Mitch Clark has copped a few not-so-subtle jibes over his decision to leave the Brisbane Lions and sign with Melbourne, despite initially claiming his reason for wanting a trade was to return to his native Western Australia.
As you’d expect, the key forward who played the family card at trade week and ended up roughly 3,400 kilometres from said family managed to raise a few eyebrows.
“Must have found a long lost cousin in Montmorency,” one journalist tweeted.
Of course, the real reason behind Clark’s sudden about-face was that the Dees offered him some serious coinage – if rumours are to be believed, the kind of money ($600k) that not even Geelong’s best player would get.
Now, maybe that says as much about the Cats’ willingness to stay together as it does anything else, but naturally Clark has since been on the receiving end of some Ablett-Scully-esque observations.
“I guess money can cure anything,” read a tweet from former Lion teammate Tom Rockliff.
You might say Clark set himself up for that one. And he did, partly. But there’s no doubting that a week ago he would’ve laughed at the prospect of being offered more money to play football than Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood. We would’ve all laughed at him if he’d gone public asking for such money.
So of course, at the start of trade week he stated he was homesick and wanted to be closer to his family. Then Melbourne threw a spanner into the works and, well, things became a little more complicated. Now we all get to laugh at him anyway.
However, does the way things played out mean the criticism Clark is justified?
Some would say yes, but in reality all it shows is that Clark uses salary as a factor in determining his place of employment.
Oh boy. He’s just like 99 per cent of other people in our society – let’s hit him with our negative opinions on Twitter!
Unfortunately, the football industry is set up in such a way that this sort of behaviour is looked down upon, usually by people who would probably do the exact same thing if put in the same situation.
Just look at the Gary Ablett saga, a case where the player’s own coach couldn’t talk to him for most of his final season at his former club. Look at all the reaction to Tom Scully going to GWS a year later.
Look at the “deceitful, duplicitous and distasteful” example of Ross Lyon.
It’s a well-worn line but the majority of people, if offered more money to do the same job somewhere else, would take the money. This is completely normal behaviour. Unless, that is, you are a footballer.
For whatever reason, and Clark is the latest to find this out, there’s a different set of rules if you pull on a jumper and run out in front of screaming fans as part of your profession.
Surely, it’s time to grow up and move on. Money doesn’t have to be such a dirty word.
It isn’t for the rest of us, so why should it be for Clark and Co?
See also: Original article at The Roar
Michael DiFabrizio is a journalism student at the University of Wollongong. As an AFL writer, he has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009 and has appeared in The Age and on ABC television and radio.