Trent Croad has opened up on his dramatic trade to Fremantle, admitting his own mother joined protests against Hawthorn’s decision to ship him west against his will.
The 222-gamer revealed he was “shattered” when told he was heading to the Dockers after just four seasons at Hawthorn, where he arrived as pick three in the 1997 Draft.
Speaking on the Sacked podcast, Croad said when he went in for surgery on a wrist injury at the end of the 2001 season, he went under a Hawk and woke up a Docker.
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“I was a bit naive. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. Trading wasn’t huge. Players ask to be traded now but back then loyalty was really strong and we had just come out of a prelim and there was this tubby bloke from Colac (Hodge) that they are looking at,” he said on Friday.
Croad and Luke McPharlin were traded to the Dockers, in exchange for pick one (Hodge), pick 20 (Daniel Elstone) and pick 36 (Sam Mitchell).
Hodge and Mitchell would go on to play 612 AFL games between them for the Hawks, winning four premierships each.
But it was Croad’s career that took the trade toll, as he recalled his emotional exit from the club.
“I was sitting at home watching the protests on TV. I loved the Hawthorn fans,” Croad recalled.
“My mum was in the protest. She heard about it, and it got circulated that it was going on. She hid around the bushes, she obviously didn’t want me to go away.
“I think for its time this was very new. We had never seen anything like it. They brought in (club great) David Parkin to facilitate it, he had to sit in the crowd at Glenferrie with all the people.”
Croad says if not for the great rivalry between Hawthorn and Essendon, he believes he could have ended up a Bomber instead in 2001.
“Essendon had rung and I find myself dealing with Kevin Sheedy … He had the player board there and he said ‘Lloyd, Lucas, Solomon, Croad’, he wanted to do it,” Croad said.
“Hawthorn went, ‘Nup, we are not doing it’. They would not deal with Essendon., I think the whole rivalry was too much and they wouldn’t do it.”
After just two years at the Dockers, Croad ended up being traded back to the Hawks for pick 10, who Fremantle used for Ryley Dunn (eight AFL games, 0 goals).
Croad meanwhile, played 100 more AFL games for the Hawks, including the 2008 premiership – where he finished on crutches in what would be his final AFL game due to injury.
The Croad-McPharlin deal is one of the most infamous trades in AFL history.
Croad played just 38 games for the Dockers, who coughed up the number one draft pick.
He kicked 42 goals in his first season at the club, but struggled under the pressure in 2003 to finish with just 18 goals from 17 games.
The 2001 draft is widely remembered as one of the most talent brimmed, with Hodge at pick one, Luke Ball going with pick two and West Coast taking Chris Judd with pick three.
The Dockers then selected Graham Polak at four, ahead of players like Jimmy Bartel, Sam Power, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna, Dane Swan and Steve Johnson.