After the Farmer story broke, former Hawk premiership player and 1987 Brownlow Medalist John Platten spoke on SEN's breakfast show. He said the revelation about Farmer was "pretty scary". Platten said he suffered at least 40 concussions during his 18-year career which began in the SANFL. One of those concussions was suffered during the brutal 1989 Grand Final against Geelong. He was so badly concussed in that game, he remembers very little about it and, to this day, cannot remember receiving his premiership medal.
Graham "Polly" Farmer passed away in 2019 at the age of 84. After his passing, a sample of his brain tissue was examined. In a first for the AFL, both a scientific journal and the West Australian newspaper reported that the examination revealed that he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) from head knocks he suffered during his playing career. While the medical journal did not reveal his name, the newspaper did. Farmer played 356 games from 1952 to 1971 as a ruckman for East Perth and West Perth in the WAFL and for Geelong in the VFL. He is considered a revolutionary figure in the game because of how he played the ruck position and his use of the handball.
St Kilda's Paddy McCartin has ruled himself out of the 2020 season due to ongoing concussion issues. McCartin, 23, was the number one selection in the 2014 draft but has played just 35 games since debuting in 2015. He has suffered eight concussions since 2014, the last coming in a 2019 preseason game. Former Saint Nick Dal Santo was a boundary commentator during that game. When the news broke that McCartin would not play in 2020. Dal Santo recalled the incident on SEN Radio, saying it appeared to be a "light brush" of the head, but with McCartin's history, it was enough to put him in a bad way. He has been unable to run or train since then.
At half time in Friday night’s Preliminary Final against Geelong, Richmond looked to be in trouble. Just a year after failing badly in the same game against Collingwood despite being hot favorites, the Tigers trailed by 21 points and looked a shadow of the team that was riding a 10 game winning streak. Adding further doubt to any potential comeback was a shoulder injury to 2017 Premiership hero Jack Graham, plus collision injuries to Captain Trent Cotchin and star midfielder Dustin Martin that had slowed both players in the first half.
Geelong on the other hand was magnificent. The Cats were making a mockery of their label as underdogs, taking the game on and converting up forward despite missing key spearhead in Tom Hawkins through suspension. The half time scoreline seemed unlikely after the Tigers rallied in the back end of the first quarter.
In a Friday night (Melbourne time) Semi-Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Geelong Cats picked themselves up from their previous week's loss to the Collingwood Magpies, to keep their finals hopes alive and defeat the reigning Premiers, the West Coast Eagles. The Cats had been under intense media scrutiny all week, as many pundits predicted the Cats would again drop out of the finals series with two straight losses. The Eagles too had their own mid-week drama to deal with, as small forward Willie Rioli was handed a provisional suspension for interfering with a urine test administered by the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority.
The Cats opened the game with a burst of goals. Their plan was clear. Run the ball through the middle of the ground, using handpassing and accurate kicking to catch the Eagle intercept markers [mark = catch] out of position. After nine minutes of play the Cats had booted three goals, keeping West Coast scoreless. Geelong's Captain Joel Selwood continually put his body on the line and midfielders Tim Kelly and Cameron Guthrie used their pace and ball skills to break the Eagles defensive lines. The Eagles abandoned their zone defense structure and played a man-on-man defense,
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.
The Fremantle Dockers produced one of the shocks of the season by knocking over the competition's top team, the Geelong Cats. The Cats' quest for a home final is on shaky ground. For the Dockers, it keeps alive their slim chance of making the finals. The undermanned Dockers went into the game without a recognized tall forward, and instead gambled on pace and pressure around the ball. Perhaps this was a lesson learned from a hammering they received from the Western Bulldogs in their last game.
The game began as expected with the Cats getting straight down to business with Joel Selwood kicking to Tom Hawkins who took a contested mark (catch) at the top of the goal square, to open the Cat's account after just two minutes of play.
Defender Liam Dawson has been delisted by Brisbane. Dawson, 22, played 18 games for the Lions in four years. He played only one game in the past two seasons but failed to add to that tally in 2018. Rohan Bewick, Claye Beams, Jake Barrett, Marco Paparone and Tom Bell have also been delisted while Cian Hanley has retired.
Bewick, the nephew of former Essendon 1993 and 2000 premiership player Darren, played 103 games for the Lions in eight seasons. Bewick, 28, celebrated his 100th AFL game milestone in 2017 and kicked 71 goals for the Lions throughout his career. In 2018,, he played three senior games.
Melbourne rolled to a 29-point win over a hapless Geelong on the back of a scintillating first quarter at the MCG on Friday night. Long suffering Demons fans celebrated wildly as their team broke a decade long finals drought and the party might not stop here. The dominant performance would have resulted in a much larger winning margin had the Demon forwards brought their kicking boots, with Melbourne managing just 1 goal, 10 behinds in two quarters of football to give Geelong a sniff of a comeback after halftime.
Melbourne Demons vs Geelong Cats (MCG)
State of Play:
This is a battle between two differing line-ups: the finals hardened Cats and the young enthusiastic Demons. After a disastrous end to 2017, Melbourne finished strongly this season to book their finals berth for the first time in 12 years. By contrast, Geelong has missed the finals only once in the same 12 year period. The contrast continues with the Cats playing two easy beats in Gold Coast and Fremantle to complete the minor round, winning both games by over 100 points each.