Alan Richardson

Another Raft of Retirements
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

At the conclusion of Round 23, four more players announced that 2017 would be their last season: veteran Cat defenders Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan, Kangaroo Lachie Hansen and Kangaroo veteran turned West Coast rookie Drew Petrie. The Cats and Eagles still have a finals campaign to navigate in September.A few days later, Saint stalwart Leigh Montagna also announced his retirement.

Saints Continue Melbourne Hoodoo
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA  from Australia

St Kilda has once again downed a fancied Melbourne with a frantic 36 point win at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Despite being a vastly improved team in 2016, the Demons could not find the answers to a fast finishing Saints that now hold a fourteen game winning streak over a beleaguered Melbourne. There was reason for optimism early for the Demons as they continually punished the Saints from defense in the first quarter, Jayden Hunt being the catalyst for numerous counterattacks that led to a 17 point lead at the first break.

Eagles Tune Up For Finals
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Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth

American Jason Holmes battles with Nic Naitanui of the Eagles during a Round 21, 2015 matchup. Photo by Dave Woodley for AFANA. The West Coast Eagles secured second position on the Premiership Ladder (AFL standings) with a double chance and home Finals after an old-fashioned belting of St Kilda at Domain Stadium in Round 23, the final round of the regular season. The Saints looked set to recover after absorbing a couple of opening round barrages with West Coast scoring four goals before the Saints had even heard the last echoes of the opening siren. The Saints' players put plenty of pressure on the Eagles’ ball carriers and pegged back a couple of goals to make a reasonable fist of the first quarter. In fact, St Kilda had plenty of the ball but couldn’t find a way to put more scoreboard pressure on the Eagles.

Will Cox Debut Follow Holmes?
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Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

Former American college basketball player turned St Kilda Saint, Jason Holmes, probably felt a bit strange when the siren sounded to end his debut game against Geelong on Saturday night Australian time and the game just ended there.Jason Holmes (45) runs through the banner prior to his debut last weekend in Aussie rules. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA. With the scores tied at 97 points apiece, the 6'8" (203cm) Chicago native could have been excused for expecting "overtime". The lack of extra time is one of the idiosyncrasies of Australian rules football. Ties, though unusual, are an accepted result after four hard fought quarters of footy. The quirky result aside, Holmes' debut was a success. Saints' coach Alan Richardson praised the work ethic of his American recruit. It was Holmes' ruck work that stood out, with his vertical leap and all-round athleticism drawing parallels to Nic Naitanui of the West Coast Eagles - who most experts agree is the most exciting ruckman in the competition. On the heels of Holmes, another American is on the verge of his debut.

Holmes Makes Debut in Saints and Cats Draw
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Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia

An energetic and committed St Kilda has stayed the course to force a drawn game against Geelong in Round 21. While players say they never enjoy a tied game, this one had enormous ramifications with the Cats’ Finals chances dealt a heavy blow. Jason Holmes debuts for the St Kilda Saints. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA.For American fans, the most newsworthy facet of the game was the impressive debut of James Holmes from Chicago and the first American-born and raised AFL player. (Read more about Holmes at http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2015/08/21/chicago_native_set_debut_saints-7811).

In an entertaining first quarter, St Kilda threw down the gauntlet and ran all over Geelong for the first ten minutes, kicking the first four goals before the Cats could take a breath.

Chicago Native Set to Debut for Saints
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Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

In a week where Australians Jason Day (golf), Liam Hendriks (baseball), and Jarryd Hayne (American Football) have hit the headlines with performances in other professional sports, it’s the AFL's turn to return the favor with American born and raised Jason Holmes set to debut as a ruckman for Saint Kilda in the Australian Football League. Holmes will be the second US born player to appear in an AFL game, but the first who was raised in the States. Californian born Sanford Wheeler played 43 games for the Sydney Swans between 1989 and 1994 (he migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of five). After 20 years, it is also thrilling for AFANA and the USAFL to see an American finally make it to the AFL.

Club Champion Awards
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Shane Mumford has won the 2014 Kevin Sheedy Medal in his first season with the Giants. The former Sydney premiership ruckman was presented with the medal by its namesake, inaugural coach Kevin Sheedy who has remained at the club as a coaching director. Mumford, 28, crossed from the Swans at the end of 2013 and took out the club champion award despite missing five games through injury. He polled in 13 of the 17 games he played to finish with 81 votes. Co-captain Callan Ward and small forward Devon Smith were equal runners-up on 72 votes. Midfielder Adam Treloar finished fourth on 62 votes and vice-captain Heath Shaw fifth with 56 votes.

Round 23 Farewells Part Two
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Round 23 Farewells Part One
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Round 23 saw the curtain come down on eight more players: GWS defenders Josh Hunt and Stephen Gilham, Bulldog Daniel Giansiracusa, Sydney's Ryan O'Keefe, Magpie Luke Ball, Gold Coast rugby convert Karmichael Hunt and St Kilda duo Clint Jones and James Gwilt.

Josh Hunt began his career with Geelong where he played 198 games and was a key to their 2007 and 2011 Premierships. Hunt, 32, played a total of 13 games with the Giants since joining them at the end of 2013 to bring his game tally to 211. Hunt played in the 2008 International Rules series and Geelong's 2006 and 2009 preseason premierships.

Thanks For The Memories
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Adelaide defender Ben Rutten, 31, will retire at the end of the season. It was a decision he made several months ago. In making the announcement, Rutten said he wanted to finish while still contributing to the team and felt the time was right. He believes the club is in good hands with "a talented and motivated playing group". Rutten, who will finish with more than 230 games to his credit, started with West Adelaide as a junior. He was overlooked in two national drafts before the Crows added him to their rookie list in 2002. He debuted in 2003 against Fremantle and kicked three consecutive goals with his first three kicks. He was named All Australian in 2005 and finished top three in the club champion awards in 2005 and 2011.

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