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Umpire Arrested For Brownlow Leaks

Brownlow Winner Patrick Cripps (file photo)

First year field umpire Michael Pell and three others were arrested in mid-November for leaking Brownlow votes. Apparently. the votes from specific matches were leaked. The AFL was alerted by one of its betting partners who detected suspicious betting and the AFL launched an investigation, leading to the arrests. The irregularities and leaks did not compromise the Brownlow count on the night according to the AFL. The bets which raised red flags ranged in size up to several thousand dollars.

However, the fallout could be severe in that it allegedly involves a match official divulging information. A police statement said in part that, " ... The criminal offenses police are investigating are engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes ...". When the three others were arrested, cell phones and computers were also seized. Criminal charges are pending, but conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Police are investigating how many matches potentially had votes released and the magnitude of the bets involved. If the allegations are found to be true, the umpire could also face AFL sanctions.

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October List Changes, and Trade, Father-Son News

Naismith Gets the Tap-Out

In mid-October, the Kangaroos and Adelaide traded draft selections, allowing the Roos to move up a notch or two in the draft order. North received selection 23 in this year's draft in exchange for pick 59 and a future second-round selection. Gold Coast, Sydney, and West Coast delisted players while Essendon looks to get twin "favorite sons".

The Kangaroos also delisted midfielder Jared Polec. Polec was originally drafted by Brisbane but was later traded to Port Adelaide. He joined North at the end of the 2018 season and played every game in 2019. However, he was restricted to 18 games over the next two seasons due to injury. He was delisted at the end of 2021 and added to the rookie list. Polec, 30, was hampered by a foot injury early in the season and required surgery.

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Lions Roar Into Preliminary Final

Ah Chee Celebrates (Densham/AFANA)

A pleasant Friday evening welcomed the 62,162 crowd to the MCG for tonight's Second Semi Final.  Before the first bounce the official business for the night got underway. With all players, official and match day staff lined up on the ground, the Welcome To Country, a minute's silence was observed for Queen Elizabeth II following her death this morning and the lowering of the stadium lights, God Save the King was played. Delta Goodrem sung Advance Australia Fair accompanied by guitar in the minutes leading up to the start of the match. Just to top it off a little bit of ACDC's Thunderstruck rolled up to the bounce.

Big forward Joe Daniher was a late out today, for family reasons. His loss up forward would mean all the focus was on Hipwood and less options up forward for the Lions who had three goals kicked by the big man in the previous game. The Demons dominated early and led the Brisbane to the ball and in all the statistical categories. Ed Langdon, unguarded in the pocket, kicked the first goal of match after five and half minutes, from 35 meters out with the set shot. Melbourne had more early chances as they had the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter. The usual suspects in the middle for Melbourne led the way with Oliver and Petracca up and about early.

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Swans Down Dees Despite Buddy's Zero Goal Return

Swans fans show colors (File photo)

It was the first time crowds were able to be at an MCG final in three years and over 77,000 rolled into this Friday night's 2nd Qualifying Final. At the end of the home and away season both teams finished on 16 wins, with just 2.7% between them on the Premiership ladder. But if there was anything to indicate how this might go, the Swans came into this match having won their last six home and away matches, while Melbourne lost to both Collingwood and the Bulldogs in that time.  

Last season's Premiers, Melbourne, won the toss and kicked to the city end. On their home turf they would be eager to try to put the Swans out of contention early. So it looked in the first quarter. The Demons looked the best coming out of the blocks but breaking the early run of play, the first goal went to Hayward when ball, long to the square, spilled free and Hayward snapped the goal. Bailey Fritsch showed he was ready to fire when he cut off a pass to Gawn, and his set shot from 40 meters out from goal leveled the scores.

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Fired Up Demons Demolish Dockers

Triumphant Demons 2021 (file picture)

After a month of indifferent form, the Melbourne Demons demolished the Fremantle Dockers on a damp and windy night at Optus Stadium. The Demons were hot from the opening bounce, contesting and tackling to put the Dockers under pressure. Luke Darcy was strong in the ruck for Fremantle, opposed to Luke Jackson and later Max Gawn, Darcy controlled the early taps but it was Christian Petracca and Todd Viney who won clearances for Melbourne. The Demons got away to an early lead with small forwards, Kysaiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo booting two goals and the mobile Bayley Fritsch adding one. The Dockers were rushed into poor plays by the ferocity of the Demon pressure around the ball. Halfway through the first quarter the Dockers recovered from the early onslaught and pushed forward to register goals from the pacy Michael Frederick and the skill of Michael Walters. Under pressure Fremantle turned the ball over too easily by hand and foot and Melbourne players found space in groups of two or three, to punish the poor defensive work of the Docker midfielders. Fritsch added another goal to give the Demons a useful lead by the first break.

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Majak Daw Calls Time

Daw Kicks a Goal (file photo)

At the end of June, Melbourne's Majak Daw announced his retirement after 12 seasons. He was the first player of Sudanese decent to be drafted by an AFL club. He was drafted as a rookie by North Melbourne in 2010 and debuted in 2013. He was elevated to the seniors in 2015, delisted and "re-rookied" at the end of 2016. He played 54 games and kicked 43 goals for North before being delisted at the end of 2020. He was set to play in the Northern Football League in 2021 but the Demons selected him in the 2021 Supplemental Selection Period. He failed to play any senior games for Melbourne, but was a consistent player in the VFL.

Daw said he was extremely proud of the of what he achieved during his career, “I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that North Melbourne and Melbourne ... have provided me ... I walk away from the game with immense pride in what I’ve been able to achieve and the challenges I’ve been able to overcome. With my current injury troubles, I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on where I’m at and where I’m heading and in speaking with my management and the club, we’ve all agreed that the timing is right for me to retire ... I can focus on the next stage of my life and spend much more time on my most important and favorite job, being a loving and caring father to my son Hendrix. I would like to thank my family, friends, teammates, coaches and the wider football community for their support and care ... I walk away ... with life-long memories and friendships and real pride in what I’ve achieved.”

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Melbourne Down Determined Hawthorn

Max Gawn (file photo AFANA)

Melbourne started the game without their coach Simon Goodwin, out due to the health and safety protocols.  Hawthorn started with goals, to Koschtizke who marked on the lead and two to Breust who played on and snapped truly. Fritsch kicked Melbourne's first twelve minutes into the game after the Demons caught the Hawks out the back of the contest on a turnover.   Oliver and Petracca dominated around the ground for the Demons.  But the Hawks were able to get some good movement halving the center clearances. 

Ward kicked the Hawk's third, but it was Koschtizke who deserved the credit when he backed into the contest preventing Hunt from marking and the spill favoring the goal kicker. The Demons worked their way into the game to be just two points down at quarter time thanks to Petracca hitting Tom McDonald with a short pass for a goal and young Toby Bedford marking and kicking his first goal for the club.  The Dees were on the board early but it took a review to determine whether the first one was a goal to Harms or a mark to McDonald. It mattered little to Melbourne as McDonald eventually took the paid mark from point blank range.

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Melbourne Demons Back Goodwin

Goodwin at MCG "Big Freeze"

In mid-February, allegations surfaced regarding the behavior of Melbourne Coach Simon Goodwin. There were reports of bullying at the club and reports that, ahead of the 2021 season, he was drinking and gambling with players at a hotel pub. Goodwin, along with the entire football department was reviewed ahead of the season and some changes were made. Goodwin spoke to the board and denied the allegations of bullying.

The AFL got involved last February with then-Demons President Glen Bartlett and club director Mohan Jesudason attending an online meeting with commission chairman Richard Goyder and AFL boss Gil McLachlan, who reportedly told the group he had previously shared information with then-Demons chief executive Gary Pert in late 2020 about the drinking incident.

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Post-Trade Delistings 2021

Atley Pressures Coniglio

Shortly after the trade period concluded, Brisbane, Melbourne and North Melbourne delisted some players.

The Lions cut Tom Joyce, Brock Smith, rookie Connor Ballenden, and Cam Ellis-Yolmen. The club plans to re-select Ellis-Yolmen (who joined the club at the end of 2019 as a free agent) as a rookie. Ellis-Yolmen managed just nine games in 2020 and none in 2021. Ballenden, a Lions academy product, played three AFL matches, while Joyce and Smith never managed a senior game. The Lions are considering offering them VFL playing contracts if they fail to find another AFL home.

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2021 Delistings and Retirements, Part Seven

Birchall Spoils Roughhead

Two days after Melbourne's Grand Final victory, it was back to business for the club with three players being delisted, one retiring and another deciding to look for better opportunities elsewhere. Jay Lockhart, Aaron Nietschke and Austin Bradtke were delisted, while Aaron vandenBerg will seek opportunities elsewhere and Neville Jetta announced his retirement. Lockhart played twenty-two games since joining the club as a preseason supplemental selection in 2019. Bradtke and Nietschke never played a senior game with the latter suffering three ACL injuries in his time at the club, vandenBerg played 51 games for the club.

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