$450,000 membership money allegedly spent on gambling

Posted on: 7/7 at 12:53am ET

Demetriou said the AFL was shocked at the theft


Hello fans:

A former employee of the AFL’s membership department allegedly lost all A$450,000 she stole from league headquarters in gambling losses in Melbourne’s Crown Casino. The female employee allegedly was a regular at the casino, gambling three or four days a week over 12 months, occasionally winning between A$30,000 and A$40,000 along the way.
The AFL became aware of the alleged fraud when they found huge amounts of money were missing. The money was returned to a safe in the headquarters. The female employee was sacked before the start of the 2001 season. Later, several AFL clubs were told by the league that the delay in delivering membership tickets had been caused by the dismissal.
Police investigating the alleged fraud have examined bank accounts and other records inside and outside the AFL. The employee had not been formally interviewed and charges have not been laid.
Confirming the fraud, AFL general manager of football operations Andrew Demetriou said the league was shocked by the incident.

Mark Williams re-signs with Port for three more years
Mark Williams, who took Port Adelaide into the AFL finals for the first time in his first year as senior coach at the club, has re-signed with the club for three more years, with the contract to expire at the end of 2004.
Williams said it was a great honor to be at Port Adelaide originally (he once played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL) and then to be able to further take the program to a higher level.
Williams joined the Power from Essendon on a five-year contract as an assistant coach. He replaced Power’s inaugural coach John Cahill at the end of 1998 season.

Report into player injuries released
The AFL has released its ninth comprehensive study of injuries suffered by senior players.
The report, by Dr John Orchard and Dr Hugh Seward of the AFL Medical Officers Association, has revealed a reduction in injuries through every one of the last four seasons, particularly in the categories of groin and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. The hamstring strain remains the most frequent and prevalent injury with a constant rate over the last four years of around six injuries per club per season, resulting in 21 missed matches per club per season.
The overall injury prevalence – percentage of players missing through injury in an average week – over the last four seasons was 16 per cent, representing an average of 142 missed matches per club per season. The total was 18.1 per cent in 1997, dropping regularly each year to a figure of 15.0 per cent in 2000. This meant that 6.2 players from each club list were not able to play in any single week because of injury during the 2000 season, compared to 7.7 players in 1997. This decline is almost entirely due to the reduction in time missed because of groin and ACL injuries.
The report said the most commonly injured region is the hip/groin/thigh region and the most common injury is muscle/tendon stress. It also revealed amstring injuries have the highest recurrence rate of all injuries, with 34 per cent of injuries occur again in same season.
Dr Orchard said the rate of non-contact lower limb injuries interstate was much higher than that in Victoria, with a greater number of anterior cruciate ligament injuries, as well as quadriceps, calf and ankle strains, and groin problems. He said factors such as ground hardness, the type of grass, the use of different boots, different training because of better weather conditions interstate, and travel were being investigated for the higher interstate injury rates.

Wallace wants State of Origin reinstated
Western Bulldogs coach Terry Wallace believed the State of Origin games, last played in 1999, should fill the schedule if the AFL wants to take a break from the home-and-away season.
A former Victorian representative, Wallace said players deserved the chance to play for their states, or at least be selected as recognition for their play.
Even if state games are not scheduled in future, Wallace would like to see players rewarded with state jumpers anyway, just like All-Australian players received blazers and guernseys before the introduction of the international rules series against Ireland.
Wallace also called for the split round to be evened up so teams were matched according to their weekend off when games resumed.

Super plan call
A former league executive has called Former VFL corporate planner John Hennessy has called for the AFL to create a superannuation fund that would guarantee the survival of all 16 clubs for the next 100 years.
He said the AFL should institute a scheme in which clubs directed, say, 10 per cent of their annual income into approved investments. Clubs would set aside amounts ranging from $1.4 million to $2.2 million, depending on turnover. According to his proposal, the scheme would provide up to A$30 million a year for investment in the ultimate equalisation initiative.
While Hennessy didn’t detail how the clubs would fund their original contributions, Waverley Park could provide the solution.
Hennessy said the super fund would provide a completely different picture on the financial strength of AFL clubs. He said the clubs would become very wealthy entities that would attract the best people to work for them and they could do things that the clubs today can only dream about.
Essendon chairman Graeme McMahon rejected the idea, saying it was up to individual clubs to put money aside for tough times.

Toia determined to play again despite neck injury
Fremantle rover Luke Toia said he was happy to be alive after suffering a season-ending injury to his neck last weekend and vowed to accept the challenge of mounting another fightback. He told club officials from his hospital bed he would call on his experiences in overcoming an assortment of injuries in his bid to resume his AFL career.
Toia broke his neck playing for Subiaco against Swan Districts in WAFL game last Saturday.
The 23-year-old from Kalgoorlie had kicked two goals in his comeback after a hamstring injury when he fell awkwardly after flying for an overhead mark in the second half of the game. He managed to walk from the ground on his own, but collapsed in the race and was rushed to hospital, where tests revealed a fractured C1 vertebrae and two crushed vertebrae near the top of his spine.
Toia’s neck was put in traction and he was expected to remain in hospital until the end of the week. He will wear a neckbrace for three months and miss the rest of the season, and may also be forced to pull the curtain on an injury-plagued career that has seen him overcome a knee reconstruction, two dislocated elbows and ankle, back and hamstring problems.
Toia is the second AFL player in three years to have received a serious neck injury in a marking contest. Port Adelaide rover Danny Morton had the C4 and C5 vertebrae fused together with a bone taken from his hip after falling backwards while attempting a spectacular mark against the Western Bulldogs in round 13, 1998. He had played every game for the year but missed the rest of the season. Morton managed only seven senior games over the next two years before being delisted.

Bombers call for summit
The AFL has told Essendon it was satisfied that no club was in immediate danger of collapsing, and an immediate summit of clubs was not required. However, it had agreed to discuss the competition structure and financial problems at next month’s regular meeting between the clubs and the AFL Commission.
This has come after revelation from Essendon president Graeme McMahon that he had written to commission chairman Ron Evans earlier this week, seeking an urgent summit of clubs that would discuss the future shape and financial structure of the competition, amid growing concern about the vulnerability of some Melbourne clubs.
Essendon’s intervention comes as the Western Bulldogs have confirmed that they have asked the AFL for an immediate advance of up to $2 million in 2001 to enable them to meet debts and ensure their long-term future.
Bulldogs president David Smorgon said the club had requested the AFL, in a detailed submission, to give all 16 clubs an advance of up to A$2 million each from the proceeds of the sale of Waverley Park. Smorgon said this would allow the club to get in order and create a more financially sound club.
McMahon said while there had been repeated calls for greater equalisation measures to assist the struggling clubs, equalisation could not be changed this year and thus would not help remove clubs from their current plights.
McMahon said in his letter that it was imperative that the AFL and its clubs remained united in the face of ever fiercer competition from soccer, rugby league and rugby union.
Smorgon said the recent public revelations of the financial plight of several clubs would develop into a bigger crisis if money was not available from the TV rights deal and the pending sale of Waverley Park. He said clubs should not have to wait until 2003 to receive the money from the AFL, because in many cases it was needed as an urgent capital injection this season.
Smorgon said the Bulldogs would use a substantial AFL payment to pay off some debt, stop asking for a redirection order to bring in next year’s dividends to help the club pay for this year, spend some money on computer technology to improve the club’s performance both on and off the field, and to improve the club’s administration offices.
Smorgon said the Bulldogs were also involved in preliminary discussions with the neighboring Victorian University of Technology about using its state of the art training facilities.

Schwab favoured to become Dockers’ CEO
Fremantle is expected to appoint Cameron Schwab as its new chief executive, replacing David Hatt, who resigned last month after being the club’s top administrator since its entry into the AFL in 1995.
37-year-old Schwab previously had stints as chief executive of Richmond and Melbourne in difficult times either side of a short period when he worked as a Melbourne-based consultant to the Dockers in their early years.
Schwab clearly heads an extremely short list of candidates who have been professionally head-hunted for the position. He was not one of 28 applicants for the job, which was advertised nationally and closed last weekend.
He is expected to meet Fremantle chairman Ross McLean within a week before being flown to Perth to front the full board. Schwab is expected to be appointed afterwards and that he would be ready to start work before the end of the month. His tasks will include overseeing the appointments of other senior positions, including a new coach for the club, and a completely revamp the club’s football and recruiting departments.
Schwab started with the Demons in 1982 and graduated from recruiting manager to general manager in his second stint with Melbourne before controversially leaving after president Joseph Gutnick revealed a salary-cap scandal that rocked the fraternity. In recent times Schwab has worked closely with the AFL, managing its website.

Former Magpie great jailed for stealing money from his former clients
1958 Collingwood premiership player and former lawyer, Bill Serong, had been jailed after he pleaded guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court of stealing A$149,000 from his former clients, after a failed bingo venture left him in debt. Serong pleaded guilty to five charges of theft, two of having a trust fund deficiency and two of obtaining property by deception between 1991 and 1994.
Prosecutor Meryl Sexton said Serong, 65, started “robbing Peter to pay Paul” when the venture to develop Victorian bingo centres failed in 1991. He used the A$149,000 he stole from the clients to buy time and stave off creditors. Ms Sexton said the victims included a priest wanting to invest money for his mother, a friend seeking to invest the proceeds of a property sale, and deceased-estate beneficiaries. One victim was repaid through a loan Serong obtained from a friend and the others were reimbursed from the solicitors’ guarantee fund.
Defence counsel Michael Rush said Serong started his career from humble beginnings and built his own legal practice as a specialist in defending drink-driving cases. He said his client only turned to crime when the bingo venture failed.
Serong was sentenced to a maximum of 15 months’ prison, 12 months of which was suspended for two years.

Magpies vice-president denies involvement in insurance company’s collapse
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has widened its investigation into the collapse of HIH Insurance to include Collingwood vice-president Brad Cooper and two other directors, but Cooper denied through his solicitor that he was associated with alleged offences cited on search warrants issued by the corporate watchdog.
It is believed ASIC officers, accompanied by the Australian Federal Police, were seeking evidence on a decision by HIH to pay A$17.5 million last year to Home Security International, a company associated with Cooper, to buy 49 per cent of another company, Ness Security.
It is believed the commission was also searching for evidence about an alleged payment on March 14 of almost A$2 million to two companies, one owned privately by Cooper.
HIH was placed in provisional liquidation on March 15. Liquidator Tony McGrath has since discovered a shortfall of more than A$4 billion. The Federal Government has committed A$650 million to a rescue package of stranded policy holders and called a royal commission into the company’s demise.

No result on player payment talks, but compromise looks likely
Collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the AFL and the AFL Players Association resumed last week, the first official meeting between the two parties since the players’ union made a submission to the league two months ago demanding an across-the-board increase of 10 per cent in player payments for next season and 2003. While no final agreement was reached at the end of the meeting last and this Tuesday, it is believed the players will accept a compromise.
AFLPA has argued that their players should not suffer because of the circumstances of several financially vulnerable clubs, and has said privately it would not take anything less than an eight per cent increase. The AFL has acknowledged that its players had a valid claim but said the competition could not afford a 10 per cent pay rise.
AFLPA chief executive Rob Kerr said AFL executives Wayne Jackson and Andrew Demetriou explained in detail last week why the league could not meet the union’s initial submission of a 10 per cent increase. In return Kerr suggested a compromise position including the licensing and marketing of players which would give the union a bigger presence in those areas.
The AFLPA had requested a 10 per cent pay rise for the next two years that would have increased total players payments between the clubs from A$83 million to $91.3 million, but it is believed the AFL is prepared to offer an increase of seven per cent, or less than A$6 million, taking next year’s total player payments to A$88.8 million.
The AFLPA was expected to accept the league’s offer, but could receive an additional amount up to A$1 million from the AFL for its player development and retirement funds. In addition, the league is believed to have agreed to alternative benefits to the AFLPA over the duration of the present collective bargaining agreement, which expires at the end of 2003, as a way of closing the gap.
Kerr said negotiations had reached an impasse, although another meeting was expected to be held next week.
After meeting the AFL, Kerr will present the league’s recommended offer to the AFLPA executive, headed by president Brendon Gale, for a vote.
*Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon has admitted he was becoming increasingly nervous about the soon-to-be-announced increase in player payments.
Smorgon said he was concerned about talk of a seven or eight per cent salary cap increase and would be too much for the industry to bear. He said a five per cent increase would be absolutely, totally fair and reasonable.

Relationship between Schwab and Parkin begins to sour
Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab has dismissed suggestions of a rift in the club's coaching camp after football director David Parkin publicly described the Hawks’ possession game as predictable and in need of quick change.
A clearly unhappy Schwab rebuked Parkin on Tuesday after Parkin publicly questioned the team’s possession-style game plan. Schwab was upset that his director of football would make such damning comments as the club tries desperately to regroup and emerge from its mid-season slump.
On Monday, Parkin labelled the Hawks’ game plan as fundamentally different to other clubs, and therefore predictable and needed to be adjusted. He said there was clearly too big a gap between Hawthorn’s best and worst form and that the club needed to come up with something new or else it would continue to be “picked off” each week.
Schwab said he hadn’t known that Parkin was planning to comment on the team's current plight and that he had noted his thoughts with interest. But Schwab said that while his preference was to keep such analysis within the club, Parkin’s decision to speak out had not sparked tension.
Hawthorn president Ian Dicker, who with chief executive Michael Brown lured Parkin to Glenferrie to act as an adviser to Schwab, said he was confident Schwab and Parkin would continue to work together. Dicker said Parkin had been particularly careful not to interfere with Schwab's way of dealing with his players.

Roos expect big pay day in Canberra
North Melbourne is disappointed with the size of the crowd at last Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide at Manuka Oval in Canberra, but are expecting bigger things in Round 22 when they play Collingwood at the same venue. The Kangaroos predict they will make up to A$550,000 from their final home-and-away clash of the season.
A total of 10,030 were at the ACT game against Port, about 2000 fewer than the Roos expected.
Despite the lower crowd, Kangaroos chief executive Greg Miller said the club would still make a profit. He said the cost of playing the game had also been off-set by a A$125,000 payment from the ACT Government.
Miller said the jury was still out on whether the ACT market would be better than Sydney, which the Roos failed to conquer. He said the Roos did not pay for the hire of Manuka Oval and would have made less money if last Saturday’s game had been played in Melbourne.
Collingwood is believed to have begun a motion to move the game back into Melbourne.

VFL mural on Waverley Park waiting to be moved
Football Victoria wants the giant VFL mural at Waverley Park to be relocated to its new home.
Chief executive Ken Gannon said the 10m heritage-listed mural was an important part of football history and should be ar footy’s state HQ.
Football Victoria, the governing body for the VFL and Victoria’s country leagues, wants to move from its base at the MCG, and is considering several options, including Victoria Park, Optus Oval and Whitten Oval.
The Greats of Football mosaic was commissioned by the VFL and created by Harold Freedman and David Jack between 1984 and 1986. It has 126,000 pieces and depicts many of the game’s greats.

Fila could pull out of club sponsorships
Italian sports clothing giant Fila, who wants to reduce its AFL sponsorships, is renegotiating its contracts with at least three of its five AFL clubs it sponsors, amid fears the company could pull out.
Fila outfits Essendon, Melbourne, Adelaide, Western Bulldogs and Geelong, as well as the Melbourne Storm rugby league team.
Geelong, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs are reviewing their contracts with Fila at the company’s request. Geelong and the Bulldogs have contracts worth at least $250,000 a year until 2002. Melbourne is contracted until 2004.
It is understood Fila is suffering from the post-Olympic downturn in the retail market and the effects of the GST. They are believed to be seeking to renegotiate some of the conditions and terms of the contracts rather than breaking any contracts.
Melbourne chief executive John Anderson said the club had been contacted by Fila to renegotiate terms. He said the company’s sponsorship would continue into 2002, but the final two years of the contract may be terminated or redefined. His Bulldogs counterpart, Mark Patterson, said the club was also in discussion with Fila, but it was premature to say they are pulling out of contracts.

AFL, Pies may get reprieve from Seven over telecast snub
Channel Seven, who angered the AFL and Collingwood by deciding to showing the round-20 blockbuster between the Magpies and Essendon later at night to allow for a live telecast of a rugby union match, may reconsider its plan, after last weekend’s rugby telecast bombed in TV ratings in Melbourne.
Official ratings figures released on Monday showed that an average of only 300,600 watched the live telecast of the first test between Australian Wallabies and British and Irish Lions between 6.30 and 9.30 (the telecast finished at 9.20pm), clearly beaten in its timeslot by Seven’s arch-rival Nine, which attracted an average of 485,000 for its mixture of Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, Animal Hospital, travel program Postcards, and another screening of the movie In and Out.
Worse still for Seven was that when they showed the replay of Adelaide-Collingwood thriller from Football Park from 9.30pm to midnight, the audience jumped to 326,000. Both sets of Seven’s figures for last Saturday night were in stark contrast to the 447,000 who watched the Richmond-Sydney match the week before, and 550,000 who tuned in for the live telecast of Port Adelaide v Collingwood on May 19.
Last year Seven, who has held the rights to rugby since 1997, signed an agreement with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), in which the network vowed to telecast live all rugby union internationals involving the Wallabies to all areas around Australia, including AFL-dominated cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. The ARU welcomed the agreement as it wants to expand the popularity of rugby union beyond the traditional strongholds of New South Wales and Queensland. However, the AFL objected to the agreement because the telecast not only interfered with Seven’s commitment to telecast Saturday night matches, but also threatened the popularity of AFL football overall.
In fact, earlier this year the AFL asked Seven to schedule the rugby telecasts earlier, from 8pm to 7pm, to minimise the impact of rugby on Seven’s Saturday night AFL telecasts. Surprisingly, the ARU agreed to Seven’s request.
However, with Seven relinquishing the AFL TV rights from 2002, the situation will certainly ease, with the network concentrating on rugby telecasts, as well as soccer and possibly basketball.

Tribunal
Brisbane vice-captain Chris Scott was the big loser at the AFL tribunal, where he was suspended for three matches for striking Hawthorn captain Shane Crawford at the Gabba last Friday night. Scott admitted he accidently struck Crawford, aware that field umpire Corin Rowe was watching from only 15m away and had warned them to settle down. He said Crawford was backing back, chesting and elbowing. When Crawford came back and elbowed Scott, Scott shaped to bum him to use his momentum to shoulder him out of the way, but was too late to react when Crawford stopped. Umpire Rowe told the tribunal Scott had struck Crawford with his right fist in an extremely forceful manner.
Tribunal chairman Brian Collis said many factors had concerned the panel when deciding Scott’s penalty, including the nature of the blow delivered, the point of contact, the fact that the tribunal accepted Rowe’s description that it was a forceful blow and off the ball. He concluded that it was a more serious offence than others.
Scott’s teammate Chris Johnson was more fortunate. He was cleared of a serious charge of attempting to trip Hawk Aaron Lord.
Essendon midfielder Adam Ramanauskas is in the clear after the tribunal dismissed a video charge of striking Fremantle’s Shaun McManus.
Melbourne captain David Neitz and West Coast forward Scott Cummings were each fined A$3000 for their second wrestling offence. Neitz avoided further trouble after an AFL investigation into an incident that forced Cummings to leave the ground bleeding recommended that no charges be laid.

ABC to Lane: you cannot work for us AND commercial media
The Government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has warned its senior AFL commentator Tim Lane and several other radio sports presenters that they must cease their commercial media work while they are still working for the ABC, or face the sack.
The edict that no ABC employee will be able to juggle their on-air role with commercial media work was issued last week by the ABC’s national sports editor, Peter Longman.
Lane must either shun lucrative part-time offers from the three commercial television networks (Nine, Ten and Foxtel), whose five-year deal to take over AFL telecasts begins next year, or sever his 28-year bond with the ABC at year’s end.
The new policy will also affect Lane’s fellow commentator and former Geelong player Dwayne Russell, who has a seat on Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show panel, and also writes for the Sunday Age newspaper in Melbourne.
It also partly explains why Clinton Grybas, who worked for ABC Radio and TV for three years before being poached by 3AW earlier this year, was not allowed to continue his job as a sports commentator for ABC TV.
Lane’s status as the AFL’s top radio caller has made him an obvious candidate for Nine, Ten and Foxtel, which are scrambling to put together their commentary teams for next season. But suggestions that he could combine a part-time television job with his existing radio commitments have been scotched by ABC management, which believes working for two masters could lead to serious conflicts of interest.
Longman said Lane would have to decide to work for Channel Nine or the ABC, and did not want to lose any of its commentators to commercial media. Longman said the presenters were aware of the situation and they had to make a decision.
Tim Lane heads to England next week to join the BBC team to commentate on the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia. He said he was still working through the ABC’s new policy.
He said he liked working for the ABC, otherwise he would not be there for so many years. And he hopes he can continue his career with the public broadcaster.
Meanwhile, the ABC has begun negotiations with the AFL over the next radio broadcast rights agreement.

Talkfest for potential AFL sponsors
Television heavyweights had met with key AFL sponsors last week on the Gold Coast to discuss AFL broadcasting packages beyond next year.
The Nine and Ten Networks and Foxtel were expected to join leading sponsors including CUB, Ansett and Coca-Cola for a two-day talkfest. But Eddie McGuire and the rest of Nine’s Footy Show entourage were absent because they were hosting a special program in London’s West End last Thursday.
The event was designed to protect the league’s key sponsors by encouraging the networks to be acquainted with AFL’s commercial partners, and to stitch up deals with the companies when selling advertising rights for football coverage.
It was believed that production staff were also on the guest list to discuss all aspects of the coverage, including details about likely segments, commentary line-ups, and the use of graphics.
Channel Nine managing director Graeme Yarwood said that although he was unaware of the details of the conference, he was not surprised the AFL would stage such an event given its sponsorship woes with Seven. He said the conference would provide an introduction to the new broadcast partners.
Yarwood said plans for the 2002 football season were well advanced, with most of the logistics under control, and recruitment of production staff and on-air talent under way.
Yarwood said the network would begin selling its advertising packages in the coming months, well before this season ended.

Media News
*Channel Ten has poached Channel Seven producer David Barham to head its 2002 AFL coverage. Barham, executive producer of Friday Night Football and Tuesday night discussion and interview program Talking Footy, is also chief executive of AFL Films, which makes the highlights program for overseas markets. Barham will start his new job of executive producer of AFL programming on October 1, two days after the Grand Final and Seven’s commitment ends (for now).
In early June, Channel Nine appointed two of Seven’s AFL producers, Brad Smith and Terry Digby, as part of Nine’s AFL production team.
*Peter Wynne, the executive producer of Seven’s Friday night preview program The Game, has confirmed he will quite the network immediately after the grand final. Wynne, who joined Seven from Nine in 1999 to head Seven’s renewed bid to combat The Footy Show (after the demise of Live and Kicking), has decided to concentrate on freelance work through his company, Peter Wynne Productions. The program is also almost certain not to reappear in 2002, with host Dermott Brereton tipped to rejoin Nine, even though he is contracted to Seven until the end of next year.
*Nine will become the new AFL broadcaster five months before the 2002 season begins. On Saturday, October 13, Nine will telecast the exhibition match from The Oval in London, featuring Essendon and Richmond. The telecast will be followed by the International Rules series between Australia and Ireland. Nine may also broadcast the Ansett-AFL National Draft later this year.

In Brief
*Melbourne defender Anthony Ingerson has retired because of injury. Originally from SANFL club Central Districts, Ingerson played 37 games with Adelaide, before he was traded to Melbourne in 1996, and played a further 121 games with the Demons. Ingerson has been the cornerstone of Melbourne’s defence over the past few seasons. He provided a constant and reassuring presence in the back line, having missed only one game from 1998 - 2000. He played in the Demons’ losing side in last year’s Grand Final.
Ingerson had battled knee tendonitis this season.
In his announcement to the players, Ingerson expressed disappointment that he was physically unable to complete the season and he was obviously disappointed at the decision.
*Young Irishman Tadhg (pronounced Tige) Kennelly will make his long-awaited debut for the Sydney Swans in Sunday’s game against Carlton at the SCG. Kennelly, who celebrated his 20th birthday last Sunday, received a belated birthday present from the Swans’ Match Committee when named in the team after seven times previously being included in the final 25.
An outstanding Gaelic footballer, Kennelly joined the Swans for the 2000 season with no AFL experience and his rapid improvement had the outstanding athlete elevated to the senior list when Ryan Fitzgerald was added to the long-term injury list after knee surgery ended his season. Kennelly is hoping to follow the footsteps of Jim Stynes, who joined Melbourne from Dublin in 1986, and had a very successful career, including a record 244 consecutive senior games and winning the 1991 Brownlow Medal.
*St Kilda will wear a yellow jumper in its round-20 match with Carlton to not only avoid colour clashes, but also show support for its sponsor, Pura Milk, as yellow is the colour on the package of Pura Lite Milk. The jumper is similar in style to the training jumper worn by the Saints’ players.
*Bulldogs great Allan Hopkins died at 97 on Monday, leaving former club mate Norm Ware as the oldest living Brownlow medallist.
Hopkins, a skilful centreman nicknamed “Banana Legs” for his bandy legs, tied with Richmond’s Stan Judkins and Collingwood’s Harry Collier for the Brownlow in 1930, but lost under the old countback rule. Hopkins was awarded the medal retrospectively in 1989.
Ware, now 90 and recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, won the medal in 1941.
Hopkins, who retired to Cobram in northern Victoria, played 151 games -- and 20 for Victoria -- from 1925-34. He is considered by many as second only to Ted Whitten in terms of club greats.
Hopkins’ last public appearance happened last December, when he attended a photo shoot of all living Brownlow medallists to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital.
*This Friday night’s game between Western Bulldogs and Essendon is being dedicated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. More than 120 volunteers will be selling Starlight tattoos and footballs to raise money to help terminally-ill children’s wishes come true. There will also be prizes, including a trip for two to Hamilton Island in Queensland’s Whitsundays.
*Richmond has asked the AFL for A$1.5 million over three years to help to renovate players’ facilities at Punt Rd oval, and stated to the commission the club was against returning to the league’s previous gate-sharing policy.
Tigers president Clinton Casey and his board had their annual meeting with the commission and Casey reiterated previous public comments that Richmond did not want the AFL to return to its equalisation program, which shared gate receipts among the 16 clubs.
Casey said if the AFL changed the equalisation policy, it should not just focus on gate sharing and blockbusters. He also told the AFL not to just give money to struggling clubs.
Several financially vulnerable clubs recently called on the AFL to change its present policy where, in most cases, the home team keeps virtually all the gate receipts.
*AFL general manager of football operations, Andrew Demetriou, said several groups had shown expressions of interest to buy and develop Waverley Park, which closed last Friday. He expected the proceeds from the eventual sale - some A$70 to A$90 million - would not enter the AFL’s finances until 2003.
*It was revealed that Gary Ablett secretly made his first visit to Geelong in three years, two days before the club’s Team of the Century dinner at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. The Cats’ most celebrated star slipped into Kardinia Park to sign 50 Team of the Century posters, which were to be sold for A$1500 each at the Friday night fund-raiser.
Ablett’s manager Michael Baker said Ablett was keen to attend the Team of the Century night but decided against it for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, the head of the Teen Challenge rehabiliation program, Mark Corrigan, said this week that Ablett was no longer attending the program, which is by the Assemblies of God, at Kyabram at northern Victoria. There Ablett took morning sessions on “life controlling issues” before joining other volunteers in farm work in the afternoons.
*Geelong and Collingwood will be playing for yet another trophy when they clash this Sunday and in the future: They will be playing for the Royal Children’s Hospital Children’s Diabetes Foundation Challenge Cup (quite a long title, eh?).
*West Coast premiership defender Glen Jakovich has asked the football community to let Dean Kemp make up his own mind on whether to retire after the 1994 Norm Smith medallist was concussed for the fourth time this year in the Eagles’ 81-point loss to Collingwood at Colonial Stadium in Round 12.
The champion centre half-back described Kemp as an honest bloke who would make the right decision for all concerned. He said Kemp, who he rated in the top bracket of West Coast players, had nothing left to prove in football.
Kemp had undergone brain scans this week and would speak with doctors before making a decision on whether he will continue playing or retire.

Finally, Richmond ruckman Brendon Gale participated in the sporting celebrity edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire on Wednesday night. Nine scheduled the special against Seven’s premiere of Titanic (the movie which stormed the box office around the world in 1997 and 1998 and won 11 Oscars). He won A$32,000. Gale stumbled on the A$64,000 question: what was the number of the last Apollo mission to the Moon? He answered 18. The correct answer was 17.

That's all for today. See you soon.

Regards,


Johnson Leung



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