Invisible Cloke


By Jessica Landy

The public is sick and tired of hearing about Travis Cloke. Questions concerning his poor form and his future in the AFL are making the public restless. It is known by most of the AFL community that the power forward’s contract negotiations have been under speculation since the start of the 2012 season. Many are also aware that his recent form is not comparable to his 2010 premiership and 2011 All Australian seasons.

Collingwood’s director of football, Geoff Walsh made a statement on the 25th of July 2012 stating, “Having considered all of the circumstances it seemed the most sensible and appropriate course to suspend our negotiations until the season has been played out,” suspending Cloke’s contract talks until the end of the 2012 season. Some may say that this will boost his confidence and positive signs were there. The following week when Collingwood faced off against the newly formed Greater Western Sydney, Cloke gathered          21 disposals, compiled of 13 kicks and eight handballs and he took 11 marks and kicked six goals. Collingwood Coach Nathan Buckley commented on Cloke’s form after the GWS game, “If you have been struggling, any good form is positive for the individual and clearly for the side.” A week later in the Collingwood v St Kilda game on the 4th of August, Cloke managed only 12 disposals, made up of 8 kicks and 4 handballs and only took 3 marks. Clearly these statistics do not match his form from the week before.

Although Walsh made this statement, it really has not taken the pressure off Cloke with reports that contract talks have resumed with Adelaide placing their bid on Cloke’s future along with Melbourne, Richmond, Fremantle, Carlton and Greater Western Sydney, who are also in the race to secure Cloke.

A great deal of pressure has been on Cloke to perform; teammates, coaches and most significantly the media have all expressed their opinions on Cloke’s form and future. Questions have been raised whether Cloke is actually worth one million dollars a season. Statistics have recently proved this to be true. Round 20 saw Collingwood take on the Sydney Swans. The full forward had only 10 disposals made up of 6 kicks and 4 handballs and he took five marks, these small numbers converted to 3 goals. These numbers do not match his 2011 statistics. The public does not realise the pressure that Cloke is put under by the opposition. It was noticed by Nathan Brown from the panel of Channel Nine’s ‘The Sunday Footy Show’ on the 12th of August 2012 about how many defenders Cloke is matched up against. He dominates his opposition when playing in a 1-on-1 situation, normally two, three or four defenders play on Cloke when the ball enters Collingwood’s forward fifty and in these situations he still manages to grab the contested mark. This is why Cloke is such an important player and is potentially worth one million dollars per season.

The spotlight has been on Cloke for weeks, people speaking about him, will he stay? Will he go? Nobody has bothered to ask Cloke how he is feeling, whether it is affecting him physically, mentally or emotionally? Some will definitely assume this is the case and that the speculation is affecting him in all three ways is reflected in his inconsistent statistics. After each game during the coaches’ press conference a question about Cloke’s performance is raised. Talk about Collingwood this season has switched from Nathan Buckley as a coach, torn ACL’s and most recently Dane Swans drinking suspension, but in all of these situations questions involving Cloke have been asked. Surely this could be psychologically damaging?

The public is becoming restless hearing about Cloke’s contract negotiations. Most Collingwood supporters just want to see him re-sign.  Meanwhile the media has been exhausting anything to do with the topic because anything to do with Collingwood is newsworthy.

Although the power forward’s form may be a negative, many positives have come from his poor form and other player’s injuries. We have seen a break-out season from midfielder Dayne Beams and much improvement in players like Steele Sidebottom and Jarryd Blair since Luke Ball’s season ending injury and Scott Pendleburys stint on the sidelines. These players are starting to shape Collingwood’s future success. Other young players like Ben Sinclair and Jamie Elliott have taken inspiration from their role models, with Sinclair’s performance on the Queen’s Birthday match against Melbourne earning him a rising star nomination and Elliott topping the tackle count against Freemantle in round 14, proving the young Magpies can fly without their usual high flyers.

Travis Cloke’s future is in his own hands and plays an important part in Collingwood’s line up. The decision is his. His skills are a necessary part of his future whether and he will show if he is really worth one million dollars per season. He is holding his cards close to his chest, but the number one question on everybody’s lips is: Does he want the dollar sign or the success that comes with playing for Collingwood?



About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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