Just a handful of players in the history of the game have returned to their original club to taste the ultimate success.
Dayne Beams will be holding hope that he becomes the next.
Late last year, the Collingwood favourite returned to the club where it all started after four years with the Brisbane Lions.
Tonight, he is back in the Magpies side to take on the club he captained in front of a packed house at The Gabba.
Magpies fans couldn’t believe their eyes and ears when the news broke that the classy midfielder would be back in the black and white. It was a comfort to know that a player of Beams’ ability would be added to a list that had just played off in the Grand Final.
With the 2019 season in its infancy, the Pies are more than hopeful. A premiership player is back in the fray. So why shouldn’t they be confident?
While five players (six on a technicality) have boomeranged back to their original environment to reach the pinnacle of footy, 80 others reappeared in their authentic colours only to finish empty-handed.
Can Beams break the mould with Collingwood?
We take a look at some of the past examples.
The success stories
Essendon / West Coast (never played) / Essendon
While he never played for another club other than Essendon, Watson was officially on the list of the West Coast Eagles in 1992 after they selected him in the pre-season draft despite announcing his retirement from the game.
Watson missed a flag with the Eagles in 1992, opting to work in a commentary role for Channel 7. The following year he returned to Essendon and played an integral part as the ‘Baby Bombers’ clinched the premiership.
Injuries restricted the three-time flag winner to just nine games in 1994 before he called time for good.
Post-’91, Watson’s individual form was not what it had once been but tasting the ultimate success made it a triumphant comeback.
Tim Watson won the 1993 flag with the Bombers.
Essendon / Geelong / Essendon
John Barnes endured a slow start to life at Essendon before he eventually made his way to Geelong in exchange for Sean Denham in 1991.
He flourished as a ruckman with the Cats, playing in a trio of losing Grand Finals, before he was delisted in 1999.
Barnes soon found himself back in the red sash to immediate effect as a key contributor in the 2000 premiership team, before retiring in 2001.
Hawthorn / Fremantle / Hawthorn
In a trade that came as a massive surprise to most in the footy world, Trent Croad was offloaded by Hawthorn (along with Luke McPharlin) for Picks 1, 20 and 36 in 2001.
The Hawks had just played in a Preliminary Final, losing narrowly to Essendon, but were prepared to lose a pair of promising players in order to land one of the top selections in what was considered a very strong draft.
We all know what happened next. Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell donned the brown and gold of Hawthorn while Croad pulled on the purple, green and red of the Dockers.
It was only for two years but included a finals berth which coincided with club’s leading goal kicker honours in 2002.
Croad then swiftly returned to Hawthorn. There were three lean seasons before a a return to finals footy in 2007. In the end it proved to be a genius move.
The defender-turned-forward-turned-defender was crucial in Hawthorn’s 2008 premiership (despite injuring his foot early in the Grand Final) as Hodge and Mitchell, acquired from the original trade, went on to greater riches.
Other premiership returnees
Richmond / South Melbourne / Richmond
Ended up back at Richmond after a stint at South Melbourne to win back-to-back flags in 1973/74.
North Melbourne / Geelong / North Melbourne
‘The Snake’ was traded to Geelong by North Melbourne before returning to Arden Street in in 1977. He was the star of the drawn ’77 Grand Final with six goals before contributing three in the replay as the Kangas knocked over the Pies for their second flag.
Collingwood / Essendon / Collingwood
Flirting between arch rivals Collingwood and Essendon, Ernie Lumsden was back at Victoria Park after a stint with the Dons to be a part of the Pies’ 1917 and 1919 flag sides.
Essendon / Hawthorn / Essendon
‘The Fish’ was a hero for the Dons between 1983 and 1995, kicking over 500 goals in 200 games, and winning two flags.
That’s why it was such a difficult decision to leave Windy Hill for Hawthorn.
His form with the Hawks was tremendous, landing his only All-Australian selection as a ruckman (1997), claiming back-to-back Best and Fairest awards (1996 and 1997) and securing a spot in their Team of the Century.
Retirement followed in 2000.
After a year off, a return to the Bombers at the age of 37 took place in 2002 with the hope of helping his beloved club win a premiership. Salmon played 15 games, mainly in the ruck, and the Dons were eliminated in the second week of the finals.
Collingwood / Fremantle / Collingwood
Tarrant kicked 299 goals in 161 games for the Magpies (five times leading goal kicker) between 1998 and 2006 before moving to Fremantle ahead of the 2007 season.
His four seasons at the Dockers did not bring much team success but he did produce a third-place finish in the ’09 B&F, operating primarily as a defender.
In the final hour of the trade period in 2010, Tarrant opted to depart the Dockers to return to the Pies.
It was almost the perfect storm as the Magpies finished on top of the ladder with Tarrant a key pillar in the backline. Unfortunately they fell short in the Grand Final at the hands of Geelong.
2012 was an injury-interrupted year for Tarrant before he forced his way back into the 22 to play finals, including the Prelim loss to Sydney, before retiring from the game.
Chris Tarrant returned to Collingwood for two seasons before retiring in 2012.
Not so successful
Port Adelaide / Fremantle / Port Adelaide
Similarly to Beams, Carr left his original club for family reasons in that he departed Port Adelaide to play alongside brother Matthew at Fremantle.
His exit came immediately after the 2004 premiership with the Power prior to a couple of top-10 finishes in Freo’s Best and Fairest and a Preliminary Final appearance in 2006.
Upon his return to Alberton, Port finished 10th in both 2009 and 2010 with Carr managing just 19 games over the two seasons.
Jury still out
Gary Ablett Jnr
Geelong / Gold Coast / Geelong
Ablett was arguably the best footballer in the country when he opted to leave the sleepy hollow of Geelong for the high rises of the Gold Coast in 2010.
Seven seasons with the Suns ensued and aside from the 2013 Brownlow Medal (his second overall), it was a largely unsuccessful stint from a results viewpoint, however, it is difficult to quantify what he did for the game on the Gold Coast.
The prodigal son returned to The Cattery last year to mixed reviews. Despite averaging 29 disposals and picking up 14 Brownlow votes, he was not in Geelong’s top 10 in Best and Fairest voting as the Cats faltered in the first week of the finals.
This move cannot be judged until his career is over. But what a career it has been!
Some other notable returnees
Corey McKernan - North Melbourne / Carlton / North Melbourne
Warwick Capper - Sydney / Brisbane Bears / Sydney
Peter Bell - Fremantle / North Melbourne / Fremantle
Aaron Lord - Geelong / Hawthorn / Geelong
Chris Heffernan - Essendon / Melbourne / Essendon
Adam McPhee - Fremantle / Essendon / Fremantle
Heath Black - Fremantle / St Kilda / Fremantle
Brett Montgomery - Western Bulldogs / Port Adelaide / Western Bulldogs
Tadhg Kennelly - Sydney / Ireland / Sydney
Martin Pike - Melbourne / Fitzroy / North Melbourne / Brisbane
Justin Murphy - Richmond / Carlton / Geelong / Carlton / Essendon