In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.
The free agency period began at the end of October and ran through the first week of November. The first day was a busy one with five players heading to other clubs. The breakdown on the first day:
In late October, West Coast delisted midfield rookie Hamish Brayshaw, forward Nic Reid, defender Francis Watson and rookies Anthony Treacy and Mitch O’Neill. Brayshaw, the younger brother of Melbourne's Angus and Fremantle's Andrew, was drafted in 2017. He played just one senior game, coming in Round 17 this year. He was delisted at the end of 2019 but added to the rookie list this year. Reid, was selected during the SSP early in the year and played three games. Watson was also drafted in 2017 and played one game in 2019 and two in 2020 before a late season knee injury ended his year.
Just days after Travis Varcoe announced his retirement, Lynden Dunn did likewise. Collingwood also delisted midfielder Tim Broomhead and defender Matthew Harry Reynolds. All three have had injury setbacks during their careers and the trio made comebacks of sorts in 2020 but were unable to cement their places in the senior team. Dunn, 34, was drafted by Melbourne in 2004 and played 165 games. He played just four games in 2016 as the Demons opted for younger defenders and he was traded to the Magpies at the end of the year.
Hawthorn delisted Darren Minchington, Jackson Ross and Will Golds. Minchington, 26, was drafted by St Kilda in 2012 but injuries over the years restricted him to just 28 games. He was delisted at the end of 2018. He was signed by the Hawks as a delisted free agent for 2019 but never played a senior game. Two hamstring injuries bookended his season and he played just eight VFL games and was delisted once more However, the Hawks thrrew him a lifeline when Will Golds suffered a season-ending knee injury.
As the season nears to a close, more clubs not in contention have made cuts to their lists and a few more players have announced their retirements.
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.
Before and after the trade period, October 7 through October 14, there were numerous delistings (released) as the clubs make room for the coming draftees and there were a few more retirements not previously reported: (front page readers click on "Read more" to see all clubs)
DELISTED: Ben Keays, Josh Walker, Ryan Bastinac and Nick Robertson
After their tenth loss for the season against Geelong in Round 17, St Kilda decided to part company with senior coach Alan Richardson. The official announcement was that Richardson himself opted to step down although speculation has it that the decision was mutual after extensive discussions between Richardson, CEO Matt Finnis, and the board of directors.
In making the announcement, Finnis thanked Richardson for his commitment and contribution to the club and praised him for the work he had done under difficult conditions, "Alan brought great integrity, knowledge and experience ... and under his leadership, the foundation for future success has been laid. He inherited his role at a difficult point in the club’s history, developed the young players now beginning to make their mark, took the club to the cusp of two finals appearances, and ... showed great resilience in the face of adversity. Alan’s selflessness and focus on what is right for the playing group and club has always been immense, but it’s perhaps been best demonstrated in the past two days through his decision to step aside ...".
The AFL has introduced a new signing period for players overlooked in the draft and rookie draft. One is the supplemental selection period (SSP) between December 1 and March 15, after all the drafts are over. The SSP is for state league players who miss out on the draft as well as players recently delisted by their clubs. To be eligible, players must have previously nominated for the national draft or previously been on an AFL club list.