The strangest season in AFL history is about to get real for the following 10 teams, but only eight of them will play finals football and in turn give themselves a chance to take home the Premiership Cup. AFANA runs the slide rule over where your club can finish after what should be another crazy round of footy. If your team isn’t mentioned below, it’s time to start thinking about next year…
St Kilda Saints
The West Coast Eagles withstood a last quarter challenge from the St Kilda Saints to secure a place in this year's final series. The Eagles, struggling with injury to eight of their first-choice players and losing defensive linchpin Jeremy McGovern at the main break, looked gone, after St Kilda surged to the lead midway through the final quarter. However a goal to Josh Kennedy and then a sweeping handpass from Kennedy to Tim Kelly, put the Eagles back in front with twelve minutes to play and the Saints were unable to respond.
The Fremantle Dockers defeated the St Kilda Saints in one of the most dramatic games of this remarkable season. The Dockers were without their four best defenders and were exposed early by the Saints' height in attack, but worked their way back in the game using their new possession-oriented kicking game plan./p>
The Dockers were in disarray in the first quarter, evidenced when one of their most experienced players, Michael Walters, started the drama by kicking in the wrong direction at a center bounce. The Saints then received a 50-meter penalty after Docker defender Nathan Wilson mistakenly thought his team had a free kick and played on. The penalty brought Tim Membrey to the goal square to boot his team's first goal; all of this within in the first minute of play. Sean Darcy was influential in the ruck early for the Dockers and moved forward to mark (catch) against opposing ruckman Rowan Marshall and open the Docker's account at the 7-minute mark. From there it was all Saints, as they won the contested balls and booted long to Ben King, who looked set for a field day against the Dockers' undersized defense. The Docker defense did well to spoil marks, but when the ball hit the ground the Saints' small men: Jack Billings, Dean Kent, Dan Butler, Zak Jones, and Jack Lonie, all swooped in for goals. The Saints were running on adrenaline and at the end of the first quarter the only question was how big would be their final winning margin.
The AFL began announcing its annual Hall of Fame inductions at the beginning of June. Due to the pandemic, the usual gala ceremony could not be held. The announcements were made gradually over a period of days and everything had to be done remotely. Brisbane premiership teammates Jonathan Brown and Simon Black were inducted, joining fellow teammates Michael Voss (2011), Jason Akermanis (2015), and Nigel Lappin (2016). Their admissions reinforce Brisbane's status as one of the most dominant teams of the early 2000s. Beloved St Kilda stalwart Lenny Hayes was another inductee. Also inducted were two greats of the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL: John Albey and Greg Phillips; as well as former Eagle ruckman Dean Cox and beloved commentator Dennis Cometti. Coaching great John Kennedy Sr was elevated to legend status. Kennedy was one of the inaugural inductees as a coach in 1996. AFL boss Gil McLachlan visited Kennedy and his wife at their home to inform Kennedy of his elevation.
(This story updates an item in this story: More Aussie Rules Related News Links.)
The NFL Draft was held the last weekend of April and another former Aussie Rules player has been signed as a punter. Ex-Saint Arryn Siposs, who has been playing with the University of Auburn in Alabama for the past several years, missed out on being drafted. However, the Detroit Lions signed him as a free agent.
Siposs, 27, played 26 games for the Saints 2011 to 2015. He was plagued by injuries in that time, including three shoulder reconstructions in his last two seasons. He was delisted at the end of 2015. He went on to join ProKick Australia, a specialist academy founded in 2007 by former AFL player Nathan Chapman.
Chapman himself tried out for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears after his 76 game career with the Brisbane Bears/Lions and Hawthorn ended in 2000. He returned to Australia after his NFL aspirations ended and, in 2007, founded ProKick Australia to train others in the art of NFL punting. It also serves as a platform for possible scholarships to American colleges.
Siposs was in his junior year with Auburn when he declared for the NFL Draft in January of this year. The New York Jets (who previously had former Cat star Ben Graham on their list), Atlanta Falcons and Detroit all showed interest in Siposs. Even though the Lions have signed Siposs, he still has to prove himself to remain on the list as the club could cut him before the next NFL season starts (whenever that happens).
Sources: 7news.com.au, nytimes.com, AFL Record Season Guides
More interesting stories about footy are appearing across the web. The Hugh Greenwood story made it to an American newspaper while the video of the Florida newsmen made it to Australia.
Ex College Basketball player Hugh Greenwood talks about his move to Gold Coast (from Adelaide) and his love of footy:
Ex-St Kilda player Arryn Siposs targets NFL draft success. His journey from St Kilda to USA college Auburn and his hope of being drafted by an NFL club and what he is doing to keep fit and practice his punting skills:
US news anchor learns AFL. A video of one Florida news anchor explaining footy to a colleague with video clips of the Carlton vs Richmond game:
Former NFL punter Pat McAfee, who is a recent and fanatical convert to AFL, interviewed American Magpie Mason Cox on his podcast. The interview runs about 37 minutes:
Sources: krqe.com, brisbanetimes,com.au, news.com.au, cowboysrideforfree.com
After the Farmer story broke, former Hawk premiership player and 1987 Brownlow Medalist John Platten spoke on SEN's breakfast show. He said the revelation about Farmer was "pretty scary". Platten said he suffered at least 40 concussions during his 18-year career which began in the SANFL. One of those concussions was suffered during the brutal 1989 Grand Final against Geelong. He was so badly concussed in that game, he remembers very little about it and, to this day, cannot remember receiving his premiership medal.
Graham "Polly" Farmer passed away in 2019 at the age of 84. After his passing, a sample of his brain tissue was examined. In a first for the AFL, both a scientific journal and the West Australian newspaper reported that the examination revealed that he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) from head knocks he suffered during his playing career. While the medical journal did not reveal his name, the newspaper did. Farmer played 356 games from 1952 to 1971 as a ruckman for East Perth and West Perth in the WAFL and for Geelong in the VFL. He is considered a revolutionary figure in the game because of how he played the ruck position and his use of the handball.
St Kilda's Paddy McCartin has ruled himself out of the 2020 season due to ongoing concussion issues. McCartin, 23, was the number one selection in the 2014 draft but has played just 35 games since debuting in 2015. He has suffered eight concussions since 2014, the last coming in a 2019 preseason game. Former Saint Nick Dal Santo was a boundary commentator during that game. When the news broke that McCartin would not play in 2020. Dal Santo recalled the incident on SEN Radio, saying it appeared to be a "light brush" of the head, but with McCartin's history, it was enough to put him in a bad way. He has been unable to run or train since then.
The Australian football world is in mourning once more with the sad news that former player and coach and current media personality Danny "Spud" Frawley was killed Monday afternoon in a car crash. He was driving alone when his car hit a tree just east of his hometown of Ballarat (72 miles northwest of Melbourne). Frawley, who had just turned 56 on Sunday, was a much-loved personality in the football world, the media and the broader community. Several years ago, he opened up about his struggles with depression and worked in the community to urge others to seek help. He co-hosted a show on SEN Radio entitled No Man Should Ever Walk Alone which addressed men's mental health issues and advised callers where they could go for help for themselves or loved ones.