THE TOM Boyd trade in 2014 shocked football nearly as much as his sudden retirement on Thursday.
But, less than five years after the mega deal was done that sent Boyd to the Western Bulldogs from Greater Western Sydney, there is little doubt it was worth it for the Dogs.
SHOCK RETIREMENT Boyd calls it quits at just 23
Boyd was the No.1 pick at the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, and after one season asked to be traded back to Victoria to join the Bulldogs.
After some to-ing and fro-ing (the Giants famously said they wouldn't trade their prized key forward under any circumstances), the deal was done: Boyd landed at the Dogs in return for their wantaway skipper Ryan Griffen and pick six (which was used on Caleb Marchbank, now at Carlton).
Then Dogs list manager Jason McCartney had tracked Boyd closely in his single season at the Giants, and had put forward a bold seven-year, $7 million deal.
Two years later, Boyd delivered the Dogs their 2016 premiership with a monumental and memorable Grand Final performance against the Swans.
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK The day Tom delivered on the big stage
Clubs exist to win premierships and the Dogs, with success so scarce in their history, got theirs when Boyd clunked everything that came his way and kicked a booming long goal late in the game to sink the Swans.
Their pursuit had paid off. Whatever he did after that game, it wouldn't matter, his place in Dogs' history was set.
Tom Boyd's got it.— AFL (@AFL) May 16, 2019
Tom Boyd goes long...
How will it bounce?
The stadium holds its breath...
IT'S A GOAL!
And the western suburbs erupt!! pic.twitter.com/dofoL10qBt
It turned out to be little. Dogs fans never saw another one of those performances. The 23-year-old played only another 23 games for the club at AFL level, and endured a difficult back injury that plagued his most recent off-season.
He was also dealing with mental health issues that he first made public in 2017 when he stepped away from the game mid-season, receiving help for anxiety and depression.
Boyd had been in the spotlight for some time.
He first emerged as a draft prospect at under-16s level, before he starred with a four-goal performance for Vic Metro as a bottom-ager the following season in 2012.
Big, strong and an excellent long kick, Boyd was dominant in the early stages of his draft season in 2013 for his under-18 club, the Eastern Ranges.
He kicked three goals in the opening 10 minutes of Vic Metro's game against Western Australia in the mid-season under-18 championships, before going down with a serious ankle injury.
By then his place as the near-certain No.1 pick was assured, although he returned to play in the Ranges' TAC Cup Grand Final performance, booting four goals. Only recruiting revisionists would say now that he shouldn't have been the top choice.
Tom Boyd in action during the 2013 TAC Cup Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos
Boyd never settled into Sydney, asking for a trade after only nine games there. Some doubts started to build about his fitness, and how his stand-and-deliver goalkicking presence would keep up with the athletic requirements of a modern power forward.
Doubts, stress and panic also crept more and more into the mind of Boyd, who is a thoughtful, articulate and serious personality. The physical and mental toll of an AFL career weighed heavily enough that Boyd decided he'd had enough of the game.
But the Bulldogs won't quickly forget his contribution.
TOM BOYD TIMELINE
October 21, 2013: Drafted to GWS with pick No.1 in the NAB AFL Draft.
April 20, 2014: Plays his first AFL game for Greater Western Sydney.
October 13, 2014: Officially requests a trade to the Western Bulldogs.
October 15, 2014: Traded to the Western Bulldogs for Ryan Griffen and pick No.6.
April 4, 2015: Plays his first AFL game for the Western Bulldogs.
June 30, 2016: Suspended indefinitely for "violent" altercation with teammate Zaine Cordy.
October 1, 2016: Kicks three goals to help the Western Bulldogs to a drought-breaking flag.
July 5, 2017: Takes indefinite leave of absence to receive treatment for depression.
July 22, 2018: Suffers back injury that prematurely ends his season, interrupts pre-season.
May 16, 2019: Announces retirement from AFL after 61 games and 50 goals.