Just as the free agency period was ending, Carlton defender Liam Jones announced his shock retirement. It is apparently due to his anti-vaccination stance. The league mandated that all AFL and AFLW players get vaccinated or be placed on inactive lists until they comply. Jones, 30, retires after 161 games - 66 with the Bulldogs and 145 with the Blues - and said his decisions were for "personal reasons" but would not elaborate further. In a statement he said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout my journey, both personally and professionally. I love the game and I’ll miss my teammates. I hope that people respect my decision and privacy - neither myself or [sic] my management team will be making any further comment on the matter. ”
The day after the Blues announced Michael Voss as their new coach, they announced the passing of long-time president John Elliott, just 10 days shy of his 80th birthday. His son Tom, a talk show host on radio station 3AW, confirmed the news, "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of John Dorman Elliott. He died Thursday evening at the Epworth Hospital in Richmond after a short illness. Dad will be greatly missed by his four children Tom, Caroline, Edward, and Alexandra. Their partners Elise, Craig, and Georgia plus grandchildren Henry, Sebastian, India, Ava, Lottie, and Mathilda will remember forever their 'Grandpa Jack'. Others to mourn his passing are his brother Ross, sister-in-law Jenny, former partner Joanne, and second wife Amanda. There are also numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren." Elliott, who also served as federal president of the Liberal Party, suffered a fall at his home in early September.
Just days before the finals began and after weeks of speculation, Carlton dismissed senior coach David Teague. Also departing are assistants Brent Stanton, Dale Amos and John Barker. Teague had one more year to run on his contract, but an extensive review of the football department saw the club decide it needed change.
In an email sent to club members, new president Luke Sayers said: "It was identified that there had been confusion associated with the game plan ... the team has under-delivered in its ability to consistently defend, win the contest and apply pressure. This was highlighted, but not limited to, an overt, consistent focus on offense at a detriment to the defensive side of the game. While the easier option would have been to wait a further 12 months in the hope these deficiencies would change, the in-depth data gained ... left no doubt that such an option would not be in the best interests of the club ...".
Just a few days after Round 23, the AFL held their annual Hall of Fame ceremonies. Two current members were elevated to Legend status and there were four new inductees. West Australian Merv McIntosh and legendary SANFL coach Jack Oatey were elevated. The inductees were Nathan Burke, Chris Judd, Rob Wiley, and footy female pioneer Debbie Lee. Lee is the first woman to be inducted. Former Sydney star Adam Goodes declined to be inducted, due to his feeling that the AFL failed to support him properly when he was subjected to radial vilification in the last two years of his career. Garry McIntosh, a dual SANFL premiership player in 1982 and 1984 and games’ record-holder for the Norwood, also declined entry, saying he had not played the game for personal honors.
Adelaide defender Daniel Talia was told he will not receive a new contract. An off-season knee injury that required surgery and a foot injury shortly after - also requiring surgery kept him sidelined for the entire season. He also suffered some setbacks during his rehabilitation.
Talia, 29, was drafted in 2009 and played 200 games. He won All-Australian selection twice and has been a stalwart in the Adelaide defense. Other honors are the Rising Star award in 2012, the club's best and fairest in 2014, and was a member of the leadership group.
Eddie Betts played his 350th and final game in Round 23. It came after several weeks of discussions between him and the club with the club saying they would not be offering him a new contract. The announcement was made ahead of the final game of the year to give fans a chance to celebrate an amazing career and farewell (arguably) the most likable player and person to grace the game.
Betts was selected in the 2004 Preseason Draft and debuted in 2005. With his innate ability to kick impossible goals and create something out of nothing, he quickly became a fan favorite. He will go down in league history as one of the best - if not the best - small forward.
Veteran Carlton midfielder Marc Murphy will play his 300th and final game against Port Adelaide in Round 22. Murphy, 34, made the announcement just after Round 21 concluded. Murphy said, "It has been an up-and-down 16 years. I would have loved to have won a premiership and had some success ... but unfortunately, it's not part of my story. I know there's a lot of (future) premiership players ... at this footy club and I'll be watching as a supporter and lapping it up pretty soon hopefully."
Just as Round 18 was getting underway, Carlton announced the passing of Sergio Silvagni, aged 83. He is the father of club legend Steve Silvagni - aka SOS - and the grandfather of current player Jack. Steve's son. Ben Silvagni, was also drafted in 2018 but never played a senior debut and was delisted at the end of 2020.
It was a warm sunny day at the MCG, with the late 3.20 PMM start meaning that most of the game would be played in the shadows of the stands. Coming into this match Essendon were 14th and Carlton were 15th on the AFL ladder. A solid crowd of 57,447 witnessed the match. Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti kicked the opening goal of the match as Essendon looked slick early.
Mitch McGovern and Sam Walsh kicked the next two goals to show the Blues fans they were up for the fight and much of the quarter it was an even competition. But Essendon got their running game happening and Cale Hooker evened things up on the scoreboard. With Essendon on the rampage, it took a big mark by Eddie Betts in the goal square to keep the Blues in it. He landed heavily with the ball and limped back to kick the goal.
Carlton legend Kade Simpson has decided he wants to return to AFL football. Simpson, who turns 37 in May, was not offered a new contract by the Blues and, according to the 2020 AFL Record Season Guide he "retired". He has been out of the game for a little over six months but said he wants to return after watching the opening rounds of the 2021 season. Simpson, who played 342 games across fifteen seasons, spoke on a podcast hosted by former teammate Dylan Buckley (Dyl and Friends), and said, "I still wish I was playing, like 100 percent. Even now, for some stupid reason, I still run and flog myself. In the back of my head, I’m like, just imagine if someone now with the mid-season draft and all that sort of stuff. I’m pretty fit still. If someone did "come knocking, I’m ready. I wouldn’t be like ‘oh f--k I haven’t done a thing for six months’. I’m still fit."
Under AFL rules, a player must be retired for a year to be eligible for the midseason draft, but he could be eligible since it seems he was