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The Exodus Begins

Gray Scores a Goal

Just ahead of the final round, Richmond wingman Shane Edwards and Port midfielder Robbie Gray announced they would retire at the end of the season. Michael Hurley, Devon Smith, and David Mundy joined them in retirement soon after.

Edwards recently reached the 300 game tally against Brisbane and was a key contributor in the 2017, 2018 and 2020 Grand Finals. He was named All-Australian in 2018 and has finished high up in the club's best and fairest numerous times. Edwards, 33, wanted to go out on his own terms and said, “It is time for me to step aside and move on just as players did for me when I started. I am trying to play to the best of my ability ... but it is pretty obvious ... I won’t be helping us move forward next year. The club has given me everything, it has changed my life forever and I will always be connected to the Richmond Football Club. My teammates are what I will miss the most, we have been through so much together and always had fun ... I have won premierships and a few wooden spoons and finished everywhere in between as well.”

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Tiger, Saint Hear the Siren

Geary vs Gold Coast

Just ahead of Round 18, veteran St Kilda defender Jarryn Geary announced his immediate retirement. Kane Lambert joined him in retirement a week later. Geary was one of the last selections in the 2006 rookie draft and went on to play 207 games over 16 years and was appointed captain in 2017. His work ethic and determination saw him become one of the most selfless and respected players of the modern era. Geary, 34, has battled injury issues over the past two seasons, with an ongoing shoulder injury this season requiring a reconstruction soon. In 2019, he suffered a serious leg injury which required emergency surgery for compartment syndrome. He finishes his career as a life member and was named best clubman in 2016 and 2019.
 
Coach Brett Ratten said, “We would not be in the position we are today without Gears’ leadership, honesty and courage ... It’s always sad when one of your great warriors calls time, but you can’t help but feel immense pride for everything Jarryn has achieved  ...  He's never backed down or thrown in the towel, he's always fought hard and put his body on the line for his teammates, and his bravery is rivalled by very few. Above all, Jarryn is fiercely loyal, both to his football club and those around him. He’s led the club through some challenging times and pushed those around him to improve and bring a high standard consistently. As a leader, Jarryn has influenced so many people around him over his time. From the players, to the football department and the wider staff, we owe him a debt of gratitude for everything he has poured into this club, Jarryn has ... the entire club’s respect for the way he has conducted himself throughout his career.”

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Tiger Caddy Retires

Just ahead of round eight, inaugural Sun and two-time Tiger premiership midfielder/forward Josh Caddy, 29, announced his immediate retirement after 12 injury-riddled seasons in which he played 174 games and kicked 164 goals. He was originally drafted by the Suns in 2010 ahead of their entry into the AFL and played 24 games in two seasons. He requested a trade back to Victoria for family reasons and moved to Geelong at the end of 2012. He went on to play 71 games for the Cats before being traded to Richmond at the end of 2016.

He had an excellent first season as a Tiger, playing 22 games, including the premiership. He followed up in 2018 with 46 goals, was nominated for All-Australian, and was in the top 10 for the Coleman Medal (AFL goal kicking) and Richmond's best and fairest. The next season in 2019 saw him start as a forward but he was later moved to a wing position. He was a member of Richmond's 2019 premiership team.

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Hungry Tigers Eat Eagles

Shai Bolton (file picture)

The West Coast Eagles were eaten alive by a hungry Richmond Tiger outfit that is determined to regain lost prestige. The proud Tigers finished twelfth in 2021 and were determined to show the football world that they still had what it takes to rip a team apart on a Friday night stage. Their first goal came after Eagles’ captain Luke Shuey dropped a mark (catch) and Kane Lambert launched an attack, where Jayden Short kicked to Jason Castagna who marked and kicked truly.

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Supplemental Signings

Paddy McCartin Handballs

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.”

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AFL Life Memberships and Jack Titus Award Announced

Grant Birchall vs Jordan Roughead

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.

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Delistings and Retirements, 2021 Part Five

Brooksby Tackled

A few days after the Semi-finals, West Coast announced three departures. Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee were delisted and ruckman Nathan Vardy retired. Hutchings, 30, played 120 games in nine seasons. He was a member of the 2018 Grand Final and played a key role in the game, shutting down Magpie star Steele Sidebottom.

Ah Chee, 27, was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2011 and played 27 games with the Power before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2017. He was delisted and re-rookie listed by the Eagles at the end of 2019. He played 28 games for the Eagles. Vardy, 30, was drafted by Geelong in 2011 and played 25 games for the Cats before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2016 and played 52 games including the 2018 premiership.

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Delistings and Retirements, 2021 Part Four

Zaharakis Handbzlls

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.

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Collingwood Appoints New Coach

In early September, Collingwood announced the appointment of former Brisbane premiership player Craig McRae as the new senior coach. McRae, 47, beat out Richmond assistant Adam Kingsley after former Adelaide coach Don Pyke pulled out. McRae said of his appointment, "We're in the position of just getting as good as we can as quick as we can - we don't want to put a ceiling on that. I spoke to the playing group before and my appointment offers opportunity and possibility. I'm pretty pumped, let's face it, this is a significant part of my journey and it's been a long one." As a premiership player with Brisbane and an assistant at Hawthorn under Alastair Clarkson in 2021, he knows what it takes to win and said, "I have been fortunate to witness up close and share in some very successful programs and I know that teaching solid habits can build a winning habit of its own. "

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2021 AFL Hall Of Fame

Judd vs Bombers

Just a few days after Round 23, the AFL held their annual Hall of Fame ceremonies. Two current members were elevated to Legend status and there were four new inductees. West Australian Merv McIntosh and legendary SANFL coach Jack Oatey were elevated. The inductees were Nathan Burke, Chris Judd, Rob Wiley, and footy female pioneer Debbie Lee. Lee is the first woman to be inducted. Former Sydney star Adam Goodes declined to be inducted, due to his feeling that the AFL failed to support him properly when he was subjected to radial vilification in the last two years of his career. Garry McIntosh, a dual SANFL premiership player in 1982 and 1984 and games’ record-holder for the Norwood, also declined entry, saying he had not played the game for personal honors.

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