The Fremantle Dockers survived a late surge from Port Adelaide Power to bolster a position in the top four. In a contest that was punctuated with soaring high marks (catches) and skillful goals, the Power played for their season but fell agonizingly short. Illness and injury forced the Power to use forwards Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon in the rucking role. The Dockers took full advantage with Sean Darcy controlling the ruck and the home team dominating clearances. Caleb Serong, Ethan Hughes, Andrew Brayshaw and Darcy himself got first use of the ball 28 times throughout the day. Ollie Wines and Travis Boak did more than their bit for Port in the midfield and Darcy Byrne-Jones at half-back played an influential game, but ultimately the quick ball movement by the Dockers, through most of the match, sealed Port's fate.
Port Adelaide Power
In mid-June, the AFL held their annual Hall of Fame function with eight new inductees and one previous inductee elevated to Legend status. The Legend elevation was the late Port Adelaide Magpie (SANFL) centerman Russell Ebert, who was also recently named as Port Adelaide's greatest ever player. Ebert is the 32nd player to be named a Legend. He passed away in 2021, and the award was accepted by his widow Dian.
The eight new inductees represented not only the AFL, but the state leagues and Tasmania. They are Terry Cashion, Bill Dempsey, Mike Fitzpatrick, Brent Harvey, Matthew Pavlich, Michael Taylor, Ted Tyson and Nicky Winmar.
RUSSELL EBERT - elevated to Legend status
The AFL's Supplemental Period (SSP) ran from January 10 through March 9 and several clubs took advantage and picked up players to round out their lists.
The Sydney Swans have picked Paddy McCartin, 25, during the SSP (Supplemental Selection Period) which has just concluded. McCartin was originally drafted by St Kilda in 2014 and played 35 games but had to step away from the game due to lingering concussion issues. He did spend last season with Sydney's VFL team and joins the club as a delisted free agent. McCartin joins brother Tom at the Swans and said, “It’s extremely exciting – it’s been a unique journey for me to get back to this point. It’s a path that not many people have taken, but my goal was to always try and get back to the elite level and to be able to do it with the Swans. To do it with Tom, in particular, is something that means a lot and is exciting. I’ve loved training with the team and playing last year, so it’s good to get on the list. There’s a lot that we want to achieve as a group so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with the guys this year.”
In early February, the AFL announced the next inductees for life membership and the Jack Titus Award, which is given annually for service to the game. The awards and the memberships will be officially presented at the league's AGM in March.
In early November, Port Adelaide (SANFL) icon and legend Russell Ebert passed away at the age of 72 after a battle with cancer. Ebert was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer, in December last year. He passed at home surrounded by his family. His son Brett played 166 games for Port Adelaide and was the club's leading goalkicker in 2007, while his nephew Brad also played for the Power in 184 games.
Ebert played 392 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies and also had a stint with North Melbourne in the VFL. He won four Magarey Medals (SANFL Brownlow equivalent), played a club record 392 games and was recently elevated to legend status in the SA Sports Hall of Fame. He is just the seventh legend in the hall.
Eddie Betts played his 350th and final game in Round 23. It came after several weeks of discussions between him and the club with the club saying they would not be offering him a new contract. The announcement was made ahead of the final game of the year to give fans a chance to celebrate an amazing career and farewell (arguably) the most likable player and person to grace the game.
Betts was selected in the 2004 Preseason Draft and debuted in 2005. With his innate ability to kick impossible goals and create something out of nothing, he quickly became a fan favorite. He will go down in league history as one of the best - if not the best - small forward.
Port Adelaide midfielder and former Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff also announced his retirement. Rockliff, 31, has had a horror run of injuries this year. Early in May, he landed awkwardly during a SANFL match, damaging both knees. He was confined to a wheelchair in early May after surgery. Just a week later, he was hospitalized after complaining of acute calf pain. He was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis and the doctors found blood clots on his lungs. He has been on blood-thinning medication since, and he was barred from taking part in any contact drills when he returned to training duties several weeks ago.
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 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 late October, West Coast delisted midfield rookie Hamish Brayshaw, forward Nic Reid, defender Francis Watson and rookies Anthony Treacy and Mitch O’Neill. Brayshaw, the younger brother of Melbourne's Angus and Fremantle's Andrew, was drafted in 2017. He played just one senior game, coming in Round 17 this year. He was delisted at the end of 2019 but added to the rookie list this year. Reid, was selected during the SSP early in the year and played three games. Watson was also drafted in 2017 and played one game in 2019 and two in 2020 before a late season knee injury ended his year.