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Racism Scandal Explodes at Hawthorn

Alastair Clarkson (front) (file photo)

Newly appointed North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson and Brisbane Coach Chris Fagan have become embroiled in very serious allegations stemming from their time together at Hawthorn. It began with an external review commissioned by the club to better understand the indigenous people, referred to as First Nations players, and their experiences at the club. The review led to the allegations being made and the club referring everything to the AFL Integrity Unit. Several of the involved players were interviewed and their stories - and those of their partners, paint a completely different picture of the "family club". The story was made public by the ABC which brought to light the treatment of the young players at the hands of the coaches and club officials.

Three players and their partners told their stories but had their names changed for the publication. The players were told to part ways with their partners, even though the women were pregnant, were forced to move out of their homes. Their partners were told to terminate unborn children. The players had the SIM cards removed from their phones to further separate them from family. Essentially, they were told football came first and that was to be their primary focus. In many cases, they were bullied into choosing the club and those involved had no compassion for the players or their families.

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More Departures from AFL Rosters

Luke Brown Gets the Ball

Just days after the Preliminary Finals concluded, there were a number of retirements and delistings. Players from several clubs including Adelaide, Brisbane, Collingwood, Fremantle, and Geelong were released or had veterans choose to retire. The exodus including three players surnamed Brown but only two of them were related.

Adelaide defender Luke Brown, 29, has retired after 189 games in 11 seasons. Brown was prelisted by GWS from his SANFL club Norwood ahead of the 2011 draft before being traded to Adelaide. He established himself as a very reliable defender, often lining up against the opposition's most dangerous forwards.

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Clinical Cats Tame Lions to Advance to Grand Final

Cats line up (file photo)

A wet evening in Melbourne led up to tonight's Preliminary Final at the MCG with a spot in the Grand Final on the line. A respectable crowd of 77,677 rolled into the MCG. Much more than the 30,000 currently able to fit into the Cats home at Kardinia Park.  While the travel down the M1 to Melbourne might be a slight inconvenience to Geelong club and its fans, the interstate trip from Brisbane definitely makes them the away team. The Lions brought back Joe Daniher (returning after missing last week for the birth of his child), and Oscar McInerney into the team after missing due to concussion previously. Darcy Fort and Tom Fullarton were omitted. 

The first quarter was an "arm wrestle". The first 20 minutes saw the traditional feeling out period with one goal to each team, Dangerfield in the first minute and McCarthy in the eleventh minute. The Cats kicked the next two goal's through Stengle and Dangerfield, Hawkins almost added another but his set shot went just right of the post.  Ah Chee broke the run of play when he kicked the Lions second but the lead again extended out to 14 points when Holmes kicked Geelong's fourth just before the quarter time siren. 

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Lions Roar Into Preliminary Final

Ah Chee Celebrates (Densham/AFANA)

A pleasant Friday evening welcomed the 62,162 crowd to the MCG for tonight's Second Semi Final.  Before the first bounce the official business for the night got underway. With all players, official and match day staff lined up on the ground, the Welcome To Country, a minute's silence was observed for Queen Elizabeth II following her death this morning and the lowering of the stadium lights, God Save the King was played. Delta Goodrem sung Advance Australia Fair accompanied by guitar in the minutes leading up to the start of the match. Just to top it off a little bit of ACDC's Thunderstruck rolled up to the bounce.

Big forward Joe Daniher was a late out today, for family reasons. His loss up forward would mean all the focus was on Hipwood and less options up forward for the Lions who had three goals kicked by the big man in the previous game. The Demons dominated early and led the Brisbane to the ball and in all the statistical categories. Ed Langdon, unguarded in the pocket, kicked the first goal of match after five and half minutes, from 35 meters out with the set shot. Melbourne had more early chances as they had the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter. The usual suspects in the middle for Melbourne led the way with Oliver and Petracca up and about early.

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The Departures Begin

Oscar McDonald (file photo)

Delistings and trade requests have started and first out of the gate were Brisbane, Essendon, Carlton, and Port Adelaide. Port has delisted three players and confirmed wingman Karl Amon will depart as an unrestricted free agent.. Throughout much of the season, it was speculated that Amon, 27 desired a return home to Victoria. Hawthorn, Carlton and St Kilda were all interested but he has opted for the Hawks and will sign in October when the free agency period opens. List manager Jason Cripps said, “Karl has been an outstanding clubman ... and he should be commended for his professionalism and maturity ... ".

The three delisted players are former Brisbane Lion Sam Skinner, father-son selection Taj Schofield, and midfielder Sam Mayes. Skinner, 25, was drafted by Brisbane in 2015 and played 3 games in an injury-riddled stint before being delisted at the end of 2020. Port signed him as a delisted free agent but he managed just 2 games for Port. Schofield is the son of former player Jarrad Schofield and was rookie-listed in 2020 but never made a senior appearance. Mayes, 28, was drafted by Brisbane in 2013 and played 101 games before requesting a trade home to South Australia at the end of 2018. He played 20 games for Port.

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Dockers' Flurry Punishes Lions

James Aish spoils Zac Bailey

The Fremantle Dockers absorbed a first half attack from the Brisbane Lions, to set up a third quarter break-away and run out victors by fourteen points in a pulsating game at Optus Stadium. The match had everything that makes Australian football so watchable: high marks (catches), strong tackles, open attacking play, lighting quick handpasses, sweeping transitions from defense, and skillful goal kicking. Brisbane started in a ferocious manner, intent on putting the Fremantle play makers under pressure at every opportunity. The Lions laid more tackles and won more contested possessions than the Dockers in the first half and got away to an early lead. It wasn't quite rope-a-dope, but the Dockers' game mirrored those of an experienced boxer; absorb everything that your opponent can throw at you; and then when the time is right - lay a flurry of counter punches to win on points.

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Supplemental Signings

Paddy McCartin Handballs

The AFL's Supplemental Period (SSP) ran from January 10 through March 9 and several clubs took advantage and picked up players to round out their lists.

The Sydney Swans have picked Paddy McCartin, 25, during the SSP (Supplemental Selection Period) which has just concluded. McCartin was originally drafted by St Kilda in 2014 and played 35 games but had to step away from the game due to lingering concussion issues. He did spend last season with Sydney's VFL team and joins the club as a delisted free agent. McCartin joins brother Tom at the Swans and said, “It’s extremely exciting – it’s been a unique journey for me to get back to this point. It’s a path that not many people have taken, but my goal was to always try and get back to the elite level and to be able to do it with the Swans. To do it with Tom, in particular, is something that means a lot and is exciting. I’ve loved training with the team and playing last year, so it’s good to get on the list. There’s a lot that we want to achieve as a group so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with the guys this year.”

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AFL Life Memberships and Jack Titus Award Announced

Grant Birchall vs Jordan Roughead

In early February, the AFL announced the next inductees for life membership and the Jack Titus Award, which is given annually for service to the game. The awards and the memberships will be officially presented at the league's AGM in March.

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Ellis-Yolmen Anti-Vax, Retires

Brisbane midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen has followed in the footsteps of former Carlton defender Liam Jones and retired in late January rather than comply with the AFL's COVID vaccination mandate. He would not elaborate or comment on his reasoning, but teammate Mitch Robinson did speak about Ellis-Yolmen's decision. Brisbane veteran Mitch Robinson has given his insight into Cam Ellis-Yolmen’s decision to retire. Robinson praised the club for their handling of the situation and expressed how tough the weeks leading up to the announcement had been for his teammate, “I think most of the players understand who is and who isn’t getting vaccinated, and Cam wasn’t hiding that fact, we knew his situation throughout the whole process,” Robinson told his Rip Through It podcast.

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Free Agency and Other Signings

Campbell Clips Kersten

The AFL free agency period opened in early November and ran through November 9. Several delisted players found new homes. Players who have been delisted can join any club that offers them a contract and would therefore avoid having to enter the AFL draft later this month. All clubs then filed a list lodgment (current playing lists) on November 10 and another round begins on November 10 and runs through November 15.

Sacked Crow Tyson Stengle joined Geelong as a delisted free agent. Stengle, 22, played two games for Richmond and 16 games for the Crows over a four-year period but a string of off-field indiscretions saw the Crows decide to cancel his contract. In the SANFL this year, Stengle kicked 44 goals in 19 games, including nine goals in three finals. He is set to reunite with former teammate Eddie Betts, who has taken up an off-field role at the Cats.

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