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by The Oracle

There we were earlier in the week, sitting back lamenting about the whole free agency and trade thing and thinking it was nothing more than a dull, colourless and boring snorefest.

Hell, it even took until the fourth day before the first trade was nailed down, enacted by Hawthorn, the smiling assassins of trading. They quietly worked over the GWS novices when Jono O'Rourke, once a number 2 draft selection was traded for 19. The Hawks picked the Giants' pockets so expertly that coach Leon Cameron still doesn't even know the kid's gone yet. A couple more quiet trades were done and the weekend was upon us with probably another twenty or so more hanging tentatively like a thread waiting in a conga line for Collingwood to make its mind up about what it was prepared to take from Brisbane for Dayne Beams.

In the background however, the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock was wreaking havoc, bringing terror into the very hearts of a number of clubs. Players were standing up and asking to leave - even those with unfulfilled contracts. The Western Bulldogs were the hardest hit with captain Ryan Griffen putting his hand up to join Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney, forward Liam Jones and others on the "want out" list. The inevitable result was the departure at the end of the week of coach Brendan McCartney, last seen leaving Whitten Oval with a knife planted securely in his neck with blood flowing all the way back to the boardroom. And they said he left with his dignity intact.

The scene over at the Doggies was positively serene compared with the bloodletting going on at Bomberland as the doping scandal continues to rip the club apart. Paddy Ryder went public on his family's fears about the substances he was supposed to have ingested during 2011-2 and the AFL knocked on the head the potential for a trade via free agency rort suggested on its own website a day earlier.

At least the latest moves at Essendon indicate that reality is setting in over there and the club is now preparing for the worst as 34 players (current and past Bombers alike) prepare to receive ASADA infraction notices. Leaving aside Ryder and Leroy Jetta (their only official departure to date), half of that number are still on Essendon's list and this has forced it into action.

Jason Winderlich who was injured in 2011-2 and believed safe to play was convinced to stay on, as was Ben Howlett who had threatened to leave if James Hird was sacked. His stand earned him a two year contract although he is unlikely to ever play under Hird again. Dustin Fletcher was mulling over applying for the aged pension but was persuaded to have a crack at 400 game honours instead.

The Bombers also announced the first delisted free agency signing at the weekend when they secured formed St. Kilda defender James Gwilt. This certainly caught me by surprise because, looking up the key dates for free agency, trade and drafting, you might find this:-

Saturday November 1 - NAB AFL delisted player free agency period (1) begins

So far, the Bombers have been unable to attract the interest of players to the club so the apparent premature announcement of this signing smacks a little of desperation along with some much-needed damage control for the tough months ahead.

The Swans who always find a reason to complain about something also felt bloodied when they were excluded altogether from drafting players into the club for reasons related to the phasing out of the COLA.

The Demons also gave us our own shock-horror moment with their announcement that they might be open to a trade of former co-captain Jack Trengove to the Tigers. When you're dealing with a person who had shown and continues to show great loyalty and who has suffered much adversity in his short career, your first, second and third thoughts are that the idea rankles and runs against our concepts of what it means to be part of a good club. But other questions are also raised. Why are we going to these lengths to secure draft selection 12 - why does the club need this pick? And are we really becoming ruthless at last?

I concluded on Friday with the words, "Something's happening" and I'm more certain than ever that this has to be the case.

So For what it's worth ...

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