The strangest season in AFL history is about to get real for the following 10 teams, but only eight of them will play finals football and in turn give themselves a chance to take home the Premiership Cup. AFANA runs the slide rule over where your club can finish after what should be another crazy round of footy. If your team isn’t mentioned below, it’s time to start thinking about next year…
As the season winds down, it is that time of year when players decide to retire. Heading into the last weeks before finals, four announced they were hanging up the boots - Sun Pearce Hanley, Bomber Conor McKenna, Adelaide's Bryce Gibbs and Carlton's Matthew Kreuzer.
The AFL began announcing its annual Hall of Fame inductions at the beginning of June. Due to the pandemic, the usual gala ceremony could not be held. The announcements were made gradually over a period of days and everything had to be done remotely. Brisbane premiership teammates Jonathan Brown and Simon Black were inducted, joining fellow teammates Michael Voss (2011), Jason Akermanis (2015), and Nigel Lappin (2016). Their admissions reinforce Brisbane's status as one of the most dominant teams of the early 2000s. Beloved St Kilda stalwart Lenny Hayes was another inductee. Also inducted were two greats of the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL: John Albey and Greg Phillips; as well as former Eagle ruckman Dean Cox and beloved commentator Dennis Cometti. Coaching great John Kennedy Sr was elevated to legend status. Kennedy was one of the inaugural inductees as a coach in 1996. AFL boss Gil McLachlan visited Kennedy and his wife at their home to inform Kennedy of his elevation.
After the Farmer story broke, former Hawk premiership player and 1987 Brownlow Medalist John Platten spoke on SEN's breakfast show. He said the revelation about Farmer was "pretty scary". Platten said he suffered at least 40 concussions during his 18-year career which began in the SANFL. One of those concussions was suffered during the brutal 1989 Grand Final against Geelong. He was so badly concussed in that game, he remembers very little about it and, to this day, cannot remember receiving his premiership medal.
Graham "Polly" Farmer passed away in 2019 at the age of 84. After his passing, a sample of his brain tissue was examined. In a first for the AFL, both a scientific journal and the West Australian newspaper reported that the examination revealed that he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) from head knocks he suffered during his playing career. While the medical journal did not reveal his name, the newspaper did. Farmer played 356 games from 1952 to 1971 as a ruckman for East Perth and West Perth in the WAFL and for Geelong in the VFL. He is considered a revolutionary figure in the game because of how he played the ruck position and his use of the handball.
St Kilda's Paddy McCartin has ruled himself out of the 2020 season due to ongoing concussion issues. McCartin, 23, was the number one selection in the 2014 draft but has played just 35 games since debuting in 2015. He has suffered eight concussions since 2014, the last coming in a 2019 preseason game. Former Saint Nick Dal Santo was a boundary commentator during that game. When the news broke that McCartin would not play in 2020. Dal Santo recalled the incident on SEN Radio, saying it appeared to be a "light brush" of the head, but with McCartin's history, it was enough to put him in a bad way. He has been unable to run or train since then.
Just after Brisbane's Semi-final loss to GWS, Hawthorn and GWS star Luke Hodge announced his retirement. He refused to be "chaired" off by teammates. Coach Chris Fagan confined the announcement at the post-game press conference, saying, "Hodgey's finished ... I wanted him to come (to the media conference), but that's not his way. He just wants to walk away quietly. He's hung them up, the old fella ... ". Fagan added that Hodge would remain with the club in an off-field role which is yet to be determined. Fagan added that he had an inkling of Hodge's retirement but never asked directly with the brief conversation going "...I said 'is that it?' and he said 'yep, that's it', so that's it.”
The Greater Western Sydney Giants have advanced to a preliminary final against Collingwood after holding on for a three-point victory over a gallant Brisbane Lions on Saturday night. In one of the games of the season, there was something for everyone. There were 10 lead changes throughout the match, plenty of aggression from both teams and some overzealous umpiring that saw a total of 54 free kicks paid for the match.
The Giants burst out of the blocks kicking the first four goals of the game while displaying the same physical style of football that helped them to a big win over the Western Bulldogs just a week earlier.
The Fremantle Dockers wore down the Brisbane Lions to post a season-reviving home win, with a dramatic kick after the final siren. In a match where the lead changed nine times, it was the desperate Dockers who did enough in the final quarter, to draw level with the Lions and then score the winning point when Michael Walters’ set shot hit the post. That single point, for hitting the post, made for a walk-off win.
Defender Liam Dawson has been delisted by Brisbane. Dawson, 22, played 18 games for the Lions in four years. He played only one game in the past two seasons but failed to add to that tally in 2018. Rohan Bewick, Claye Beams, Jake Barrett, Marco Paparone and Tom Bell have also been delisted while Cian Hanley has retired.
Bewick, the nephew of former Essendon 1993 and 2000 premiership player Darren, played 103 games for the Lions in eight seasons. Bewick, 28, celebrated his 100th AFL game milestone in 2017 and kicked 71 goals for the Lions throughout his career. In 2018,, he played three senior games.