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The Departures Begin

Oscar McDonald (file photo)

Delistings and trade requests have started and first out of the gate were Brisbane, Essendon, Carlton, and Port Adelaide. Port has delisted three players and confirmed wingman Karl Amon will depart as an unrestricted free agent.. Throughout much of the season, it was speculated that Amon, 27 desired a return home to Victoria. Hawthorn, Carlton and St Kilda were all interested but he has opted for the Hawks and will sign in October when the free agency period opens. List manager Jason Cripps said, “Karl has been an outstanding clubman ... and he should be commended for his professionalism and maturity ... ".

The three delisted players are former Brisbane Lion Sam Skinner, father-son selection Taj Schofield, and midfielder Sam Mayes. Skinner, 25, was drafted by Brisbane in 2015 and played 3 games in an injury-riddled stint before being delisted at the end of 2020. Port signed him as a delisted free agent but he managed just 2 games for Port. Schofield is the son of former player Jarrad Schofield and was rookie-listed in 2020 but never made a senior appearance. Mayes, 28, was drafted by Brisbane in 2013 and played 101 games before requesting a trade home to South Australia at the end of 2018. He played 20 games for Port.

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GWS Appoints Adam Kingsley

The day after Round 23 concluded, GWS confirmed former Port Adelaide premiership player and current Richmond assistant coach Adam Kingsley as their new senior coach. It is believed he has signed a three year deal. Kingsley was one of the leading contenders along with Melbourne assistant Adem Yze and Giants interim Mark McVeigh. McVeigh took over when Leon Cameron stepped down earlier in the season.

Kingsley believes the club has what it needs to be successful, “It’s a privilege and an honor to be the next senior coach ... I’ve been clear in my aspirations to become a senior coach and over the last 16 years I’ve continued to learn and develop to the point now where I’m absolutely ready to take the next step ... This is a club which has built a strong culture from the ground up in just a few short years. In just 11 years the Giants have made multiple preliminary finals, and a Grand Final, and while the ultimate success has eluded the club, it’s clear the building blocks are in place. It's clear the players, staff, members and fans are hungry for success ... I believe in this club and what we can achieve together.”

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The Exodus Begins

Gray Scores a Goal

Just ahead of the final round, Richmond wingman Shane Edwards and Port midfielder Robbie Gray announced they would retire at the end of the season. Michael Hurley, Devon Smith, and David Mundy joined them in retirement soon after.

Edwards recently reached the 300 game tally against Brisbane and was a key contributor in the 2017, 2018 and 2020 Grand Finals. He was named All-Australian in 2018 and has finished high up in the club's best and fairest numerous times. Edwards, 33, wanted to go out on his own terms and said, “It is time for me to step aside and move on just as players did for me when I started. I am trying to play to the best of my ability ... but it is pretty obvious ... I won’t be helping us move forward next year. The club has given me everything, it has changed my life forever and I will always be connected to the Richmond Football Club. My teammates are what I will miss the most, we have been through so much together and always had fun ... I have won premierships and a few wooden spoons and finished everywhere in between as well.”

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Two Forwards Shelve the Sherrin

Kennedy Celebrates a Goal

Eagle forward Josh Kennedy and Port forward Steven Motlop both announced their retirements ahead of Round 21. The game against the Crows was Kennedy's last while Motlop bowed out immediately. Kennedy, 34, was expected to retire at the end of the season, but a knee issue saw him decide to call time sooner. He was originally drafted by Carlton and played for the Blues for two seasons before being traded to the Eagles in exchange for Chris Judd. Many believe the Eagles got the better of the deal given Kennedy's longevity and goal scoring, in spite of Judd winning his second Brownlow Medal with the Blues.

In a club statement Kennedy said, “It’s been a privilege to play so many years at this great football club and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent the West Coast Eagles and Carlton There are so many people to thank for helping me on the journey over 17 years. Obviously my wife Lauren and daughters Sage and Lottie, my family who always supported me, coaches John Worsfold and Adam Simpson, club staff and of course my teammates. Footy and the West Coast Eagles have given me so much and I’ve loved the journey. I’ve made lifelong friendships and learned so much from champions like Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Mark LeCras ... My knee is a big reason ... my drive to play is still there, but I’m realistic my body is not going to be able to take me to another season. To be able to farewell West Coast supporters one last time at Optus Stadium and say thank you for the incredible support over the years will be the perfect way to finish my career.”

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Dockers Survive Late Power Surge

Lobb kicks over Aliir

The Fremantle Dockers survived a late surge from Port Adelaide Power to bolster a position in the top four. In a contest that was punctuated with soaring high marks (catches) and skillful goals, the Power played for their season but fell agonizingly short. Illness and injury forced the Power to use forwards Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon in the rucking role. The Dockers took full advantage with Sean Darcy controlling the ruck and the home team dominating clearances. Caleb Serong, Ethan Hughes, Andrew Brayshaw and Darcy himself got first use of the ball 28 times throughout the day. Ollie Wines and Travis Boak did more than their bit for Port in the midfield and Darcy Byrne-Jones at half-back played an influential game, but ultimately the quick ball movement by the Dockers, through most of the match, sealed Port's fate.

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2022 AFL Hall of Fame

Matthew Pavlich

In mid-June, the AFL held their annual Hall of Fame function with eight new inductees and one previous inductee elevated to Legend status. The Legend elevation was the late Port Adelaide Magpie (SANFL) centerman Russell Ebert, who was also recently named as Port Adelaide's greatest ever player. Ebert is the 32nd player to be named a Legend. He passed away in 2021, and the award was accepted by his widow Dian.

The eight new inductees represented not only the AFL, but the state leagues and Tasmania. They are Terry Cashion, Bill Dempsey, Mike Fitzpatrick, Brent Harvey, Matthew Pavlich, Michael Taylor, Ted Tyson and Nicky Winmar.

The Inductees:

RUSSELL EBERT - elevated to Legend status

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Supplemental Signings

Paddy McCartin Handballs

The AFL's Supplemental Period (SSP) ran from January 10 through March 9 and several clubs took advantage and picked up players to round out their lists.

The Sydney Swans have picked Paddy McCartin, 25, during the SSP (Supplemental Selection Period) which has just concluded. McCartin was originally drafted by St Kilda in 2014 and played 35 games but had to step away from the game due to lingering concussion issues. He did spend last season with Sydney's VFL team and joins the club as a delisted free agent. McCartin joins brother Tom at the Swans and said, “It’s extremely exciting – it’s been a unique journey for me to get back to this point. It’s a path that not many people have taken, but my goal was to always try and get back to the elite level and to be able to do it with the Swans. To do it with Tom, in particular, is something that means a lot and is exciting. I’ve loved training with the team and playing last year, so it’s good to get on the list. There’s a lot that we want to achieve as a group so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with the guys this year.”

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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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Port Adelaide Icon Passes

Russell Ebert Statue, credit: Thejoebloggsblog at English Wikipedia

In early November, Port Adelaide (SANFL) icon and legend Russell Ebert passed away at the age of 72 after a battle with cancer. Ebert was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer, in December last year. He passed at home surrounded by his family. His son Brett played 166 games for Port Adelaide and was the club's leading goalkicker in 2007, while his nephew Brad also played for the Power in 184 games.

Ebert played 392 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies and also had a stint with North Melbourne in the VFL. He won four Magarey Medals (SANFL Brownlow equivalent), played a club record 392 games and was recently elevated to legend status in the SA Sports Hall of Fame. He is just the seventh legend in the hall.

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A Fond Farewell To Eddie Betts

Eddie Shoots for Goal

Eddie Betts played his 350th and final game in Round 23. It came after several weeks of discussions between him and the club with the club saying they would not be offering him a new contract. The announcement was made ahead of the final game of the year to give fans a chance to celebrate an amazing career and farewell (arguably) the most likable player and person to grace the game.

Betts was selected in the 2004 Preseason Draft and debuted in 2005. With his innate ability to kick impossible goals and create something out of nothing, he quickly became a fan favorite. He will go down in league history as one of the best - if not the best - small forward.

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