THE TELSTRA AFL Trade and Free Agency Period was again a revolving door of player movement that produced many fascinating statistics.

Among them was Adelaide's mass exodus, Saint-turned-Cat Jack Steven being traded after winning four best and fairests, Brandon Ellis switching from the premier to the wooden spooner, Eddie Betts' emotional return to Carlton and a swelling of the three-club player club.

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Four and out

Jack Steven won four best and fairests with St Kilda before being granted a trade to Geelong for personal and family reasons.

The speedy midfielder became the third star in four years to depart a club where they were at least four-time club champions, following in the footsteps of Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn to West Coast for 2017) and Steven's new teammate Gary Ablett jnr (Gold Coast to Geelong for 2018).

Jack Steven got his wish to join the Cats.

Overall, it was the 11th case of a four-time club champion finding a new home.

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Other notable cases included North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey sitting out the 2002 season after a dramatic fallout with the Kangaroos, before choosing Adelaide as his preferred destination; and West Coast's fallen champion Ben Cousins, who was sacked by the Eagles and served a 12-month suspension for bringing the game into disrepute before being thrown a lifeline by Richmond.

Players who have won at least four best and fairests at a club before joining another club




New club

B&Fs at new club

Age when changed clubs

Bill Cubbins

StK (1915, 1919-30)

4 (1921, 1923, 1928-29)

Foots (1931-34)



Peter Bedford

SM (1968-76)

5 (1969-70-71, 1973, 1975)

Carl (1977-78)



John Murphy

Fitz (1967-77)

5 (1968, 1970-71, 1973, 1977)

SM (1978-79)



Len Thompson

Coll (1965-78)

5 (1967-68, 1972-73, 1977)

SM (1979)



Gary Dempsey

Foots (1967-78)

6 (1970, 1973-74-75-76-77)

NM (1979-84)



Paul Roos

Fitz (1982-1994)

5 (1985-86, 1991-92, 1994)

Syd (1995-98)



Wayne Carey

NM (1989-2001)

4 (1992-93, 1996, 1998)

Adel (2003-04)



Ben Cousins

WC (1996-2007)

*4 (2001-02-03, 2005)

Rich (2009-10)



Sam Mitchell

Haw (2002-16)

5 (2006, 2009, 2011-12, 2016)

WC (2017)



Gary Ablett jnr

GC (2011-17)

**4 (2011-12-13, 2017)

Geel (2018-)



Jack Steven

StK (2009-19)

4 (2013, 2015-16, 2018)

Geel (2020-)



* Equal club record with Glen Jakovich
** Club record

Hawks champion Sam Mitchell won five best and fairests before crossing to the Eagles for a season.

Eddie's homecoming

It's nothing new for a player to return to a club after a spell elsewhere.

In fact, the trades of Eddie Betts (back to Carlton) and Zac Smith (Gold Coast) boosted the number of returnees to 87.

However, it's a rare occurrence at their respective clubs.

Veteran goalsneak Betts, who reunites with Carlton after six years with Adelaide, is just the third Blue to do it in the club's 123 League seasons.

Ruckman Smith, who is again a Gold Coast player after four years with Geelong, is the first player to embark upon a second stint with the Suns.

Zac Smith will return to the Suns after 50 games at Geelong. 

Betts has a far greater affinity with Carlton than its previous two returnees. More than a century ago, Bert Parke's career was bookended by brief stays at Princes Park while, more recently, Justin Murphy's nomadic four-club career included two forays with the Blues.

Just five players have won a premiership in their second stint with a club – Ernie 'Snowy' Lumsden (Collingwood flags in 1917 and 1919), Phil Baker (North Melbourne, 1977), Wayne Walsh (Richmond, 1973-74), John Barnes (Essendon, 2000) and Trent Croad (Hawthorn, 2008).

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Betts also stands to join elite company, with stats guru 'Swamp' highlighting that another 10 goals from the small forward will make him just the third player in history – after the legendary Tony Lockett and Sydney superstar Lance Franklin – to kick 300 goals for two different clubs.

Before Betts and Smith, the previous two players to return to their former clubs were Dayne Beams, who was traded back to Collingwood for this season, and Gary Ablett jnr, who renewed acquaintances with the Cats the previous year.

Players who returned to Carlton after stints at other clubs


1st stint (finals)

Other club (finals)

2nd stint (finals)

Bert Parke

1905-06 (2)

Melb 1907-12 (0)

1913 (0)

Justin Murphy

1996-2000 (6)

Geel 2001 (0)

2002-03 (0)

Eddie Betts

2005-13 (6)

Adel 2014-19 (7)

2020- (?)

Enemies end trade cold war

Second-string ruckman Andrew Phillips' move from Carlton to Essendon barely caused a ripple from a big-picture perspective but it was a landmark deal nonetheless.

It was the first trade between the bitter rivals in 16 years.

The last time the two clubs brokered a deal was back in 2003 when midfielder Justin Murphy joined the Bombers in exchange for runner Cory McGrath. In a separate deal in the same period, ruckman Matthew Allan also transferred from Carlton to Essendon.

Justin Murphy crossed to Essendon from Carlton at the end of 2003.

Crows trade-fest

During an extraordinarily busy trade and free agency period, six players left Adelaide to join rival clubs.

If we disregard the exceptional case of the AFL's youngest franchise Greater Western Sydney, which has overseen unprecedented player movement, the Crows' effort would equal a 30-year record.

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They farewelled Eddie Betts (to Carlton), Sam Jacobs (Greater Western Sydney), Alex Keath (Western Bulldogs), Josh Jenkins (Geelong), Hugh Greenwood (Gold Coast) and Cameron Ellis-Yolmen (Brisbane), matching North Melbourne's six-man exodus at the end of 1992.

Most players leaving a club via trade or free agency (since 1988)





Greater Western Sydney



Greater Western Sydney



North Melbourne

Greater Western Sydney

Greater Western Sydney









St Kilda




St Kilda


Port Adelaide










Ellis' top-to-bottom challenge

When free agent Brandon Ellis signed a lucrative long-term contract with Gold Coast, he did what just three other players have done in League history: win a premiership and then join the wooden spooner.

In fact, the former Richmond runner, who won two flags with the Tigers, became just the second multiple-premiership player to do it, following Carlton legend Alex Jesaulenko.

It's now 40 years since Jesaulenko captain-coached the Blues to the 1979 flag, only to quit the club during the off-season in a show of loyalty to ousted club president Geoff Harris. 'Jezza' continued his career with cellar dweller St Kilda.

Jesaulenko, you beauty: After lifting the 1979 premiership cup, Jezza was off to the Saints.

Not a single player in the League's first 77 years left a premiership team for the bottom team.

Then it happened twice at the same time, when North Melbourne's 1975 premiership duo John Rantall and Barry Goodingham departed and boosted the stocks of struggling South Melbourne. Star defender Rantall was returning to the Swans.

Ellis' move from the top team to the 18th-placed side also represents the longest drop for a recruit.

Won a premiership and joined that year's wooden spooner




Wooden spooner

Next season placing

Best placing with new club


John Rantall




5th/12 (2nd season)


Barry Goodingham




8th/12 (only season)


Alex Jesaulenko




10th/12 (2nd season)


Brandon Ellis





A state of convenience

Players who leave non-Victorian clubs usually need to relocate to another state, but not traded pair Billy Frampton and Callum Ah Chee, both of whom stand to join the ranks of players who have represented both franchises in a two-club state.

Forward/ruckman Frampton played just three AFL games in five seasons with Port Adelaide and now hopes for a better result at crosstown rival Adelaide. It was the first trade deal between the clubs for seven years.

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Ah Chee made 45 appearances in four years with Gold Coast and dreams of greater success with Brisbane.

Both have the chance to become the sixth players to play with both clubs in their respective states.

Callum Ah Chee will join Brisbane after four seasons with Gold Coast.

Played for both Adelaide and Port Adelaide
David Brown – Adel 1991-1996; PA 1997-1998
Ian Downsborough – PA 1997; Adel 1998-1999 
Brett Chalmers – Adel 1994-1997; PA 1998-1999 
Matthew Bode – PA 1998-2000; Adel 2001-2007 
Brad Symes – PA 2004-2007; Adel 2008-2012

Played for both Brisbane and Gold Coast
Jared Brennan – Bris 2003-10; GC 2011-13
Michael Rischitelli – Bris 2004-10; GC 2011-19
Andrew Raines – Bris 2010-14; GC 2015
Pearce Hanley – Bris 2008-16; GC 2017-19
Jarryd Lyons – GC 2017-18; Bris 2019-

Played for both West Coast and Freo
Brendan Krummel – WC 1992-94; Frem 1995
Daniel Metropolis – WC 1992-2000; Frem 2001
Trent Carroll – Frem 1997-99; WC 2001-04
David Hynes – WC 1991-95; Frem 1996-97
Tony Godden – WC 1993-95; Frem 1996-98
Greg Harding – Frem 1996-2000; WC 2001
Brendan Fewster – WC 1996-99; Frem 2000-02
Jarrad Schofield – WC 1993-98; Frem 2005-06
Scott Watters (pictured below) – WC 1989-92; Frem 1995-96
Dale Kickett – WC 1991; Frem 1995-2002
Brendon Retzlaff – WC 1993, Frem 1995

Played for both Sydney and GWS
Shane Mumford – Syd 2010-13; GWS 2014-17 & 2019-
Jed Lamb – Syd 2013; GWS 2014-15

Triple-club treat

Before the trade period started, there were 10 players at their third AFL club.

Since then, membership of the three-club player club has almost doubled.

Seven players found a third home – Bradley Hill (Haw/Frem/StK), Paddy Ryder (Ess/PA/StK), Sam Jacobs (Carl/Adel/GWS), James Aish (Bris/Coll/Frem), Josh Bruce (GWS/StK/WB), Sam Frost (GWS/Melb/Haw) and Andrew Phillips (GWS/Carl/Ess).

Paddy Ryder will join his third club when he arrives at Moorabbin.

Fellow tradee Josh Jenkins has also joined a third club, having been at Essendon as a rookie and Adelaide before landing at Geelong, but he didn't play a game for the Bombers, while Alex Keath was drafted by Gold Coast as a 17-year-old before pursuing cricket, only to return to footy with Adelaide before being granted a trade to the Western Bulldogs.

Other current players in a similar situation include Joel Hamling, who failed to play a game as a rookie at Geelong before playing with the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle, while Sam Menegola was gameless in rookie stints with Hawthorn and Fremantle before playing for Geelong.

Meanwhile, there is still a chance that Harley Bennell, the injury-plagued former Gold Coast and Fremantle player, could be thrown a lifeline by a third club.

Current three-club players
James Aish (Bris/Coll/Frem)
Josh Bruce (GWS/StK/WB)
Josh Caddy (GC/Geel/Rich)
Sam Frost (GWS/Melb/Haw)
Lachie Henderson (Bris/Carl/Geel)
Tom Hickey (GC/StK/WC)
Bradley Hill (Haw/Frem/StK)
Jack Hombsch (GWS/PA/GC)
Sam Jacobs (Carl/Adel/GWS)
Jarryd Lyons (Adel/GC/Bris)
Anthony Miles (GWS/Rich/GC)
Shane Mumford (Geel/Syd/GWS)
Andrew Phillips (GWS/Carl/Ess)
Jared Polec (BL/PA/NM)
Paddy Ryder (Ess/PA/StK)
Tom Scully (Mel/GWS/Haw)
Dom Tyson (GWS/Melb/NM)

* Most of this information was supplied by AFL statisticians and historians Col Hutchinson and Stephen Rodgers.

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