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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Port Adelaide played its first home game in Round Two and paid tribute to late teammate John McCarthy. CEO Keith Thomas said it was an opportunity for the entire club community to pay their respects. The tribute has been in the works since the club learned of McCarthy's tragic death last year in Las Vegas. It worked closely with McCarthy's family, fiancée, teammates and others at the club to create the tribute which Thomas said was a celebration of the young footballer's life. The tribute included a video on the AAMI Stadium screens, featuring tributes from John’s teammates and a specially-made banner unfurled over a section of the crowd. Port players ran through a banner acknowledging John and created by the Port Adelaide cheer squad. The GWS cheer squad also created a banner to acknowledge John. Port Adelaide and GWS players wore black arm bands during the match and a minute of silence was observed at the ground just before the game.

Thomas said that although there had already been several memorial services, this was a chance for the entire Port community, football community and McCarthy's family, loved ones and friends to all come together "to remember a great friend who made an enormous impact".

Also in honor of McCarthy's memory, his number 35 guernsey and locker have been retired for the 2013 season. Both will be assigned in 2014 to a player deemed by the club, including the players, who represents McCarthy's values and attributes. The club has also planned an end of season award in McCarthy's name to be presented to a Port player for his off-field contributions. The club has joined with McCarthy's former club Collingwood for a joint fundraiser during their Round 14 match at AAMI Stadium. The monies raised will go to a benefit or charity in his name.

McCarthy, 22 when he died, played 18 games for Collingwood before joining Port Adelaide at the end of 2011. He played a further 21 games in 2012 with the Power.

Source: Andrew Rutter, Port Adelaide Media Release

There are two promenades leading to the MCG which display a dozen statues of great Australian sportspeople, amongst them Ron Barassi, Norm Smith, Dick Reynolds, Leigh Matthews, Betty Cuthbert, Sir Donald Bradman and Shane Warne. The AFL has now commissioned a statue of Essendon great John Coleman to be placed among those sporting legends. The bronze statue will be completed and unveiled in September.

Coleman debuted for Essendon in 1949, kicking 12 goals in his first game. He went on to kick 537 goals in just 98 games. He led the club's goal-kicking 1949-1953, topped the League goal-kicking in every season except 1951 and was club best and fairest in 1951. He represented Victoria 12 times and played in Essendon's Premierships 1949-1950. He missed out on the 1951 Grand Final due a four week suspension late in the season. His career was cut tragically short in Round 8, 1954 when he landed awkwardly after a mark (catch of the ball) and dislocated his knee. He went on to coach Essendon 1961-1967, taking them to the 1962 and 1965 Premierships. Coleman passed away in 1973, aged 44. The Coleman Medal has been presented the the League's leading goal-kicker since 1955, a year after he retired.

Fellow Essendon legend Dick Reynolds was captain-coach and non-playing coach during Coleman's career. Coleman was such a prodigious talent and such an exciting player, not only for his goal-kicking but his aerial and ground skills as well, that Dick Reynolds related a story about Coleman. According to Reynolds, fans attending Essendon games would cram into whichever end of the ground the Bombers were kicking towards. At each of the breaks, as many as possible would then move to the opposite end of the ground just to watch Coleman in action.

Selection criteria dictate that candidates must be Australian, renowned for their sportsmanship and that they. or their sport played, is connected with the MCG. Lis Johnson has been commissioned to create the statue. Johnson has been a sculptor since 1992 and has worked a variety of media with bronze a specialty. Her works have been seen in numerous solo and group exhibitions and she has done a number of private and public sculptures, including the Norm Smith statue at the MCG. Other works include the Illawarra Memorial Coalmining Sculpture (Wollongong, 1995), the Vietnam Memorial in Victoria (Dandenong, 2004), Portrait Bust of John Gorton (Armadale Library Garden, 2005), a reconstruction of Alex Jesaulenko's mark over Graeme Jenkins (1970 Grand Final between Carlton and Collingwood) and The Illawarra Centenary Rugby League Sculpture (Win Stadium, Wollongong, 2011).

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release, Encyclopedia of League Footballers, AFL Record Season Guide, ed. note

Article last changed on Friday, April 19, 2013 - 1:41 AM EDT

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