AFL Umpire Head Coach Hayden Kennedy has advised the AFL that he will be stepping down from that role after the conclusion of Round 10. Kennedy, a teacher by profession, began umpiring AFL games in 1988 and went on to officiate in 495 games, including five Grand Finals. He retired after Round 17, 2011 as the record holder for most games umpired. That record was broken by Shane McInerney (502) games) before he retired at the end of 2019. Kennedy would easily have surpassed 502 games had it not been for a bout of plantar fasciitis (inflammation of tissue in the foot) several seasons before he retired.
Stories related to player retirements
Just as Round Five was getting underway, Jonathon Patton announced his immediate retirement from all levels of football. Patton, 27, was the number one draft selection in 2011, being snapped up by the Giants. He has struggled with injuries across his eight-year career. He played 89 games for GWS before being traded to Hawthorn at the end of 2019 but has managed just six games for the Hawks. The injury issues are only one part of the story. In January, he was stood down from Hawthorn after at least four women complained that he sent them lewd and explicit photos, videos, and messages on social media. He was later hospitalized for mental health issues and released in March. Since his release, the AFL Integrity Unit is free to interview him and ramp up their investigations.
In making the announcement, Patton said, “I have made the difficult decision to retire ... to focus on my health, wellbeing, and future outside of the game.
The AFL Supplementary Selection Period (SSP) ended on March 9 with eight clubs selecting 12 players. Several had been delisted by other clubs and were invited to train with other clubs in the hope of being selected. Below are the clubs and their selections.
Collingwood defender Tom Langdon has been forced to retire due to a chronic knee injury. Langdon, 26, was drafted in 2013 and played 89 games for the Magpies. A mainstay of the backline, he was named one of the best on ground in the 2018 Grand Final against the Eagles. He suffered severe cartilage damage just two months into the 2019 season and has not played since. General manager of football Geoff Walsh paid tribute to Langdon, “Tom played some wonderful football ... and it was a sad day when the reality of his premature retirement arrived.
In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.
It comes as no surprise that the 2020 Grand Final was Gary Ablett's last game. There was very little fanfare and no major announcement, most likely due to the fact that almost everyone knew it was to be his last. There is little that can be said about the "Little Master" that has not already been said or written. At the end of the game, all the Richmond players lined up with the Cats to form a guard of honor for Ablett. However, there was much more to it than that.
Just days after Travis Varcoe announced his retirement, Lynden Dunn did likewise. Collingwood also delisted midfielder Tim Broomhead and defender Matthew Harry Reynolds. All three have had injury setbacks during their careers and the trio made comebacks of sorts in 2020 but were unable to cement their places in the senior team. Dunn, 34, was drafted by Melbourne in 2004 and played 165 games. He played just four games in 2016 as the Demons opted for younger defenders and he was traded to the Magpies at the end of the year.
Hawthorn delisted Darren Minchington, Jackson Ross and Will Golds. Minchington, 26, was drafted by St Kilda in 2012 but injuries over the years restricted him to just 28 games. He was delisted at the end of 2018. He was signed by the Hawks as a delisted free agent for 2019 but never played a senior game. Two hamstring injuries bookended his season and he played just eight VFL games and was delisted once more However, the Hawks thrrew him a lifeline when Will Golds suffered a season-ending knee injury.
As the season nears to a close, more clubs not in contention have made cuts to their lists and a few more players have announced their retirements.
The Adelaide Crows have delisted Riley Knight, Patrick Wilson and Ayce Taylor. Knight, 25, was drafted in 2013 and played 55 games. Wilson, 25, was drafted in 2018 and played just two senior games but none this year. Taylor was added to the list during the preseason supplemental selection period but never played a senior game. Wilson, while playing in the SANFL, won two best and fairest awards.