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Round 22 was full of stories. There was heartbreak in Adelaide as the Crows and Power likely blew their chance at playing finals, but there were also two of the season’s greatest games played between four of the league’s best teams. Both of those incredible games were physical, skillful contests that came down to one kick for goal that separated the winners from the losers. Brisbane’s last gasp win over Geelong in front of a rampant Lions home crowd came courtesy of a potential “Mark of the Year” by Lincoln McCarthy who goaled for a one point win, while it was Richmond’s favorite rascal in Jack Riewoldt who snapped truly to give his Richmond team a meritorious win against a gallant West Coast Eagles on Sunday at the MCG. All four teams will no doubt play a big part in September.
Other big winners in a stunning round of footy were the Western Bulldogs who followed up 21 consecutive goals the previous week against Essendon with a dozen in a row against a disappointing Greater Western Sydney who let their home fans down.
Carlton's Dale Thomas and Fremantle's Hayden Ballantyne were both informed by their respective clubs that they would not be offered contracts for 2020. Thomas, 32, announced his retirement at the time. However, after Carlton's win over the Saints, he said he would consider offers from other clubs. He played game 100 as a Blue in Round 22 after crossing from Collingwood where he played 156 games including the 2010 premiership. He was named All-Australian in 2011.
Thomas said he was content with his decision, “While this is something I didn’t want to hear, I was realistic that it was a chance ... I also understand the direction the club is going ... I have experienced so much in my career since walking in as a blond-haired kid ... in 2005. The opportunity to live out my boyhood dream ... I am proud of everything I’ve been able to achieve."
Richmond and GWS veteran Brett Deledio has announced his retirement at the end of the year. Shortly after, GWS ruckman Dawson Simpson did likewise. Deledio, 32, reflected on his 15 year career, "I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in my career. I’d like to thank the players and staff both past and present at ... Richmond ... "I’m so proud to have played 243 games in the yellow and black ... I played my best footy as a Tiger but I’m so grateful for the opportunity the Giants presented me ... It’s no secret I needed a fresh start and to be able to do that at a new club like the Giants has been unbelievable for me. The past few years have been really tough, both on and off the field. But it showed me that football isn’t everything and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter of my life with my family.”
The footy world is mourning the death of perhaps the greatest indigenous player and ruckman of all time, Graham "Polly" Farmer. Farmer, 84, died at his home in West Australia surrounded by family. He had been in poor health for some years and his wife Marlene revealed in 2012 that Farmer was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Farmer revolutionized the role of the ruckman with his sublime skills not only in the air, but at ground level as well. He lacked speed so used the handball as an attacking option when most other sides did not. He honed his handball skills in his native West Australia, where he would handball through a half-open car window. He was also a fitness fanatic, with daily running and weights sessions to, as he put it, "... to suffer the consequences of 100 minutes of football."
Farmer grew up in an orphanage for Aboriginal children in a Perth suburb. He always claimed the upbringing gave him a chance to make something of himself. It was at this orphanage where he received the nickname "Polly" for his talkative nature. Ironically, as a footballer, he was very quiet on the field.
Caretaker Coach David Teague has been appointed senior coach at Carlton. Teague, 38, took over for Brendon Bolton and has won five of the past seven games through Round 21. Teague also had the support of several senior players, including co-captain Patrick Cripps. The club approached several candidates, including Hawthorn's Alistair Clarkson and Port assistant Michael Voss but opted for Teague.
Teague played 83 games for North Melbourne and Carlton between 2004 and 2007. After retiring as a player, he embarked on a successful career in coaching, serving as senior coach of the VFL side Northern Bullants from 2008 to 2010, then as an assistant at West Coast, St Kilda, and Adelaide, before returning to Carlton as the forward coach ahead of the 2018 season.
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