Just as Round Seven was concluded, the footy community was mourning the death of game and Geelong icon Frank Costa. Costa, 83. succumbed to cancer. Costa, a successful businessman in the fruit and vegetable industry, assumed the presidency of Geelong in 1998 when the club was virtually on its knees - badly in debt and without any finals success in decades. Under his leadership, the debt was all but erased, the club became a dominant powerhouse and again tasted premiership success in 2007 and 2009. When he stepped down and handed the reins over to Colin Carter in 2010, the club was in a very strong position both on and off the field, going on to win the 2011 premiership. He is also responsible for bringing in current CEO Brian Cook and former coach Mark Thompson. At one point the trio made a pact that they would remain until the Cats won a premiership. Under his guidance, the club's home ground - GMBHA Stadium - was revitalized, upgraded, and expanded.
Gary Ablett Jr
It comes as no surprise that the 2020 Grand Final was Gary Ablett's last game. There was very little fanfare and no major announcement, most likely due to the fact that almost everyone knew it was to be his last. There is little that can be said about the "Little Master" that has not already been said or written. At the end of the game, all the Richmond players lined up with the Cats to form a guard of honor for Ablett. However, there was much more to it than that.
There is no lack of finals experience for either Geelong or Richmond with both sides contesting for the better part of the last decade. However, this will be only the third time to two will square off against each other in a Grand Final. The first time was 1931 when the Cats thrashed the Tigers. The Tigers turned the tables in 1967 with a narrow nine point victory.
As the season nears to a close, more clubs not in contention have made cuts to their lists and a few more players have announced their retirements.
The strangest season in AFL history is about to get real for the following 10 teams, but only eight of them will play finals football and in turn give themselves a chance to take home the Premiership Cup. AFANA runs the slide rule over where your club can finish after what should be another crazy round of footy. If your team isn’t mentioned below, it’s time to start thinking about next year…
Much maligned Carlton has held on grimly to defeat a fast-finishing Geelong by just two points at Kardinia Park on Saturday night – the Blues first win at Geelong’s home park since 1996. This continued a series of surprising results in this already unusual season. The star of the Carlton show was undoubtedly veteran Eddie Betts, with the plucky goal sneak not only kicking the game’s opening goal but bookending it with a game-saving tackle within the last minute of the match.
Carlton stunned the highly fancied Geelong by dominating the first quarter through some great work by star midfielder Patrick Cripps and emerging ruckman Marc Pittonet, with the aforementioned Eddie Betts chipping in with two goals. At quarter time the Blues led by 25 points after what was comfortably their most impressive quarter for the season to date.
At half time in Friday night’s Preliminary Final against Geelong, Richmond looked to be in trouble. Just a year after failing badly in the same game against Collingwood despite being hot favorites, the Tigers trailed by 21 points and looked a shadow of the team that was riding a 10 game winning streak. Adding further doubt to any potential comeback was a shoulder injury to 2017 Premiership hero Jack Graham, plus collision injuries to Captain Trent Cotchin and star midfielder Dustin Martin that had slowed both players in the first half.
Geelong on the other hand was magnificent. The Cats were making a mockery of their label as underdogs, taking the game on and converting up forward despite missing key spearhead in Tom Hawkins through suspension. The half time scoreline seemed unlikely after the Tigers rallied in the back end of the first quarter.
Round 22 was full of stories. There was heartbreak in Adelaide as the Crows and Power likely blew their chance at playing finals, but there were also two of the season’s greatest games played between four of the league’s best teams. Both of those incredible games were physical, skillful contests that came down to one kick for goal that separated the winners from the losers. Brisbane’s last gasp win over Geelong in front of a rampant Lions home crowd came courtesy of a potential “Mark of the Year” by Lincoln McCarthy who goaled for a one point win, while it was Richmond’s favorite rascal in Jack Riewoldt who snapped truly to give his Richmond team a meritorious win against a gallant West Coast Eagles on Sunday at the MCG. All four teams will no doubt play a big part in September.
Other big winners in a stunning round of footy were the Western Bulldogs who followed up 21 consecutive goals the previous week against Essendon with a dozen in a row against a disappointing Greater Western Sydney who let their home fans down.
Round fifteen has opened up the race for the top eight with some highly fancied teams dropping games they were expected to win. Geelong bounced back from defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide last week by taking care of the other Adelaide team (the Crows) at GMHBA Stadium, holding on to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll in the process.
Collingwood drops down to third on the Power Poll courtesy of a shock loss at the hands of a resurgent North Melbourne which climbs all the way to eighth under the control of interim coach Rhyce Shaw. The Eagles once again used some last minute heroics to defeat an unlucky Hawthorn at the MCG, with Jamie Cripps providing the match winning goal on this occasion.
An extended round six kicked off with the unusual Wednesday night game that saw Richmond victorious by 43 points over the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Anzac Day battle between Collingwood and Essendon was a classic that ended with the Magpies hanging on to win by four points in controversial circumstances as the Bombers fell just short of pulling off a great comeback. Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Giants took care of business as expected while Carlton almost pulled off back to back victories before succumbing by just five points to a frantic Hawthorn down in Tasmania.