To coin a phrase from one of footballs most outspoken identities, â€˜What a big week it has been in football!â€™ Who would know in the space of a week, we have had a tied semi-final between West Coast and Collingwood, the retirement of a Hawthorn veteran in Ben Dixon, the appointment of Mark Harvey as Fremantle senior coach, the naming of the 2007 All-Australian Squad, the resurgence of Victoriaâ€™s hopes of bringing the flag back to itâ€™s home state, as well as two preliminary finals to look forward to! However, all of these footy stories have been overshadowed by arguably the biggest name to leave a club ever.
For those who may have been living under a rock for the past few days, one of the games biggest names in Chris Judd has decided to part ways with the club where he has spent 6 years in order to return home to Melbourne to be closer to family and friends. The announcement has sparked a bidding-frenzy among Victorian clubs who are eager to gain his services. Here is a look at the contenders for where Judd may be heading in 2008:
Many say that Carlton are the favourites to gain that prized Chris Judd signature. Some bookies have them at odds of $1.80 to gain his services next year. The Blues are in a very good situation, which may see them gain the services of the countries best footballer. They have picks 1, 3 and 20 in the coming National Draft, as well as the backing of the almighty Dick Pratt. Although West Coast will be trying for pick 1 as well as 3, it would be very surprising if the Blues parted ways with securing Matthew Kreuzer with number 1. That said, they also have picks 3 and 20 which could be on the table, as well as a number of young players who may appeal to the Eagles. Young West Australian forward, Josh Kennedy might be bandied around a bit. Donâ€™t rule out Brendan Fevola and his currency come the all important deal either. Some say the Blues canâ€™t afford to lose Fev, but the question is can they afford to miss out on Judd?
Perhaps the romantic choice for Judd, as he followed the Demons as a boy. Mark Bailey would be eager to secure Judd, and would be scouring his list to see what the Deeâ€™s could bring to the table come draft week. They already have pick 4 in the national draft, but will also need to add to the deal by giving up a player or two. Travis Johnstoneâ€™s name has been thrown about as potential trade bait, but it would be hard to see the Eagles being interested in Johnstone with the already powerful midfield that they have. Cameron Bruce has also been linked to the deal. Russell Robertson is another Dee who is out of contract, and while a move west would seem unlikely, you never know what surprises trade week may bring. The Dees, will have to hope that the lure of playing at the club he supported may entice Judd to Melbourne, as they probably have less to offer than other players in the race.
Essendon have declared that they are well and truly in the race to secure the superstar midfielder. They have thrown around names such as West Australianâ€™s Patrick Ryder and Scott Gumbleton, but will have to offer more than the promise of these two young players in order to gain the services of a seasoned veteran (who at 24 still has a number of years of good footy left in him). Donâ€™t rule the Bombers out, as they are a powerful club and will make a serious play for Judd. However, one canâ€™t ignore the fact that at the moment they look without direction as they are still seeking the services of a senior coach. They would be an outside chance, but again, you never know.
Never one to bow out of a play for big names, the Pies have made a name for themselves going after the likes of Jonathon Brown a number of years ago. This time, they have some good plusses on their side. They are a young team on the rise and are already playing finals footy; they are a cashed-up club and have facilities that other Victorian teams envy; the question is can they produce a deal that West Coast will be happy with? They have Didak who has been thrown about as a possible trade, but he performed brilliantly on the weekend, and Mick will most likely be wanting to keep him. The Magpiesâ€™ forward depth will appeal to the Eagles, who lack in that area, but will the Pies be willing to part with the players required to provide an adequate trade for Judd?
Time will only tell who leads the race, but it should be noted that the clubs who are seeking Judd may hold the upper hand in trade discussions considering he could be out for up to 4 weeks after surgery this week, as well as the fact that he is coming home regardless. The Eagles will be looking to get some return for him, and simply canâ€™t afford to lose a player of his stature for nothing. After raising so many questions for the reader in this article, I can only provide you with one answer: the 2007 trade week will be the most interesting in recent memory.