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.
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…
Optus Stadium was the location for champagne football on a fine Sunday afternoon and the next day became the venue for a rain-sogged slugfest. This Monday night's (Perth time) game saw the Geelong Cats finish convincing winners by booting six goals against the undermanned Fremantle Dockers. It was a rain-soaked game where the team with the highest number of fit and mature bodies would win. The Dockers fielded a team without a recognized tall defender and their dual Brownlow Medalist captain Nat Fyfe was one of eleven Dockers on their extensive injury list. The Cats had an injury list nearly as long, which included Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, and Rhys Stanley. It wasn't the number of non-injured players that won the Cats the game; it was the physical maturity of the players fielded, which gave them the winning advantage.
Geelong supporters usually grumble when their team has to travel an hour to Melbourne to play a "home" game against Collingwood at the MCG. Even in their wildest dreams they couldn't envision their team traveling across the nation to play a home game against Collingwood in Perth. Yet in a football world turned upside-down by COVID-19, that is what just happened; and for the Cats the result was not good. In a cold and wintry Perth night, the Pies seemed right at home in the stadium normally reserved for the Eagles and the Dockers. A crowd of 22,000 braved the elements and entry restrictions, to be treated to moments of sparkling football as Collingwood's Jordan de Goey shone bright in the forward line; and a resurrected Adam Treloar and imperial Scott Pendlebury ruled the midfield. Before this game, the Cats were the most attacking team in the league, but the Pies denied them space and shut them down with fierce tackling and rock solid defense.