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Bombers Cruise to Big Win Over Roos

Zach Merrett (file photo/AFANA)

Essendon went into this Sir Doug Nicholls Round match against the bottom team on the ladder in 4th place. It should be noted though, that if they had lost the Anzac Day match against Collingwood a few weeks back and not received 2 points for the draw that day, they would be sitting 10th on the ladder. Therefore, it was important they keep winning to hold their spot near the top of the ladder. The Roo's, on the other hand, could theoretically have moved out of last place and overtake Richmond if they win this match against their Marvel Stadium co-tenant. A quirk of Australian football is that so many teams share the same venues in Melbourne which reduces any "home" advantage. 

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Bombers Survive Late Eagle Challenge

Kyle Langford (file photo/AFANA)

The Essendon Bombers survived a late challenge by a determined West Coast Eagles to win by one goal in a thriller at Optus Stadium. The Bombers had more of the play for three quarters but couldn't finish scoring opportunities off the strong work of their midfield. Whereas the Eagles launched less attacks but were more efficient in attack. The Bombers used handball to break out of packs but the Eagles' players were more inclined to "roll the dice" and take on the tackler to get out of tight situations. Veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein, was dominant in for Essendon and for three quarters the Bombers won more clearances through his combination with Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett at ground level. Goldstein tired in the last stanza and an improved second half by Tim Kelly of the Eagles in the packs brought the hosts back into the game.

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AFL Drugs Cover-Up?

Ben Cousins (File photo/AFANA)

Shortly after Round Two concluded, Andrew Wilke (Australian Member of Parliament, Independent) dropped a bombshell statement regarding Australian rules players and clubs. The allegations, denied by the league, doctors, and the AFL Players Association (AFLPA), state that club doctors would test players midweek. If any player tested positive for an illicit substance, that player was instructed to fake an injury to be ruled out of the upcoming game to avoid match day testing and subsequent ramifications. The allegations also claim that the midweek tests were "off the books". The tests allegedly took place at a clinic away from the clubs with former AFL chief medical officer Peter Harcourt helping to facilitate the tests. Wilkie said the information was given to him by Melbourne Demons president Glen Bartlett, club doctor Zeeshan Arain, and Shaun Smith, the father of a player accused of drug trafficking. (Ed. note: we have been critical in our editorial view on this matter for many years, as far back as the Essendon scandal of a decade ago: AFL Drug Policy, Essendon, and Predictable Outcomes)

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Power and Bulldogs Delist Players Plus Lycett Retires

Scott Lycett Contests Mark (file photo/AFANA)

The past week provided yet more delistings and retirements. The Western Bulldogs delisted Hayden Crozier and Roarke Smith. Port Adelaide delisted Orazio Fantasia, Sam Hayes, and Jake Pasini while Scott Lycett has retired. Sam Naismith has found his way back into the AFL at Richmond.

Lycett, a former Port Adelaide SANFL player, was drafted by West Coast in 2010 and played 75 games for the Eagles, including the 2018 premiership. At the end of 2018, he moved to Port as a free agent and played a further 71 games. Port Coach Ken Hinkley said, "Scott has been an outstanding contributor for two clubs ... He was an incredible workhorse for our club during the last five seasons and was totally focused on putting his teammates first. As a former Port Adelaide junior, Scott was Port Adelaide through and through.

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More Retirements and Delistings Plus Trade Notes

Nakia Cockatoo (file photo)

Daniel Howe, 27, has retired while Carlton has delisted Josh Honey, Sam Philp and Lochie O’Brien. Brisbane small forward Nakia Cockatoo retired. Gold Coast has delisted Brodie McLaughlin and Jed Anderson while Charlie Constable has decided to retire to pursue other opportunities away from football. Plus, we have some trade notes in this report. 

Howe was originally drafted by Hawthorn as a midfielder and defender. He played 96 games for the Hawks before being delisted at the end of 2021. He was drafted as a rookie by North Melbourne inn 2022 and played 10 games for the Kangaroos. North Melbourne general manager Todd Viney said, “Dan has only been at the club for one season, but he’s had a significant impact on the group in his time here. He brought a professional attitude to his training and preparation, and gave his all in every game he played, whether at AFL or VFL level."

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Late August Delistings and Retirements

Menengola clears (file photo)

At the end of August, the Western Bulldogs delisted Mitch Hannan. Essendon delisted Alistair Lord, Rhett Montgomerie, and Cian McBride. Geelong player Sam Menegola retired. Brisbane defender Marcus Adams also retired. Hawthorn forward Tyler Brockman wants to go back to Western Australia. 

Geelong midfielder Sam Menegola retired after Round 24. He was originally drafted by Hawthorn in 2011 as a rookie but was delisted at the end of the year. The Dockers selected him as a rookie 2012 but he never debuted for them either and was delisted after three seasons. He played in the WAFL in 2015 and was eventually drafted by the Cats t the end of 2015. He played 117 games and kicked 83 goals for the Cats. His 2023 season was marred by injuries. He said, “The time I have had at Geelong has had an immeasurable impact on our lives. I have enjoyed successes, faced challenges, learnt lessons, and developed relationships that will stay with me for a long time. I have had a chance to fulfil a lifelong dream ... ".

General Manager Simon Lloyd said,

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Bomber Duo Depart

"TippA" (file photo)

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. "

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Retirements, Round Two

Shuey Kicks (Dave Woodley for AFANA)

Four more players have announced their retirements: North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington, Eagle captain Luke Shuey, Essendon ruckman Andrew Phillips, and Hawthorn ruckman Max Lynch. 

LUKE SHUEY

West Coast captain Luke Shuey will also retire at the end of the season, joining teammate Shannon Hurn. A string of hamstring injuries have curtailed his season and led to his decision, “As much as my mind wants to go on, my body won’t allow it and I have made the decision to retire at the end of this season. We have tried everything to get my body right ... I am incredibly grateful to the football club for the opportunities they have given me, the support I have received ... Being a part of a premiership means I will have a lifelong connection with 21 other blokes, but it doesn’t end there. The friendships I have made with players, coaches and staff over the last 15 years will remain with me forever ... ".

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Dockers Damage Bombers' Belief

Jackson & Henry celebrate (file photo)

The Fremantle Dockers bounced back from a poor display against the GWS Giants to end the Essendon Bombers run of four consecutive victories. The Dockers' return to winning form started slowly with Essendon leading for most of the first quarter. The Bombers started well by winning contested possessions and out-running the Dockers to create loose players. After four minutes of play the visitors had booted two goals. The first, courtesy of a clever chip kick out of a pack by Zach Merrett, was marked (caught) by Kyle Langford. Langford's set shot was accurate. Merrett was involved two minutes later when he intercepted a Docker handball to chip to Darcy Parish, who handballed to Jye Caldwell who slotted a running goal from just thirty meters. After an initial shock, the Dockers settled and were more competitive around the ball. Despite the pressure, the visitors still won more contested possessions but the Dockers were well served by their defenders. A free kick to Sam Switkowski for a high tackle resulted in the home team's first goal after eleven minutes of play.

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2023 Midseason Rookie Draft

Narkle Breaks a Tackle (file photo)

The mid-season draft was held at the end of May with clubs allowed to fill out their lists provided they had open spots available. Often these are players who were either overlooked in the regular drafts or they are "mature-age" players who perhaps weren't ready to be drafted at 18 or 19 years old.

The number of the pick precedes the name of the player selected and the current club of the player follows their name. Two rounds were held but not all clubs had picks in either round. Carlton, Gold Coast, Adelaide, St Kilda, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Collingwood didn’t participate in the draft as they didn’t have any available list places. GWS had selections 5 and 14 but passed on both. Clubs are listed in alphabetic order.

ESSENDON

(9) JAIDEN HUNTER (Perth, WAFL), 21, 190cm (6'1"), 93kg (204 lbs), tall forward
Has been eligible for the draft for the past few years with several clubs showing interest. Came back from a recent injury to kick 11 goals in his past three games

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