After their tenth loss for the season against Geelong in Round 17, St Kilda decided to part company with senior coach Alan Richardson. The official announcement was that Richardson himself opted to step down although speculation has it that the decision was mutual after extensive discussions between Richardson, CEO Matt Finnis, and the board of directors.
In making the announcement, Finnis thanked Richardson for his commitment and contribution to the club and praised him for the work he had done under difficult conditions, "Alan brought great integrity, knowledge and experience ... and under his leadership, the foundation for future success has been laid. He inherited his role at a difficult point in the club’s history, developed the young players now beginning to make their mark, took the club to the cusp of two finals appearances, and ... showed great resilience in the face of adversity. Alan’s selflessness and focus on what is right for the playing group and club has always been immense, but it’s perhaps been best demonstrated in the past two days through his decision to step aside ...".
Finnis made note that there were a number of players unavailable for team selection at various stages during the season and said the board had taken that into account but tempered that by pointing out that under Richardson's six year tenure as coach, the club is not where they need to be. He also said the fault did not lie just with Richardson and commended him and the rest of the coaching staff for their performances in the aforementioned adversity.
Assistant coach (and former Carlton senior coach) Brett Ratten will see out the season as caretaker coach while the club embarks on the task of finding the next senior coach. Ratten is being touted as the favorite to being appointed.There is also speculation that Carlton may approach him. Other names being mentioned by the media are Collingwood assistant coach and former Saint Robert Harvey, former North coach Brad Scott, and current Port assistant Michael Voss who had previously coached at his former club Brisbane.
Source: Clair White, St Kilda Media Release, sen.com.au
In early July, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon resigned himself to the fact that talented midfielder Harley Bennell would not be with the club after this year. In an interview at the time, Lyon expressed hope that another club would sign Bennell, saying he was a "special talent" and believes Bennell still has a future and that if Bennell does not find another club, it would be a "devastating loss". Lyon hopes another club will take a chance on him and can find a solution for his troublesome calves.
In mid-July, football manager Peter Bell made the announcement that a mutual agreement had been reached with Bennell's management to settle out his contract. In making the announcement, Bell said, “It’s been an incredibly frustrating and disappointing period for Harley and the club trying to get his body right ... play. Harley’s resilience and determination to overcome numerous setbacks has been amazing and ... he has indicated ... he wants to seek an opportunity elsewhere ... We believe we have done everything we possibly could ... we will continue to support Harley post his departure ...".
Bennell, 26, was originally drafted at selection two by Gold Coast in 2010, debuted in 2011 and played 81 games before being traded to the Dockers at the end of 2015. He has played just two games for the Dockers due to his ongoing calf issues. The club has exhausted all medical avenues in an effort to get him back to playing but to no avail. He was sent to Germany to see a specialist and the club also engaged the services of a ballet physiotherapist. He was just about ready for a comeback at the time but suffered a serious calf tear which has ended his season. After two consistent seasons with the Suns, his injury woes began in 2013 when he missed six weeks with a hamstring injury, followed by five weeks on the sidelines in 2014 with a calf injury. He played 15 games in 2015, missing three weeks with a calf injury and being dropped several times for off-field incidents. He then missed the entire 2016 season as the calf problem worsened. It also kept him out of the side for most of 2017. His only two games came at the end of the year. He played a dozen games in the WAFL during the midseason of 2018, beginning and ending again with his calf issues.
Bennell believes he still has the potential to play at AFL level, “I’m not retiring ... I’m going to work really hard on rehabbing ... with a view to giving myself the chance to have another crack ... I firmly believe that I am capable of getting back out there and playing ... ". He also acknowledged the support he had received from Fremantle, saying the support had been outstanding.
Source: Rosie Duffy, Fremantle Media Release, sen.com.au, AFL Record Season Guides
Article last changed on Sunday, July 21, 2019 - 10:39 PM EDT