18 proving that the entire system is fast becoming a farce as the stronger clubs continue to draw blood from the weaker ones.



A last ditch effort by a Demonland luminary to convince Frawley to remain at the club failed recently

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