It was one year ago when Josh Caddy initially made headlines, revealing to the football world that he wanted to return home to Melbourne to be with his ill father.
Essendon circled before Gold Coast put an end to the speculation and denied him of an early return to Victoria, despite his passionate pleas. Talk of a trade was nipped in the bud as Caddy was forced to play out the second year of his contract.
What we know today is a different story. The ink is dry, and the air is clearer; Caddy is now a member of the Geelong Football Club.
The deal consisted of Geelong’s first-round compensation pick for losing Gary Abllett, ironically traded back to the Suns in return for Caddy. As a sweetener, a couple of picks where shuffled and Gold Coast now shoot to the top of Geelong’s annual Christmas card list.
The whole circus does pose the question; is Caddy worth it? Instead of beating around the bush, let’s get straight to the facts.
Caddy was one of only three Gold Coast players who played 22 games in 2012, also averaging 76% game time, which put him fourth overall at the Suns for time played on the field. Let’s not forget that he spent that time playing on the ball, too.
Adding further to this, Caddy was beaten in the club’s best and fairest by players such as Dion Prestia (14 games), Danny Stanley (13 games), Kyal lHorsley (12 games), David Swallow (12 games), Charlie Dixon (12 games) and even Karmichael Hunt, all whom played less games than him throughout the course of the year.
Put simply, he finished 17th in the best and fairest behind players a number of players who have only played a third of the season.
He averaged only 15.2 disposals in 2012, and for somebody who played 76% of all 22 games, that number doesn’t quite add up. These facts point to him either not working hard enough or us expecting too much.
In a day and age in which clubs demand a high output from first-round draft selections, especially those taken inside the top 10, the spotlight and pressure is on immediately.
These kids aren’t silly; they know what is expected of them from the onset and throughout. Caddy simply has not yet proven in his two years in the system that he has been worth the hype, or that he is as good as what his junior career alludes to.
It’s no secret he’s cocky, for it was that part of his character that turned several clubs off during this year’s trade period. Flair and arrogance is enjoyable to watch at times, but only when those talking the talk can walk the walk.
Until then, talk is cheap. The proof is in the pudding, and at this moment, the pudding is yet to rise.
To give Caddy the benefit of the doubt, he was probably allowed to get away with his cockiness and arrogance to a point at Gold Coast, especially given the average age of the Suns players. The average age of Gold Coast players was 21 years and 80 days at the start of the 2011 season, and given his close groups of friends were around that age, boys will be boys.
It’s not that there was a lack of leaders, as there is no age prerequisite to be a leader. It was a lack of senior and well-seasoned players scattered through the list to really straighten them out earlier on.
All in all, there were only nine players that were seasoned (including Jarrod Harbrow, Jared Brennan, Danny Stanley and Sam Iles), working out to be one senior player to 5.5 young inexperienced players. From that stat alone, it was always going to be hard to get senior influences around these kids on a constant basis.
To put it onto perspective, a young and arrogant Alex Fasolo entered Collingwood in the draft of 2010 with a certain cockiness that was ironed out immediately by the likes of his senior peers and coaches. He was instructed to tone it down, to fall in line, and to respect his teammates, instead of rubbing them up the wrong way. The same will apply for Caddy the moment he enters Kardina Park.
You could easily suggest that we’re judging Caddy a little too harshly. On paper, Josh Caddy is promising young footballer with plenty of scope for serious potential. His junior career is decorated; he was the captain of the Northern Knights in the 2010 TAC Cup Competition, and was a stand out for Vic Metro in the National Championships, where he averaged 25 possessions, 11 of which where contested. He also featured prominently with an average of 7 clearances.
Recruiters likened him to Joel Selwood, but ironically enough, Caddy was overlooked for All-Australian selection in 2010, with selectors believing that despite his number of possessions he averaged throughout the carnival, he didn’t damage opposition, suggesting that more often than not, his disposal went to somewhat of a waste. He was still drafted at pick number 7 in the 2010 National Draft by Gold Coast.
His family issues have been well-documented. His close relationship with his father, and his illness impacted his decision to want to leave the Suns and return to Victoria, albeit it being 12 months later than what he would have initially liked. It has played a massive part in his homesickness, and could be an underlying reason as to why Caddy has yet to be damaging in games.
It could be that his heart just wasn’t there, but only Josh Caddy knows exactly why his performances haven’t reflected his promise. Either way, it suggests he’s got the talent to burn, but he just doesn’t know how to take control and master it yet.
When looking at how Caddy will benefit Geelong, it doesn’t appear that they are winners.
Geelong missed out on Travis Boak, and they made every desperate attempt to lure the classy Port Adelaide midfielder to no avail. They get a promising young brute of a player in Caddy, but they’ve paid a premium to gain his services. The posing question is just how much is too much for Caddy?
Given what we’ve seen, it wouldn’t be far off the mark to suggest an early second-round pick would be about par given his performances during 2012, but in the bigger picture, he’s a first-round pick every day of the week, especially when you dive deeper given his potential has not yet been measured.
Caddy does have plenty of leadership qualities; he’s courageous, he builds his game off the contested ball and he will have the perfect mentor in Joel Selwood to learn the finer points off. He doesn’t mind taking on that responsibility to use the ball and hit up a target, something which young players struggle to adapt to, especially when you’re in elite company. Although his disposals are not always effective, you just cannot teach that.
The great thing about Caddy transferring to Geelong is that they have a very strong club mantra that allows no room for players to be bigger than the club. Geelong is big on respect, and although Caddy may have been a little bit arrogant around his younger peers at the Suns, Geelong’s hierarchy will firmly imprint the ‘Geelong brand’ which many would expect to quell his arrogance out immediately.
He’ll be in the company of dual and triple premiership players, and I wouldn’t expect that any young player coming into a successful club like Geelong will want to strut around without earning the respect of his new teammates first.
It’s not about bullying Caddy, it’s about teaching him the Geelong way andgetting him to buy into what Geelong is all about; gracious, sublime and successful.
With elite company come impressions. If Caddy trains hard, works hard, bugs coaches, asks for direction, watches his reviews, focuses on recovery, goes hard at the gym and does the extra work, it will prove to this great football club that hewas worth it.
Potential is a dirty word, but the glass is only half full, not half empty. Geelong will bring out the best in this young man, and there is little doubt that regardless of the price the Cats have paid, ultimately one thing remains; we are yet to see the best in Josh Caddy.