Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Lynch's Bear Necessity; AFL Great Reveals His Sliding Door Moment, Writes Terry Mallinder

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Lynch's Bear Necessity; AFL Great Reveals His Sliding Door Moment, Writes Terry Mallinder

Article excerpt

ALASTAIR Lynch knows only too well the kind of pressure current AFL stars Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly are under having massive offers from rival clubs in front of them.

Lynch, after all, was the pioneer of the "mega contract''.

Well before Richmond's Martin and GWS Giants' Kelly were presented with lengthy lucrative deals by a cashed-up North Melbourne, Lynch was contemplating his own future after being wooed by the Brisbane Bears - to the tune of an unprecedented nine years.

Actually make that "10", as Lynch interjects when talking with News Regional.

Of course it was Lance Franklin who signed on for a "paltry'' nine when defecting from Hawthorn to Sydney in 2013.

Two decades earlier Lynch had been given his own "significant offer I just couldn't refuse".

The high-leaping key position player, who had won mark of the year in 1989, was in high demand in 1993 after a standout season with a cash-strapped Fitzroy.

He had been moved to full-forward and booted 68 goals, though was named as the All-Australian fullback.

Lynch was keen to remain loyal to the original Lions, despite strong interest from across town at Hawthorn.

That is until an ambitious Brisbane Bears outfit intervened.

Peter Hudson, the champion Hawthorn forward who was now the club's chief executive, had organised a meeting with Lynch at the Hawks' then headquarters at Glenferrie Oval in the hope of getting him to don the brown and gold.

"He used to coach me at the Hobart Footy Club, (and) he wanted to get me over to Hawthorn," Lynch recalled.

"I had no intention of leaving at all, but Huddo being Huddo - and someone I respected highly - I went and spoke to him."

In the meantime, Brisbane had come knocking on the then 25-year-old's door to complicate one of those sliding doors moments.

"I showed him the offer that I got from Brisbane ... he couldn't match it or even argue against it.

"He said 'best of luck, you've got to accept it'.

"I had the same sort of conversation with Roosy (Paul Roos), who was my captain at the time.

"I was essentially getting my contract tripled and guaranteed payment for 10 years.

"Although it weighed heavily on me to actually leave Fitzroy I had no choice."

Lynch's contract was then worth about $300,000 a season - which pales in comparison to the reported $1 million plus Martin and Kelly could be getting if they leave.

But in the early '90s it was big bickies.

"Brisbane probably didn't get the value early," Lynch says.

"Thirteen games first year with a couple of broken collarbones and a knee operation and then the second year I played one game.

"I slowly started to warm into it after that."

That one game in 1995 was due to a mystery virus later revealed to be chronic fatigue syndrome.

He became somewhat of a poster boy for overcoming the condition - and one of the first in Australia to use ice baths as part of his recovery. …

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