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2020 Preseason and Rookie Draft

Goldsack Tackles Kennedy

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).

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Clubs Juggle Lists, Trade Draft Picks

Fox and Marcus Adams Vie for Bal

The Swans have moved Robbie Fox and Sam Gray to the rookie list under the new AFL Rules. Both will be listed as Category A rookies for the 2021 season. Under the new rules, the club does not need to wait until the rookie draft period and the pair will be available for senior selection without having to be elevated back to the senior list. 

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Swans Sack Taylor After Assault Charge

In late November, the Sydney Swans sacked midfielder/forward Elijah Taylor. Taylor, 19, was arrested in September for assaulting his girlfriend in a downtown Perth hotel. After the arrest, he was stood down from all football duties. At the end of September, Taylor pleaded guilty to unlawfully assaulting Lekahni Pearce and causing her bodily harm. He was already in trouble with the Swans. In August, Taylor was suspended - and the club was fined - when his girlfriend entered the hub hotel, violating the quarantine protocols.

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List Changes: Bombers, Eagles, Saints, Cats, North

Jetta Gets His Kick Away

In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.

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Collingwood And Sydney Departures

Dunn vs Robbie Gray

Just days after Travis Varcoe announced his retirement, Lynden Dunn did likewise. Collingwood also delisted midfielder Tim Broomhead and defender Matthew Harry  Reynolds. All three have had injury setbacks during their careers and the trio made comebacks of sorts in 2020 but were unable to cement their places in the senior team. Dunn, 34, was drafted by Melbourne in 2004 and played 165 games. He played just four games in 2016 as the Demons opted for younger defenders and he was traded to the Magpies at the end of the year.

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Docker Defenders Stop Swans

Crowded Play

The Fremantle Dockers recovered from a spirit sapping post-siren loss to Carlton last week to shut down the Sydney Swans. The Swans won their last match, against the Greater Western Sydney Giants with attacking play, and the Docker defenders were determined to close them down. The Docker defense, with their three best defenders in stands due to injury, was again the story of the night.  Though this week the ending was more to the Docker fans' liking. Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan had 11 marks (catches) between them and when they couldn't mark, they spoiled their opponents marking chances. The two main Docker defenders were well supported by Nathan Wilson, Reece Conca and Ethan Hughes. The Swans made 43 attacking entries but were only able to boot two goals. At the other end of the field, the Docker forwards didn't have it all their own way either, managing just eight goals from 34 entries.

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American Sports Fans Shocked by Aussie AFL Documentary

Adam Goodes in full flight.

An editorial from Brook Kilpatrick, AFANA's staff member in Adelaide, with contributions by Chris Kowald, in Perth. 

American sports fans have reacted to “The Australian Dream” after ESPN recently aired the Australian AFL documentary that focuses on the racism encountered by Sydney Swans legend Adam Goodes. 

US website “Brinkwire” has reported an “outpouring of support” for Goodes after viewers learned of the “incessant taunting and booing” that was directed at Goodes throughout the tail end of his career. (https://en.brinkwire.com/news/americans-claim-racism-is-worse-in-australia-after-espn-screens-the-adam-goodes-documentary/ )

The cutting quote that some Americans claim racism is “worse in Australia” is certainly cause for discussion, and it cannot be denied that indigenous Australian AFL players such as Adam Goodes have experienced the worst of it at various stages throughout their career. Australian football greats such as Maurice Rioli, Phil and Jim Krakouer, Nicky Winmar, and current player Eddie Betts have all spoken about the racism they have encountered throughout their football lives, with some such as Betts, actively being involved in campaigns to educate with a view to eradicating such abhorrent behavior. Betts recently called out a person who posted an image of a chimpanzee on his Twitter page. Winmar recently forced an apology from three Melbourne journalists who claimed Winmar's iconic gesture was not related to racial issues.

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AFL Attendances Allowed

The second round of the season will see limited fan attendances at some games. GWS and Sydney received approval from the New South Wales government to allow a limited number of people into their matches against North Melbourne and Essendon respectively. Fans, members, and patrons will be allowed in several function areas of GWS stadium and the SCG. It is believed only 350 people will be allowed to attend each of the two games. The club will continue to work with the necessary agencies to ensure the stadiums comply with state protocols.

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AFL Hall Of Fame for 2020

Black playing against Essendon

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.

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AFL Getting International Attention

American Mason Cox at a Ruck Contest

Before and during the opening round of the AFL, footy was getting attention internationally. This was due to the AFL continuing to play while so many other sports were on hold. Links to the various articles are below. While some make only brief references to footy, others are more in depth with stories about more American fans discovering footy with games played despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles often included brief outlines of the rules. Several journalists have already become fans and will continue to watch when the league recommences. Some of the articles have fan or Twitter comments, or video clips.

During the televised broadcast of the game between Melbourne and West Coast, commentator Gerard Healy asked if someone could explain for American viewers why it is only a point when the ball hits the goal post but no point when it hits the behind post. One of his colleagues said it was just the rules and that is how it had always been. (Click on "Read more >" to see the links.)

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