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Mark Knight recalls the joy of footy swap cards and school and how it mirrors AFL trade week

Mark Knight, October 17, 2019 6:45PM Herald Sun

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Park of Mark Knight’s cartoon on Eddie Betts being traded back to Carlton. media_cameraPark of Mark Knight’s cartoon on Eddie Betts being traded back to Carlton.


Reading level: green

AFL trade* week is a big event in the national football competition.

It is where clubs can trade players to other clubs for other players they’re looking for or receive draft picks* in the national draft where they will be trying to grab a future football star that will help win their club a premiership*.

Players can also put themselves up to be traded. The talks are intense* between clubs, coaches, recruiters* and player managers.

When I was reading about what was going on in this week, I realised the swapping of players and fierce negotiations* reminded me of my days as a schoolboy and the trading of footy cards that went on in the playground. The similarity was amazing!

Herald Sun Footy (AFL football) Card Promotion. Thomas (6) and Macca (6) with their collection of Herald Sun Footy cards. media_cameraThomas and Macca with a collection of footy cards.

You would buy packs of football cards — as you still can now from milk bars or newsagents — and build up your collection.

There were always the special cards that were hard to get, or the cards with the best players on them that were the ones you wanted most. If you had two of these very desirable cards you were able to trade and negotiate with your school friends and maybe pick up three or four cards you didn’t have in exchange for your one Gary Ablett or Buddy Franklin card!

And if the going got tough you could sweeten the deal with a few sticks of chewing gum that came in the pack.

Keeping this similarity in mind I decided to draw a cartoon about the star indigenous* Adelaide forward Eddie Betts being traded back to his former club Carlton. It was one of the biggest player movements during the trade period and Carlton supporters were thrilled about Betts returning to the Blues after six years at the Crows.

media_cameraEddie Betts back at the Carlton Football Club after signing a one-year contract. Picture: AAP

But how would I draw it using the schoolyard idea?

Well, first I set the scene, starting with a schoolyard and a classroom in the background. I thought the person who would be most excited by the Eddie Betts trade would be the new Carlton coach David Teague, so I decided he would be the student in the playground with the footy cards. He is young, wears glasses, and would convert* well into a school kid. I drew him in a school uniform complete with school tie (top button undone) shorts and school bag backpack. He looked the part!

Mark Knight’s cartoon on the Eddie Betts AFL trade. Right-click on the image to open new tab and view the cartoon full-screen.

media_cameraMark Knight cartoon on Eddie Betts returning to Carlton

Remembering back to my days swapping cards at school I wanted to capture the emotion I would feel when I came into the possession of a really popular card. The excitement and that expression that said, “WOAH … look what I’ve just scored!”
I was certain the Carlton coach would have felt the same about Eddie Betts’ return.

So I drew David Teague as the schoolboy, standing there in a deserted* playground, holding his collection of footy cards in one hand and the new Eddie Betts card in the other.

He is gobsmacked!* He can’t move. The EDDIE BETTS card is his! Nothing else matters …

To complete the school scene, a teacher — completely clueless as to the amazing event that has just happened — is calling Master* Teague urgently to class! Class matters, I guess.

Eddie Betts returns to the Blues — says it was an emotional homecoming


  • trade: swapping one thing for another, often with money involved
  • draft picks: selection players during an annual selection process
  • premiership: winning the grand final
  • intense: fierce
  • recruiters: people who bring players to sporting teams or businesses
  • negotiations: talks
  • indigenous: Aboriginal
  • convert: change or switch
  • deserted: empty
  • gobsmacked: can’t believe it
  • Master: a title for a young boy


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  1. Which team is Eddie Betts leaving?
  2. How long since he has played for Carlton?
  3. Which AFL event took place this week?
  4. Who is David Teague?
  5. What is the national draft?

to come

1. Caption it!
Cartoonists such as Mark Knight are so skilled they can convey a lot of complex information in one or a series of drawings without the need for many or any words.

However, Mark’s cartoon was drawn with an adult audience in mind and he knows that most people who look at it will also have read and watched a lot of news stories about the AFL trade period and know who Eddie Betts is.

People look at his cartoon with the help of a lot of background knowledge.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a new caption for the cartoon or some new thought bubbles or quotes from the animals in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about. Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  • What is my subject?
  • What do I want to say about this issue?
  • How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Are swap cards allowed at your school?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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