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Racism Scandal Explodes at Hawthorn

Alastair Clarkson (front) (file photo)

Newly appointed North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson and Brisbane Coach Chris Fagan have become embroiled in very serious allegations stemming from their time together at Hawthorn. It began with an external review commissioned by the club to better understand the indigenous people, referred to as First Nations players, and their experiences at the club. The review led to the allegations being made and the club referring everything to the AFL Integrity Unit. Several of the involved players were interviewed and their stories - and those of their partners, paint a completely different picture of the "family club". The story was made public by the ABC which brought to light the treatment of the young players at the hands of the coaches and club officials.

Three players and their partners told their stories but had their names changed for the publication. The players were told to part ways with their partners, even though the women were pregnant, were forced to move out of their homes. Their partners were told to terminate unborn children. The players had the SIM cards removed from their phones to further separate them from family. Essentially, they were told football came first and that was to be their primary focus. In many cases, they were bullied into choosing the club and those involved had no compassion for the players or their families.

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Kennedy, McEvoy, de Boer are Going, Going, Gone

McEvoy vs Essendon (file photo)

Three more veteran players joined this year's group of retired players. Matt de Boer, Ben McEvoy, and Sydney's Josh Kennedy. Just ahead of Round 22, GWS midfielder Matt de Boer, 32, announced his immediate retirement due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered in mid-June. He ends his career on 223 games, 138 of which were played for the Dockers before he joined GWS. It was at GWS he cemented his reputation as one of the game's most effective taggers. He was a crucial part of the teams that made it to the finals, including the 2019 Grand Final loss to Richmond.

In making the announcement, de Boer said, The Giants ... and its people is truly a special place ... “My heart is unequivocally full of gratitude and love for the friendships, memories and opportunities that playing in the AFL has availed me. “I’d particularly like to thank Leon Cameron for believing in me and challenging me always to be the best version of myself. I’d also like to thank the Fremantle Dockers for first recruiting me...".

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Saints Hold Off Hawks To Go Back Into Top Eight

Sam Mitchell (file photo)

The Saints mauled Hawthorn earlier in the season at the MCG as their midfield and forwards dominated the Hawks. Now late in the season the two teams are not so distant on the ladder at Round 20 and both were outside the top eight prior to this match. Early in the third quarter today the Saints looked poised to repeat the dose, but a late fightback by the Hawks saw them trail by just two goals at the final siren, but still enough to carry the Saints into the top eight.

Played under the closed roof at Marvel, the two teams took a good period to feel each other out.  After seven and a half minutes the Saints put the first serious score on the board when Mason Wood outmarked Jiath in the forward pocket and converted the free kick into a goal.  But they failed to capitalize on good work of the midfield as King, Membrey and Lienart all missed set shots. 

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Hawks Make Dockers Work Hard

Andrew Brayshaw (file photo)

The Hawthorn Hawks came to Optus Stadium as the underdogs but their game plan pushed the home team for most of the match. The Dockers had to work hard for the win as the Hawks applied heat around the ball and almost beat the Dockers at their own game. Fremantle welcomed back captain Nat Fyfe after a ten-month absence due to injury.

Fyfe was in the action at the first bounce down, knocking the ball from the Hawk's Sam Mitchell, which was gathered by Caleb Serong who kicked long to tall forward Rory Lobb, who marked (caught the ball) and booted the opening goal for the Dockers after just thirty seconds of play. Despite Dockers' ruckman, Sean Darcy, having the better of Hawthorn's ruckman Ned Reeves, the Hawks were able to get movement away from stoppages through solid clearance work by Conor Nash and Jaeger O'Meara.

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Another Midseason Retirement

Roughead (R) (file photo)

Collingwood ruck/defender Jordan Roughead retired just a week after Bomber Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti did the same. Roughead, 31, has not played since Round Five, his only game this year. He underwent shoulder surgery in February, then suffered a finger injury in Round Five. He said he knew 2022 would most likely be his last as he has had issues with his shoulder for several years, saying in part, "The last month or so I have spent some time thinking about when I would make the call. This is not a decision I am making because I want to but a decision I am making for my long-term health and my family as well.” Noted for his toughness and bravery, he said the game had taken its toll on him physically and he had been consulting with doctors. He also revealed that he and his wife are expecting their first child.

Roughead, the cousin of Hawthorn champion Jarryd, played 201 games over 14 seasons. He was traded to the Bulldogs at the end of 2018 where he played 63 games. He started with the Bulldogs and was a member of the 2016 premiership side, despite suffering an eye injury the previous week. In that Grand Final, he carried the ruck load for much of the match. In 2019 and 2020, he finished in the Top 10 in Collingwood's best and fairest count.

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Melbourne Down Determined Hawthorn

Max Gawn (file photo AFANA)

Melbourne started the game without their coach Simon Goodwin, out due to the health and safety protocols.  Hawthorn started with goals, to Koschtizke who marked on the lead and two to Breust who played on and snapped truly. Fritsch kicked Melbourne's first twelve minutes into the game after the Demons caught the Hawks out the back of the contest on a turnover.   Oliver and Petracca dominated around the ground for the Demons.  But the Hawks were able to get some good movement halving the center clearances. 

Ward kicked the Hawk's third, but it was Koschtizke who deserved the credit when he backed into the contest preventing Hunt from marking and the spill favoring the goal kicker. The Demons worked their way into the game to be just two points down at quarter time thanks to Petracca hitting Tom McDonald with a short pass for a goal and young Toby Bedford marking and kicking his first goal for the club.  The Dees were on the board early but it took a review to determine whether the first one was a goal to Harms or a mark to McDonald. It mattered little to Melbourne as McDonald eventually took the paid mark from point blank range.

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Hawks Kick Long To Take Down Roos

Sam Mitchell As A Player

Under new coach Sam Mitchell, Hawthorn looked to defy wooden spoon predictions with a first up win over the Kangaroos by 20 points at the MCG.  The new look 2022 Hawks kicked long and marked deep in the forward line with Lewis and Gunston the main targets.  North Melbourne debuted Horne-Smith and he looks a real prospect but a four goal run by the Hawks either side of the half time break was decisive. 

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AFL Life Memberships and Jack Titus Award Announced

Grant Birchall vs Jordan Roughead

In early February, the AFL announced the next inductees for life membership and the Jack Titus Award, which is given annually for service to the game. The awards and the memberships will be officially presented at the league's AGM in March.

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2021 Delistings and Retirements, Part Seven

Birchall Spoils Roughhead

Two days after Melbourne's Grand Final victory, it was back to business for the club with three players being delisted, one retiring and another deciding to look for better opportunities elsewhere. Jay Lockhart, Aaron Nietschke and Austin Bradtke were delisted, while Aaron vandenBerg will seek opportunities elsewhere and Neville Jetta announced his retirement. Lockhart played twenty-two games since joining the club as a preseason supplemental selection in 2019. Bradtke and Nietschke never played a senior game with the latter suffering three ACL injuries in his time at the club, vandenBerg played 51 games for the club.

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Delistings and Retirements, 2021 Part Five

Brooksby Tackled

A few days after the Semi-finals, West Coast announced three departures. Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee were delisted and ruckman Nathan Vardy retired. Hutchings, 30, played 120 games in nine seasons. He was a member of the 2018 Grand Final and played a key role in the game, shutting down Magpie star Steele Sidebottom.

Ah Chee, 27, was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2011 and played 27 games with the Power before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2017. He was delisted and re-rookie listed by the Eagles at the end of 2019. He played 28 games for the Eagles. Vardy, 30, was drafted by Geelong in 2011 and played 25 games for the Cats before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2016 and played 52 games including the 2018 premiership.

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