Swans blast clubs, AFL on draft concessions backflip

Posted on: 10/7 at 3:05am ET

Pies, Roos and Dockers singled out

Hello fans:

First, some important announcement: If you are reading this report and you are one of the expatriate Australians, please note the federal election will be held on Saturday, November 10 after Prime Minister John Howard visited the Governor-General, Dr Peter Hollingworth, on Friday to advise him of a dissolution of the Parliament. Please ask your nearest Australian consulate from next week on how to vote, or visit the Australian Electorial Commission website at www.aec.gov.au

Sydney has written an open letter to attack the AFL, opposition clubs as well as the media to protest at the postponement of the introduction of draft concessions given to the Swans and Brisbane until 2002, and threaten to stop developing Australian Rules in New South Wales in protest at the AFL’s backdown.
The letter, written by club president Richard Colless and chief executive Kelvin Templeton, described comments by Collingwood president Eddie McGuire in which he labelled the AFL Commission as cheats as “a low point in the history of our game”.
The Swans said they would not challenge the AFL’s about-face, but “we do however worry about the message it sends to the developing NSW market and more importantly what it says about the AFL’s decision-making process”.
The Swans said the AFL reversal meant the club was no longer prepared to fund development of the code in NSW and those clubs which led the campaign against the draft changes could now pick up the slack.
“The fact that we do more than double the development work of any other club and, in some cases, four to five times more work as well as pay for the cost of this ourselves is something that we can no longer countenance,” the letter said. “Given (protesting clubs) act like they own the game, perhaps they would like to also take on the role of developing the game in this part of the country.
“Perhaps some of the clubs who feel so strongly about this matter that they were going to take the matter to the Supreme Court (of Victoria) may well enlighten us on how this is best achieved. Given they act like they own the game, perhaps they would like to also take on the role of developing the game in this part of the country.”
The letter said rugby league and rugby union had been the winner and the AFL Commission the loser because it “has demonstrated that the way to influence the direction of AFL is through public and legal threats”.
The concession, which would have given Sydney the rights to two young players in the coastal region from Newcastle in the north to Nowra in the south in return for a round-three draft pick, was canned after intense lobbying and pressure from the other 14 clubs, including West Coast and Fremantle. The concessions came under fierce attack on grand final weekend, Collingwood and Hawthorn leading the charge, with strong support from the other 12 clubs. After Brisbane ran away with its historic flag, several commissioners were pressured by clubs to at least defer the issue.
The Swans released documents last week that showed in the past two years no player had been drafted from the Newcastle-to-Nowra corridor and since 1993 there had been only six players drafted by all clubs from the area.
Colless and Templeton also attacked bottom side Fremantle, which is entitled to two first-round draft picks “because of its management ineptitude. They described as extraordinary of how a club could brazenly lecture the AFL on the matter. North Melbourne, who spent $A2 million in a failed venture into the Sydney market, was also singled out.
The two men also savaged rumors that they were going to trade Brad Seymour and Leo Barry to St Kilda in order to secure Saints full-forward Barry Hall. “How members of the media can accept these distortions as fact says much about the objectivity of the media,” the letter said.
AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson said on Tuesday the draft concessions would now be introduced for the 2002 National Draft along with other rules relating to list sizes and the ballot system for the pre-season draft. Jackson said the AFL commission recognised that changing the rules for this year’s draft could impact on clubs who have planned for the draft under the current rules, so the new rules had been postponed for 12 months. However, it was suggested that political pressure on commissioners - which were coupled with threats of legal action - were largely responsible for the league’s change of heart.
The reversal means the draft will operate under essentially the same rules as last season, which gives the Swans and Lions access to fewer players in a smaller metropolitan zone (50km from Sydney and Brisbane central post offices) in exchange for a second-round draft pick.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said the Magpies were delighted that the AFL had listened to the clubs and understood the enormous ramifications of the concessions, which clubs believe would give an unfair advantage to Sydney and particularly to Brisbane.

Trading Places
With the AFL season over for another year, it’s time for the annual trading period, in which the 16 clubs go through lots and lots of negotiations to get the best players they want. Here is the latest situations:
*Adelaide: Richmond’s Ben Holland has agreed to a three-year deal with the Crows, but the Tigers and Crows were yet to thrash out a deal. Premiership defender Kane Johnson is to be traded (with his permission) in a swap deal. If not, Holland, who wants to return to Melbourne, is adamant he will nominate for the AFL pre-season draft. The Crows lose Andrew Eccles to Carlton but gets Kris Massie in a direct swap, and are also close to finalising a deal in which premiership half-forward Peter Vardy crosses to Melbourne for a draft selection.
*Brisbane: Des Headland wants to go home to WA, while Victorian Marcus Picken is also homesick and is eyeing a Melbourne club after struggling for opportunities at the Lions behind Brisbane’s talented list.
*Carlton: has signed a deal with North Melbourne which will see the Blues receiving Kangaroo ruckman Corey McKernan plus picks 26 and 39 in the national draft. In return the Roos gets Blue Mark Porter plus picks 14 and 30 in the draft. Trades Kris Massie to Adelaide in return for Andrew Eccles. Brendan Fevola also linked to the Crows in talks. The club is set to regain midfielder Justin Murphy a year after trading him to Geelong.
*Collingwood: Interest in Peter Everitt but the Pies won’t trade the earth. Missed Heath Black after Saints threw big bucks. Heath Scotland wants to move and will be in a minor trade come Tuesday’s deadline. Nick Davis has asked to be traded to Sydney to be closer with his family but the club has refused his request.
*Essendon: Joe Misiti has walked out of the club after the Bombers decided not to accept the midfielder’s terms for a new two-year deal. Mark Mercuri, who still has four years to run on a five-year contract he signed before the start of the season just finished, will also be traded. The Bombers have announced that Scott Lucas, Dean Rioli, Sean Wellman and Dean Solomon had all signed new two-year deals. Coach Kevin Sheedy is still bitter that the AFL’s salary cap meant the team could not retain all players. Out of contract at Windy Hill include dual premiership midfielder young defender Mark Bolton, promising Cory McGrath and highly-rated Damien Peverill. Chasing Hawthorn’s Trent Croad big-time. Gary Moorcroft likely to go to North Melbourne and Damien Hardwick to Port Power as the Bombers try to slash $A300,000 from salary cap.
*Fremantle: Daniel Bandy heading to Bulldogs and Heath Black to St Kilda. In three-way deal Dockers get Troy Simmonds from Melbourne. Have offered pick No. 1 for Croad and teammate Luke McPharlin or No. 4 just for Croad and will try for McPharlin in pre-season draft, but both offers have been rejected. Set to sign Melbourne forward Jeff Farmer for three years.
*Geelong: Was chasing McKernan in complex four-way deal that included Justin Murphy but that fell through. Will now trade Murphy back to Carlton.
*Hawthorn: Tall utility Trent Croad was shocked to learn he has been offered to trade that he reportedly decided to walk out on the club first, and has attracted attention from several clubs since. There is speculation that Croad wants to go to Essendon or even return to his homeland of New Zealand and take up rugby union. Hawthorn president Ian Dicker apologised to Croad during the club’s B&F count on Saturday night, and the club now maintains that Croad is likely to remain at Glenferrie. In fact, since the news broke, more than 200 supporters gathered at the club’s Glenferrie Oval headquarters on Thursday night to express their dismay at the Hawks’ apparent willingness to part company with the 21-year-old, and the club had been inundated with a large number of calls and e-mails from supporters.
Everyone wants Croad but no deal yet (The Hawks have rejected an offer from Fremantle to trade Croad and Luke McPharlin for the No.1 draft pick. They also knocked back an offer involving Croad and the No.4 pick). Desperate for a midfielder. Has rejected talk of trade for Scott West, and Misiti is still a chance. Could lose McPharlin for nothing in pre-season draft. Angelo Lekkas could be headed to Carlton.
*Melbourne: has conceded defeat in the fight to retain exciting forward Jeff Farmer. After the Demons met with Farmer and his management on Monday morning, the club issued a media release in the afternoon saying Farmer would return to his home state of Western Australia for family reasons. It means Farmer is set to join Fremantle, which had offered him a lucrative three-year deal. The club is still chasing Trent Croad. Will get Craig Ellis plus No.26 draft pick from Bulldogs in a three-way deal giving up Troy Simmonds to Fremantle.
*North Melbourne: has signed a deal with Carlton which sees the Blues to receive Corey McKernan plus picks 23 and 39 in next month’s national draft. Mark Porter will arrive in a package including picks 14 and 30 in the draft. Likely to get Moorcroft but no trade details yet. Mick Martyn will nominate for draft. Kept Wayne Carey after last-minute talks.
*Port Adelaide: gets Damien Hardwick from Essendon but may lose Jarrod Schofield to the Eagles. Expect minor trades on Tuesday involving ruckmen.
*Richmond: is devastated that Ben Holland has walked out of Punt Road and decided to return to his home state with Adelaide. The Tigers are considering Kane Johnson as a trade. Are expected to chase Sydney ruckman Greg Stafford after ruckman Brendon Gale announced his retirement to pursue off-field interests (see In Brief), and have struck new deals with Rory Hilton and captain Wayne Campbell (for four years). Loses Nick Daffy to Sydney, possibly in a five-way deal (see below). Defender Darren Gaspar has knocked back a lucrative a five-year, $A3 million offer offer from Fremantle and have re-signed with the Tigers for five years and a slightly smaller figure, after talks between him and the club last weekend.
*Sydney: set to get former Saint Barry Hall and, in a big surprise, tough Tiger midfielder Nick Daffy. Coach Rodney Eade had ruled out trading Michael O’Loughlin, Adam Goodes or Jason Saddington to secure Hall, hopeful a trade could be arranged on draft picks alone.
*St Kilda: gets Heath Black from Fremantle, possibly in a five-way deal (see below). Trades Hall with Sydney. Everitt will trade if price is right but Saints want a lot.
*West Coast: Chad Morrison wants to come home to Victoria and has been linked with a move to St Kilda. Interested in Brisbane’s Des Headland. Could regain Jarrod Schofield from Port Adelaide, and may also gain Bomber Joe Misiti via the pre-season draft.
*Western Bulldogs: Craig Ellis plus No.26 draft pick to Melbourne and Bandy from Fremantle in a three-way deal. West linked in Croad deal but unlikely to go anywhere.
The five-way deal, involving Richmond, Sydney, St Kilda, Fremantle and Melbourne, may include the following: Richmond trading pick 17 to Sydney along with Nick Daffy as part of the swap that would make ruckman Greg Stafford a Tiger; Sydney on-passing pick 17 to St Kilda, along with its first-round draft pick (13), for forward Barry Hall, who has long nominated the Swans as his preferred club; St Kilda moving pick 17 on to Fremantle in exchange for Heath Black; and Fremantle exchanging pick 17 with Melbourne for Demon Jeff Farmer, who has decided to head back to Western Australia for personal reasons.

Lions still in celebration mode
Thousands of Brisbane Lions supporters turned out to honour their premiership team at a ticker-tape parade through inner-city of Brisbane on Tuesday. Many fans lined up behind the barriers for over an hour hoping to catch a glance of the players as they drove by.
The ticker-tape parade started at the Edwards Street end of the Queens St Mall and finished at King George Square. Matthews told the crowd at the end of the parade that winning for Brisbane was something special. “I love being part of a one-team city, to be in a city where everyone can support the Brisbane Lions,” he said.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie told the players and the thousands gathered in the square that the Queensland Government would be holding an official state reception for the players and their families to honour their achievements. Beattie, told fans that the win meant Brisbane was the only Australian city to win the finals of all four football codes. (Brisbane Broncos won the rugby league premiership in 1992, 1993 and 2000; the Strikers won the national soccer league championship in 1996-97; while Brisbane-based Queensland Reds are the reigning national rugby union champions.)
Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley presented the team with the key to the city.
On Wednesday, the Lions visited the CUB brewery in Yatala, outside Brisbane, where a special limitededition of the Carlton Midstrengh Beer is being produced to celebrate the Lions’ premiership win.

Essendon to become Man U of the AFL: Bombers CEO
Despite their premiership loss to Brisbane, Essendon want to become the “Manchester United of the AFL”, according to Bomber chief executive Peter Jackson.
“We will continue to strive to be something the AFL commission does not want us to be, and that is the Manchester United of the AFL,” he told guests in his speech at the club’s grand final dinner in Melbourne, hours after the Bombers lost to Brisbane in the GF.
Essendon have won the past three minor premierships for only one flag and Jackson admitted that the club’s hierarchy was mindful of possible internal unrest in the wake of the loss to the Lions.
(Jackson’s comments echoed that of Michael Malthouse who, at the announcement of him appointed as the new coach of Collingwood, wanted to build the Magpies into Man U of the AFL.)

Grand Final notes
*Victoria Police has praised the overall excellent behaviour of the crowd at the MCG, with only 15 people arrested and another 30 evicted.
*During pre-match entertainment, Melbourne singer Vanessa Amorosi dedicated her hit song “Shine” to all 16,000 employees of Ansett Airlines, and hoped the airline would be flying high again soon. A modified version of “Shine” was used in Ansett’s last major advertising campaign after the grounding of Boeing 767 planes in Easter.
*The official TV ratings showing the 2001 grand final, the last to be shown on Seven for now, was the most watched in the past 10 years (that’s as far as Seven’s footy telecast records go back) and probably the most watched AFL match ever. In Melbourne alone the peak audience was 1,505,000 (the biggest since 1,464,000, recorded in 1994), while the average audience of 1.36 million represented 92.8% of the viewing audience and was the largest-ever figure in Melbourne for a Grand Final audience.
Across Australia four million people watched the GF, including 3,476,000 in the five major cities: Melbourne, Brisbane (average 450,000, peak 670,000), Sydney (average 504,000), Adelaide (average 375,000) and Perth (average 449,000). The national figure was the second best of any Grand Final in the last 10 years (the peak figure was the 1996 Grand Final between North Melbourne and Sydney, which attracted an audience of 3.998 million, due largely to the number of viewers in Sydney for that game) and more than 650,000 people ahead of the figure for the 2000 Grand Final between Essendon and Melbourne.
*On the Thursday before the Grand Final, Seven hosted a party in Colonial Stadium to celebrate the end of its 45-year involvement with the VFL/AFL. Most of the network’s past and present commentators attended, along with Seven chairman Kerry Stokes, managing director of broadcast television Maureen Plavsic, and AFL commission chairman Ron Evans. Stokes said the end of the great partnership was a celebration, not a wake, and the network people could now seat back and see how the new consortium presents the football.
*The AFL is unlikely to introduce a night grand final after the league’s chief executive, Wayne Jackson, said he was not convinced by rugby league’s foray into the new time-zone on Sunday night. Jackson said he watched some of the rugby league grand final on the television and did not think it would change the view of the AFL Commission.
On Sunday night, the National Rugby League attracted 90,414 to Stadium Australia for Newcastle’s 30-24 victory over Parramatta, which attracted a national audience of more than 3.598 million (exceeding the audience figures for the AFL Grand Final), including 1.2 million in Sydney, 770,000 in Brisbane and more than 400,000 in Melbourne.
*Despite the relatively small crowd, Saturday’s match was a successful one all-round for the AFL but not everything went to plan. Like before the game had even started, a mechanical malfunction resulted in a group of former players, among them Stephen Kernahan, Ken Sheldon, Mark Yeates and Phil Manassa, getting caught in a lift on their way from the Ryder Room where they attended a luncheon to join in the pre-match cavalcade of former champions. “They were in stuck in there for 15 minutes,” said the league’s ground operations manager Jill Lindsay. “In the end we had to allocate them different cars but poor Mark Yeates had to miss the parade completely. It was awful bad luck. ‘Sticks’ (Kernahan) said it was the worst 15 minutes of his life.”
*There was plenty of emotion off the ground as well, most notably in the Seven commentary box where Bruce McAvaney and Sandy Roberts and team said goodbye to footy after 45 years. McAvaney, not surprisingly, was sort of part of the day’s news himself, being interviewed before the match on ABC Radio, and straight after the match by Rex Hunt and co on 3AW. But the favorite moment was when McAvaney arrived in the radio media area where he was immediately embraced by his long-time media rival, but former colleague (from their Channel Ten days), Eddie McGuire. “Can I get you a cup of tea?” asked McGuire. “I don’t know if I feel like one but I’d enjoy you making me one,” replied McAvaney. Inquired McGuire: “Is is still white with one?”
*Dual Olympic swimming gold medallist Kieren Perkins, who joined in the Lions’ rooms for post-match celebrations, revealed that despite being brought up as a rugby league fan as a kid he had been a Brisbane fan for about six years. “Last year I didn’t miss a home game but I live in Sydney now so that’s made it difficult. Last year before the Olympics I actually used their medical staff and I got to know a lot of the guys then and got involved with the club.”
*Melbourne’s TAB Sportsbet has released their premiership odds for 2002 with the Brisbane and Essendon co-favorites at $A3.25 (for a $A1 outlay) followed by Port Adelaide ($A10), Hawthorn ($A12), Carlton ($A15), Richmond ($A15), North Melbourne ($A15), Adelaide ($A23), Sydney ($A26), Melbourne ($A26), Collingwood ($A26), Western Bulldogs ($A35), Geelong ($A51), St Kilda ($A51), West Coast ($A71) and Fremantle ($A101). Last Saturday’s result was a good one for the bookies all-round but, remarkably, would have been $A70,000 less profitable for Sportsbet alone had the Lions run away with the match and won by 40 points or more. Betting on the Norm Smith Medal was also a good result for the bookies, although Sportsbet had plenty of punters happy to take the $A61 on offer about Shaun Hart, the result costing them a payout of $A108,763.
However it was a different story at Centrebet, where early punters have shied away from backing the Brisbane Lions to claim back-to-back AFL titles. Centrebet has been surprised at the lack of interest in the Lions going back-to-back since posting them as $A3.25 favourites for the 2002 flag 24 hours after their historic AFL victory. Punters have preferred to jump in early on Port Power at $A12, Collingwood at $A26, Hawthorn $A10 and Sydney at $A23. Fremantle, winning just two games this season but has got Melbourne’s Jeff Farmer, has already been backed to win $A40,000 at $A67 while Port has attracted an early wager of $A18,000 to $A1500 and Collingwood $A12,500 to $A500.
*Brisbane’s spectacular rise from bottom three years ago to premiers equals the previous quickest from wooden spooner to premiers of Melbourne (1923-26) and North Melbourne (1972-75).

Geelong loses another sponsor
Geelong is facing the possible collapse of a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal with Regional and Rural Telecommunications (RRT), after the telco’s parent, Telezon, was placed in voluntary administration, under a mountain of debt believed to be as high as $A2 million. The collapse could cost the club as much as $A1.3 million.
Telezon, a second-tier sponsor at Geelong under Ford, and one of four protected sponsors each club is allowed under AFL rules, was formerly called Min-Tech 8 and before that Yennex Resources. It was one of the first Western Australian mining plays to jump on the dot-com bandwagon in 1999 and backdoor list as a new technology business. It established RRT last year to provide telecommunication services and products to rural Australia, aiming to develop joint marketing strategies with high-profile regional businesses.
Geelong signed a $A1.5 million five-year sponsorship deal with RRT in June 2000, and took a 25 per cent stake in the Telezon subsidiary that was expected to inject $A300,000 a year into the club.
The sponsorship deal was trumpeted by Geelong marketing manager Peter Jamieson as a major coup for the cash-strapped club, as it would deliver a new revenue stream independent of its football activities.
Jamieson said that Telezon’s collapse was news to him and that as late as last Friday Geelong was in talks with RRT over the future of the relationship. He said later that after discussions with Telezon the club’s deal with RRT would be fully honored and that a shareholder from Western Australia was working to take over and restructure the ailing company and bring it out of administration.
He said all sponsorship arrangements would be transferred from RRT to the soon-to-be restructured Telezon, and that RRT logos at the team’s ground would be swapped for Telezon banners. Geelong’s equity stake in RRT would be swapped for shares in Telezon once it was reformed, he said.
This is not the first time that RRT has had difficulties with a sporting club. Earlier this year RRT signed and then terminated a similar sponsorship arrangement with National Soccer League team Eastern Pride. Eastern Pride’s management threatened legal action after the loss of the sponsor, straining the club’s already troubled financial position and eventually leading the Gippsland-based team to go to the wall last year.
Telezon joint voluntary administrator Laurence Fitzgerald, from Sims Lockwood & Partners, said he was hopeful Telezon could be brought out of administration.
The loss of Telezon, combined with this year’s loss of three other sponsors: department store Harris Scarfe, Ansett and Geelong Private Hospital, will cost the Cats more than $A500,000 a year.
The club is poised to announce a new ground naming-rights sponsor, following a recent scaling down of sponsorship commitments by Shell, who did not renew a three-year deal after Geelong sought an increase from $A150,000 a year to what was believed to be $A250,000 a year.

Silvagni set to retire
Champion Carlton full-back Stephen Silvagni is expected to announce his retirement within the next few weeks, ending a decorated and remarkable career in AFL football.
34-year-old Silvagni, who has played 312 games with the Blues, said he wanted to play again next year but was reviewing his options. He is believed to have been in talks with Channel Ten for some time and is believed to be set to sign a lucrative contract with the network, which would bring an end to his football career.
In recent years Silvagni’s career had been affected by injuries. This year alone he had to fight his way back from severe bruising to the hip after colliding with a point post in his second game of the season. Immediately upon his return, he ruptured a testicle, requiring surgery and a delicate 10-day layoff. His last game at Optus Oval this year was a bruising round-22 win over Geelong, which ended when Silvagni was knocked unconscious and carried off after being shirtfronted in the dying moments of the match. He recovered from concussion to line up against Adelaide in the Blues’ elimination final victory the following week.
After their semi-final loss to Richmond the week after, Carlton indicated they would like a decision from Silvagni and captain Craig Bradley on their playing futures before the October 2 trading period. Out-of-contract Bradley is yet to decide about his future.

Club Best and Fairest roundup
*St Kilda ruckman Peter Everitt has won the club’s best and fairest award for 2001. Everitt collected 227 votes to take out the Trevor Barker award, ahead of recruits Fraser Gehrig (205) and Aaron Hamill (186).
*Midfielder Shannon Grant has won North Melbourne’s best and fairest award despite twice being dropped during the season. He was left out of the round six clash with Richmond for lack of touch after the Roos had lost four of five games, responded with a spirited performance in the VFL, then was left out of the round 22 side against Collingwood after he broke a drinking curfew at the team of the century dinner three days earlier. Grant won with 435 votes - 32 ahead of midfielder Brent Harvey. Midfielder Adam Simpson finished in third place.
*Consistent defender Brenton Sanderson has won the “Carji” Greeves Medal as Geelong’s best and fairest player for the 2001 season. Sanderson, who played every game this year, polled 443 votes to finish ahead of fellow back man Matthew Scarlett, who received 427 votes. Mid-fielder Justin Murphy (329) was third.
*Adem Yze has won Melbourne’s B&F (The Kevin Truscott Medal) in an otherwise disappointing season for the Demons. Yze polled 331 votes, 103 ahead of captain David Neitz, with forward David Schwarz a further 18 votes behind. Yze finished third in the best and fairest in 2000 and second in 1998.
*Midfielder Jason Johnson has won Essendon’s W.S. Crichton Medal as the club’s best and fairest for 2001. Johnson collected 363 votes, 61 votes in front of 2001 Coleman medallist Matthew Lloyd (who was also presented with the club’s leading goalkicker award), with captain James Hird third on 301 votes.
*Warren Tredrea took the John Cahill Medal as Port Adelaide’s best and fairest player for 2001.
The centre half-forward, who narrowly missed the 1999 medal, scraped past midfielder Josh Carr in the final minor round to claim the club’s top honour. Tredrea received 164 votes, just ahead of Carr (159) with Nick Stevens following on 146 and captain Matthew Primus on 143. The medal topped off a great year for the Power vice-captain who enjoyed a career best year kicking 51 goals and wining All-Australian representation for the first time.
*Midfielder Andrew McLeod had to fight all the way to claim his second Malcolm Blight Medal as Adelaide’s club champion. McLeod first won the medal back in 1997 and on Friday night became the first Crow to wear two gold jackets. He outpolled teammate Mark Stevens, 172 votes to 159, followed by Ben Hart, 140 and Simon Goodwin, 138. Friday night’s win for McLeod came off the back of his disappointing second placing to Brisbane wingman Jason Akermanis in the Brownlow Medal count last month.
*Five-time Copeland Trophy winner Nathan Buckley finished third in Collingwood’s best and fairest. The Magpies’ captain and All-Australian winger finished behind Paul Licuria and Jarrod Molloy.
*Injured Carlton midfielder Anthony Koutoufides has won his first club championship. Koutoufides, on 189 votes edged out three-time winner, Brett Ratten, by two votes. Matthew Lappin, who did not feature in Carlton’s top 10 of 2000, polled 185 to come third.
*Brisbane skipper Michael Voss and All-Australian midfielder Simon Black capped off the Lions’ stellar premiership season by tying for the club’s best and fairest award. The pair polled 65 votes to win the Merrett/Murray medal, eclipsing Nigel Lappin by four votes with Brownlow medallist Jason Akermanis finishing fourth with 57. It was Voss’s fourth club championship, having won the club best and fairest in 1995, 1996 and last year. He was also awarded, along with Darryl White, life membership after 10 seasons’ service and 150 matches.
*Defender Joel Smith, who said he felt like an outsider during his early time at AFL club Hawthorn, has won the Club Champion award. The All-Australian halfback flanker and former Saint polled a total of 38 votes, narrowly ahead of runner-up Mark Graham on 35. 1999 Brownlow Medallist and dual club champion Shane Crawford and forwards John Barker and Nathan Thompson tied for third place with 32 votes.
*Dashing midfielder Paul Williams capped off an amazing first season with the Sydney Swans when he claimed the best-and-fairest award, the Bob Skilton Medal. The 28-year-old veteran polled 176 votes, four more than fellow midfielder Stuart Maxfield with defender Ben Mathews a further three behind. Williams became the third player in the club’s history to win B&F in his first player with Sydney, after his former Collingwood teammate Andrew Schuable (2000) and Tony Lockett (1995).
*Fremantle’s Peter Bell was named the club champion with a massive margin over Heath Black, while Matthew Carr finished third.

Bullying rife in sports
Bullying is rife in all facets of Victorian society, including schools, the workplace and sporting arenas, a survey has found.
Nine out of 10 people told a survey by VicHealth Foundation they had been a victim of one or more bullying behaviours, but at the same time 95 per cent said bullying should never be acceptable.
VicHealth has released the findings during the build-up to the AFL grand final to highlight the need for footballers and elite sportspeople to curb their bullying tactics. VicHealth chief executive Rob Moodie said bullying seemed to be accepted as part of football culture. “You see bullying on the football ground all the time in the form of sledging, verbal abuse and intimidating or stand-over tactics, and it’s happening among spectators as well,” he said. “The findings are quite shocking, given that we know bullying has serious repercussions for the emotional and mental health of both the bullied and the bully.”
According to the survey, seven out of 10 believed racial abuse on the sports field was bullying and six in 10 thought sledging or using intimidating tactics on the sports field were acts of bullying.
It found 10 per cent of Victorians had been on the receiving end of sledging, and males were more likely to accept it as part of the game.
When asked to name a public identity they believed was a bully, six per cent of people named a sporting identity, including controversial media personality Sam Newman and Western Bulldogs rover Tony Liberatore.
Dr Moodie said it was believed 30 per cent of depression could be prevented if bullying was stopped. He said bullies were most likely to be aged between 18 and 24, male, low-income earners and people with lower levels of education. He said he most likely victims included those perceived to be different from peers.
VicHealth has launched an advertising campaign tackling the issue of bullying to get people thinking about the personal and social benefits of belonging to a community, and of being accepted, respected and included.

International Rules news
*Essendon captain James Hird and ten other players have withdrawn from the Australian team to play Ireland in the International Rules series this month.
As well as Hird, Western Bulldog Nathan Brown, Collingwood captain Nathan Buckley, West Coast skipper Ben Cousins and Western Bulldogs captain Chris Grant will also miss the series through injury or unavailability. Adelaide defender Ben Hart, Carlton defensive pair Andrew McKay and Stephen Silvagni, Port Adelaide’s Matthew Primus and Gavin Wanganeen, plus Melbourne star Adem Yze will also miss the series.
Those added to the squad were Damien Hardwick and Adam Ramanauskas (Essendon), Brent Harvey (North Melbourne), Jonathan Hay (Hawthorn), Matthew Nicks (Sydney) and Darryl White (Brisbane Lions).
The 32-man squad will train at the MCG on Sunday. The first game starts on Friday, October 12.
The squad: Simon Black (Brisbane), Joel Bowden (Richmond), Craig Bradley (Carlton), Blake Caracella (Essendon), Daniel Chick (Hawthorn), Josh Francou (Port Adelaide), Darren Gaspar (Richmond), Adam Goodes (Sydney), Simon Goodwin (Adelaide), Damien Hardwick (Essendon), Brent Harvey (North Melbourne), Jonathan Hay (Hawthorn), Jason Johnson (Essendon), David King (North Melbourne), Matthew Lappin (Carlton), Nigel Lappin (Brisbane), Matthew Lloyd (Essendon), Andrew McLeod (Adelaide), Stuart Maxfield (Sydney), Matthew Nicks (Sydney), Brad Ottens (Richmond), Adam Ramanauskas (Essendon), Joel Smith (Hawthorn), Nick Stevens (Port Adelaide), Warren Tredrea (Port Adelaide), Michael Voss (Brisbane), Darryl White (Brisbane).
*Brian McEniff, manager of the Irish International Rules team, has announced his panel to travel to Australia for the Test Series against the host country in October. The team, which arrives in Melbourne on Monday, is:
Cormac O’Sullivan (Meath), Graham Canty (Cork), Coman Goggins (Dublin), Darren Fay (Meath), Ciaran Whelan (Dublin), Sean Martin Lockhart (Derry), Eamon O’Hara (Sligo), Ciaran McManus (Offaly), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh), Francie Grehan (Roscommon), Seán Óg de Paor (Galway), Anthony Rainbow (Kildare), Seamus Moynihan (Kerry), Anthony Tohill (Derry), Cormac McAnallen (Tyrone), Dara O’Sé (Kerry), Graham Geraghty (Meath), Padraig Joyce (Galway), Niall Buckley (Kildare), Tadgh Kennelly (Sydney Swans & Kerry), Micheal Donnellan (Galway), Brendan Ger O’Sullivan (Cork), Mike Frank Russell (Kerry), Dermot Earley (Kildare), Dermot McCabe (Cavan), Johnny Crowley (Kerry), Brendan Devenney (Donegal).
Emergencies: Declan O’Keefe (Kerry), Anthony Lynch (Cork), Finbar Cullen (Offaly), Owen Sexton (Cork), Paul McGrane (Armagh), Des Dolan (Westmeath), Evan Kelly (Meath), Jarlath Fallon (Galway).
The two-match series will be covered by the AFL website as well as the Irish broadcaster RTE.

In Brief
*Carlton is expected to play several matches at Colonial Stadium next season, depending on the troublesome venue’s financial situation. Addressing a crowd of 1400 supporters and players at Carlton’s best-and-fairest count on Friday night, club president John Elliott said there was a real possibility the club would play several home games at Colonial next year, away from Optus Oval, which is experiencing its own revenue problems. Elliott even suggested Colonial could go into receivership in the next few weeks unless major shareholder Channel Seven puts more money into it. It is believed Seven, which already owns 60 per cent of the venue, may be looking to increase its stake.
*The 2002 AFL draw is scheduled to be released within a fortnight. So far, we know that Carlton may play home matches at Colonial; Geelong will play eight home games in Kardinia Park next season, with two at Colonial and one at the MCG; Richmond and Collingwood will each play three home games at Colonial; Sydney will play three home games in Stadium Australia; Hawthorn will play one home game in Tasmania and North Melbourne will play two home games in Canberra.
*Fremantle chairman Ross McLean says the Dockers must accept criticism for a disastrous 2001 season. Speaking to members and guests at the Dockers’ club champion awards, McLean dismissed calls for his resignation and tips the Dockers to fight back from financial and on-field disaster. He said an outstanding player trading period last week, the arrival of new boss Cameron Schwab and the imminent appointment of a coach promoted confidence.
*North Melbourne goal-kicking champion John Longmire will join Sydney as an assistant coach in Season 2002. 30-year-old Longmire will join Steve Malaxos, Paul Roos and George Stone as assistants to Swans senior coach Rodney Eade next year.
Longmire had a long and illustrious career with the Kangaroos, playing 200 games and being part of the 1999 premiership team, after missing the 1996 flag and 1998 GF through injury. He won the Coleman Medal in 1990 when he booted 98 goals, and represented both Victoria and NSW in State of Origin.
Since he retired at the end of 1999, Longmire has still been heavily involved with football, both in the media with Channel Seven and as a highly-regarded player manager with IMG.
*Dual Kangaroo premiership full-back Michael Martyn is set to part company with the club and head for the national draft. The Roos are determined to delist the 33-year-old to make room for captain Wayne Carey and vice-captain Anthony Stevens on the veterans’ list. The move would enable the Roos to save about $A500,000 within their salary cap. The club has offered to reclaim Martyn at the coming draft, offering him a one-year deal with a reduced pay deal.
Martyn was honored by the club with a testimonial dinner combined with the best-and-fairest award. He, along with retiring CEO Greg Miller and marketing manager Francis Trainor, were given life membership of the club.
*Retired Essendon defender Dean Wallis is tipped to take an assistant coaching position at St Kilda.
Wallis, who played just one senior game last season and retired in Grand Final week, had an interview with Saints football staff on Thursday.
*Richmond’s oldest player Brendon Gale has decided to end his distinguished 14-year, 244-game career with the Tigers. Gale, 33, had been set to play on for another season at Richmond’s request, but reversed his decision after some frank discussions with club officials. Gale said he had taken into account his age, career opportunities, financial considerations and the likelihood of a significant pay cut, and the “big effort” required to saddle up for another season in deciding to retire after 14 seasons at Punt Road. Gale will now dedicate himself to a career in law and player advocacy and may continue as the president of the AFL Players Association.
*Melbourne has received an injection of $A250,000 from prominent lawyer and club director Peter Hayes, QC, to stem a short-term cash-flow problem. The loan became necessary as the club’s administration conceded it was unlikely to receive the final $A300,000 instalment of funding from former president Joseph Gutnick, money for which the club had budgeted.
*Melbourne assistant coach Brian Royal has joined the shortlist for the vacant Fremantle AFL coaching position after heavy lobbying by Demons boss Neale Daniher. Fremantle chief executive Cameron Schwab has invited Royal to interview for the position on the recommendation of Daniher, who was lured to the Demons from Fremantle in 1998. Royal’s inclusion brings the list back to four after Essendon’s Mark Harvey withdrew from the race and elected to stay on at Windy Hill. The interviews will take place this week.
*Scott McLaren, who officiated in his second grand final last Saturday, has capped an outstanding year by being named the AFL All-Australian umpire for the first time. Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews was named the All-Australian coach.
*St Kilda has unsuccessfully sought to lure former West Coast and Hawthorn coach Ken Judge back to football as an assistant to its new coach Grant Thomas. Thomas called Judge at the weekend but was told by the recently sacked Eagles coach that he was not prepared to uproot his family to accept the post.
*As expected, Essendon midfielder Gary Moorcroft has won the Channel Seven Mark of the Year for his towering grab over Bulldog Brad Johnson in Colonial Stadium in Round 14. The Goal of the Year award goes to West Coast’s Mark Merenda. Both Moorcroft and Merenda win a $A10,000 voucher from a sporting goods store chain.
*In a special edition of game show The Weakest Link, Kangaroo David King lost to Rodney Howe of the Melbourne Storm rugby league team in the last round sudden death. Saint Max Hudghton was an early casualty, voted out in round two, while Lion Justin Leppitsch was eliminated two rounds later. Howe donated the winning prize of $A46,300 to the Cancer Council of Victoria.

Superboot
Some time ago I told you about a Superboot competition organised by a bakery and a smallgoods company, in which a person had ONE shot to win $A1 million by kicking a goal from 50m out. The competition was controversial because of the strict criteria: current and past players in any professional Aussie Rules team were not allowed to enter. After protests the organisers relaxed the rules a little: players who have played in AFL and state leagues were excluded from competition.
On Thursday before the AFL Grand Final, West Australian amateur footballer Richard Di Giacomo was at the MCG to attempt to kick for $A1 million. However his only attempt at goal faded to the right at the last moment, thus he missed on the major prize. Di Giacomo, who said he posted 15 entry forms, won $A10,000 by kicking a goal from the goal sqaure.

General silliness
*When Nine dug deep into its moneybin for its share of the $A100 million a year that the three networks will pay the AFL for the new rights, the network did so in the knowledge that it will not get to telecast a single final for the entire five years of the contract, that all of those games will be shown by Ten. Nine’s boss Kerry Packer is said to have thumped his fist on the table in disgust when he learned that his top executives had agreed to such a deal, demanding to know who was responsible. But there were more rumours that during some recent negotiations when both Nine and Ten were bidding heavily for the rights to Big Brother II, the sequel to the ratings phenomena pioneered by Ten this year, Packer actually rang Ten chief executive John McAlpine and tried to broker a deal. Give us the finals, said the big fella, and in return we will withdraw from the bidding for Big Brother II. Exactly what McAlpine said in reply is not known, but it turned out that not only will Ten have all the finals, as originally agreed, but recently it was announced that Ten will screen Big Brother II next year.

Finally, some further details on a new AFL game produced by Acclaim. The first product due for release is Kevin Sheedy’s AFL Coach 2002 which will be released mid November this year in Australia, to be followed next August with the release of a new “Coach” game as well as a simulation game whereby the player will actually play as the footballers during the course of the game. These products are planned for release on the PlayStation 2, X-Box and PC-CD ROM formats, with GameBoy Advance and Gamecube to follow. Both games will be locally developed and produced under licence from the AFL.

That's all for today. See you soon.

Regards,

Johnson Leung



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