Teams: Australia & Newcastle United
Adelaide Crows - You Reap What You Sew: 2002
Rewind to the end of the 2002 season. We'd just been beaten to the tune of 5 goals by Collingwood in the Prelim Final - but we still had a tremendous core of some of the league's most accomplished players in their positions:
Then came tradeweek.
Kane Johnson had made it clear he would not be renewing his contract and wanted to head home to Victoria - instantly the 10 clubs east of the border came snapping at our heels for him. At the very least we could take a first round draft pick from the perfect suitor, or push hard to bring a quality South Aussie home in return.
With this deal, in theory we could regenerate and set ourselves up for the next five years - giving us a firm basis for another genuine tilt at the flag or at the very least giving us a smooth transition while the likes of Bickey, Smart and eventually Hart and Clarke retired.
Unfortunately we were to go down another path. A path that began 12 months earlier in the salubrious confines of a toilet. Yes that's right, the Wayne Carey/Kelli Stevens incident, that forced the King to leave Arden Street for a year of innuendo and scandal.
The die was cast.
Convinced Wayne Carey was the final piece of the Premiership jigsaw puzzle, a complex three-way trade was done involving Adelaide, Richmond and the Kangaroos whereby the Tigers received Kane Johnson, the Roos received pick #3 (Daniel Wells) and the Crows received Wayne Carey and Jason Torney.
Puzzled as to why we would give up so much for a 31yo with a history of bad shoulder, groin and soft-tissue injuries coming off a year out of the game, Adelaide fans openly questioned the trade. Gary Ayres and the football operations staff convinced us that Carey was the final piece of the puzzle - the answer to get us over that final hurdle to Premiershipland.
And up to Round 19 the fairytale looked like coming true. The Crows slayed the West Coast Eagles at Fortress Subi to go second on the ladder - with King Carey booting four in a commanding performance, humbling his nemesis Glen Jakovich in the process - with the only negative being that he reopened the deep gash in his knee from when he collided with a goalpost weeks earlier.
But that's where the story ended. In the next three rounds,
Adelaide were slaughtered by the Pies at Telstra Dome...
Shocked by the Shinboner spirit in appalling conditions at AAMI...
and overhauled late-on by arch-rival Port Adelaide to slump to sixth after the minor round.
An easy victory over West Coast in the first week of the finals only led to an 8-goal shellacking at the GABBA and that was all she wrote - Mark Ricciuto's shared Brownlow being cold consolation for an awful season when we gambled our future for instant success and lost.
Fast forward to season 2004.
We currently lie 3-8 at the halfway mark of the season. McLeod, Hart and Goodwin are either well below their best or are injured; Graham Johncock, the one shining light of all our kids last year has gone backwards; Apart from the solid but not brilliant Ken McGregor we still lack a key defender who can go with the likes of Tarrant, Fevola and Gehrig.
The trade value of the majority of our players - both key and expendable has peaked and plummeted.
Gary Ayres has run out of ideas. The club has run out of ideas. The club is lost. The club is wounded and bleeding.
How quickly things can change and hopes and fortunes can be dashed - all the current woes can be traced back to that one misguided and appalling trade week.