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From chestbeating to anger: How no Plan B and a Papley punt has hurt the Blues

Trade winners, losers, and who is 'bulletproof'? All the latest updates from deadline day in the 2019 Telstra AFL Trade Period

THERE was a collective slumping of the shoulders on Wednesday night among Bluebaggers (say it in your best Brendon Bolton voice).

Jack Martin and Tom Papley were supposed to be photoshopped in navy blue by night's end, but instead never made it to Carlton at all.

The beating of chests when both young guns nominated the Blues as their preferred trade destination weeks ago was replaced with shock, frustration and even anger.

EDDIE'S FAIRYTALE Betts back at Carlton, Blues get their man on the cheap

Where once Carlton loomed as the big trade winner, it ended the exchange period having to settle for a near-on-33-year-old Eddie Betts and seven-game back-up ruckman Marc Pittonet.

Eddie Betts takes a seat at Ikon Park. Picture: @CarltonFC

They both help fill voids in their respective positions and the Betts homecoming has some rare romance about it, but Martin and Papley were the difference-makers.

The disappointment is real and natural.

But first on Papley: this deal depended largely on Bomber Joe Daniher being granted his wish to be a Swan.


Sydney's 23-year-old small forward – fresh from a career-best 37-goal campaign – effectively wasn't going anywhere once the Daniher negotiations broke down in the final hour.

The new theme about clubs 'owing' a player once they request a trade to them is utter nonsense, especially in Papley's case, where there was little the Blues could do.

Ultimately, he and Carlton wouldn't be a talking point if his situation wasn't coupled with Martin.

DISASTER FOR BLUES No deals for two top trade targets

That's where the Blues left themselves open to criticism.

Also, by punting on the Daniher-Papley tightrope, they didn't leave themselves with an obvious Plan B.

Another goalsneak, out-of-favour Tiger Dan Butler, was in Carlton's sights at different stages and he would have satisfied a need without quite bringing Papley's pizazz. 

Maybe the Blues were never going to seriously pursue Butler or Port Adelaide's Sam Gray, even if Papley wasn't on the horizon.

TRADE HUB All the latest news

However, the somewhat-embarrassing contrasting messages from Stephen Silvagni and Michael Agresta on the same day last week about their interest – or lack thereof – in Butler wasn't a great look.

Butler ended up at St Kilda in a deadline-day trade.

List boss Silvagni and new coach David Teague also disagreed, at least initially, on the merits of Betts' recruitment at such an advanced age.

Now onto Martin, the precocious Gold Coast talent who promises so much but hasn't quite delivered yet as he approaches 25 years of age.

Jack Martin celebrates a goal against the Tigers in round 10. Picture: AFL Photos

The chance to play alongside Betts excited him – and he may yet get that opportunity if Carlton can conjure a scenario where it can select him in the national or pre-season drafts.

The Suns were prepared to hand Martin and pick 15 over for the Blues' No.9 and a future second-round selection, according to Gold Coast list manager Craig Cameron.

That seems a tad ambitious but not outrageous, particularly in a draft that is considered quite even after the first handful of picks.

Pick nine (acquired in last year's much-debated trade with Adelaide that saw Carlton draft Liam Stocker and swap 2019 first-round selections with the Crows) was also dangled for Papley.

Cameron told reporters the Blues paired future second and third-round selections together as their best offer but the Suns always wanted a first-round choice included.

Nothing is coming easy in what many still think is an inevitable Blues uprising, after a sustained period of mediocrity loaded with wooden spoons

Martin still wants to play for Carlton and will probably put a price on his head that seals his passage to Ikon Park in one of the drafts, a la Luke Ball-to-Collingwood in 2009.

So does that paper over the cracks, given Papley was likely never headed to the Blues without the Daniher deal going through?


But how does this impact Carlton's ability to woo high-profile footballers in the future, a year after a private jet, champagne and Chris Judd couldn't convince Dylan Shiel to be #boundbyblue?

Nothing is coming easy in what many still think is an inevitable Blues uprising, after a sustained period of mediocrity loaded with wooden spoons.

Bolton being sacked as coach halfway through his fourth season with an awful winning record south of 21 per cent certainly wasn't part of the plan.

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Budding superstar Charlie Curnow's off-season knee injury on a basketball court wasn't ideal, either, despite him likely being back before the pre-season is over. 

TRADE TRACKER Check out all the moves as they happened

Teague's arrival and the subsequent results buoyed expectations and spawned another viral hashtag – #TeagueTrain – but the honeymoon will be over when the ball is bounced next year.

The rookie coach will hope the path ahead is smoother, starting with making sure Martin is in navy blue by late November.