GEORGIE PARKER: Collingwood’s $50,000 ring idea is novel but not all players who miss out on GF might want one

Georgie Parker
The West Australian
Collingwood may give all players in their squad premiership rings if they win the 2024 grand final.
Collingwood may give all players in their squad premiership rings if they win the 2024 grand final. Credit: Getty Images

Premiership medals. Like clockwork it’s a conversation that comes up nearly every year.

Should they be handed out just to players in the winning grand final team on the day, or should they be given to every player in the squad who’s played at least one game throughout the season?

Usually we save this conversation for September — the pre-finals bye provides a good opportunity for this type of story to fill the news cycle — but this year it’s started earlier than normal.

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Collingwood says they’re looking into $50,000 premiership rings for the entire listed squad, should they win another flag this year.

I mean, personally, I could think of much better ways of spending a couple of million, but hey, that’s a conversation for another day. The conversation, for mine, is around the sentiment of who deserves what.

Let’s start with one thing — it doesn’t really matter either way. No one is going to lose sleep if they hand out a premiership ring to a kid who hasn’t played a game, but really they’re not the ones we’re advocating for, right?

It’s the Bob Murphys of the world, not the newly drafted. As a Crows fan I feeling nothing other than sadness watching Tony Modra stand on the stage in 1997 with crutches never being able to put a medal around his neck. But, this may be cold of me, unfortunately that’s sport.

Going back a few years, I was speaking to an AFL player who had played in the system for well over a decade. His team had made the grand final, and he wasn’t playing in the game. I ask him how this week is going, appreciating it’s a pretty tough time. He looked at me and said, “Georgie, this is the worst week of my career.”

We spoke for a while about the week and the thoughts he knew he wasn’t meant to have but was. He knew he could tell me this because he knew I understood and had felt the same before.

While in a way happy for the team, he was still flat, angry, bitter and sad. Years of playing, and not once an opportunity to play for a premiership, and I guarantee you a premiership medal or ring isn’t going to make him feel any better about that.

I had the same feelings in 2012 after not making the Olympics that year. I secretly hoped the team wouldn’t win because I wasn’t part of it. I knew that was awful, these were my friends, so of course I wanted them to win.

I felt so awful about what I was thinking, that I couldn’t even watch the Hockeyroos play, and took myself to the middle of Indonesia with no TVs with some other members of my team who were also struggling with not being selected.

There was no medal won by my teammates that year, but even if they did, I wouldn’t have wanted it.

There was no medal won by my teammates that year, but even if they did, I wouldn’t have wanted it. Sure, by all means I was part of the process, training with them until the day they left and playing matches to qualify us for the Olympic Games. But, even if they had won a medal, I didn’t.

It made qualifying and playing in 2016 more special though. That grit and resilience is learned through the hard times of injuries and non-selection.

This isn’t to diminish the training squad, they are absolutely integral in to winning. I still to this day believe a huge reason of why we didn’t win a medal in Rio is because we lost our best trainer a few months prior. She raised our training standards and made us infinitely better. So of course not having her around the team impacted us quite substantially.

Hard luck stories are inevitable in sport, but it’s the hard luck that makes those stories so wonderful and is what makes the wins and achievements so precious.

In the end let’s not forget for every Murphy and Modra hard luck story, there’s a Marlion Pickett fairytale, because in sport sometimes luck is on your side, and that’s the beauty of it.

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