A quirk of the English language is that the collective noun for crows is "a murder". The Adelaide Crows didn't murder the West Coast Eagles, but they did their best to put a damper on the Eagles' farewell celebrations for retiring former captain Shannon Hurn and current captain Luke Shuey, as well as injured star ruckman Nic Naitanui. A quirk in the AFL regulations cost the Crows a position in this year's final series, when a video review of a goal umpire error at the end of last week's one point loss against Sydney, was not applied. (The umpire incorrectly judged a Crow's shot on goal as a behind [worth one point], instead of a goal [worth six points]). The Crows could be excused for feeling deflated and disinterested in the game against the Eagles. They had nothing to gain, apart from perhaps proving a point that they deserved to be finalists. Alternatively, the Eagles had every reason to farewell their three retiring stalwarts with a win. A win for the Eagles was not an impossible dream. The previous week they had defeated the Western Bulldogs, in Melbourne, which ultimately led to the Bulldogs missing the finals. The stage was set for an intriguing contest.
Bomber fan favorite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti announced his retirement. Round 24 will be his farewell game. He retired in 2021 due to injury and weight issues but came out of retirement for the 2023 season. He managed just nine games this year. He will finish on 133 games. Through Round 23, he has kicked 157 goals. Essendon also informed tall forward/defender James Stewart he would be delisted.
Coach Brad Scott said, "He did joke that he'd just replay the vision from last year. He's come to a decision and we've been talking for a long period ... about his future and he's decided that he will retire ... Friday night ... will be an unbelievable opportunity for all Essendon people to ... celebrate what's been an incredible career. I said to the playing group that of all the great champions who have come through the Essendon Football Club, it's actually hard to think of something who has made such an impression on our supporter base and on our club on so many different levels. It's a celebration for 'Walla'." The turnaround from where he was to where he is now has been incredible but by his own admission next year is just a bridge too far for him, both physically and mentally. "
Ahead of Round 24, four more players announced their retirements. Tom Jonas, Tom Hickey, Josh Bruce, and Jonathon Ceglar all indicated that their AFL careers were ending.
Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas will retire at the end of the season. He has been in and out of the team this season. Jonas, 32, said in a club statement, “It’s been a fair roller coaster but for me there have been so many more ups than downs. You reflect on moments that maybe at the time were tough and challenging, exhausting or sad, but ultimately, they’re what makes you appreciate the good times and they’re what make you galvanize relationships and friendships with everyone that you spend time with along the way. The good thing about this for me is that the final chapter hasn’t been written ... For me it was about removing any distraction from the team with what we’ve got to look forward to in the month ahead (i.e., finals) ... ".
Coach Ken Hinkley, who has coached Jonas in 11 of his 13 seasons, said, “Tom has always given his all, whether that is on the field or off it ... He’s had to create his own path right from the start with enormous challenges along the way. While this season he has not always been first choice at selection, the way he has handled himself is the perfect example of his team-first attitude ... ".
Just ahead of Round 23, GWS forward Daniel Lloyd and defender Phil Davis announced their retirements. Lloyd, 31, will see out the season. Lloyd was on a NSW scholarship with the Western Bulldogs but gave it up to return to Killamey in Queensland. He was working as a carpenter and playing for a local club in the Black Diamond League when he was spotted by fellow Queenslander and former Bomber Mark McVeigh. Lloyd, 23 at the time, tried out for the Giants and was signed ahead of the 2016 season. Through Round 23, he has 98 games to his name.
In making the announcement, Lloyd said, “I’ve known for quite some time now ... It’s the right time ... I’m so grateful for what this club has given me. It’s provided me with an environment to not only become a better footballer but more importantly, to become a better person, a better husband and father. It’s given me skills and values that will no doubt help me in the future, relationships that will last a lifetime, and I think what I’m most grateful for are the memories - The ones I’ve created with all of you here and the ones I’ve been able to share with my but wife, kids and family ... My teammates – I'm going to miss you the most ... The bonds and friendships I’ve made with you all will be what I cherish the most ...". He went on to say he never wanted any accolades or credit but rather just be a selfless player his teammates could trust and one who always put the team first.
There has been much speculation recently linking former Tiger coach Damien Hardwick to Gold Coast. Just after Round 23 concluded, the Suns made it official. Hardwick has been signed as the new senior coach for the next six years. Hardwick, 51, coached the Tigers in 307 games and took them to premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020.
Gold Coast chairman Bob East was thrilled to make the announcement, “It is with great excitement that we welcome Damien... We have been unequivocal in our desire to deliver success for our football club, for our loyal and growing group of members and fans, and to the wider Gold Coast community. This appointment is clearly a significant step in that direction. When we began the process ... it was quickly apparent Damien was the best candidate available ... We have high expectations ... and firmly believe Damien can deliver on these ...".
The Port Adelaide Power kept a top two finish in their sights as they overcame a determined Fremantle Dockers, to score a confidence boosting win on the road. It was the first time the Power had won at Optus Stadium and they will look to maintain their momentum by entering the finals with three consecutive wins. The Dockers tried hard but were let down at times with sloppy errors in the midfield and forward line, as they trial a group of young players before their disappointing season finishes.
The Dockers started strongly by making fifteen forward entries to seven in the first quarter which was based on them winning more clearances and contested possessions than Port Adelaide. Early rewards came when Michael Frederick and Luke Jackson had scored a goal each for Fremantle by the nine minute mark. The Dockers applied elite pressure on the Power in attack and in the midfield, inhibiting Port's opportunities to move the ball. However, a perfect centering kick from Todd Marshall to Sam Powell-Pepper who marked (caught the ball) and kicked accurately from a set shot, opened Port's account at the nineteen-minute mark. Port then lifted their intensity. After a boundary throw-in in attack, Zac Butters snapped a clever goal over his shoulder to bring the scores level.
Adelaide wingman Paul Seedsman has announced his retirement after 132 AFL games spread across 13 seasons. Seedsman, 31, has been on the inactive list for the past two seasons due to ongoing concussion symptoms. He suffered a bad head knock during the 2022 preseason training. He played 83 games for the Crows after 49 games at Collingwood. His decision to retire follows a recommendation from an independent AFL medical concussion panel that he no longer participate in contact sport.
Seedsman said while he was disappointed his AFL career had come to an end, it was in the best interest of his health and wellbeing.
Sydney's Paddy McCartin last played in early April due to concussion issues. He has been forced to retire after consulting with an independent AFL medical concussion panel. McCartin, 27, has suffered over a dozen concussions in his career and his playing days were thought to be over when he left St Kilda at the end of 2019 after playing 35 games. He spent some time in Sydney's VFL team before being added to the senior list in 2022. He managed just 28 games for the Swans in two seasons.
The Fremantle Dockers dominated the West Coast Eagles to give the Eagles their worst thrashing in a Western Derby. In a year where the Eagles have already run up a number of "worsts", they suffered their fifth defeat by more than 100 points. The Dockers, on on the other hand, continued with their strong end-of-year form, in a season which would be rated as a disappointment for the young team. Despite having a couple of late withdrawals due to illness the Eagles started strongly and had made eleven forward entries to their oppositions two by the nineteen-minute mark of the first quarter. After five minutes of early play where defenses held sway, Josh Rotham kicked long to Oscar Allen who took a well-judged mark (catch) against Alex Pearce in the goal square. Allen's goal inspired West Coast and three minutes later Tim Kelly received a handpass to kick on the run from forty-six metres to have the Eagles thirteen points up. The Eagles continued to win clearances and dominate the first quarter, but didn't get value for the forward entries.
Just ahead of round 21, Tiger champion Trent Cotchin and Geelong champion Issac Smith announced their retirements. In speaking to his teammates, Cotchin reflected on the “authentic human connection” and “love” he had experienced during his career. Cotchin then said, “I am going to miss with all my heart the relationships, memories and experiences ... I accept reality ... My body is somewhat slowing down and is older than it once was. I found my life purpose at Richmond. I look to the future ... because of what I found here at Richmond and what Richmond people taught me ... creating an environment to help other realize and fulfill their potential not only inspired me but helped me to overcome my own fears ... I have always given my best and left no stone unturned ... ".