Like the cult 90s television show Who Dares Wins, hosted by Mike Whitney and where everyday punters backed their skills and nerves to come out cash winners on national TV, both Carlton and Adelaide entered the spotlight late last year when they made the first live trade in AFL history.
And just like Who Dares Wins, there was temptation. Not in the form of cash in Whitney's hand, but in the form of winning the trade and having the stronger hand over the course of two drafts.
The Blues, seeking to move up the 2018 draft board, made the bold move to offer Adelaide their first pick in the 2019 Draft in exchange for Adelaide's next pick in 2018 (pick 19) and the Crows' first-rounder in 2019.
The rationale for the Crows was Carlton's first-round pick would likely be low -- perhaps as low as pick No. 1 -- so outlaying two picks (the second of which they banked on also being in the teens) was a calculated risk.
With pick 19, the Blues took Liam Stocker -- who list manager Stephen Silvagni ranked as a top 10 prospect -- while Carlton made their own calculations that they would rise up the ladder enough (and Adelaide would not finish too high) to justify the trade.
Who dares wins, indeed.
Fast-forward six months to when the Crows had their bye week at Round 13, and things were looking rosy in South Australia and a bit blue down at Carlton. The Crows had pushed into the top four, while the Blues were languishing in 18th, still below the Suns, with just two wins to their name.
At that point, the Blues were shipping pick No. 1 to Adelaide for Stocker and pick 15. Not ideal, even if they rated Stocker so highly. The move was looking foolish. Like many on Whitney's show, they looked to be leaving with egg on their face and with, figuratively, empty pockets.
But Carlton's decision to cull coach Brendon Bolton after the team's horrendous showing in the first half of the season not only changed the Blues' onfield fortunes, but also the live trade with Adelaide. They could have given Bolton the rest of the year to right the ship, or make adjustments, but instead installed a caretaker in David Teague. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, considering the success that Teague has enjoyed, but those over at West Lakes would have been licking their lips with glee at the shambles Ikon Park was becoming.
If a week is a long time in footy, then half a season is an eternity. Fast-forward to the conclusion of Round 23, and Carlton had chalked up six wins from their remaining 11 games -- including one over the Crows at the MCG -- and while that could only move them two spots up the ladder (from 18th to 16th), it was what happened at Adelaide that almost beggars belief.
First it was a 27-point loss to the Cats, but then, worryingly, a 57-point loss in the Showdown to Port. A 95-point win over the Suns calmed the proverbial farm briefly, but the Crows then went on to win just one more game from their last six matches. They had dropped seven places in 10 games, from fourth on the ladder to 11th.
Not only did Adelaide's horrendous second half of the season sink their finals hopes, but pressure grew on the playing group, leadership group, coach and football department. Ironically, despite Carlton sacking their coach mid-year, it might be Adelaide in the worse position entering the 2019 off-season.
Who dares wins.
📈 Does pressure really go up in finals? We ask @championdata— footytips (@footytips) September 29, 2020
🧐 Breaking down all four finals
⚡ Are the Power under the most pressure?
🏆 Our flag and Norm Smith picks
Stream the latest @ESPNAusNZ#AFL podcast here.https://t.co/nSAkKBUQ6J
Ultimately -- and before any AFL intervention in the form or priority selections or free agency compensation -- Carlton eventually ended up trading pick 3 to Adelaide for Stocker and pick 8. In terms of draft points, pick 3 is worth 2234 Draft Value Index points, but pick 19 (Stocker) and pick 8 is worth 2499.
On paper, Carlton has won the trade, though as with all things draft-related, the outcome of those draft picks -- be what Adelaide does with Carlton's pick, or what Stocker and this year's pick 8 become -- cannot really be judged until years down the track.
While Adelaide would have been hoping to finish higher on the ladder, getting pick 3 in the door is still a good coup and would have been well within their target range when the deal was first made.
On the other side of the coin, the Blues would be stoked with pick 8, especially considering they may be looking to deal it elsewhere in the upcoming trade period.
Like any good reality television show, there was drama, intrigue and a twist - and that's what made the pick swap so entertaining for fans of both teams and neutrals alike.
The beauty of live and future trades is there are no guarantees, but both the Blues and Crows dared to win, and here's hoping it was the first of many similar arrangements to come.