More clubs taking punt on fly-in stars

IN June 2012, Brendan Fevola played one match for New Norfolk in the SFL, kicked 18.6, attracted a crowd of 5000, helped the Eagles amass 32.18 (210) and set up their bank balance for another season.

A year later, another former Carlton great Anthony Koutoufides turned out for Scottsdale, pulled his hamstring after 15 minutes and played no further part as the Magpies managed just 5.5 (35) and got thrashed by premier Rocherlea.

Twelve months after Matthew Lloyd kicked seven goals in front of 4000 people during a one-off game for Latrobe, Alan Didak attracted about a quarter of that for the Demons last week and was forced off the ground before half-time with a hamstring injury.

It seems the growing fad of high-profile fly-in former stars can be as big a gamble as anything even Fev has staked.

Kouta further demonstrates this by himself.

Just a couple of months after his dismal showing for Scottsdale in the NTFA, he was back kicking five goals for Penguin in the NTFL.

And there's more than one football code at it.

Aside from conceding a goal inside the first 30 seconds to a Devonport teenager, keeper Zeljko Kalac's one-off appearance for Tilford Zebras in the Victory League last season could be considered much more successful than his former Socceroo teammate Danny Allsopp's for Launceston City a couple of months later which witnessed a 6-0 loss in horrendous weather from which Allsopp could count himself fortunate not to be sent off.

The former Manchester City and Melbourne Victory striker was due to return to Mitsubishi Park on Saturday for City's clash with Devonport, but at least avoided the Kouta-Didak scenario by pulling out last week with a back injury.

On the day this was announced, Chris Tarrant smiled out from the back page of The Examiner talking up a five-match stint with North Launceston which follows appearances for both the Bombers and Glenorchy last season.

Latrobe's reaction to Didak's hamstrung appearance was to announce moves to get another ex-AFL player down for the May 3 game against Ulverstone while along the coast former Hawks Brent Guerra and Campbell Brown are preparing to play for Devonport on Good Friday, a day before ex-Saint Stephen Milne plays for Penguin.

The ever-increasing trend, which has also included the likes of Jason Akermanis, Cam Mooney, Michael O'Loughlin and Nathan Brown, raises several questions.

The first many fans ask is how much money these players cost and, inevitably, the second is whether they are value for money.

The answer to the first question is that most are on four-figure sums but some are asking five.

Coaches are quick to point out that the fly-in 30-somethings should not be judged purely on their performance on the park, stressing the positive impact they have on star- struck young teammates and fans in training, clinics or talking engagements.

But the bottom line will always remain the bottom line.

While the deals substantially boost players' bank balances, the question of value for money can only be answered by the paying customer.

And those that watched Fev kick 18 goals are likely to have a different answer from those that watch Kouta limp off after 15 minutes.

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