8. AFL FAQ: Miscellaneous/Trivia
- Football Periodicals and Publications
- Videos of Australian Rules Football
- Fantasy Australian Rules Football
- What is the ___________ Conspiracy Theory?
- Eddie McGuire's Conflict of Interest
- Racial Issue and Discrimination in Footy
- What are the Docklands, and why are they driving everyone mad?
- Violence in the game
- Drug Use
- Academy System
- Football Traditions
This section contains information that does not easily fit into any of the other sections of the FAQ. Proposals for further additions are welcome.
Prices here and elsewhere in this FAQ are quoted in Australian dollars. (You can check the current exchange rate here. Opens in new tab or window.)
Football Periodicals and Publications
140 Harbour Esplanade
Docklands, Vic. 3008
Official Publication of the AFL. Issued weekly during the season in TV Guide format. $3.50 ea.
Each week, there are 9 editions published, one for each match of the round. The only difference between the 9 editions are the team inserts and team information for the two teams each edition is covering. There are also editions for each week of the Finals Series as well as a deluxe 200-plus page Grand Final Record.
Inside Football Pty Ltd
473 Swan St
subscriptions[at)insidefootball[ dot }net[ dot }au
Major football newspaper. 36 issues/year (weekly during the season, with off-season specials) in tabloid newspaper format. $5.95 ea.
For subscriptions: address above
Videos of Australian Rules Football
These sources of Australian Rules Football Videos are known. They provide VHS tapes in the PAL-B or NTSC format.
Australian Football Video
Australian Football Video Pty. Ltd.
PO Box 456
South Yarra, Vic. 3141
1-800-035-665 (within Australia)
Fantasy Australian Rules Football
Two companies offer Fantasy Australian Rules Football Games as commercial services that are played weekly by mail. Details of one company is provided, contact information for the other one would be appreciated. Fantasy Leagues are also run on the net.
PO Box 14219
Melbourne Mail Centre
PO Box 427
Players act as coaches of a team, signing players to their club. Each league consists of 12 teams competing against each other in weekly games. Results are based on the real life scores and statistics of AFL players from that weeks games.
Free start-up packs including rules and sample turns are available.
What is the ___________ Conspiracy Theory?
Fill in the blank with your favorite struggling suburban-Melbourne-based AFL club. There is a view that has formed amongst football commentators and followers that Melbourne has too many AFL teams (nine currently; ten if you count in Geelong, as many do). They point to the financial difficulties and low levels of support for several Melbourne-based clubs as the basis for their view. The problem with having too many teams in one city, it is stated, is threefold:
a) AFL revenue is directed through the equalization fund to 'prop up' teams that are essentially net losers of revenue to the competition.
b) Expenditure on debt reduction, promotion and junior development of the game is therefore reduced.
c) Player payments are restricted in growth to that manageable by the financially weaker clubs. This contradicts the current move to greater professionalism and players receiving an equitable share of revenue growth.
The AFL to an extent subscribes to these views, with its preferred option being a merger of Melbourne-based clubs.
Opponents of this view state that tradition is the basis of support for clubs, and therefore tradition should be the basis of participation, rather than on economic viability. Original members of the VFL should therefore receive preferential treatment over that of recent expansion teams. Currently, preferential treatment is given to Sydney and Brisbane due to their ability to increase revenue through increased TV rights, and to promote footy in traditional Rugby League states.
The conspiracy theories generally state that (insert name of suburban Melbourne football club here) believe that because of their struggling status, the AFL is trying to make the team fold. The main catalyst of this debate in recent times was Fitzroy. The announcement of Port Adelaide's AFL license, dependent upon a reduction in teams, further increased such speculation.
Prior to Fitzroy, the main subjects of debate as to continued participation were Footscray (who actually announced a merger with Fitzroy in 1989) and Richmond. Both were saved through public fund drives; this has not been uncommon in VFL history.
Fitzroy was saved for a few years by investment cash from a business consortium led by the Bank of Nauru. When that money ran out early in 1996, the club finally accepted an offer of merger from the North Melbourne club. But when the Nauru party lost patience and sent in an outside administrator to run the operation (according to Aussie bankruptcy law), the League vetoed the merger and obliged what remained of the club to merge with the Brisbane Bears. Ironically, Fitzroy refused a VFL offer of relocation to Brisbane in 1987, which prompted the founding of the Bears.
An attempt to merge the Melbourne and Hawthorn clubs into something sarcastically called the "Melbourne Dawks" organization was rejected in an emotional special meeting (and near riot) of the Hawthorn members after the 1996 season. Shortly thereafter, the Demons received a large cash infusion from mining magnate and Lubavitcher Hasidic Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, and named him club president. Subsequent intense efforts on the part of Hawthorn management have given the club some of the best membership numbers in Victoria, and an improved team on the field. While they have had their ups and downs, there has been sustained success with premiership wins in 2008, 2013 and 2014. Many of the underlying issues that precipitated the crisis in the sport, including too many teams in Melbourne, remain unresolved.
What are the Docklands, and why are they driving everyone mad?
Colonial Stadium (which became the Telstra Dome and is now Etihad Stadium) is an ultramodern 52,000 seat retractable-roof stadium which was completed in 2000. It is located in an area which once contained railyards between Spencer Street Station and the docks on the edge of downtown Melbourne. The new stadium was justified as an Olympic venue for preliminary soccer matches during Sydney 2000. The AFL immediately saw benefit in making the smaller, cushier stadium its second home in Victoria. There will be seats for everyone (still unusual in Australia), some with computer terminals allowing wagering and food purchases without leaving them; the lowest levels are movable to accommodate most any outdoor sport. There are luxury suites in numbers previously seen only in America. Channel Seven was one of the primary investors in the ground and the AFL is now headquartered there.
The league raised $30 million by selling its television rights long-term to Seven Network, and by offering up Waverley Park and its surrounds for sale, and plans to use it to take over Docklands 25 years after the Olympiad for roughly ten cents on the dollar. Essendon, St. Kilda and the Western Bulldogs volunteered to move in, and Hawthorn was forced into the MCG. (The site happens to be near the end of a main artery to the western suburbs known as Footscray Road.)
What's so bad about a gorgeous new ballpark? Lots of people have already found something to hate about this:
Football has always been considered "the game of the people", from the time people showed up in incredible numbers to watch club matches in the 19th century. Most people are thus disturbed by the notion of an American-style stadium so blatantly designed to attract corporate executives and others not necessarily tied to a club ("theatre-goers", "the Chardonnay set") and take their money. More are disturbed by the prospect of paying twice over (or more?) for entry to the park plus use of one of those seats - if they can get one; the Dome's small size means only 5,000 seats available on game day, so supporters will almost have to buy club memberships to enter, or purchase tickets for reserved seating in advance. The AFC insists that the extra money all this will pry loose is needed to guarantee the future of the game.
And Etihad has been surrounded by controversy from Day 1. First up was an industrial strike which delayed the completion of the ground. Then the AFL insisted on opening up the park for business against advice that it was not fully ready. This was partly due to the AFL needing to start and finish the season early due to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A number of planned ticketing booths were scrapped from the original plans and for weeks, massively long lines to admit those with tickets and for those wishing to purchase tickets frustrated fans and management and brought the ground under heavy criticism.
And the playing surface is still under fire. Part of the problem has been the roof which often remains closed when there is no game, depriving the grass of much needed sunlight. And even with the roof open, there is one section which is blocked from sunlight by part of the roof. The stadium management has worked diligently to correct these problems, but many players still complain about slippery conditions at the ground as well as the hardness of the surface.
Etihad's management has addressed some of the surface problems by installing special turf and routinely replacing sections of that turf. However, the hardness of the ground is another issue. Part of the problem is the fact that the playing surface sits directly above an underground parking lot with its concrete roof several feet below the playing surface.
Waverley Park was abandoned by this plan. Ironically, Waverley was originally VFL Park, built in the late 1960s as a new home for the state league, expandable to 120,000 seats with a full second deck in place, containing a large, engineered playing surface, with its own commuter rail line, and no more worries about cricketers! The transit line never happened, though, so the best access was by freeway, which troubles people in a city which relies on public transit, and anyone who dislikes parking in mud. Most of the second deck never happened. The local climate inspired the nickname "Arctic Park." And the MCG's improvements made it instantly second-rate. On the other hand, your $13.50 entry fee got you a free bench seat, it was more than good enough for watching football (just don't get too close to the crowned field, or you won't see the other wing), and St. Kilda and Hawthorn were good geographic matches for it. In fact, so many people have moved east that Waverley is now in the geographic center of metro Melbourne.
Hawthorn didn't want to leave Waverley. Club president Ian Dicker and his board were happy with it, and believed that moving the club away would shut out their traditional working-class supporters. (For a fair number of Australians, the membership ticket is the only luxury they can afford themselves.) The AFL made clear that Waverley was history, though, and made the MCG very attractive for Hawthorn. The Waverley area was redeveloped and renamed the RICOH Center. Hawthorn moved their training and administration facilities to the RICOH Center.
The people who run the MCG want a bigger piece of the action already. But this plan would have to take games from it to move them to Etihad, unless they promised big enough crowds to justify moving them back. And the MCG have that deal with the AFL for 40 years' worth of games, until 2030. Up until 2005, Carlton Football Club refused to negotiate on a deal it did with the league to host 16 games at Optus Oval each year through most of the next decade, so that Carlton could pay off their new Legends Stand. However, in 2005, the Carlton board decided it was in the best financial interests of the club to abandon Optus Oval in favor of splitting games between the Dome and the MCG. This was due to the fact that their home ground had a capacity of less than 30,000 and no lights for night games.
Optus Oval has undergone a number of name changes due to sponsorship deals. Originally it was Princes Park before becoming Optus Oval. Optus Oval became MC Labour Park and, as of 2014, was renamed Ikon Park. The club still maintains their administrative and training facilities there.
When South Melbourne flew north to become the Sydney Swans, everyone involved was left to their own devices without other options. Players arrived and were handed phone books to find housing, schools,hospitals,etc. Due to the high cost of living in Sydney relative to Melbourne, the club was granted by the league a cost of living allowance (COLA) which was incorporated into the salary cap. In 2014, the AFL announced a plan to phase out Sydney's COLA. The plan is to see the COLA completely abolished by the end of 2016. In 2015, the AFL told the Swans they would be restricted to only the draft, rookie draft, preseason draft and picking up delisted players. They were banned from trading players with other clubs and making offers to free agents.
Many were critical of the AFL's plan and believed the league was whacking the club over their recruitment of Lance Franklin from Hawthorn and Kurt Tippett from Adelaide. When Franklin announced at the end of 2013 that he wanted to leave, he nominated (chose) Sydney as his preferred destination. The AFL had been licking their proverbial chops at the thought of Franklin becoming the marquee player for the newest club (which happened to be the second AFL club in Sydney), the Greater Western Sydney Giants. With the Swans already having a high profile due to recent successes and GWS needing a boost to their own profile, Franklin would have fit the bill. However, the Swans got him instead with a ten year deal believed to be set at one million per year. They also snagged Tippett in somewhat controversial circumstances when it was revealed that Adelaide had been paying Tippett outside of his contract in ways that violated league rules. Tippett, who was sanctioned by the league along with several club officials, had previously requested a trade to Sydney. Although some at the AFL believe the club may have used COLA funds to recruit Franklin and Tippett, there is no hard evidence the club had broken any rules. Others believe that the Swans were being punished with the trade restrictions for nothing more than smart recruiting, development and list management.
The club was furious and took their complaints and concerns over such recruiting restrictions to the league and the media, saying the restrictions would hand them severe disadvantages. After months of controversy, the AFL did soften the restrictions to allow the Swans to trade or make offers to free agents, but only if those players wages at or below the league average of $350,000 per year. There was still the concern of a player earning more than that opting to leave the club either via a trade request or as a free agent. A deal was struck between the AFL and Sydney in 2015 with the Swans allowed to replace one departing player with a contract offer up to $450,000 per year to an incoming player. That option would then see the Swans’ COLA amount of $600,000 for the 2016 season lowered by 9.8 per cent of the traded-out player’s contract, if that player was contracted for 2016. While the club still rankles at such restrictions, they did accept the offer. Any breach of the new restrictions would see their COLA immediately cancelled. Left unresolved is the question of whether any AFL club should have a different salary cap due to the local cost of living or difficulty in recruiting players from other parts of the country. In the end, the mess was a creation of the AFL due to its own self-created exceptions to rules and the inevitable result of clubs using loopholes to there own benefit.
Flooding is a strategy used by AFL coaches to choke the opposition and deny them scoring opportunities. Teams will send as many as 15 or 16 of their 18 players into defense resulting in constant tie-ups and opponents unable to get a clean shot at goal. Surely former Sydney coach Rodney must have studied some of the history of Aussie Rules and come across the use of the flooding tactic which was used as far back as the late 1800's and early 1900's. The use of the tactic was not prevalent and there were only a few references to it. However, Eade ran with it for some time in the mid to late 1990s and into the early 2000's. It requires almost every player from one team to run to the opposition's forward area to clog it up to prevent the opposition from scoring and give the "flooding" team a better chance of gaining possession of the ball and clearing it to get it back to their own forward area. Eade used it to great effect both with the Swans and later as coach of the Western Bulldogs. Eade's successor at Sydney, Paul Roos, further refined the tactic and used it to successfully a premiership. It prompted former CEO Andrew Demetriou to accuse the Swans of playing ugly football. One drawback to this tactic is the fact that players, once they have regained possession, have no one to receive a long kick unless their is a plan to get someone further afield. It is also an exhausting exercise as the flooding players then have to run back to their various positions once possession is regained and they have a chance of scoring themselves. When Eade was employing the flood on a regular basis, there was a huge outcry from some fans and commentators who criticized it for taking away the free-flowing element. Some even called on the AFL to introduce rules to put a stop to it. However, for once, the AFL, did not go for the usual "knee-jerk reaction" rule, change. Coaches eventually, as they always do, figured out counter-tactics. Eventually, the flood became less prevalent, although some teams may still use it on occasion.
Eddie McGuire's Conflict of Interest
Eddie McGuire is perhaps the most recognized media personality in Australia. From humble beginnings as a statistician at a newspaper in 1978, he has gone on to become known as Eddie "Everywhere" for good reason. He is a print and television journalist, television host for numerous programs including the highly successful and highly rated The Footy Show, has a morning radio spot, was CEO of the Nine Network for one year, was member of the 1998 Australian Constitutional Convention and has served as the president of the Collingwood Magpies since 1999 and works doing play by play for television. Many believe that he should not be assigned to call matches which involve Collingwood, for whom he is intensely loyal. Certainly, by standards in place in the US or Canada, this would never be allowed. Fans in the US could never imagine Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) doing play by play on Cowboy's games.
Racial Issues and Discrimination in Footy
Racism and prejudice have existed since the earliest days of cultures and races meeting and mingling. Australia and footy are no different. Similar to American slave owners selling "their" property with no regard to the person's family, white Australia at one time embarked on an forced assimilation program in which Aboriginal children were removed from their families, clans and lands and placed in white homes or missions. It was a travesty which still affects many indigenous people who have never been able to rediscover where they came from. On field sledging is part of the game and for many years, racial and cultural abuse were an accepted part of the game. The first stand against such abuse came in 1993 when St Kilda's Nicky Winmar was taunted by Collingwood fans at Victoria Park (then Collingwood's home ground). During the game, he and fellow Aboriginal teammate Gilbert McAdam noted the abuse from the fans and decided to "show them". They did so by totally outplaying the Magpies and helping their Saints to win the game. Afterward, Winmar stood in the middle of the ground, raised his jersey and pointed to his bare chest in a show pride of his color. The photograph is one of the most iconic of the modern era in Australia. However, the abuse and taunts continued from both fans and opposition players. It came to a head two years later when Essendon's Michael Long publicly called out Collingwood's Damian Monkhorst for racially abusing him during a game. A mediation meeting took place and after that, the AFL decided to make their own stand via a "vilification policy" which gave players recourse and the league the power to sanction racial abuse (or vilification). Over the years, the policy has been broadened to include cultural, religious, heritage and even sexual vilification. The AFL employs a cultural liaison officer and has players from different backgrounds who act as cultural ambassadors to reach out and interact with the broader communities. In 2015, during the annual Multicultural Round, a number of games were broadcast in different languages including several Indian and Chinese dialects, Greek, Vietnamese, Italian, Spanish and Arabic. One of the AFL's ambassadors, Richmond's Bachar Houli is the son of Muslim immigrants and a devout Muslim himself. He suggested to the AFL that prayer rooms be set up at AFL grounds to encourage more Muslims, who pray five times a day, to attend games. Also in 2015, the first all-female Muslim team was established in Melbourne. In 2014, Collingwood welcomed a "pink" group of gay fans. It is certainly a far cry from the time when a player was refused a rubdown by a trainer because of the color of his skin.
Getting knocked out during a sports competition, whether it be baseball, basketball, cricket, American football, or Aussie Rules is not new. In years gone by, if a player appeared to be recovered and stated he or she was OK (even if he or she was lying), they were allowed to return to action. Not so anymore, as research and studies in recent years have shown there are serious long-term brain deterioration as the result of multiple concussions. Problems include memory loss, headaches, vision problems, sleep disorders, personality changes, permanent brain damage, and depression - depending on the areas of the brain affected. Long term brain damage is known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This condition can only be definitively diagnosed posthumously but more recent research has led to the ability to identify signs which could indicate CTE in the living. There have also been numerous international symposiums on the issue which cover everything from research results to protocols for treatment and management. A number of AFL players have been forced into premature retirement for what they refer to as "one too many headknocks". While the collisions in footy can be violent, there are nowhere near as common as some old TV adverts for the sport might suggest to you. Over the course of an AFL career though, the issue can be real and it has prematurely ended a few careers.
A survey was taken some years ago of ex-NFL players and in that survey many admitted to lying to training and coaching staff after a bad hit, saying they were OK and then being allowed back on the field of play still suffering the effects of the hit. A 2014 study conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University showed that 96% of NFL players and 79% of all players - pro and semi-pro -could be suffering from CTE. It is not just the professionals as it is also a concern for college and high school players. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the NFL and there are several which have also been filed against the AFL over the issue. The AFL has had strict protocols in place for some years and also introduced rules which penalizes players for "reckless or deliberate" head high contact to opposition players. However, accidents in the high-octane game of footy are going to happen as players are trained from Day One to "see ball, get ball". All sporting bodies can do is try to minimize the risk and continue to be vigilant in the welfare of their most precious commodity - the players. See our article on this subject.
Violence in the Game
In years gone by, before the advent of the global internet and social media, it was very easy to hush up unsavory incidents involving celebrities and sports people. However, if someone was arrested, it would most certainly be in the news. Australian rules football is not immune to street and domestic violence with some players and coaches having experienced or been involved in violent incidents. In 2015, Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh was killed by his son during a domestic dispute. Former players Daniel Kerr (West Coast) and Nick Stevens (Port Adelaide and Carlton) both faced criminal charges for domestic violence. Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson was also involved in a minor incident when he pushed away a rowdy fan who was harassing him as he was entering his hotel after a match in Adelaide. Considering it was late at night, his team had lost the game and he was most likely tired and hungry, many believed he would have been justified in reacting, and he was lauded for his restraint in merely pushing the man away. In September, Jon Patton (Greater Western Sydney) was punched in an unprovoked attack while on vacation in Los Angeles. The AFL has, for some time, taken a strong stance and has policies in place in an effort to combat senseless violence, including a "respect and responsibility" policy which includes women. Many players have been spokespersons for campaigns which tried to tell people to "think before acting" and "walk away". One player, Geelong's Corey Enright, recently set up a program to help stop cyber-bullying and was nominated for the 2015 community service award for his efforts (the award went to another player for his charity work). Even the 2015 Preliminary Final was not without incident, with a fan being arrested for assaulting a rival fan. That man was charged with assault as well as being banned from the Domain Stadium in Perth for life (he is 24). Fans are encouraged to report misbehavior to security at all grounds.
On field violence, in contrast to the TV commercials suggesting otherwise, is usually minor and infrequent. Incidents can result in players being reported to the tribunal for disciplinary action including suspension. Elsewhere in this FAQ, there are discussions of the tribunal system and rules regarding acceptable on field contact. The AFL undertook a much stronger disciplinary system in the 1990's which has resulted in the game being much less violent and largely eliminated "buffoonery" that was often seen in earlier decades. For some fans though, this has lessened the "physical" aspects of the game in favor of more athleticism and you will hear fans, particularly older Australian fans, decry the "softness" of the game today.
Drugs have existed for centuries. Drugs are nothing new, but more awareness of their dangers is one step in an effort to prevent wasted lives and tragedy such as what happened to Adelaide coach Phil Walsh (who was killed by his son who was under the influence of drugs). Football players and the AFL are not immune or impervious to the issue. Former Carlton great Alex Jesualenko once remarked after a fog (weather) affected game that his teammate Peter Jones was used to being in a fog, a veiled reference to marijuana. Former Hawthorn great of the 1980s, Dermott Brereton once told of how he and his mates would often be offered cocaine at nightclubs. The AFL has had a drugs policy in place for many years for both illicit - i.e. recreational - and performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) has worked with the AFL with permission to test any player at any time. In the mid-2000's,The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) entered the picture in Australia. The AFL has vigorous education programs in place as well as does the Players Association and if a player feels he needs help, there are plenty of avenues. Controversially, the AFL is one of very few professional sports leagues outside of Athletics and Olympic sports to subscribe to the full WADA program. This was, and is, controversial as it places different testing requirements and potential bans on football players than would otherwise apply under local law and collective bargaining agreements between players and leagues.
The AFL's policy is a "three-strike" policy. For a first positive test, only the AFL medical officer is notified and the player is ordered to counseling. A second positive test, and the player's club doctor is notified. A third failed test sees the club also finally notified. In the case of performance-enhancing (PE) drugs, the player is given a "show cause" notice which requests an explanation and reasons why he should not be charged. The player can also be provisionally suspended until an anti-doping tribunal is convened. A player found guilty of taking PE substances can be suspended for up to two years. There have been several recent cases with St Kilda's Ahmed Saad returning in 2015 from an 18-month ban for ingesting a match day banned substance which was an ingredient in a sports drink. Fremantle's Ryan Crowley was also suspended early in 2015 after testing positive for banned drugs. He admitted to taking the unauthorized medications to overcome a back problem. He was delisted (dropped from the club roster) when the 2015 season concluded. Some feel the penalties were harsh under the circumstances while others feel that if one does the crime, they do the time no matter how minimal the offense. Collingwood duo Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas were also delisted after being found guilty for clembuterol, a steroid. They claimed they ingested it from contaminated meat but were banned for two years. See Lachlan Keeffe.
There have also been cases of undetected drug use. In the late 1990's, Brisbane forward Alistair Lynch, was taking an over the counter supplement DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), to combat chronic fatigue syndrome. (DHEA is a naturally occurring precursor to many natural steroids such as testosterone and many individuals fail to produce enough.) During this time, he was tested several times by ASADA as a matter of routine and never returned a positive test. He turned himself in when a fellow sufferer mentioned that the drug was on the banned list. Why he never tested positive may have been due to the fact that the medication helped his body produce and maintain normal levels of testosterone or it could have been a question of what ASADA was or was not testing for or a combination of the two. Lynch was exonerated of any wrongdoing and many felt the two-week tribunal hearings were a farce and unwarranted. Another more recent case is former Eagle Ben Cousins, who has struggled with methamphetamine addiction for years, including 2005 when he won the Brownlow Medal and 2006 when the Eagles claimed the premiership. He is another who never returned a positive test. Many fans and commentators have debated whether the AFL three strikes policy works. Many believe club officials deserve to be notified after a first positive test so they can act immediately. The AFL believes it is working but continues to state it is reviewing it and negotiate with the Players Association to improve and enhance it. One suggestion has been for hair testing to become a part of routine tests, both in and out of competition. Hair tests can reveal the presence of illicit substances when other tests might fail.
Essendon Supplements Scandal
The biggest drug scandal to hit Australian Football and looks set to continue into the 2016 season is the Essendon supplements saga, which is well-chronicled at this website. The club embarked on the program in 2012 and came forward early in 2013 to request an investigation by the AFL, WADA and ASADA. It has cost the club millions in legal fees, their CEO, chairman and senior coach as well as an assistant coach and has cast a pall over 34 players - some still with the club. Possible penalties still to come through the World Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) after WADA appealed ASADA's "not guilty" by reason of "not comfortably satisfied" verdict.
Update: In early January 2016, CAS overturned ASADA's verdict with the players suspended until November 2016. Two retired players are coaches at other clubs and are banned from their duties. A month later, the 12 players still with Essendon, as well as Nathan Lovett-Murray, who was fired from his coaching job in Shepperton (approximately 112 miles north east of Victoria) decided to appeal the CAS verdict. The club's insurance will most likely pick up the tab.
The Academy System
When the AFL became a national league in 1987 and subsequently introduced a national draft, it created a situation where young hopefuls were (and are) often separated from family and friends and find themselves hundreds of miles away from home at only 18 or 19 years old. While most get used to it, there are some who become homesick and request to be traded after just one season. Shannon Grant (North Melbourne) and Anthony Rocca (Collingwood) were both drafted by Sydney but returned home to Victoria. Nathan Buckley (Collingwood) was originally drafted by Brisbane and Sydney premiership player (2005) Micky O'Loughlin was so homesick, he nearly quit to return to South Australia. His mother told him to stay put. Recognizing this and looking to find more local talent, Sydney set up an "academy" (a training camp) to recruit and train players in New South Wales with a view to eventually drafting them. Brisbane soon followed suit. The academies were also seen as a way to boost the recruitment of players in what is considered rugby dominated territory. The Victorian clubs opposed the academies, saying the system robbed them of the chance to draft highly talented juniors. It came to a head in 2014 when the Swans drafted Isaac Heeney, one of the top rated juniors in the country. In 2015 the AFL introduced a complicated bidding system for academy players so other clubs might have a chance. The critics were not satisfied. The AFL announced in early 2016 that Victorian clubs would receive funding to set up their own academies with designated "zones" from which to recruit. (Historical note: in the VFL days, the clubs had zones for drafting which were eliminated with the advent of a national draft and will now again have preferential areas within the academy system.) Most of the country is covered except for West Australia and Tasmania, which will eventually get academies. Open to both boys and girls aged 11-18, this will benefit the AFL's plans for a women's league, too.
Going onto the ground after the game
In the tradition of suburban support for AFL clubs, it is customary for many spectators to go onto the ground (after a prearranged signal from ground officials) at the conclusion of a game and have a kick of the football with friends, etc.
Maybe this appeals to our desire to be like our Footy heroes - knowing we've kicked a footy on the same ground these footballers have lifts our own pride or whatever... -- Adam East
Unfortunately for the fans, many grounds have moved to end this practice, most notably Subiaco Oval in suburban Perth and the MCG in Melbourne. The usual justification given is preservation of the playing surface, which in some cases is already heavily used. In a reversal though, the AFL restored the practice to the MCG in 2015.
The Aussie Meat Pie
Meat pies are to footy what hot dogs are to baseball. These Aussie finger pies, traditionally with a stewed beef filling in pastry crust, are served with a liberal dash of tomato sauce (pronounce "ketchup"), and usually accompanied by beer. Some food companies (Four 'n' Twenty especially) build their product marketing around this tradition. Four 'n' Twenty has been making pies for over fifty years now, and despite the fact that they make over 400,000 every week, they always seem to run out by three-quarter time.
Article last changed on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 12:59 PM EDT