The ongoing saga between the Magpies, Travis Cloke and those teams coming up with the big bucks to nab him has become tiresome and no doubt a burden. There has been a great deal of outcry from the members and even the hierarchy look to be jack of it!

I would fathom a guess that the Collingwood faithful are not particularly a bunch whose emotions like to be played with.

The party line for players like Travis in the lucky position to negotiate has been: I will wait till the end of the season before I make any decisions about my AFL future.

It may be a lucky position in a financial sense but as a player, when everything you do is devoted to preparing yourself for the best performance every weekend, having an uncertain future surely must hinder that process. And if it hinders one player, so fine and unstable is an AFL club environment, it can have a wide-reaching effect.

I was never that lucky in my career to have a seven figure sum offered to me as bait to join another club. I ask myself regularly now, as it is becoming pretty common place for the league's finest these days, what would I have done if presented with the opportunity.

In 2007 I was courted by the Western Bulldogs, to play for a great deal more than I was on and for three years, one more than what Melbourne were offering. I decided to stay at Melbourne for my own reasons but mostly because I needed the assurance of my future and to stay with what I knew. I felt more comfortable and played better as a result.

I look back now and ponder the decision as Melbourne eventually parted ways with me after two years in a rebuilding phase where as if I had jumped ship I'd have had another year of pay at the Doggies. In all my meandering though I always reach the same conclusion, money is not everything and legacy is.

What Travis Cloke effectively is doing at the moment is holding out for money. His market value is peaking and it's time to cash in on that good form.

Now, we cannot scorn him for this. Any reasonable working man or woman on the planet, if offered twice their wage to do the same job elsewhere, would not think twice. But sometimes, in rare circumstances like this, money should really be a secondary thought.

I am intensely proud of my decision to be a one-club player. Oh, sure I could be better off now. I could have a bigger TV or a nicer car.

What I have instead is the pride in the knowledge that I turned down all of that to go through my life knowing I gave something greater than just my efforts on the field to my football club.

Melbourne is my football club. Not Melbourne and the Bulldogs. I wore the red and the blue like Ron Barassi and Norm Smith before me. I did not have the ideal ending to my career but that is quickly forgotten because there is infinite pride to staying with one club, something you will only come to know once you retire and can no longer affect that legacy.

I think back and it was more than the goals and the marks, more than the grand times on and off the field with my mates, and more than the glitzy shining lights and trimmings that come with being a league footballer - I think of that fact, I was a Demon.

Clokie has a decision to make and rest assured it will be one that follows him for the rest of his life. He won't get that yet, but he will eventually.

So, will he be a superstar Collingwood icon like Tony Shaw and Bob Rose, or will he be a great player from a couple of clubs with a really big TV?


My tips:
Essendon, St Kilda, Brisbane, Sydney, Collingwood, Carlton, Geelong, North Melbourne, Adelaide


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