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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

AFL Awards Life Memberships
The league is set to hold their annual AGM in March, at which time they will present 10 past and present players with AFL life memberships.The announcement was made recently with seven current players reaching the required 300 games. They are Adelaide's Tyson Edwards, North Melbourne's Brent Harvey, Sydney's Michael O'Loughlin, Richmond's Matthew Richardson, Melbourne's Adem Yze and senior field umpires Shane McInerney and Stephen McBurney. The other three to be honored are AFL Hall of Fame Legend Darrel Baldock, former AFL Commissioner Colin Carter and former Hawk president Ian Dicker. For service to the game as a player, coach and administrator, St. Kilda's Gary Colling will receive the Jack Titus Service Award, named for the Richmond champion.

Honoree details:

Tyson Edwards: 289 games, 30 preseason games, one State of Origin game, two International Rules games, 1997 & 1998 premierships

Brent Harvey: 264 games, 27 preseason games, two State of Origin games, nine International Rules games, 1999 premiership; club best & fairest 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008; All-Australian 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008 (captain), 1999 EJ Whiten Medal (best on ground for Victoria in State of Origin), 2003 Jim Stynes Medal (best on ground in International Rules)

Stephen McBurney (AFL Umpire): debuted 1993, 287 games, one State of Origin, two International Rules games, 35 preseason games; Grand Finals 2002, 2003, 2007; All-Australian Umpire 2003, 2007, International Rules Series 2008

Shane McInerney (AFL Umpire): debuted 2003, 268 games, 38 preseason games, Grand Finals 2004 & 2007

Michael O'Loughlin: 286 games, 14 preseason games, two State of Origin games; four International Rules games, 2005 Premiership, 1998 club best & fairest, club leading goalkicker 2000-2001, club games record holder, All-Australian 1997 & 2000, 1998 Fos Williams Medal (best on ground for South Australia in State or Origin), Indigenous Team of the Century

Matthew Richardson: 276 games, 20 preseason games, four Four State of Origin games, two International Rules games, 2007 club best and fairest; club leading goalkicker 1994, 1996-99, 2001-2008; All-Australian  1996, 1999, 2008; 1996 Jesaulenko Medal (best on ground for Allies in State of Origin ((Allies team from states other than Victoria, SA or WA- Richardson from Tasmania)) ; Richmond Team of the Century

Adem Yze: 271 games, 25 preseason games, four International Rules games, 2001 club best and fairest, 2002 All-Australian

Darrel Baldock: 71 games for Played 71 games for East Devonport (Tasmania) 1955-58, 158 games for LaTrobe 1959-61 & 1969-74, 119 games & 237 goals for St. Kilda 1962-68, 4 games for New Norfolk 1975, 10 games & 23 goals for Victoria, 15 games for Tasmania, East Devonport best and fairest 1955-57; St. Kilda best and fairest 1962, 1963, 1965; St Kilda premiership 1966; LaTrobe premierships 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972; St Kilda captain 1963-68, St Kilda leading goalkicker 1962-65 All Australian 1961 & 1966 (captain), St Kilda Team of the Century (center half-forward and captain), Tasmanian Team of the Century (half forward and captain).

Colin Carter: AFL Commissioner 1993-2008; Geelong FC Director 1987-93. Major achievements: Prepared the report 'Establishing the Basis for Future Success', adopted by the VFL Commission as the strategy for the competition, encompassing equalization, ground rationalization and growing the national competition. Initiated the project that led to the eventual relocation of the AFL Members from Waverley to the MCG and the building of the Great Southern Stand. Led the AFL's review of football development and grassroots football in 2001.

Ian Dicker: Hawthorn FC President 1996-2005. In his time as president, the club reached record membership levels, shifted home games from Waverley to the MCG, eliminated debt,.introduced educational and life skills programs for players to prepare them for life after retirement, built strong ties with VFL affiliate Box Hill, entered agreement to play "home" games in Tasmania

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

Australia Day Honors

January 22 is Australia Day and, on that day, annual honors are awarded. AIS/AFL Academy High Performance Coach Alan McConnell was awarded the Australian Sports Commission 2009 Australia Day Achievement Medallion. McConnell, who has been with the Academy since 2005, oversees the programs which help identify young football talent. One of those programs is the annual draft camp. It is these programs from which players are drawn for the Under-16 tournaments. Other programs help prepare young players for the draft and the transition to AFL ranks. Some current players who came through those prgrams include Western Bulldog Adam Cooney (2008 Brownlow Medal winner), Hawk Lance Franklin (2008 Coleman Medal and premiership), and Hawk Luke Hodge (2008 Norm Smith Medal for GF best on ground). Eight of the ten top draft picks at the 2008 November draft were Academy graduates. The Academy, which has been going for 12 years, has produced 240 AFL players and at least 75% of Academy graduates are offered AFL contracts.

According to league CEO Andrew Demetriou, McConnell was "....recognized.....for his outstanding contribution to the...development of talented athletes....". Demetriou also said the AFL was "...thrilled to have had a person of Alan's qualities to guide...talented junior players....". Demetriou also praised McConnell's leadership within the development programs.

McConnell, who played 38 games with the Bulldogs 1980-82, was a physical education teacher with a strong AFL coaching background. He He spent six years with Fitzroy as an assistant and served as "caretaker" senior coach in 1995 after Bernie Quinlan was fired and again in 1996 when Mick Nunan was fired as senior coach. After Fitzroy merged with Brisbane at the end of 1996, McConnell went to Geelong where he served as an assistant coach 1997-2003.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

2009 NAB Cup Trial Rules

Two new rules will be introduced in this year's preseason competition, while another, introduced in 2008 will continue. The rules are:

- a free kick will now be awarded for any deliberate rushed behind

- umpires will award a 50 meter penalty (55 yards) in addition to a free kick for players who tackle or hold an opponent after the opponent has disposed of the football, for the purpose of preventing them from taking part in the next act of play or being able to get to the next contest

- continue the trial of the no-go zone behind umpires at center bounces to decrease the incidents of player-umpire contact. This rule was introduced in 2008 and will again be used to monitor the incidents of player contact with umpires at center bounces.

AFL Operations Manager Adrian Anderson explained that these rules were introduced after extensive consultation and discussion of options. According to Anderson, the issue of rushed behinds was raised by clubs and coaches, with some believing the tactic negatively impacted the game. It became a very hot topic after the 2008 game between Essendon and Richmond in which defender Joel Bowden deliberately took the ball over the line for a rushed point twice in the dying minutes of the game. Anderson also said that since free kicks already are awarded for deliberately putting the ball out of bounds around the ground, the league decided to use that criteria for rushed points.

Regarding the free kick after disposal of the ball, Anderson said this was in response to a trend which sees players who have disposed of the ball being unfairly hindered by an opponent. Anderson also said that in such cases, a free kick has not always been an effective deterrent.

As always, the trial rules will be evaluated and feedback from the clubs will be sought. The league will then decide whether or not to introduce those rules for the season proper.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

Tribunal Changes

The AFL and the Tribunal will introduce stiffer penalties for high tackles and have made changes to the discount rule for cases which go directly to the Tribunal. The crackdown will be on players who sling opponents to the ground or into a boundary fence as well as players who push an opponent into the path of another player to cause a reportable offense. Previously, a player was only penalize for body contact if he had grabbed an opponent around the waist and then took him to ground. Now, if the opponent is "slammed" to the ground, the tackling player will be penalized with a stiffer penalty, especially if the opponent's head hits the ground as a result. Also, a player who pushes an opponent into the path of a third person can be held responsible for illegal contact rather than the initial shove.

As for the 25% discount for a player's guilty plea, the AFL has clarified this even more. The discount issue came to a head last year after Sydney's Barry Hall's hit on Eagle Brent Staker. The severity of the hit meant that the case was referred directly to the Tribunal rather than Hall having an option of accepting a decreed penalty. A remorseful Hall still got only seven weeks instead of 10 for pleading guilty and that caused a storm of controversy. This season, any case referred to the Tribunal will not be automatically allowed a discount for a guilty plea.

Since the introduction of the penalty system, a player would only face a fine for abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene behavior toward an umpire. This season, such behavior will result in a report and a Tribunal appearance.

Source: theaustralian.com.au

ADELAIDE
Injury Update:
Brett Burton, (knee) reconstruction), has resumed running
Brad Symes (wrist/thumb), will remain in a cast several weeks
Jason Porplyzia, shoulder, non-competitive training until March
Phil Davis, shoulder, non-competitive training
Richard Douglas, hip, will be eased back into full training over the next two weeks

Source: David Burtenshaw, Club Media Release

BRISBANE
Midfielder Simon Black will be sidelined for six weeks, ruling him out of the preseason competition. Black suffered a broken hand at a training session on February 2.

Source: foxsports.com.au

ST. KILDA
Star forward Nick Riewoldt underwent arthoscpic surgery on his knee at the end of January and will miss all of thr preseason. The knee began troubling hin recently during preseason training but the expects him to be fit and ready by the start of the season proper.

Source: Matt Schmidt, Club Media Release

Article last changed on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 12:31 PM EST


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