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Jack Ziebell Announces Retirement

Jack Ziebell (file photo)

North Melbourne great and former club captain Jack Ziebell announced he will retire at the end of the season. He said he could leave the game knowing he gave his all, " ... it’s always a hard decision to give up the thing you love the most, but ... I think my body will thank me for it. From the time I walked into the place I’ve felt right at home, and I’ve made some amazing lifelong friendships and connections. This is a special place and I’ll always cherish being part of the club. I’ve given everything I can ... but I think the time is right for me to pass the baton to others to take us forward. I truly believe we have the building blocks to eventually go far as a club. I think back to those finals wins in 2014 and '15 and how amazing the feeling around the club was and I know those times aren’t too far away. To our fans - you have been amazingly supportive ... I can’t thank you enough and I look forward to seeing the joy on your faces when we do turn things around ... ".

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Alastair Clarkson Returns

Clarkson Greets Fans (file photo)

Exactly 2 months (May 18) after Alastair Clarkson stepped away from coaching North Melbourne, he returned to the club. For the time being, however, assistant Brett Ratten will continue to coach the senior side while Clarkson eases himself back to the position. Before his official return, he had been working off and on in different areas of the football department. Clarkson will spend the next month integrating back into the program with his initial focus on game analysis, game trends, opposition analysis, and working with the coaching group on game plan and strategy. He will resume his coaching duties ahead of Round 21 (another week).

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Chronic Hip Issues Force Tarrant Retirement

Tarrant Attempts Tackle (file photo)

Just ahead of round 18, Tiger defender Robbie Tarrant announced his immediate retirement. Tarrant, 34, was drafted by North Melbourne in 2007. A string of injuries restricted him to just two games in his first three seasons, but he fought his way through to establish himself as a consistent defender. He played 194 games for the Kangaroos before being traded to the Tigers at the end of 2021. He played 20 games for the Tigers last year. The worsening injury to his hip left him no choice but to retire. He expressed an "overwhelming sense of appreciation" for his long AFL career. He said, “I know if I do not announce it today, that I will keep trying to play, and I am worried about where that will land me come season's end. Having missed the draft as a 17-year-old, I knew from then on that if I was going to make it, I was going to have to work as hard as I could. And I finish up today knowing that I have done that. I have got nothing left in the tank.”

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2023 AFL Hall of Fame

Sam Mitchell (file photo)

The AFL held their annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in late June. This year's inductees were South Australian player Michael Aish. James Bartel, Corey Enright, South Australian Tom Leahy, broadcaster Bruce McAvaney, Sam Mitchell, and Mark Williams. Bartel and Enright were inducted together due to their roles as teammates at Geelong during the Cats' dominant period\d and premiership success (see details below). Former St Kilda champ Nick Riewoldt was also a candidate this year, but will be inducted next year when he and his family return from living in the USA (his wife is an American from Texas). Players are eligible after five years of retirement. Coaches, umpires, administrators, and media representatives are eligible after retirement.

THE INDUCTEES

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2023 Midseason Rookie Draft

Narkle Breaks a Tackle (file photo)

The mid-season draft was held at the end of May with clubs allowed to fill out their lists provided they had open spots available. Often these are players who were either overlooked in the regular drafts or they are "mature-age" players who perhaps weren't ready to be drafted at 18 or 19 years old.

The number of the pick precedes the name of the player selected and the current club of the player follows their name. Two rounds were held but not all clubs had picks in either round. Carlton, Gold Coast, Adelaide, St Kilda, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Collingwood didn’t participate in the draft as they didn’t have any available list places. GWS had selections 5 and 14 but passed on both. Clubs are listed in alphabetic order.

ESSENDON

(9) JAIDEN HUNTER (Perth, WAFL), 21, 190cm (6'1"), 93kg (204 lbs), tall forward
Has been eligible for the draft for the past few years with several clubs showing interest. Came back from a recent injury to kick 11 goals in his past three games

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Hawthorn Investigation Ends

Alastair Clarkson (file photo)

The AFL has dismissed the independent panel which was formed to investigate the racism allegations against Hawthorn, former coach Alastair Clarkson, former assistant coach Chris Fagan, and welfare officer Jason Burt. The conclusion, called "imperfect" by AFL CEO Gil McLachlan, was that none of the three had anything to answer for.

All three have denied the allegations since the outset. The complainants, who initially supported the probe, no longer wish to take part in the independent investigation and they won't pursue any further legal action against the AFL. Although the panel has been disbanded, it does not preclude the league bringing future charges against the club. McLachlan said the AFL would move as quickly as possible to finalize whether any charges would be levelled against Hawthorn.

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Cox Joins 100 Club as Pies Pump Kangaroos

Cox Celebrates (file photo)

North Melbourne hosted the Collingwood Football Club at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.  While outside it was raining, match conditions were perfect under the retractable roof which was closed for the day. It was a big milestone match for American born player Mason Cox, who was honored on the banner running out even if he was second fiddle, it read "Steel Sidebottom 300 games, Mason Cox 100".  When Collingwood ran out through the banner Cox, as he traditionally does, remained at the back of the group and was the last to run through the banner.  

Cox started forward where he has played most of his time on the field in the AFL. In the sixth minute of the game Darcy more marked on the wing and looked for the lead of the big American. He was awarded the mark after the defender chopped his arms but his set shot kick went to the left for a behind. Not quite the fairytale start. 

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Clarkson Takes Leave From North

Clarkson at Hawthorn (file photo)

Alastair Clarkson has temporarily stepped down from his coaching role at North Melbourne. There were unconfirmed reports that he was acting erratically in the lead up to his decision. The final straw was a withering half-time address to the North players during the Round Nine match against Port Adelaide. Reportedly, even a chair was thrown against a wall.

During a recent conference, Clarkson was very critical of his former club Hawthorn and the AFL over the racism investigations and the lack of progress being made. He called for Hawthorn to be investigated for the club's "shameful" handling of its report and said that reputations had been "scarred" as a result of the long-running process. He said the game was a "victim" of the ongoing independent investigation, which was commissioned by the AFL in October.

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Roos Survive Docker Surge

Caleb Serong (file photo)

The North Melbourne Kangaroos survived a late surge by the Fremantle Dockers to record a thrilling one-point win. The Kangaroos led for the whole match and survived having a free kick against them close to the Dockers' goal, as the siren sounded. The umpires declared that a clearing kick from Norths' defense, crossed the boundary line after the siren sounded, and therefore could not be deemed a deliberate kick out of bounds. The umpire closest to the action then signaled the end of the game. The decision will be debated for some time and is similar to the conclusion of a game played by the Dockers in 2006 in Tasmania. That game is now referred to as "sirengate". The umpire in that controversial game did not hear the siren and allowed the game to continue for two extra minutes. The Dockers lost the lead in those two minutes. The AFL later overturned the result and handed the win to the Dockers on appeal. In this game the umpire signaled the end of the game after the ball crossed the line, however the siren sounded fractionally before the ball was out of bounds; and the Dockers can't have it both ways.  

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2023 AFL Life Memberships

Cotchin Leads the Team

The AFL will be holding their annual Life Membership and Jack Titus Award ceremony in early March. There are eight new inductees for their services to the game. Five inductees automatically qualified having reached 300 total AFL games: Trent Cotchin, Todd Goldstein, Josh J. Kennedy, Paddy Ryder and Steele Sidebottom. Lisa Hardeman, Bruce McAvaney and Eddie McGuire were awarded life membership for their ‘Special Services to the Game’. Peter Haby was awarded the Jack Titus Service Award for outstanding service to football as the Hawthorn Football Club Historian and Museum Curator. The AFL Commission confirmed their awards at a meeting late last year.

THE INDUCTEES

TRENT COTCHIN

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