9 of the greatest AFL footballers who defected to other clubs in the past decade

Written by Al Najmeddine


       9. Brendon Goddard – St Kilda Saints to Essendon Bombers

Brendon Goddard moved to the Essendon Football Club after playing 205 games with the Saints. St Kilda selected him as the number one draft pick in the 2002 national draft and was an important cog in the Saints outfit in their premiership chase from 2009-10. After losing three grand finals in two years, Goddard moved to Essendon with premiership aspirations. Goddard’s initial years were clouded by Essendon’s drug controversy, a saga that impacted the club to the highest degree. Goddard managed to average 26 disposals and kick 18 goals on his way to his first best and fairest award of his career. His experience, leadership and skill have been invaluable to Essendon’s younger players.


     8. Callan Ward – Western Bulldogs to GWS Giants

Callan Ward accepted a lucrative offer in 2012 after playing 60 games with the Western Bulldogs in 3 years. He had an outstanding season in 2009 where he averaged 16.5 disposals a game, kicked 18 goals and played every game of the season. Extremely impressive numbers from a second year player and continued his great form increasing his disposal count in the following seasons, while also contributing on the scoreboard. He has also captained the club since their inaugural year showing his great leadership and paving the way for his younger teammates.


    7. Dayne Beams – Collingwood Magpies to Brisbane Lions

Dayne Beams has been hampered with injuries during his time at the Brisbane Lions but his influence on games is extremely high. He has the poise and composure that’s been missing from the Lions’ outfit since the premiership team in 2003. After playing 110 games with the Collingwood Football Club he moved to the Lions in 2014 to be closer to his father. His brother, Claye Beams, also plays with Lions, which was also a motivating factor. He won the Lions’ best and fairest in his inaugural year and was voted the new captain in 2017 replacing Tom Rockliff, who was demoted to vice-captain. At 27 years of age, Beams can really help the Lions rediscover some confidence and further enhance his already elite footballing ability.


     6. Josh Gibson – North Melbourne Kangaroos to Hawthorn Hawks

Josh Gibson has been an integral part in Hawthorn’s premiership frenzy since his move from the North Melbourne Football Club in 2009. He played 65 games in three years at the Kangaroos but really elevated himself as a premium defender with his move to the Hawks. Gibson won 3 consecutive premierships from 2013-15 and won best and fairest awards in 2013 and 2015. To win two best and fairest awards in two premiership years is a huge feat and has been one of the club’s most consistent and important defenders.


     5. Eddie Betts – Carlton Blues to Adelaide Crows

Eddie Betts was a cult figure at Carlton. He played 184 games and kicked 290 goals in eight years at the Blues. He was already a star small forward but has elevated his game to be regarded as one of the best small forward to ever play the game. His awareness around goal reached new heights at the Adelaide Football Club. He has played 86 games for the Crows for a return of 234 goals taking his career tally to 524. He is one of the most imposing small forwards in the game and is so skilled that he has an area in the inside 50 called the ‘Eddie pocket’ meaning he can do absolutely anything from that position of the ground. He will definitely look back on his stellar career with nothing but positive thoughts on his decision to move to the Adelaide Crows.


    4. Patrick Dangerfield – Adelaide Crows to Geelong Cats

The media attention on Patrick Dangerfield’s potential move to Geelong encapsulated the football world last year. He ultimately decided to move back to Geelong, where he grew up, to be closer to his family. Dangerfield is in a league of his own. His speed and strength as a midfielder cannot be matched by anyone in the league. Adelaide Crows fans were left saddened when their star left after playing 154 games in 7 years of football. He kicked 163 goals in his time at the Crows and earned All-Australian honours in 2010 and 2014. In his first season at Geelong he won the Brownlow medal, AFLCA (Coaches Association) award, voted Most Valuable Player by his peers and won Geelong’s best and fairest in a landslide. A truly gifted footballer who will waltz into the football Hall of fame.


     3. Lance Franklin – Hawthorn Hawks to Sydney Swans

The spearhead forward was lured by the Sydney Swans on a very controversial 10-year deal worth about 1 million a season, the first deal to ever be of this length in AFL history. After eight years and two premierships with the Hawks, Franklin moved to promote football in Sydney and to be the face of the Sydney Swans. Franklin’s kicked 260 goals in 84 games with the Swans taking his tally to 839. He is the tenth leading goal kicker in AFL/VFL history and with many years left on his contract, Franklin has the 1000-goal milestone firmly in his sights. Some experts regard him as the best player in the game and his defection from the Hawks will always be one of the biggest movements in player history.


     2. Chris Judd – West Coast Eagles to Carlton Blues

Chris Judd had a wonderful career at the West Coast Eagles winning a premiership, best and fairest and a Brownlow medal. He was part of the famous Eagles midfield trio, which included Daniel Kerr, Ben Cousins and himself. He won matched off his own boot and was regarded as the best player to play the game by many experts. He moved to the Carlton Blues in 2008 in hopes of another premiership and was clearly Carlton’s most important player winning the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award twice and winning a second Brownlow medal. He played 134 games for the Eagles and 145 for the Blues. His glittering accolades include the aforementioned Brownlow medals as well as a Norm-Smith medal, Carlton captain from 2008-13 and a 6-time All-Australian. Although he didn’t win that elusive second premiership with the Blues, he singlehandedly carried the team on his shoulders for so many years and helped lay the foundation for the younger players.


  1. Gary Ablett Jnr – Geelong Cats to Gold Coast Suns

Here we are. The greatest footballer to switch clubs, and the greatest footballer to ever play the game. Gary Ablett Jnr moved to the Gold Coast from Geelong in 2010 in what was a big coup for the Gold Coast Suns. He played 192 games for the Cats and has played 110 games for the Suns. There’s no need to describe what a fantastic player he is, all I can do is list his amazing list of accolades. He’s won two premierships, two Brownlow medals (one with each club), Five AFL MVP’s, eight All-Australian honours, four-time best and fairest winner and the list goes on and on. such a glittering CV, there is little doubt in why ‘the little master’ takes out the number one spot.

About the author

Al Najmeddine