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by Lisa,  reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Cash For All
Last week, the AFL announced its new spending plan for the next five years. Called the "Next Generation - Securing the Future of Australian Football", the plan will see massive amounts of cash invested in the AFL clubs, the competition, game development, and facilities with a view to the future. The "strategy" details the distribution of a record $1.4 billion over the next 5 years and includes a $650 million package to shore up the future of the 16 AFL clubs.

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said the Next Generation "strategy" was a responsible and prudent balance between providing for clubs and the competition today as well as  investing in building the next generation of supporters, participants, members and viewers.   Demetriou acknowledged the supporters and their passion for the game and said they would also benefit from the improved funding as it would ensure affordable ticket prices, strong and stable clubs, support for school footy, the Auskick program, and grassroots community football. A direct benefit for supporters will be the freezing of general admission prices for games in 2007.

In making the announcement, Demetriou and acting Commission chairman Bob Hammond said the Commission and AFL administration had spent 8 months consulting with the football industry to develop a long-term, responsible and balanced strategy. The full details are:

Payment to all 16 clubs to cover 100% the increase to the Total Player Payments (TPP) with each club receiving a special base distribution of $6 million (1.2 million per year per club) for 2007-2011.

More money for those clubs who need it most, with the Annual Special Distribution (ASD) policy to provide $6.2 million per year or $31 million over five years for clubs with long term financial difficulties primarily due to the small size of their supporter base and to other clubs currently receiving poor returns from their stadium agreements. The number of clubs receiving ASD funding will be expanded and will include the Kangaroos, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Richmond, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Richmond and Carlton. The AFL will also fund the Swans TPP cost of living allowance.

$208 million will be invested in 2007 in game development for State and Territory leagues. The AFL has a target of 700,000 participants in Australian Football by 2011, an increase on current numbers of 25%.

$100 million from the total game development funding to accelerate the growth of Australian Football in NSW and Queensland.

An $82 million fund will be created to strengthen the future of the game and be available for unforeseen circumstances as well as providing investment in assets and capital growth.

Record prize money with an extra $1 million to create a pool of $2.6 million in prize money per year for clubs finishing in the Top Eight. Of this amount, clubs will share $1.53 million and players $1.1 million per year.

The freezing of general admission prices for the 2007 AFL premiership season and 2007 NAB Cup games and a freeze on the price of base club membership packages for the 2007.

$65 million over 5 years to collaborate in the improvement of facilities at AFL venues and also at State and community level to improve the environment for supporters and community football.

Funding of $334 million to cover the costs of staging the game itself covering travel, accommodation, and funding for research, umpires, drug testing and also the cost of raising revenue.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release


Daryn Cresswell Investigated
A woman has filed charges against Daryn Cresswell for assault of an adult nature which allegedly took place last weekend. It's alleged Cresswell, 35, met the woman at one Brisbane hotel and then accompanied her to another hotel in downtown Brisbane, where the alleged attack took place.  Cresswell was interviewed by police and denied the allegations. No charges have been laid as police are continuing the investigation.  Cresswell played 244 games for the Sydney Swans and has held assistant coaching roles at Geelong and Brisbane. He recently resigned from Brisbane to return to Melbourne and seek further coaching opportunities.

Source: Melbourne Age

Injunction Restriction
The AFL may have won its recent battle to protect the names of the 3 players who returned 2 positive drug tests, but the Victorian Supreme Court has now ruled that the media, should they acquire the identities of players in the future who also test positive, will not be banned from publishing their names.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

All-Australian Team
Bulldog Brad Johnson has been named captain of the side for the second successive year and Swan Barry Hall has been named vice-captain.

Hall, Joel Bowden (RICH), Simon Goodwin (ADE), Dean Cox (WCE), Scott West (WB), Matthew Pavlich (FRE), and Ben Cousins (WCE) also retained their places from last season. Of the 14 players coming into this year's team, 10 were named for the first time.

Johnson is the first player from the Bulldogs to have been named as All Australian captain and he and teammate West were both chosen for a club record fifth occasion, while West Coast's Ben Cousins was the most senior player in the side, this being the sixth time he has been selected.

The full team is:

B: Bassett (ADE)  Glass (WCE)  Gilbee (WB)
HB: C. Bolton (SYD) J. Bowden (RICH) McLeod (ADE)
C: Goodwin (ADE)  West (WB)  Goodes (SYD)
HF: Didak (COL)   Hall (SYD) O'Keefe (SYD)
F: Brad Johnson (WB) Fevola (CARL) Riewoldt (STK)
R: Lade (PA)  Judd (WCE)  Cousins (WCE)
I/C S. Burgoyne (PA)  Cox (WCE)  McDonald (MELB)
Matthew Pavlich (FRE)

Player statistics through Round 22 (ed. note: Inside 50 refers to how many times player has delivered ball into team's attacking zone, Rebound 50 refers to player clearing ball from opposition's attacking zone and moving it forward for his team):

Nathan Bassett: 1st time All Australian. 20 games in 2006. Two Goals, no Behinds. 223 kicks, 152 marks, 135 handballs, averaging 11.5 kicks, 7.6 marks, 6.8 handballs. Four Clearances, 26 Inside 50, 66 Rebound 50

Darren Glass: 1st time All Australian. 21 games in 2006. One goal, no behinds. 84 kicks, 86 marks, 141 handballs, averaging 4.0 kicks, 4.0 marks, 6.3 handballs. One Clearance, Four Inside 50, 37 Rebound 50

Lindsay Gilbee: 1st time All Australian. 22 games in 2006. Seven Goals, Nine Behinds. 313 kicks, 116 marks, 175 handballs, averaging 14.2 kicks, 5.2 marks, 8.0 handballs. 22 Clearances, 80 Inside 50, 94 Rebound 50. Third in the AFL in Rebound 50

Craig Bolton: First time All Australian. 21 games in 2006. Three goals, Four Behinds. 216 kicks, 132 marks, 99 handballs, averaging 10.3 kicks, 6.3 marks, 4.7 handballs. 12 Clearances, 32 Inside 50, 64 Rebound 50

Joel Bowden: Second time All Australian. Previously selected 2005. 21 games in 2006. Three Goals, No Behinds. 326 kicks, 133 marks, 169 handballs, averaging 15.5 kicks, 6.3 marks, 8.0 handballs. Seven Clearances, 25 Inside 50, 138 Rebound 50. First in the AFL in Rebound 50

Andrew McLeod: Fourth time All Australian. Previously selected 1998, 2000 and 2001. 19 games in 2006. Five goals, six behinds. 276 kicks, 87 marks, 154 handballs, averaging 14.5 kicks, 4.6 marks, 8.1 handballs. 24 Clearances, 82 Inside 50, 59 Rebound 50

Simon Goodwin: Fourth Time All Australian. Previously selected 2000, 2001, 2005. 22 games in 2006. 12 Goals, 11 Behinds. 343 kicks, 87 marks, 254 handballs, averaging 15.6 kicks, 4.0 marks, 11.5 handballs. 113 Clearances, 132 Inside 50, 51 Rebound 50. Third in the AFL in total disposals. Fifth in the AFL in total kicks. Seventh in the AFL in total handballs. Fifth in the AFL in contested possessions. Seventh in the AFL in clearances. Led the AFL in Inside 50

Scott West: Fifth time All Australian. Previously selected 1998, 2000, 2004, 2005. 22 games in 2006. Six goals, Five behinds. 254 kicks, 106 marks, 389 handballs, averaging 11.5 kicks, 4.8 marks, 17.7 handballs. 119 Clearances, 58 Inside 50, 46 Rebound 50. Led the AFL in total disposals. Led the AFL in total handballs. Led the AFL in contested possessions. Second in the AFL in hard ball gets. Fourth in the AFL in clearances

Adam Goodes: Second time All Australian. Previously selected 2003. 22 games in 2006. 22 goals, 12 behinds. 339 kicks, 158 marks, 120 handballs, averaging 15.4 kicks, 7.1 marks, 5.5 handballs. 47 hit outs. 71 Clearances, 100 Inside 50, 59 Rebound 50. Sixth in the AFL in total kicks. Ninth in the AFL in Inside 50.

Alan Didak: First time All Australian. 22 games in 2006. 41 goals, 21 behinds. 272 kicks, 130 marks, 111 handballs, averaging 12.4 kicks, 5.9 marks, 5.0 handballs. 20 Clearances, 91 Inside 50, 13 Rebound 50

Barry Hall: Third time All Australian. Previously selected 2004, 2005. 22 games in 2006. 67 Goals, 34 Behinds. 244 kicks, 184 marks, 69 handballs, averaging 11.1 kicks, 8.4 marks, 3.1 handballs. 25 Hit Outs. Seven Clearances, 48 Inside 50. Fourth in the AFL in total marks. Second in the AFL in contested marks. Fourth in the AFL in goals

Ryan O'Keefe: First time All Australian. 22 games in 2006. 27 Goals, 20 Behinds. 307 kicks, 156 marks, 113 handballs, averaging 14.0 kicks, 7.1 marks, 5.1 handballs. 33 Clearances, 103 Inside 50, 18 Rebound 50. Sixth in the AFL in Inside 50

Brad Johnson (captain): Fifth time All Australian. Previously selected 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005. 22 games in 2006. 70 goals, 39 behinds. 303 kicks, 163 marks, 123 handballs, averaging 13.8 kicks, 7.4 marks, 5.6 handballs. 21 Clearances, 74 Inside 50, 18 Rebound 50. Ninth in the AFL in contested marks. Second in the AFL in goals

Brendan Fevola: First time All Australian. 21 games in 2006. 84 goals, 53 behinds. 226 kicks, 138 marks, 40 handballs, averaging 10.8 kicks, 6.6 marks, 1.9 handballs. Three Clearances, 56 Inside 50. Eighth in the AFL in contested marks. First in the AFL in goals

Nick Riewoldt: Second time All Australian. Previously selected 2004. 22 games in 2006. 58 Goals, 34 Behinds. 282 kicks, 206 marks, 83 handballs, averaging 12.8 kicks, 9.4 marks, 3.8 handballs. 25 Hit Outs. 11 Clearances, 49 Inside 50, 16 Rebound 50. Led the AFL in total marks. Led the AFL in contested marks. Tenth in the AFL in goals

Brendon Lade: First time All Australian. 22 games in 2006. 18 Goals, 12 Behinds. 253 kicks, 187 marks, 102 handballs, averaging 11.5 kicks, 8.5 marks, 4.6 handballs. 436 hit outs averaging 19.8 hit outs. 43 Clearances, 59 Inside 50, 30 Rebound 50. Third in the AFL in total marks. Second in the AFL in hit outs

Chris Judd: Second time All Australian. Previously selected 2004. 19 games in 2006. 25 Goals, 17 Behinds. 268 kicks, 51 marks, 210 handballs, averaging 14.1 kicks, 2.7 marks, 11.1 handballs. 109 Clearances, 97 Inside 50, 28 Rebound 50. Second in the AFL in contested possessions. Led the AFL in hard ball gets. Eighth in the AFL in clearances

Ben Cousins: Sixth time All Australian. Previously selected in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 (vice-captain). 18 games in 2006. 15 Goals, Nine Behinds. 265 kicks, 93 marks, 200 handballs, averaging 14.7 kicks, 5.1 marks, 11.1 handballs. 77 Clearances, 87 Inside 50, 15 Rebound 50

Shaun Burgoyne: First time All Australian. 22 games in 2006. 20 Goals, 16 Behinds. 265 kicks, 87 marks, 193 handballs, averaging 12.0 kicks, 4.0 marks, 8.8 handballs. 109 Clearances, 66 Inside 50, 55 Rebound 50. Sixth in the AFL in clearances. Fifth in the AFL in tackles

Dean Cox: Second time All Australian. Previously selected 2005. 17 games in 2006. 13 Goals, Six Behinds. 192 kicks, 122 marks, 111 handballs, averaging 11.3 kicks, 7.2 marks, 6.5 handballs. 346 Hit Outs, averaging 20.4 hit outs. 46 Clearances, 32 Inside 50, 37 Rebound 50. Ninth in the AFL in hit outs

James McDonald: First Time All Australian. 22 Games in 2006. Five Goals, Six Behinds. 279 kicks, 102 marks, 235 handballs, averaging 12.7 kicks, 4.6 marks, 10.7 handballs. 88 Clearances, 68 Inside 50, 33 Rebound 50. Tenth in the AFL in total handballs. Third in the AFL in contested possessions. Led the AFL in tackles

Matthew Pavlich: Fourth time All Australian. Previously selected in 2002, 2003, 2005. 22 games in 2006. 63 Goals, 32 Behinds. 271 kicks, 172 marks, 80 handballs, averaging 12.3 kicks, 7.8 marks, 3.6 handballs. 19 Clearances, 84 Inside 50, 10 Rebound 50. Eighth in the AFL in total marks. Fourth in the AFL in contested marks. Sixth in the AFL in goals

The All Australian side was selected by Rod Austin, Adrian Anderson, Gerard Healy, Robert Walls, Chris Mainwaring, Mark Bickley and Kevin Bartlett with Andrew Demetriou as non-voting chairman.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

Charges laid:

Jared Rivers (MELB), wrestling Saint Nick Dal Santo, fined $1200 for a first offense. He accepted, reducing the fine 25% to $900.

Andrew Thompson (STK): rough conduct against Melbourne's against Cameron Bruce: negligent conduct (1), medium impact (2), in play (0), and high contact (2), equaling 5 points, a Level 2 offense, 125 demerits, and a 1 game suspension. He has a clean 5 year record, which reduces the penalty 25% to 93.75 demerits, He entered an early plea, reducing the penalty a further 25% to 70.31 demerits and a reprimand with the demerits held over toward his future record.

Brodie Holland (COL), rough conduct against Bulldog Brett Montgomery: intentional conduct (3), high impact (3), in play (0), and high contact (2), equaling 8 points, a Level 5 offense, 425 demerits and a 4 game suspension. He has a record of 5 games suspended in the past 3 years, increasing the penalty 40% to 595 demerits. He also has 96.88 residual demerits from the past 12 months, bringing the total to 691.88 demerits and a 6 game suspension. An early plea would have reduced the penalty 25% to 518.91 demerits and a 5 game suspension.

Collingwood took Brodie Holland's case to the Tribunal in an effort to have several classifications reduced. Evidence was presented in an effort to plead the classifications down from intentional and body contact rather than high contact. Frame by frame printouts of the video footage was introduced as the club tried to prove that Holland made contact with his hip to Montgomery's body. They also argued that Montgomery, who had no recollection of the first half of the game, testified via phone link, that he had no soreness or bruising to his face. Collingwood also argued that Montgomery suffered the mild concussion when his head hit the ground, not as a result of Holland's bump.

However, the Tribunal held up the original finding of the Match Review Panel, meaning he loses the discount he would have received had he accepted the penalty instead of facing the Tribunal. His final demerits now stand at 691.88 for a 6 game suspension with 91.88 demerits held over toward his future record.

As Collingwood is out of the finals, Holland will serve his suspension over the first 6 weeks of next season.

The match day report laid against West Coast's Daniel Chick was reviewed and dismissed. The Match Review Panel ruled that Chick's bump on Sydney's Nick Malceski, who had just disposed of the ball, appeared to be to the chest and shoulder area. The panel also ruled that while the bump was slightly late, the incident was not reportable.

Contact between St Kilda's Fraser Gehrig and Melbourne's Ben Holland was reviewed. The panel said Gehrig made slight contact to Holland's neck area. It was not considered to be a striking action and therefore not a reportable offense.

Source: Melbourne Age & Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

300 games: Rohan Smith & Scott West (WB): Rohan and Scott became the 50th and 51st players in the history of the game to reach 300 games. This is the first time in the history of the game that two players have played their 300th match on the same weekend and the Western Bulldogs side this weekend will be the first in the history of the game to field three current 300-game players in Smith, West and Chris Grant.

250 games: Peter Bell (FRE)
100 games: Paul Medhurst (FRE) & Paul Wheatley (MELB)

Most Finals Umpired: Darren Goldspink umpired his 35th career final this weekend, taking him to equal third on the all-time list behind only Jack Elder (39 finals) and Bryan Sheehan (37 finals) and level with Ian Robinson (35 finals)

Most Finals Umpired: Brett Allen umpired his 34th career final, putting him just one game behind Darren Goldspink

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release


Although the club released a media statement which stated that Coach Grant Thomas had tendered his resignation, all indications are that he has basically been sacked with the club believing that he is not the man to take the club to a premiership. However, it was more than just the belief that Thomas could not deliver the elusive flag, Buttress and Thomas also disagreed on an overhaul of the football department. The board wanted to re-introduce a football operations manager, but Thomas - who has a dominant personality - resisted the move for 3 years and would not be willing or able to accommodate such changes.

The decision to dismiss Thomas came after a two hour meeting at the home of club president Ron Buttress and just 24 hours after the club was eliminated from the finals race.

Although Thomas had one year of his contract remaining, it is believed there was a termination clause which will save the club from having to pay out his 2007 salary.

While both Butterss and Thomas acknowledged differences on how the football aspect of the club should be run, the pair chose not to specify the "differences in ideologies" that had led St Kilda to remove Thomas. Despite the differences and rumors of a falling out between the two, Butterss issued a public statement thanking Thomas for his service to the club and said Thomas had made a great contribution in helping rebuild the club.

And it seems that club officials had already made up their minds regarding Thomas' tenure several months ago as they appointed outside consulting group Stride Management, to review the football department, which was run by Thomas.

In an unusual structure, Thomas was not only the on-field coach, but also oversaw the list management and player contracts, roles usually relegated to a football manager.

It is believed that Ian Foote, a former business partner of Butterss, and former Kangaroo Anthony Stevens, a partner in Stride, conducted interviews with Geelong/Brisbane assistant coach Daryn Cresswell and current Sydney assistant (and former Kangaroo) John Longmire. However, it was not revealed to either one which club was looking for a new senior coach. The Saints are believed to already have a long list of candidates for the coaching job. And the club is planning an extensive search across Australia and possibly abroad to oversee the football department.

Butterss and other club officials contacted most of the players to tell them of the decision. Most were shocked by the news.


1978-85: played 72 games with St. Kilda 1978-83, 7 games with North Melbourne 1984, 4 games with Fitzroy 1985

1986-90: playing coach of Warrnambool in the Hampden league, including four premierships. Named center half-forward and coach in the club’s team of the century

1992: coached amateur club Old Xaverians

1993: chairman of selectors at North Melbourne

1994: assistant coach to Stan Alves at St Kilda

September 2001: confirmed as St Kilda coach for the next three years

2002: begins a novel scheme to rotate the club captaincy, bestowing it first on Aaron Hamill

November 2002: assumes hands-on control of all player contracts, effectively becoming football manager as well as senior coach

May 2003: sacks dual premiership ruckman Matthew Capuano midseason, promoting rookie Allan Murray in his place

March 2004: leads St Kilda to the preseason premiership

March 2005: falls out with onetime “bosom buddy” Butterss after an off-season during which Thomas negotiated a new three-year contract, took the team to South Africa for a training camp at a cost of $250,000 and appointed former Fremantle fitness coach Adam Larcom

September 2005: takes the Saints to their second consecutive preliminary final but watches them bomb out in the final quarter against Sydney with a grand final berth within reach. High expectations for 2006.

July 2006: becomes St Kilda’s second-longest serving coach, behind the legendary Allan Jeans.

September 2006: Saints knocked out in the elimination final by Melbourne, with an injury-affected side. Then he is sacked

The club has appointed a subcommittee to assist in the search for its next senior coach. Former coach and media personality Robert Walls is on the committee which also includes Rod Butterss, St Kilda directors Glen Casey and Mark Kellett, Brownlow Medallist Ross Smith (chairman), premiership player Ken Sheldon and St Kilda CEO Archie Fraser.

Sheldon will also join the Club as a consultant for an interim period to assist with aspects normally conducted by a football manager.

Veteran Robert Harvey will play in 2007.

Stephen Powell announced his retirement last week. Powell, who recently turned 30, played 142 games since his debut in 1997. Powell came to St Kilda in 2003 from Melbourne (2000-2002, 44 games, 43 goals) and had begun his career at the Western Bulldogs (1997-1999, 30 games, 21 goals). In his first year at St Kilda, Powell didn't miss a game and came 3rd in the Club's Best and Fairest. Powell played a total of 68 games for St Kilda.

Assistant coach Matt Rendell said of Stephen Powell's retirement, "It's amazing how good a career a person can conjure from dedication, great work ethic, attention to detail, 100% effort and being ultra competitive. Powelly played superbly in big games and on gun players. Twelve years in AFL football is an absolute credit to him.

Stephen Powell fact file:

Draft history: 1996 National Draft 4th Round selection (Western bulldogs) No 61 overall traded by Collingwood fro Richard Osborne; 1999 National AFL Draft traded by the Western Bulldogs for No 35 (Patrick Wiggins); 2003 Pre-Season Draft 1st Round selection (St Kilda) No 1 overall.

Played: 142 games, 12 finals (St Kilda 68, Melbourne 44, Western Bulldogs 30).
AFL Debut: Round 6 1997 Western Bulldogs v West Coast Eagles.
Player Honors: 3rd Best & Fairest 2003; 4th Best & Fairest 2000; Pre-Season premiership side 2004; Played in 2000 Grand Final; 1998 Reserve Grade Premiership.
Brownlow Medal: career votes 16.
Future plans: Looking to pursue a career in the financial markets.

Justin Peckett also announced his retirement. Peckett,33, has played his entire career at St. Kilda, starting as a 16 year old and making his debut in 1992. He is a life member of the club.

Peckett, in making his announcement, thanked his teammates, coaches, support staff, and supporters as well his family (wife Teresa and 5 children) for their support over the years, wished the Saints luck for 2007, and said he was looking forward to watching them play next year. He also said he was proud to have made a contribution to the club.   Assistant coach Matt Rendell said of Justin's retirement, "Pecko has been a fantastic servant for the St Kilda Football Club over his 17 years and 252 games. This is a fantastic achievement. He has been through many highs and lows and through this, his personality and values have really shone through. He is extremely well respected and liked by everyone at St Kilda and he will be sadly missed at the Club."

Justin Peckett fact file:

Draft history: 1992 Preseason Draft 4th round selection (St Kilda)
Played: 252 games, 8 finals.
AFL Debut: Round 4,1992 St Kilda v Hawthorn, Moorabbin.
Player Honors: 2nd Best & Fairest 1994; 3rd Best & Fairest 1997; Preseason premiership side 1996; Played in 1997 Grand Final; U19 Best & Fairest 1990; Represented Victoria 1998.
Brownlow Medal: career votes 12.

Future plans: Looking to pursue a career working with corporate teams in developing leadership skills for managers/executives. Also has an interest in remaining in footy in some area such as coaching.

Source:, Melbourne Age & Georgie Fidge, Club Media Release

Defender Leo Barry has filed a lawsuit against the AFL and betting agency Tabcorp, claiming the image of his game saving Grand Final mark from last year without his permission. Barry is seeking damages plus interest and costs, which are believed to be upwards of $50,000 or more.

In court documents, lawyers for the Swans' veteran state that he has suffered "loss and damage" and allege breaches of the Trade Practices and the Fair Trading Acts. They claim his image was used by Tabcorp in an extensive newspaper, poster and internet advertising campaign, which allegedly deceived people into believing it had his approval.   Tabcorp countered that it had received the written permission from the AFL to use the image. A preliminary hearing has been set for November 20 in Federal Court.

According to legal observers, the outcome could establish a precedent involving images used commercially without authorization.

Injury Update:
Jared Crouch, ankle/collarbone, season
Ryan Brabazon, wrist, season
Jarred Moore, thumb, season

Source: The Australian & Stephen Brassel

Nicholas Smith, who has not played senior football since 2003, was named as support ruckman to Jeff White. Nathan Brown came in as a replacement for Mathew Whelan who is out with a shoulder injury.

Injury Update:
Matthew Whelan, AC Joint (shoulder), 1-2 weeks
Mark Jamar, foot, season
Clint Bartram, ankle, season
Brent Moloney, groin, season
Paul Johnson, shoulder, season
Andre Gianfagna, shoulder, season
Heath Neville, groin, season

Source: Melbourne Age & Leigh Newton, Club Media Release

Paul Hasleby’s season is over as he has succumbed to ongoing injury problems over the last two months that have restricted him to just 3 of the 7 games. Troubled by an abdomen complaint early in the season, he has developed osteitis pubis and will require surgery.

Replaced injured duo Paul Hasleby and Antoni Grover with Graham Polak and Ryan Murphy.   Polak has played just one game in the Dockers' past 10, while Murphy was a star for the Dockers during their latter-season climb, kicking 14 goals straight at one stage, until he missed the last three season games with a foot injury.

Source: Melbourne Age & Keith Black, Club Media Release

Mark Ricciuto, while recovering steadily from the virus he contracted, is now unlikely to play in the preliminary final due to an inflamed liver which was caused by the virus. Ricciuto, who has not trained since being diagnosed with the virus several weeks ago, won't be allowed back on the training track until blood tests reveal his liver has returned to normal. A club spokesman said it remained unknown when Ricciuto would resume training.

In other injury news, Brett Burton (hamstring) returned to training last week while fellow hamstring victim Ken McGregor played in the SANFL.

Injury Update:
Chris Knight, quad, 1 week
John Hinge, hamstring, 1 week
Brett Burton, hamstring, 1-2 weeks
Ben Hart, Achilles, 2-3 weeks
Mark Ricciuto, virus, indefinite
Andrew McLeod, foot, indefinite
Luke Jericho, shoulder, season
Trent Hentschel, knee, season

Source: Melbourne Age & David Burtenshaw, Club Media Release

This may well be one of the biggest games Rohan Smith and Scott West have played in together since they met as two skinny 15 year olds in under-age footy. Smith says his first recollection of West was watching him play in the Essendon District League and He was playing for the Footscray district (the Western Bulldogs' area in suburban Melbourne).  The two then played against each other at under-16 level and even then, West was running amok. West remembers Smith as a speedy flanker with a great mullet haircut.

The duo then progressed to Under-19 footy, reserves, and finally senior football for the Bulldogs. They achieved the 150 game and 200 game milestones together, and now go into the record books as the first players in league history to notch up 300 games in the same match.  And their sons could well be destined to follow in their dads' footsteps as they have become fast friends and are almost always in the rooms together after a Bulldog game having a kick of the ball.

It has been 12 years since the Bulldogs have gone into a match without one or the other in the line up. The last time both missed a match was Round 3, 1994. Little coincidence that the Bulldogs lost to Collingwood that day by one point.   Since Smith made his debut in 1992 and West played his first game a year later, the two have been teammates for 268 games, meaning only 31 of their respective 299 games so far have been played without the other being in the side.

The most recent time Smith played without West was in Round 22, 2002 (against Collingwood) and the most recent time West played without Smith was in Round 15, 2005 (against Adelaide).
When they are in the line up together, they have an average of 42.79 disposals a game.   In matches when West is also playing, Smith averages 17.61 disposals and without him, he averages slightly less - 16.82.   With Smith in the side, West averages 26.06 disposals. Without Smith, West averages 20.26 disposals.

The last time the two missed a game, the Bulldogs were known as Footscray and the Brownlow votes went to players now retired. Leon Cameron polled 3 votes, Ilija Grgic polled 2 votes, and Collingwood player Paul Williams polled one vote.

Injury Update:
Luke Darcy, Robert Murphy, Tim Walsh, Adam Morgan, Mitch Hahn, knee, season
Tom Williams, ankle, season

Source: Melbourne Age & Rebecca O'Riley, Club Media Release

Despite a groin injury suffered while playing for Claremont last week, Michael Gardiner has caught the eye of both Carlton and Essendon. Carlton Coach Denis Pagan flew to Perth last weekend to watch Gardiner in action, and Gardiner was heading for a best on ground performance before coming off injured.

Essendon Coach Kevin Sheedy was in Perth to watch the finals matches and took time out to meet with Gardiner. Prominent Melbourne-based player manager Ron Joseph also met with Gardiner this weekend after receiving a call from Gardiner's father, who has been acting as his manager.

Regained Daniel Kerr (calf strain) and Andrew Embley (shoulder) this week as well as back-up ruckman Mark Seaby who was a late withdrawal last week.

Injury Update:
Brad Smith, knee season
Damien Adkins, broken leg, season
Mark Nicoski, ankle, 2 weeks

Source: Melbourne Age, Sydney Morning Herald & Gary Stocks, Club Media Release

Adam Kingsley announced his retirement last week after scans revealed he will require a knee reconstruction. Kingsley tore the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee in the opening minutes of Port's Round 22 game against Fremantle.   Kingsley, 31, had been keen to play on in 2007 had he not been injured but said the decision was made easier by what he had achieved through his ten-year career.

Kingsley’s career finishes on 170 AFL games having been recruited by Mark Williams from the Essendon reserves for the Power’s inaugural AFL squad. Kingsley quickly made himself an important part of the Power’s formative years, winning the best-and-fairest in its second season. He went on to play in two night premierships, winning the Michael Tuck Medal as best-on-ground in the 2001 preseason flag, and then was part of the 2004 premiership side, when he had been close to being delisted at the end of 2003.

Power Coach Mark Williams said Kingsley had had a “wonderful career”, and praised Kingsley as a team player, leader both on and off the field, and his sense of humor around the club.   Kingsley has expressed an interest in coaching and Coach Williams has hinted that there could be a role for him at the club next year.


Port Adelaide 1997 - 2006; 170 AFL games, 47 goals; 1996 Draft selection no. 37; 2004 AFL Premiership; 2001 Michael Tuck Medal; 2001, 2002 Preseason Premiership; 1998 John Cahill Medallist (best-and-fairest); Third place 1999 best-and-fairest

Shaun Burgoyne has signed a new 3 year contract. Burgoyne, who still had a year to run on his existing deal, had a career-best season in 2006 and was rated by many as one of the top three players in the competition.

Burgoyne was elated with the deal, saying it gave him and his young family some security and he is more than happy to stay at Port. He believes the team will improve with the emergence of some of the younger players this year as well as several senior players, such as Warren Tredrea, returning from injury next season.

Burgoyne, who is still only 23, has played 104 AFL games since making his debut in 2002.

Coach Mark Williams said he was the sort of player fans came to see and was quoted, “Like all young players, Shaun has taken some time to near his potential. Having now played 100 games and developed a real belief in himself and an understanding of where he fits into the side, his performances have become very consistent and more importantly to the standard where he can be a match winner. A contributing factor that is less obvious has been his development as a leader within the group. His considered opinion holds much weight and we look forward to even further development in this area.

Any AFL fan admires the way Shaun plays and we are thrilled to think that he wants to stick with us and continue his progress at Port Adelaide. I’m sure there are many great highlights to come…we look forward to seeing how he can excite us in the future, be it with his blinding speed, his cat-like evasion, his crunching tackles or his outstanding reading of the play.”

Brendon Lade has won the John Cahill Medal as the club best and fairest for 2006. Lade (157 votes) beat Shaun Burgoyne (148) and Kane Cornes (144). Lade, as with Burgoyne, only had two games where he did not poll a vote and had 13 games where he polled 8 votes or more.

His consistency and career best season was also acknowledged as he took out several other awards along with All-Australian selection this year.   In his first year as a joint vice-captain of the club, Lade carried the Power’s ruck, dominating hit-outs and leading the club in marks as well as stints up forward.

Fellow All-Australian recipient Shaun Burgoyne also capped off an outstanding year with a second-placed finish in the John Cahill Medal count, eclipsing his previous best finish of 7th. Shaun established himself as one of the stars of the competition in 2006, and teamed up with Lade brilliantly around the stoppages.

Prolific ball winner Kane Cornes proved just what a consistent performer he is by narrowly finishing in third position, just four votes behind Burgoyne. It is Cornes’ third successive top-three finish, having been runner-up for the previous two years to captain Warren Tredrea.

Tributes were paid to retiring players Josh Francou and Adam Kingsley with former captain Matthew Primus and Lade doing some of the honors for Francou and Kingsley.   President Greg Boulton and Coach Mark Williams both reflected on the season gone, with Boulton upbeat about the club’s season, describing it as an ‘investment’ in the club’s future.

The Gavin Wanganeen Medal was presented for the first time. To be eligible for the Gavin Wanganeen Medal a player must be under the age of 21 on 1 January of that season. It is fittingly named after Wanganeen who had won an SANFL and AFL premiership, a Brownlow and two All-Australian honors before his 21st birthday. This year’s winner is not surprisingly also the NAB AFL Rising Star winner, excitement machine Danyle Pearce.

With his fantastic year highlighted by his rise to runner-up in the best-and-fairest and All-Australian honors, Shaun Burgoyne was the winner of the Most Improved Award. While the term ‘most improved’ is often aligned with young players at the beginning of their career, not so at Port Adelaide, with winners of the award in recent years including Chad and Kane Cornes, Dean Brogan and Domenic Cassisi last year. Others in contention in 2006 were Danyle Pearce, Steven Salopek and Damon White.

Brendon Lade was awarded the Best Team Man award for the first time, following in the footsteps of teammates known for their selflessness – Josh Carr (2002 and 2003), Matty Primus (2000 and 2001), Josh Francou (1999), Brayden Lyle (1997 and 1998), Michael Wilson (2004) and Darryl Wakelin (2005). Also in contention for the award were Josh Mahoney and Darryl Wakelin.

The Best First Year Player is eligible to players who have made their AFL debut this year and in 2006 there were eight – Fabian Deluca, James Ezard, Elijah Ware, Matt Thomas, Alipate Carlile, Nick Lower, Greg Bentley and Ryan Willits. It was 2006 NAB AFL pre-season draft pick Matt Thomas who took out the honors. He played eight games in 2006, the most of the group.

For the first time the club introduced a Tacklers Award. It has been a theme at the club all year and Josh Mahoney, who is renowned for his never-say-die approach to his football and strong tackling, took out the award.   The Fos Williams Medal, the medal voted on by the players and based on ‘team’ qualities including leadership, selflessness, courage, professionalism, loyalty and sense of humor, was another first for Brendon Lade. Lade follows in the footsteps of previous winners Brayden Lyle (1997, 1999), Darren Mead (1998), Matthew Primus (2000-2002), Warren Tredrea (2003) and Michael Wilson (2004, 2005).

The Supporters’ Player of the Year returned in a new format in 2006, one that allowed everyone to participate. Supporters visited the club’s website ( every week and voted for the best three players from the weekend’s game on a 3, 2, 1 basis. The fans agreed with the coaches that Brendon Lade was the club’s player of the year. Lade finished on 27 votes, ahead of Shaun Burgoyne on 21 and Danyle Pearce on 20.

Voting Method: All awards, except for the Fos Williams Award and the Supporters’ Player of the Year, are decided upon by the match committee consisting of Coach Mark Williams and assistant coaches Phil Walsh, Dean Bailey, Tony McGuinness, and Matthew Primus.

The match committee cast individual votes for the John Cahill Medal on a weekly basis. The maximum vote any one player can receive from one member of the match committee for one particular game is 4 votes, the minimum is zero. Each member of the match committee can award votes to as many players as he sees fit in any one particular game. Votes were awarded as follows: 4 votes - outstanding game, 3 votes - very good game, 2 votes - good game, 1 vote - solid performance.

2006 John Cahill Medal Top 10:
Brendon Lade    157
Shaun Burgoyne  148
Kane Cornes     144
Chad Cornes      99
Danyle Pearce    93
Steven Salopek   68
Domenic Cassisi  60
Josh Mahoney     60
Darryl Wakelin   54
Damon White      49

Source: Hitaf Rasheed, Club Media Release

The club has fined Brad Ottens $5000 and he will receive education on the trauma caused by drunk driving. The fine is the maximum allowed under the player code of conduct. Half of the fine will be donated to Road Trauma Support Team, an organization that assists people affected by road trauma in Victoria, and the other half will be donated to the AFL players’ association charity fund.   Ottens will lose his license for 11 months and will be fined $450 after being caught driving with a blood alcohol count of .05 last weekend.

Tom Lonergan had to be re-admitted to the hospital just 24 hours after being released last Tuesday. The next day, he began feeling ill and returned to the hospital to be treated for dehydration. He was placed on an intravenous drip and it is not known how long he will stay in hospital.   Once Lonergan recovers, he already has plans to become involved with the Zaidee Rainbow Foundation to help promote organ and tissue donation.

Source: Melbourne Age & Kevin Diggerson, Club Media Release

Scott Lucas, who enjoyed a career best season as a forward in the absence of Matthew Lloyd, won his second Crichton Medal as club best and fairest. He tied with James Hird in 2003. This year he narrowly defeated emerging midfielder and son of Bomber champ Tim Watson, Jobe, with defender Dustin Fletcher coming in third.   Lucas played every game this season and seemingly got better as the season progressed, finishing with 28 goals in his last six games and ending the year with a total of 67 goals.

2006 Crichton Medal Top 10 (a maximum of 10 votes per game can be awarded by Coach Kevin Sheedy, an assistant coach, and the chairman of selectors to a maximum of 8 players per game):

Scott Lucas          239
Jobe Watson          221
Dustin Fletcher      208
Brent Stanton        196
Andrew Welsh         188
James Hird           180
Jason Johnson        165
David Hille          157
Mark McVeigh         143
Nathan Lovett-Murray 135

Other Award winners:
Bill Hutchison Award: Jason Winderlich
Lindsay Griffith’s Rising Star Award: Courtney Johns
Most Courageous: Angus Monfries
Striving for Excellence: David Hille
Most Improved: Jobe Watson
Leading Goalkicker: Scott Lucas

Multiple winners of the Crichton Medal:
7 - Dick Reynolds. Bill Hutchison
4 - Simon Madden, Tim Watson, James Hird
3 - Tom Fitzmaurice, Wally Buttsworth, John Birt, Barry Davis, Graham Moss
2 - Scott Lucas, Jason Johnson, Mark Thompson, Ken Fraser, Reg Burgess, Jack Clarke

At the awards ceremony, Neil McKissock announced he was stepping down from his position as Chairman of the club. McKissock, who has held the job for 3 years, said the time was right for some changes to be made to ensure the board was reinvigorated heading into 2007 and beyond. He will remain on the board and has one year of his current term to serve. He emphasized that he had never planned to be chairman on a long-term basis and that it had always been a matter of when, not if, he would step aside.   McKissock said it made sense for him to make the announcement now rather than waiting until the club’s AGM in December to ensure a smooth transition.

The recently retired Gavin Wanganeen and Dean Rioli will saddle up once more in 2007 when they co-captain the Indigenous All-Star team in their bi-annual match next February. Rioli was contacted recently by former Bomber Michael Long, who figured since both Wanganeen and Rioli had retired this year, it would fitting for the duo to lead the All-Star team this year. It will be Rioli's first time in the side and he said he was looking forward to running out with the likes of Wanganeen, Aaron Davey, the Burgoyne brothers, etc.

Rioli is now playing coach at Keilor Park in the Essendon District League, which features another ex-Bomber in Joe Misiti. Rioli is hoping to lure former Bomber Mark Mercuri to the team as well. Mercuri, who has been overseas most of this year, also played his junior footy at Keilor. Rioli, said the All-Star game would be worth pushing himself through one more pre-season with his new club.

The All-Stars have won both of their clashes with AFL clubs, beating Carlton at Marrara Oval in 2003 and the Western Bulldogs two years ago.

Rioli has also begun some new work mentoring young indigenous apprentices, through the plumbers and electricians union and plans to remain in Melbourne. He joined Keilor Park because his younger brothers had previously been involved there.

Source: Melbourne Age & Essendon website

The Kangaroos have reshaped and restructured their football department. Assistant coach Donald McDonald has been appointed performance manager while former football manager Tim Harrington has taken over the new position of List Manager.   McDonald will oversee the performance of the football department while also managing day-to-day operations. Along with Coach Dean Laidley, McDonald will also be a department spokesman.  As List Manager, Harrington will manage the club’s TPP structure, list profile and salary cap while also overseeing the recruiting department.

The Kangaroos now have a vacancy for an assistant coach. However, they have yet to decide if they will employ a full-time coach or a couple of specialist part-time coaches. Both Darren Crocker and Darren Bewick will continue in their roles as assistant coaches.


The club has emphatically denied an email rumor that Coach Mick Malthouse has resigned and is being linked to the St. Kilda job. An official club statement referred to the item as nothing more than malicious gossip.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

While several clubs have expressed a mild interest in Jason Akermanis, Akers himself has declared the Bulldogs the club of his choice. This could be a good thing as the Dogs' sentiments are mutual.   Akermanis declared on Brisbane radio that he liked the "culture" at the club and said he enjoyed meeting everyone there. Club CEO Rose and Coach Rodney Eade met Akermanis when he was in Melbourne recently and he later met with club president David Smorgon at his home.

While Rose remained somewhat tight lipped about what the Dogs were willing to offer the Lions in exchange for the flamboyant star, he did say their first draft selection was not on the table. Speculation persists that Sam Power, younger brother of Brisbane midfielder Luke, and a second-round draft pick, could well be the lure for a deal.

Source: Melbourne Age

We all know that umpires are targets for the ire of fans, especially when the decisions go against their team. Most of it stays at the ground. Not so for Darren Goldspink who runs a news agency in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. One of his customers called one day several weeks ago to cancel her subscription because she didn't want his agency delivering her paper anymore.

It is 1970 and the royal family is in Australia for a visit. They attend a game at the MCG between Fitzroy and Richmond. At half time, all the players were lined up to be presented to the Queen. One player who was not overly impressed with all the fanfare was Tiger captain   Roger Dean. Prior to the royal inspection, all the players were required to change into clean gear, meaning Dean had to relinquish his favorite jumper, a tattered old top he had worn for years. As players can be a bit superstitious at times, Dean is sure the change cost them the game. The favored Tigers were leading by 5 points at 1/2 time. But Fitzroy came out and played much better in the second half to win by 20 points. One who was pleased with the outcome, was Princess Anne, who later admitted she was barracking for the underdog Lions.

Footy supporters in Australia are a loyal lot, even when they live on the other side of the country from their beloved team. One such supporter is 57 year old Neville Woodberry. Born in Tasmania, he first saw the Demons play against Collingwood in Tasmania in the mid-50s and was swayed toward the Demons due to Ron Barassi's presence in the side, even though his dad went for Collingwood. The family moved to Melbourne in 1959 and he was a member of the Demon cheer squad when they won their last premiership (against Collingwood) in 1964. After military service, he moved to Perth, but the distance has not daunted his support. He and about 300 others are part of the Western Demons. He and his mates, including a former Demon vice-captain and now an Angelican vicar regularly meet at local pubs to watch games and flock to Subiaco when the Demons are in town. And he helps out when the team comes to Perth, carting luggage and even washing their guernseys after games. He assists the team property manager as a general gopher.

A backyard shed and his garage have become a shrine to his beloved Demons. A red and blue flag waves over his home. The shrine in his shed is like a fabulous footy flashback, with old team posters, albums of swap cards going back to the 1930s, toys, guernseys, footballs, books and videos. Every wall is covered and the garage is the same, although space there is shared with his other obsession, Elvis Presley. A statuette of Presley sits on the bar and is festooned with a Demon scarf.

He also uses player guernsey numbers to teach his 8 and 10 year old daughters math: Ben Holland (4) plus Matthew Bate (6) equals David Neitz (10) is one example.

Inside Football's match report player ratings had an amusing line for Essendon's Andrew Lee from the Round 22 game. Lee was on the interchange bench and the rating description for him was: Used less than a coffee machine in a Belgian beer hall.

Source: Inside Football & Melbourne Age

On to the scores:

FRE   3.3   7.9   11.15   14.18 (102)
MELB  3.0   7.3   10.4    11.8 (74)

GOALS: FRE - Murphy 2, Farmer 2, M. Carr 2, Pavlich 2, Webster, Mundy, Schammer, Longmuir, Cook, Headland; MELB - Neitz 3, Robertson 3, Davey 2, McLean, Yze, Miller

BEST: FRE - Black, M. Carr, J. Carr, Bell, Johnson, Schammer, Sandilands; MELB - Miller, Brown, Johnstone, Carroll, McLean

INJURY: FRE - McPharlin (ankle)

UMPIRES: Vozzo, McInerney, Goldspink

ATTENDANCE: 42,505 at Subiaco Oval

Melbourne started well when Davey outbodied Mundy to mark and goal after 3 minutes of play. After Black hit the post, White won a throw in tap and McLean dashed into space for a mark and goal. But the Dockers hit back when Bell won the ball out of the middle to help set up Webster for one. From the next bounce, Pavlich led out from the forward line to mark and boot a long range goal. The contest remained tight as both sides kept pace with each other, but a Josh Carr turnover gave the Demons their next goal when Robertson sc**wed around a kick from a tight angle to give Melbourne the lead. A free to Mundy for a goal restored the Docker lead. Daniel Bell conceded a point in a defensive effort which left the Dockers just 3 points in front at 1/4 time.

Melbourne burst out of the blocks early in the 2nd term with Davey snagging a goal from the first bounce. Yze booted the next on the run and a 50 meter penalty minutes later took Neitz to the goal line for a 3rd goal to give the Demons a 17 point lead. Murphy was shifted forward, but it was Schammer who kept the Dockers in the hunt with another long range goal. The Demons kept up the pressure as Neitz gave McPharlin the runaround to kick one from the boundary. Murphy bobbed up a few minutes later, but missed from just 30 yards out. The Dockers began to dominate play around the ground with Sandilands getting on top of White and the inexperienced Smith in the ruck, but couldn't make the most of their opportunities as they squandered a number of scoring shots. It wasn't until late in the term that Murphy bobbed up again for a Docker goal. But the Demons also wasted several chances to extend their lead by any sizeable margin and when Longmuir goaled, the Dockers trailed by just a point. It was two points when Yze soccered through a point from a goal square scramble and back to 1 point when the Demon defense conceded a point. Murphy got the ball again just before the siren to put the Dockers 6 points ahead at 1/2 time.

Neitz leveled the scores to start the 3rd term, but Matthew Carr ran in for a goal to restore the Docker lead. The Dockers kept up the run and were well and truly having the better of the Demon midfield. While Melbourne relied heavily on Johnstone, McLean, and Green to provide the run they desperately needed, the Dockers had a host of players willing and able run and carry the ball. Farmer had two shots on goal in a minute, the first for a poster, the second a goal to put Freo 14 points clear. And they could have had an even greater lead as the term wore on, but for some wasteful kicking. As it was, both sides managed two more goals for the term, leaving the Dockers with a 17 point lead at 3/4 time.

Melbourne again opened the scoring for the final term, but Miller's goal was the only one the Demons managed while the Dockers added the next 3 to book an historic first preliminary final.

For the Dockers, Sandilands (32 hitouts) proved too good and too big against White and the inexperienced Smith, giving runners Matthew Carr (19 possessions, 7 marks), Josh Carr (26/7), Schammer (25/4), and Bell (22) plenty of the ball with Bell shutting down key Demon Bruce. Black (28/6)) provided run from half back to set up attacking moves while Parker (11) and Johnson (19/6) were solid on the last line of defense.

For the Demons, Johnstone (22), McLean (28), Green (21/9), and Brown (28/14) worked tirelessly in the midfield, while Carroll (10/7) gave his all against the bigger and stronger Pavlich while MIller (19/14) was a force at center half forward and Ward (17/8) battled gamely in defense.

WCE  4.3  8.7   9.12  16.17 (113)
WB   3.4  4.6   4.9    5.9 (39)

GOALS: WCE - Lynch 6, Hunter 4, Waters, Hansen, Judd, Embley, Cousins, Cox; WB - Johnson 3, Grant, Robbins

BEST: WCE - Hunter, Judd, Lynch, Hansen, Kerr, Chick, Cousins, Selwood, Butler; WB - West, Johnson, Morris, Smith, Street

INJURY: WCE - Wirrpanda (hamstring)

UMPIRES: Kennedy, Allen, Schmitt

CROWD: 43,219 at Subiaco Oval

The Bulldogs have been praised for much of the season for their magnificent resolve in the face of extreme adversity - losing 5 of their best players to knee injuries - and have been admired for their hard running free flowing play. Their fleet- footed midfields have been their strongest asset as they break opposition lines and can kick a few goals rather than relying solely on their forwards. In attack, Brad Johnson, at just under 6', has played as a tall leading forward with aplomb. With St. Kilda, Collingwood, and Melbourne all bundled out of the race, the Bulldogs were the last hope for Victorian fans. They even defeated the Eagles at Subiaco in Round 13 of this year. So the ground held no fear. But the Eagles, with a blue-chip midfield of their own and a multi-pronged attack, simply outran and outclassed the classy Dogs. They denied the Bulldogs the space they love, while using the wide open spaces to their own advantage.

They came out firing in the opening term with Hunter posting a goal inside the first two minutes. Grant got it back for the Bulldogs, but Lynch and Hansen bagged 2 for the Eagles.

The Dogs employed the tactic of rotating players off the bench in an attempt to stop Judd. The plan was to continually have fresh legs against the best midfielder in the biz, but to no avail. It was in no small part that Judd was helping the Eagles dominate the stoppages. Grant was shifted to defense, but his opponent Glass went forward to mind him, dragging him away from supporting young teammate Wight. It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Dogs in the first term as they managed to keep up with the Eagles. Hunter bagged the next goal from a free kick but Johnson booted two in row to have the Dogs within 5 points at 1/4 time.

The Eagles turned up the heat in the second term, pressuring the Bulldogs into poor decisions and turnovers. Judd and Hansen combined to get the ball to Lynch for a goal to start the term, but a goal a few minutes later to Johnson had the Bulldogs within 6 points. But that would be it for the Dogs for most of the game as the Eagles took complete control with the next 3 goals to lead by 25 points at 1/2 time.
The Bulldog defense simply wilted under the onslaught.   The Bulldogs found some space to attack early in the 3rd term, but could not put the score on the board as Minson hit the post and Ray's shot missed everything to go out on the full. They did lift a notch to hold the to just one goal for the term to Hunter. But it was enough to give the Eagles a 33 point lead at 3/4 time.

The final term belonged to the Eagles as the Bulldogs seemed devoid of run and spirit, knowing the game was well and truly lost. While they looked as if they were only going through the motions to see out the game, the Eagles did as they pleased piling on 7 goals to 1 for the term. The Dogs' only goal came midway through the term and that as the result of a free kick to Robbins.

Such was the Eagles' dominance, the Bulldogs only just avoided their lowest ever score in a final, 5.7 (37) set against Geelong in the 1953 preliminary final. The loss also means they have still not won successive finals matches in the one September campaign since 1961 and ensures there will be no Victorian club in the last four for the first time in the game's history.

For the Eagles, Judd (26/4), Kerr (29), and Cousins (24) led a rampant midfield, while Chick (12, 4 tackles) shut down Robbins, and Selwood (22) quelled Johnson. Hunter (18/9) and Butler (30) were perfect foils in attack where Lynch starred (15 kicks, 9 marks). Hansen (17/11) was dangerous at center half forward.

For the Bulldogs, West (29/6) never stopped trying in the midfield but lacked support, while Street (17 hitouts) tried valiantly against Cox and Seaby in the ruck. Morris (18) battled hard in defense but was overwhelmed while Smith (17/5) and Johnson (15) were best in the starved Bulldog attack.

It was emotional scenes afterward as a tearful Smith was chaired from the ground by Grant and West. The Eagles were gallant in victory as they also lined up to pay tribute to the retiring Smith.  
Next week, it will be Fremantle vs. Sydney at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney and West Coast vs. Adelaide at AAMI Stadium in Adelaide.

And that's it for this week.



Article last changed on Sunday, September 17, 2006 - 10:34 PM EDT

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