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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago


Rally Around Boys

All clubs have over 30 players on their lists and select whomever they feel will be the best 22 for any given game. In that respect, the Grand Final is no different, which means some players who may have impressed during the season are going to miss out, no matter what contributions they made during the season. It is tough call for the selection panel of a club to tell a player who has served the team well during the year that he has to miss out on the biggest game of the year. According to Geelong defender and team captain Tom Harley, he and his teammates who will be selected for the game, plan to rally around and console those who miss out.

Harley was quoted, "It's not just the 22 guys...on a weekend, you represent the club so it's a team game and a team decision". He further said that he believed the club had a culture which does "...share and care a lot..." and believes those selected can show support for those who are not selected.

Last year, young ruckman Mark Blake, despite some impressive performances, was not selected due to his inexperience. Blake had played 22 games in 2007 and was named as an emergency for the Grand Final. He was very disappointed at missing out on selection for the Grand Final when the club opted for the more experienced duo of Brad Ottens and Steven King. King had been sidelined with a knee injury midseason and played only six games all year. He played in the VFL during Geelong's Preliminary Final but earned a recall to the senior side for the Grand Final, albeit named to the interchange bench.

One player, as of Thursday morning before the game, who is likely to miss is Paul Chapman. Word leaked out of the Geelong camp that Chapman had failed to pass a fitness test for his injured hamstring. However, Coach Mark Williams plans to give Chapman every chance until the last minute to prove his fitness.

Source: Melbourne Age &


North Melbourne Gambling Sanction

The AFL recently concluded an investigation into allegations that North Melbourne board member Ron Joseph placed bets on Kangaroo football games in 2007. As a result the club has been hit with a $50,000 suspended fine and the board members will be required to attend a seminar on gambling and the AFL's rules which prohibit anyone involved in the game at any level from betting of football matches. Joseph, who apologized for what he described as a "...dopey decision" in placing two bets totally $300 on the Kangaroos to win last year's Qualifying Final game against Geelong. He also apologized for the trouble and embarrassment his actions caused the club. The Cats trounced the Kangaroos in that game by 106 points.

Source: Herald Sun

Terrorists Guilty

Six men were found guilty of plotting terrorist attacks in Melbourne in 2005. Twelve men were on trial and four were acquitted while the jury is still out on the other two men. According to testimony, two of the targets were the Australian Formula One Grand Prix and the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the 2005 Grand Final between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles.

The trial lasted for almost four months with the prosecution presenting evidence that the group, led by Algerian-born Muslim cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, planned to use weapons and explosives against their planned targets which also included rail stations with the intent to cause ..."large-scale casualties". Benbrika was found guilty of leading the terrorist group. He was found to be in possession of a CD which detailed preparations for the attack.

While prosecutors painted a picture of a group bent on waging violent jihad, with Benbrika telling his followers at least 1000 deaths would be necessary to persuade Australia to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iran, the defense argued that he and his followers were "...ill-organized, incompetent and prone to exaggeration...".

Australia has not been the target of a modern-day terrorist attack, but 88 Australians were killed in the terrorist bombings of two nightclubs in Bali in October 2002. Some were players from Australian community footy and rugby clubs, also celebrating on their end of season trips. Former Kangaroo Jason McCartney was badly burned as he rescued others from one of the conflagrations. Players from Geelong and Melbourne had been in Bali at the time for their end of season trips. The Geelong players had opted at the time to spend their last night by the hotel pool rather than heading for one of the popular clubs which was bombed. A number of Melbourne players were at the airport at the time for flights home. Former Hawk champion and current media personality Dermott Brereton and a companion had been at one of the bars contemplating one more round before heading for the airport but decided to leave so as not to be late for their flight. Had they remained, they would have been caught in the blast.

Source: & author notes


Captain Calls It A Day

Collingwood champion Scott Burns announced his retirement this week. Burns, 33, missed out on Collingwood's finals games due to a calf injury and the club will need to select a new captain. Burns' prospects of remaining tied to football are good, with speculation that a number of clubs will be interested in seeking his services as an assistant coach. At least five clubs, including Geelong and Carlton, are interested in offering Burns, a veteran of 264 games, a position.

Burns was appointed captain after Nathan Buckley's retirement last year and it was somewhat controversial with media criticism that 2008 would most likely be his last season, but the club believed he was the right man to lead the club, even if for only one year. Burns played 17 games in 2008 and averaged 20 possessions per game. Likely candidates to replace Burns as captain are Travis Cloke, Nick Maxwell, Scott Pendlebury and Josh Fraser. Cloke had an inconsistent season while Maxwell is still developing as a leader and defender. Pendlebury has only been with the club for two seasons, but has shown leadership skills.

The club has also delisted Brodie Holland, Sam Iles and Chris Egan.

Holland, 28, was drafted by Fremantle in 1997. He played 36 games and kicked 37 goals for the Dockers 1998-2000 before being traded to Collingwood where he played a further 155 games and kicked 141 goals. Holland is hoping to continue his career next year with another club.

Tasmanian-born Iles, 21, was drafted by the pies in the 2005 preseason draft. he debuted late in 2006 and played a total of seven games over two seasons. He did not manage any senior games in 2008.

Egan, 21, was drafted in 2004 but played just 24 games in two years. He played only one game in 2006 due to a knee injury and played just two games in 2008.

Club Introduces Online Training

Collingwood has introduced a new training resource program. The online program, supplied by a company called Learning Seat, is tailored to meet the needs of the club and provides a variety of programs for all areas and employees of the club. The club has 400 training programs which can be used by Finance, Membership, Administration, Marketing, the coaching staff and players. There are also programs covering gaming and corporate compliance.

According to club CEO Gary Pert, the programs provide training and development opportunities for all employees of the club which otherwise might be too expensive or impractical. According to Pert, the training programs will also allow employees to access current industry "....insights and regulations...". Player education programs include the. club's drug and alcohol policies. Other courses provided by Learning Seat cover Occupational Health & Safety; Ethics and Conduct; Conflict Resolution and Emergency Management.

Source: Source: Nick Hulett, Club Media Release, Herald Sun &


Veteran Axed

The Western Bulldogs have delisted veteran Scott West. According to Coach Rodney Eade, the match committee made the decision as the club wants to focus on bringing through younger players. Eade described the end of West's career as frustrating as West has missed much of the season with a knee injury and finished the year playing in the VFL.

Coach Rodney Eade said West had been "...outstanding....for 17 years...leading by example...on and off the field" He described West as an integral member of the leadership group and said West was one of the all-time great Bulldogs.

Debut: 1993
Games: 324
Goals: 104

Honors: 1993 Rising Star nominee; club best and fairest 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003-2005 (club record); All-Australian 1998, 2000, 2004-2006; International Rules Series 1999-2000; Brownlow runner-up 2000 & 2006.

West was so close and yet so far in 2000 and 2006 for the Brownlow Medal. He polled 24 votes vs Shane Woewodin's 26 in 2000 and fell 3 votes short of Adam Goodes' 26 in 2006.

Source: Stacey Mair, Club Media Release & AFL Record Season Guide 2007 & 2008


Clubs Cool On Knee Treatment

As reported previously, Sydney Swan Nick Malceski underwent a radical knee treatment which uses artificial fibers instead of the patient's own tissue for grafting. In his case, the treatment known as LARS (Ligament Augmentation And Reconstruction System) was a total success with Malceski returning to play after just a few months. However, his success has not convinced other clubs that the treatment is the way to go. Dr. Hugh Seward, president of the AFL Medical Officers Association said the treatment was still too new and not enough reports of success to be universally embraced.

Geelong considered the treatment for Brent Prismall, who injured his knee in the Qualifying Final against St. Kilda but decided against it. Prismall will undergo the standard reconstruction process which will sideline him until late next season. Fremantle's Luke Webster also underwent the LARS treatment but his recovery was unsuccessful and he was force to retire last month. Webster made a brief comeback after three months, but required a second surgery on the knee. A Melbourne Storm rugby player also tried the LARS treatment but was hospitalized several times in the month following the procedure due to an infection in the knee.

Source: Canberra Times

Barry For The Defense

Sydney Swan defender "Leaping" Leo Barry has signed a one year contract, but has already indicated that 2009 would be his last season. Barry debuted for the Swans in 1995 and has played 234 games. Barry said he would enjoy every game of his final season and is sure he can still contribute, a sentiment echoed by Coach Paul Roos, who played alongside Barry for four seasons (1995-98) after crossing from Fitzroy). Roos said Barry was still one of the best 22 for 2009 and believes Barry can also help with the development of the team's young defenders, a sentiment echoed by Barry, who agreed with Roos that the club is in a period of transition with veterans nearing the end and young players coming through.

Barry, who co-captained the club 2005-2007 and won All-Australian honors in 2004 and 2005, is perhaps best remembered for his game-saving mark (catch of the ball) in the dying seconds of the 2005 Grand Final. West Coast had won possession with less than a minute left and Sydney leading by four points. Eagle ruckman Cox kicked long to the goalsquare where a pack of players had formed. Barry lived up to his nickname as he came from nowhere to fly in front of the pack to pluck the ball away from the outstretched hands of teammates and opponents alike. Seconds later, as Barry was walking back to take his kick, the siren sounded to end Sydney's 72 year premiership drought. He still has the ball as a souvenir.

Source: Tara White, Club Media Release, AFL Record Season Guide 2008, author notes

Article last changed on Friday, September 26, 2008 - 4:21 AM EDT

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