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Sheppard and Townsend Retire

Sheppard Tackled

In early December West Coast running defender Brad Sheppard and Suns defender Jacob Townsend announced their retirements just a few days apart. Sheppard, 30, was forced to retire due to ongoing concussion issues. He suffered several head knocks late in the season, the last coming in round 22. The Eagles believed he could still play but gave him time to decide. He sought medical advice over concerns about his future health and opted to retire.

Sheppard was drafted in 2009 and played 216 games. He was named All-Australian in 2015 and won the best clubman award in 2020. He was also a key member of the 2018 premiership side. Coach Adam Simpson said, "His career speaks for itself, over 200 games, it's just really sad that it finishes this way. He still had plenty of good footy left. He retires as a man with universal respect at every level of the football club ... ".

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Friday Night Doubleheaders Return in 2022 AFL Schedule

Demons Celebrate 2021 Premiership
The 2022 AFL schedule was announced in early December, exactly 100 days from the start of the regular season. While the venues had been set, the League has only confirmed the dates and times for the first nine rounds. The schedule for Round 10 through to Round 23 will be progressively revealed throughout the season with advance notice. The regular season kicks off on Wednesday, 16th March with the rematch of the 2021 Grand Final between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs at the MCG, where the Demons will unfurl their premiership flag.
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2022 AFL Women's Schedule

Brisbane celebrates 2021 Premiership
(Updated 12/31/2021) After weeks of delay, the 2022 AFLW schedule was released in early December. The AFL had originally planned to start the sixth season of the women’s competition in December but decided to push it back to January 2022 to minimize the impact of interstate border restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as had occurred in the past two seasons. The 2022 season will kick off on Friday, January 7th with St Kilda hosting Richmond at SkyBus Stadium in Frankston, a bayside suburb around 25 mi southeast of Melbourne, while Brisbane Lions begin their premiership defense with the 2021 Grand Final rematch against the Crows at Noarlunga, 16 mi south of Adelaide on Sunday, January 9th. The schedule change was revealed on New Year's Eve, after the West Australian Government announced during the week it would close the state border to both Queensland and South Australia, due to recent surge in cases linked to Omicron variant of COVID-19 in both states.
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2021 AFL Draft

Polec Marks (Catches the Ball)

The AFL Draft was held during our Thanksgiving holiday period. The Western Bulldogs kicked things off with a trade of draft selections to better their chances of snaring Sam Darcy, son of former champ Luke. They gave Geelong their first selection (number 23) to Geelong in exchange for the Cats' selections 32 and 34. GWS was interested in Darcy so the Dogs needed a strong draft hand to match the bid. During the trade period, several clubs tried to coax a deal with North Melbourne for the number one selection, but the Kangaroos turned down all offers. The Bulldogs and North also flipped picks for next year's draft. The Bulldogs were not the only club busy trading, with Port Adelaide moving up two spots by giving West Coast their selection 14 and a future round two pick. The Roos were also involved in a trade with Collingwood and received the Pies' second round pick of number 36, giving up a third round pick (No.38) and a future third round selection.

As in years past, it is club by club. The number in front is the draft selection followed by player name, (junior or club of origin), age, height, weight and position. The Rookie and Preseason drafts were held just after the national draft, so those selections are included here.

ADELAIDE

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Blues Defender Refuses Shot, Retires

Liam Jones (#14) vs Collingwood

Just as the free agency period was ending, Carlton defender Liam Jones announced his shock retirement. It is apparently due to his anti-vaccination stance. The league mandated that all AFL and AFLW players get vaccinated or be placed on inactive lists until they comply. Jones, 30, retires after 161 games - 66 with the Bulldogs and 145 with the Blues - and said his decisions were for "personal reasons" but would not elaborate further. In a statement he said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout my journey, both personally and professionally. I love the game and I’ll miss my teammates. I hope that people respect my decision and privacy - neither myself or [sic] my management team will be making any further comment on the matter. ”

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Free Agency and Other Signings

Campbell Clips Kersten

The AFL free agency period opened in early November and ran through November 9. Several delisted players found new homes. Players who have been delisted can join any club that offers them a contract and would therefore avoid having to enter the AFL draft later this month. All clubs then filed a list lodgment (current playing lists) on November 10 and another round begins on November 10 and runs through November 15.

Sacked Crow Tyson Stengle joined Geelong as a delisted free agent. Stengle, 22, played two games for Richmond and 16 games for the Crows over a four-year period but a string of off-field indiscretions saw the Crows decide to cancel his contract. In the SANFL this year, Stengle kicked 44 goals in 19 games, including nine goals in three finals. He is set to reunite with former teammate Eddie Betts, who has taken up an off-field role at the Cats.

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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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Magpie de Goey Arrested in NY

de Goey Celebrates a Goal

Collingwood forward Jordan de Goey has been stood down by the club after he and companion were arrested in late October at a New York hotel nightclub. According to police, both were intoxicated and were charged with groping a female patron on the dance floor. When her date tried to intervene, he was punched, kicked, and hit with a bottle. de Goey, 25, had traveled to the USA as part of a promotion for an energy drink. He, his companion, the woman, and her companion were all staying at the hotel where the incident occurred.

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Shane Mumford Retires

Mumford Battles Magpie Adams for Sherrin

In late October, ruckman Shame Mumford announced his retirement, this time for good. Mumford, 35, retired at the end of 2017 due to a chronic foot issue and took up a role as ruck coach with GWS, where he had been playing. The foot problem was resolved and he came out of retirement in 2019. Mumford was drafted as a rookie by Geelong in 2007 and played 21 games for the Cats before being traded to Sydney at the end of 2009. He soon established himself as one of the most imposing ruckmen in the competition. He played 79 games with the Swans, including the 2012 premiership.

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Two More Bow Out

Wood with the 2016 Premiership Cup

Western Bulldogs captain Easton Wood announced his retirement in late October and Adelaide defender Daniel Talia also retired. Wood, 32, said his body could no longer cope with the demands of AFL and that he felt his physical capabilities were declining and he did not want to let down the club. He has struggled with several injuries in recent seasons, including hamstring and ankle issues which restricted him to 15 games in 2021. He played the last eight games of the year including the Grand Final loss to the Melbourne Demons.

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