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.
Veteran Gold Coast player Michael Rischitelli has retired as has Adelaide veteran Andy Otten, Essendon's David Myers, Alex Fasolo from Carlton, and veteran umpire Shane McInerney.
Rischitelli, 33, was originally drafted by Brisbane in 2003 and played 111 games with the Lions before crossing to Gold Coast to be a member of the inaugural team in 2011. His game tally after Round 23 is 243. During his time with the Lions, he was a Rising Star nominee in 2006 and won the club's best and fairest award in 2010. Rischitelli reflected on his time in the game, “I’ve loved every moment ...it's been an incredible journey ... I’ve experienced some fantastic moments and a couple of extremely tough times, but I’ve enjoyed the ride.”
General manager Jon Haines said, “Michael has been a fantastic leader for our young football club,
On a dry, calm night which was perfect for football, the West Coast Eagles comfortably defeated the Essendon Bombers to put a serious dent in the Bombers’ hopes of making the finals. The Eagles dominated the game after quarter time and kept the ball in their forward half for the majority of the match. The win pushed the Eagles into the top four of the league ladder, but goal front inaccuracy cost them a golden opportunity to build on their percentage (calculated by points a team scores compared to points they concede).
A glorious autumn day was on offer at the MCG for the traditional ANZAC day clash between Collingwood and Essendon football clubs. Pre-match saw former servicemen in a motorcade around the ground and both teams entered the field to run through a joint banner with “Always remembered” across the top in reference to those servicemen and women that served and fell in wars. The commemoration service was completed in the middle of the ground and the Australian and New Zealand anthems played then teams moved to their final warmups.