No Fond Memories of Fitzpatrick For Some
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 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

While many will remember Mike Fitzpatrick fondly for all the positives he accomplished during his time as chairman, there are some who are not so happy. At the announcement of his retirement from the AFL Commission, Fitzpatrick said of the Essendon saga, "I think it was a really difficult issue, what happened was difficult, it should never have happened. But I am totally comfortable with the way we dealt with it ... I felt – as different events unfolded – the commission and the AFL dealt with them as they came, dealt with them under their processes ... ".

AFL Chairman Fitzpatrick Retires
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

After over 20 years of service with the AFL Commission, Mike Fitzpatrick has announced his retirement. He has been Commission chairman for over 10 years and a member of the Commission since 2003 after an illustrious career with Carlton. He said with the Western Bulldogs' premiership, the introduction of the AFLW and the early purchase of Etihad Stadium, it was the right time to step aside. He said the highlight and greatest achievement of his tenure was the six-year $2.5 billion broadcast deal signed last year, "The size of it and the scale of it and what it does for the code is a great achievement."

Blues Historic Win in First AFLW Match
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Troy Thompson reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia

It was the kind of evening that Melbournians love to go out and watch sport. A comfortable 73 degrees at the start of the match and it drew the crowd that this historic occasion deserved. Before the match started it became clear that the ground was going to fill to capacity as numbers continued to stream in as the match got underway. They were here to see the debut match of the AFL Women's League.

Princes Park just north of the city has a long footy history and particularly the local Carlton supporters relished the chance to relive over a century of matches against their arch nemesis Carlton. It seemed to matter little that it was women playing in their club's colors as professionals for the first time.

Free Trial of WatchAFL
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WatchAFL is offering a free trial through March 23rd. You will be able to watch all this year's NAB AFL Women's matches (except the Women's Grand Final. The free trial ends March 23rd, WGF is March 25th.) and JLT Community Series games (men's preseason) for free! (you do have to sign up with a credit card or PayPal and cancel before 11:59 PM Australia time on March 23rd or they will start charging your account). There are also Android and Apple apps in the app stores. Go to https://www.watchafl.com.au/ for the details. Our TV schedules page has complete schedules for WatchAFL, Fox Soccer Plus (FSP), and other networks posted now. All JLT Community Series matches will be live on FSP with repeats. The official press release is attached to the full version of this article (click on "more:" if you are reading this on the home page).

New Leader of AFANA Announced
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Effective immediately. Paat Kelly has been appointed President of AFANA. Mr. Kelly has already assumed his duties and is now responsible for the day to day management of AFANA. (Ed. note: Press release is linked at the bottom of this article.)

Last year, the organization announced that 2016 would be the last year co-founder and chairman, Rob de Santos, would lead the organization on a daily basis. Mr. Kelly has been part of the management team for over a decade and previously headed up the marketing and publicity for the organization as well as serving as a photo-journalist. Mr. de Santos said: "He understands our mission and the organization and will be a great leader of our effort to bring footy to North America. AFANA is in very capable hands."

Questions regarding AFANA should be directed to Paat at pke...@afana.com. Ben Seacrist, webmaster, and Mr. de Santos will continue to manage the internal operations of the organization website. All editorial and tipping staff will report to Mr. Kelly until a full-time editor-in-chief is appointed. Jeff Hemelt will continue as director of TV schedules and network relations. Other administrative changes will be made gradually over the coming months and announced when appropriate. Mr. de Santos is retiring but will continue to assist the management team during the transition.

James Hird In Hospital
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

On the night of January 3, former Essendon coach James Hird was rushed to a hospital in suburban Melbourne to be treated for a drug overdose. He was later transferred to another facility for treatment. Whether or not the overdose was deliberate or accidental is unknown. The hospital to which he was taken would not reveal anything regarding the incident or Hird's condition due to patient confidentiality rules. A spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria also refused to comment.

2016 Rookie Draft
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Shortly after the AFL Draft, the Rookie Draft was held. As with the AFL Draft, it is club by club and the selection number is first, followed by the player name, club or origin, height, weight and position.

Dank Appeal Tossed
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 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Stephen Dank's appeal against his lifetime ban from international sports was set for November 21. However, the day before the hearing he emailed his former attorney that he would be unable to attend due to a family member being seriously ill in the hospital. He, in turn, notified lawyers for the AFL and ASADA and requested an adjournment. After 45 minutes of deliberation, board chairman Peter O'Callaghan announced the rescheduling of the hearing for December 1, contingent on Dank providing evidence from the hospital concerned and attending physician by November 26. This went against the request by the attorneys that the appeal be immediately dismissed due to their skepticism regarding Dank's latest excuse.

2016 AFL Draft: Club by Club
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The 2016 AFL Draft was held on November 25. Below is the list of players selected by each club with a brief profile. The information regarding each player is as follows: the draft selection number, player name, club of origin, height and weight, position.

Lachie Whitfield, Officials Suspended
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by Lisa Albergo reporting ofr AFANA from Chicago 

GWS midfielder Lachie Whitfield has been suspended for six months for breaching AFL rules and "conduct unbecoming or prejudicial to the interests of the AFL". It all stems back to 2015 when club officials Graeme Allan and Craig Lambert arranged for Whitfield to spend several nights at Craig Lambert's house, supposedly to hide out from drug testers for fear he would fail the test. At the time, Whitfield was only 19 and Lambert was employed as the welfare officer. Also, at the time, Whitfield's then girlfriend notified the club that Whitfield was taking drugs.

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