Round nine was Leon Cameron's last as coach of Greater Western Sydney after almost a decade in charge. Assistant coach Mark McVeigh will take over for the remainder of the season. Cameron and the club had put contract talks on hold, but after a number of discussions, the parting of ways was mutual and amicable. He made the announcement to the playing group on the Thursday before round nine. Although the Giants have gotten off to a rocky start this season (2 wins, seven losses) Cameron did have some success taking the club into preliminary finals in 2016 and 2017, and into a Grand final in 2019. His record is 87 wins, 71 losses and three tied games.
Greater Western Sydney Giants
Stories related to the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL club.
The Fremantle Dockers finished full of running to defeat the GWS Giants in a game that pulsated for three quarters. The Dockers relied on pace to sweep the ball into attack with quick transitions from defense. The Giants played a more traditional game of kicking long to their two tall forwards Harry Himmelberg and Jesse Hogan. The Giants kept themselves in the game with accurate kicking for goal, while the Dockers wasted early opportunities by either kicking behinds (worth a point each) or kicking the ball out of bounds when shooting for goal.
In the first quarter the Docker defenders Griffin Logue and Brennan Cox concentrated on punching the ball out of the hands of the tall Giant forwards. The small Giant forwards Bobby Hill and Stephen Coniglio were outpaced and out positioned by the Dockers’ pacy James Aish and Heath Chapman, with Jordan Clark providing the Dockers additional run through the middle of the ground. The Giants used Lachie Ash to shadow the Dockers’ playmaker Andrew Brayshaw. This kept Brayshaw relatively quiet in the first half, but also robbed the Giants of a creative attacker as Ash was played defensively and center man Callan Ward did not have the sped to go with Clark. Former Gold Coast player, Will Brodie escaped attention and played his best game for the Dockers and their acting captain, David Mundy, got better as the game progressed.
In early December West Coast running defender Brad Sheppard and Suns defender Jacob Townsend announced their retirements just a few days apart. Sheppard, 30, was forced to retire due to ongoing concussion issues. He suffered several head knocks late in the season, the last coming in round 22. The Eagles believed he could still play but gave him time to decide. He sought medical advice over concerns about his future health and opted to retire.
Sheppard was drafted in 2009 and played 216 games. He was named All-Australian in 2015 and won the best clubman award in 2020. He was also a key member of the 2018 premiership side. Coach Adam Simpson said, "His career speaks for itself, over 200 games, it's just really sad that it finishes this way. He still had plenty of good footy left. He retires as a man with universal respect at every level of the football club ... ".
The AFL free agency period opened in early November and ran through November 9. Several delisted players found new homes. Players who have been delisted can join any club that offers them a contract and would therefore avoid having to enter the AFL draft later this month. All clubs then filed a list lodgment (current playing lists) on November 10 and another round begins on November 10 and runs through November 15.
Sacked Crow Tyson Stengle joined Geelong as a delisted free agent. Stengle, 22, played two games for Richmond and 16 games for the Crows over a four-year period but a string of off-field indiscretions saw the Crows decide to cancel his contract. In the SANFL this year, Stengle kicked 44 goals in 19 games, including nine goals in three finals. He is set to reunite with former teammate Eddie Betts, who has taken up an off-field role at the Cats.
In late October, ruckman Shame Mumford announced his retirement, this time for good. Mumford, 35, retired at the end of 2017 due to a chronic foot issue and took up a role as ruck coach with GWS, where he had been playing. The foot problem was resolved and he came out of retirement in 2019. Mumford was drafted as a rookie by Geelong in 2007 and played 21 games for the Cats before being traded to Sydney at the end of 2009. He soon established himself as one of the most imposing ruckmen in the competition. He played 79 games with the Swans, including the 2012 premiership.
North Melbourne has delisted Taylor Garner, Dom Tyson, Will Walker, and Connor Menadue. Garner was drafted in 2012 and played 49 games. Tyson was originally drafted in 2011 by GWS and played 13 games before being traded to Melbourne at the end of 2013. He played 94 games for the Demons but was traded to North at the end of 2017. He managed just five games for the club. Walker was drafted in 2017 and played six games. Menadue was originally drafted by Richmond in 2014 and played 39 games. Unable to cement his place in the strong Tiger side, Menadue was delisted at the end of 2019. He signed with VFL club Werribee for the 2020 season but ended up sitting out the year when the VFL season was canceled due to COVID. He was picked up by North in the rookie draft and played seven games.
Just as Round Five was getting underway, Jonathon Patton announced his immediate retirement from all levels of football. Patton, 27, was the number one draft selection in 2011, being snapped up by the Giants. He has struggled with injuries across his eight-year career. He played 89 games for GWS before being traded to Hawthorn at the end of 2019 but has managed just six games for the Hawks. The injury issues are only one part of the story. In January, he was stood down from Hawthorn after at least four women complained that he sent them lewd and explicit photos, videos, and messages on social media. He was later hospitalized for mental health issues and released in March. Since his release, the AFL Integrity Unit is free to interview him and ramp up their investigations.
In making the announcement, Patton said, “I have made the difficult decision to retire ... to focus on my health, wellbeing, and future outside of the game.
In a hot autumn afternoon when the mercury sat at 89 degrees as the game opened, the Greater Western Sydney Giants wilted and allowed the Fremantle Dockers to run out easy winners. It was only the Dockers’ kicking inaccuracy that saved the Giants from a complete belting. To make matters worse this was the first time since 2013 that the Giants have lost their two opening games. The Giants started with strong intent in an opening spurt, which saw Jacob Hopper swoop on a loose ball and kick truly to open the Giants’ account within the first minute of play. However, from there it was the Dockers who got players to the contested ball to outnumber the Giants in packs. The Dockers won contested possessions 145 to 113 and then outran the Giants in open space to rack up 278 uncontested possessions to 113. The Giants simply did not have the desire to work hard in close and appeared not to have the will to run with the Dockers when the ball found open territory.
The preseason and rookie drafts were held about a week after the National Draft. The rookie list was primarily used to officially relist senior players as rookies. They included Grant Birchall (Brisbane), Sam Reid (GWS Giants), Marty Gleeson (Essendon), Dylan Clarke (Essendon), Roarke Smith (Western Bulldogs), Daniel Venables (West Coast) and Bailey Banfield (Fremantle).
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.