In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.
In late October, Essendon announced that club doctor Bruce Reid passed away at the age of 75. He was the AFL's longest-serving physician. He began as a player in the VFL, with three games with Hawthorn in 1966 and 1967 before receiving his medical degree in 1968. At that time, he was playing for Preston in the VFA.
In October, GWS forward Jeremy Cameron told the club he wanted to explore his options as a restricted free agent. Cameron has played 171 games for the club since joining as a 17-year old in 2010. In 2020 he played 17 games and kicked 24 goals. Cameron has named Geelong as his preferred club.
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.
Round 18 was Essendon Coach John Worsfold's 105th and final game with the Bombers. He has urged all the "Essendon people" to get behind his successor, assistant coach Ben Rutten. He and the club have been under heavy scrutiny, especially after the resounding defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide in Round 17.
As the season winds down, it is that time of year when players decide to retire. Heading into the last weeks before finals, four announced they were hanging up the boots - Sun Pearce Hanley, Bomber Conor McKenna, Adelaide's Bryce Gibbs and Carlton's Matthew Kreuzer.
With so many sports competitions suspended, former AFL player Pat McAfee, who now has his own podcast, was looking for something to watch. He tripped across the opening round AFL match between Essendon and Fremantle and is now a diehard convert. Unfortunately, just after he discovered the game, the AFL announced the suspension of the season until the pandemic is over. While he couldn't quite figure out all the rules, he says he will keep watching when the game resumes and even has a dream of becoming an AFL player. Below are links to his stories and even a link to an "audition" video he posted.
Former NFL player Pat McAfee's AFL audition video has received an endorsement from Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton. Brereton believes he has potential. Below is the link to the full story with a video of McAfee kicking a Sherrin and a link to a related article:
Sources: espn.com.au, themercury.com.au, foxsports.com.au
The Supplemental Signing Period (SSP) ran from December 1 through March 13, allowing clubs to sign rookie players provided they had room on their lists and salary caps. A number of clubs took advantage of the period to round out their playing lists.
Concerned with the poor depth in the ruck and up forward with Tom Bellchambers injured and the return of Joe Daniher (groin) still indefinite, the Bombers have signed former swimming champion Henry Crauford under the SSP rules. Crauford, 22 years old and 6'3", competed in swimming at state and national levels before returning to football in 2016. He played for Norwood in the SANFL in 2019 and played 19 games for Norwood's reserves side. Several clubs showed some interest in Crauford but he was overlooked in last year's draft. Athletic and with good endurance for his size, he can play both ruck and as a tall forward.
There are family names which are synonymous with clubs: Shaw and Rose at Collingwood, Cordner at Melbourne, Silvagni at Carlton; not at all unusual in the AFL. It includes the Hird name at Essendon. The Bombers are continuing that tradition with the signing of Tom Hird, son of former champion player and coach James Hird. Tom Hird, 19, will be the fourth generation of the Hird family to wear the red and black. Great-grandfather Allan Sr and grandfather Allan Jr also played for Essendon. Tom, who trained with the Bombers in 2019, has been signed as a Category B rookie on a two year contract. This is a first in VFL/FL history. While there are plenty of siblings, father and son combinations, and even grandfather, son and grandson combinations, this is the first fourth generation of a family name at the same club.
The West Coast Eagles knocked the Essendon Bombers out of the finals series in an emphatic fashion. Having defeated the Fremantle Dockers at the same ground, and seen the Hawthorn Hawks defeat the Eagles at Optus, the Bombers gave themselves a real chance against the reigning Premiers. The Essendon game plan was simple. Run the ball through the middle of the ground to expose West Coast's lack of pace in that area; and then keep the ball low into attack to avoid high marking defenders, Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass.
Essendon's first goal, after two minutes of play, went to plan. Michael Hurley intercepted at half forward, a gather from Dyson Heppell and a measured handpass to Andrew McGrath who kicked truly from 48 meters.