Footy’s biggest trade: there’s only one winner

Things were pretty bleak for West Coast fans at the end of the 2010 season.

The Eagles won just four matches and finished with the wooden spoon for the first time in the club’s short-but-impressive history.

Making matters worse, Chris Judd, who West Coast traded to Carlton in a historic deal, was the best player in the competition.

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Did Chris Judd drop the ball in leaving the Eagles? Photo: Getty

Did Chris Judd drop the ball in leaving the Eagles? Photo: Getty

Judd, who returned home to Victoria with pick 46 (Dennis Armfield) in the famous 2007 trade, won his second Brownlow Medal and played finals footy again with the Blues.

Josh Kennedy – who was traded from Carlton with picks three (Chris Masten) and 20 (Tony Notte) – was showing promise as a key forward but the club’s draft selections were questioned.

Masten was inconsistent and had twice been involved in off-field incidents while Notte was about to be delisted.

West Coast looked the clear loser from the deal; Carlton seemed primed for an era of Judd-led success.

How things change.

After nine rounds of the 2015 season, Carlton have won just once and are in turmoil following the sacking of coach Mick Malthouse.

Judd will likely retire at season’s end and the Eagles are flying high.

Despite a series of serious injuries to key players, West Coast sit second on the ladder with seven wins from nine matches ahead of Sunday’s clash against North Melbourne in Hobart.

The 27-year-old Kennedy and 26-year-old Masten have been key to the excellent start from Adam Simpson’s side.

Both are now in the prime of their football careers and – aided by the likes of Scott Selwood (25), Nic Naitanui (25), Luke Shuey (24), Jeremy McGovern (23), Andrew Gaff (22), Elliot Yeo (21) – can drive West Coast to a new era of dominance.

Don’t forget sidelined trio Eric Mackenzie (27), Mitch Brown (26) and Jack Darling (22) either.

Judd has been an excellent player for Carlton, of that there is no question. But his time is up.

That means there is only one winner to this deal, with the Eagles set to reap the rewards for the next five years.

AFL Rd 2 - West Coast v Carlton

The Blues were shattered after their Round 2 loss to the Eagles.

Kennedy has booted 37 majors this season, giving him a six-goal lead in the race for the Coleman Medal.

He has kicked 325 goals in 149 matches with his famous stuttering run-up, 127 of which have been for the Eagles.

Of those 325, 10 came against Carlton in Round 2, giving the Blues an unforgettable reminder of what they are missing out on.

And on the eve of his milestone, West Coast national recruiting manager Rohan O’Brien reflected fondly on the deal that brought Kennedy home to Western Australia.

“He [Chris Judd] had already won a best and fairest, a Brownlow and a Norm Smith [Medal] and it wasn’t the best result at the time [to hear he wanted to leave],” O’Brien told The New Daily.

“But we turned our mind straight away to what we could manage to do in terms of the trade. There was always going to be draft picks involved but we wanted to look at players on other club’s lists as well.

“Luckily for us, Josh had been a player that Trevor Woodhouse, recruiting manager at the time, rated enormously from his draft year.

“Richmond were certainly very interested in getting Chris but the fact that Josh was the calibre of player that we wanted, made us a little bit more comfortable in what we were doing, because it was a big thing to lose Chris.

“We did want pick one to be part of the deal [with Carlton] but we were pretty fixated on Josh from very early on. We saw him as a very, very talented young player.”

Judd’s interest in Carlton was well-known but the deal was not rubber-stamped until late in the trade period as Kennedy weighed up his future.

Chris Masten is enjoying his best season yet. Photo: Getty

Chris Masten is enjoying his best season yet. Photo: Getty

It was widely reported that Kennedy – who Carlton were reluctant to give up – was the only stumbling block in the deal, putting the then 20-year-old, who had just signed a new contract at the Blues, in what O’Brien called a ‘tough position’.

The rest is history, though, and O’Brien hailed Kennedy for his career to date.

“He’s done a terrific job. He’s turned out to be the player we hoped he would be,” he said.

“It [the trade] was an investment in the future but we felt it was a pretty solid one.

“Josh has had a number of top-10 finishes in the Best and Fairest and been leading goalkicker three times.

“He is great with his work ethic and he’s been really good with younger players now that he is probably in the prime of his career.”

On Masten, averaging 28 disposals per game and really starting to come into his own, O’Brien added: “He’s certainly been in good form this year.

“Chris is probably another player in the prime of his career. He has matured now and has settled into his role.

“We are certainly very happy with what came our way out of that trade.”

Asked last year about the deal, then-Carlton president Steven Kernahan told Triple M: “I would never knock back what Chris Judd’s given our football club.

“[But] you can’t let centre-half-forwards go.”

Kernahan was right. Carlton are still paying the price.

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