The AFL has announced their annual life members and the winners of the Jack Titus Award for service to the game. The life membership awards will officially be presented at the league AGM in March. Nine players and coaches qualified automatically by reaching the total of 300 games as either player or coach, including preseason games and international rules.
The Australian Sports Brain Bank has revealed the late Shane Tuck had a severe case of CTE, making him the third AFL player - after Graham "Polly Farmer and Danny Frawey - to have suffered from the crippling neurological disorder. The former Richmond star died in July last year at the age of 38 after a lengthy battle with mental health issues. Tuck’s family agreed to donate his brain to the Brain Bank and it was revealed he had stage three CTE. Neuropathologist Michael Buckland said, “It’s the worst case I’ve seen so far.
The Swans have moved Robbie Fox and Sam Gray to the rookie list under the new AFL Rules. Both will be listed as Category A rookies for the 2021 season. Under the new rules, the club does not need to wait until the rookie draft period and the pair will be available for senior selection without having to be elevated back to the senior list.
A young rising basketball star has turned his back on the sport to return to Aussie Rules. Paul Tsapatolis, 18 and 202cm (6'5") and of Greek heritage, has had offers from the USA for college basketball and to play professionally in Greece, but has rejected them. Despite a very successful junior career in basketball, he said he has been thinking more and more about football, a game he has loved since a young age, " ... when I was playing under-13s footy, I always loved footy and I wish I never gave it up ... “Basketball was always trying to push you towards playing one sport.
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.
It comes as no surprise that the 2020 Grand Final was Gary Ablett's last game. There was very little fanfare and no major announcement, most likely due to the fact that almost everyone knew it was to be his last. There is little that can be said about the "Little Master" that has not already been said or written. At the end of the game, all the Richmond players lined up with the Cats to form a guard of honor for Ablett. However, there was much more to it than that.
There is no lack of finals experience for either Geelong or Richmond with both sides contesting for the better part of the last decade. However, this will be only the third time to two will square off against each other in a Grand Final. The first time was 1931 when the Cats thrashed the Tigers. The Tigers turned the tables in 1967 with a narrow nine point victory.
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.
Just days after Stratton, Puopolo and Simpson decided to bow out, so did Port forward Justin Westhoff. He will see out the season. Westhoff, 33 and the father of four, is in second spot for games played with the Power. After Round 18, his game tally is 281. He said of his retirement and career, “I’m not getting any younger ... and it just seems to be the right time ... Having a young family, I don’t want to miss much more of what my kids are doing, so it just felt like the right time.