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ROUND 22, 2011 AUGUST 19-21 $5 (INC. GST)




DOGS, EADE PART WAYS Bulldogs to look for new coach



Docker reaches 200 games

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round 22, august 19-21, 2011


Luke Dahlhaus


Round 21 NAB AFL Rising Star

Th fifth Docker to play 200 games. The NATHAN SCHMOOK reports. NA



Fin Finally the young Swan is finding his feet after a frustrating run with injury. JAMES DAMPNEY reports. inj

« 64 NATHAN BOCK Lif couldn’t be better for Life the Gold Coast defender. MICHAEL WHITING reports. MI

regulars r 4 7 25 53 70 74 76

Backchat The Bounce Matchday Dream Team Answer Man Kids’ Corner NAB AFL Rising Star

The Bulldogs’ Luke Dahlhaus. Th

78 Talking Point

Te Hopkins has discovered a Ted new term for midfielders—bring ne on the transporters.

OPENING N G UP NING 22 OPE HE GAME G ME GAM THE The AFL International Cup kicks off in Sydney.

The Official Hotel Group Of The AFL

THIS WEEK’S COVER Craig Bird is making his mark with the Sydney Swans after a rough trot with a foot injury. y. COVER PHOTO: CRAIG GOLDING




main feature

nab afl rising star

Your say on the world of football

time on


Time to show more respect

» For most, a day or night

Ladder anomaly

At the end of round 21, the ladder has Carlton in fourth spot leading West Coast by half a game. Unfortunately, this is slightly misleading as Carlton has a bye in round 23, meaning it won’t have the opportunity to earn points in that round.

MISLEADING: A reader wants to know why Carlton is listed ahead of West Coast even though the Blues have the bye in round 23.


From the AFL: The ladder is

calculated on the basis of premiership points as the first determinant of team position, followed by team percentage. There is no use of match ratio while a bye is in place for the 2011 season.

Rule too strict

I’ve always thought the out-ofbounds rule needs an overhaul. My annoyance is when there is a contest near the boundary, two players competing or running for the footy and, in the commotion, the ball bounces off a player’s foot or lower leg. Surely a free kick for out on the full should only be paid for deliberate and intentional kicks, not because of the random bounce of our oval ball. This happens almost every week and is unfair on the players attacking the ball and making the play. CLANCY DOWLING, VIA EMAIL

Crows turn the corner

After a tough season, it has been nice to see the Crows finally start to play some good




footy. The round one win against Hawthorn aside, their performance against Geelong last Sunday was their best of the year. Sure, they lost, but they pushed the second-best team in the competition all the way. As a Neil Craig fan, it is just a little disappointing the players couldn’t fire a shot earlier in the year. I still believe Craig is one of the best coaches in the AFL and, given time, could have led the Crows group back up the ladder. That

PRODUCTION EDITOR Michael Lovett WRITERS Nick Bowen, Paul Daffey, James Dampney, George Farrugia, Luke Holmesby, Ted Hopkins, Darren O’Shaughnessy, Peter Ryan, Nathan Schmook, Callum Twomey, Michael Whiting, Jennifer Witham SUB-EDITORS Gary Hancock, Howard Kotton, Michael Stevens STATISTICIAN Cameron Sinclair CREATIVE DIRECTOR Andrew Hutchison


said, Mark Bickley has done a good job since taking over, so he may be the new man for the job. ALF ANTHONY, PARADISE, SA.


The best letter each round nd will receive the 2011 AFL Record Season Guide. Email aflrecordeditor@ or write to AFL Record, Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, VIC, 3008.

DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Sam Russell DESIGNERS Alison Wright, Daniel Frawley PHOTO EDITORS Natalie Boccassini, Ginny Pike PRODUCTION MANAGER Troy Davis PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Stephen Lording

NATIONAL SALES MANAGER – SPORT Shane Purss ACCOUNT MANAGERS Kate Hardwick, Callum Senior, Rebecca Whiting ADVERTISING SALES COORDINATOR Laura Mullins (03) 9627 2600

PHOTOGRAPHY DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Sean Garnsworthy, Michael Willson, Callum Senior Lachlan Cunningham, Tim Terry, FINANCE & COMMERCIAL MANAGER Justine Walker, AFL Photos, Jeffrey Sickert (03) 9627 2600,

at the football provides the opportunity to support their team, engage in some light-hearted banter with opposition fans and watch extraordinary skills executed by some of the best athletes in the country. Changes in community values—achieved in football partly via the introduction of the AFL’s racial vilification policy and related awarenessraising campaigns—have resulted in a more tolerant, broader-thinking approach from all levels of the game. But, unfortunately, many of us still encounter episodes of unruly and unsavoury behaviour at matches. Call it human nature. One such episode, specifically the abuse by some Collingwood supporters of St Kilda’s Stephen Milne last week, led to Magpies president Eddie McGuire indicating his club would launch an advertising campaign to discourage poor crowd behaviour. McGuire said the aim of the campaign was to stop the “dehumanising” of people. Some will argue that the fact they have paid an entrance fee allows them to say and, in some cases, do as they please. And as McGuire acknowledged, no campaign will stop the small minority “carrying on”. Fans have every right to engage in the game; doing so with respect isn’t too much to ask. PETER DI SISTO

PRINTED BY PMP Print ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO The Editor, AFL Record, Ground Floor, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Victoria, 3008. T: (03) 9627 2600 F: (03) 9627 2650 E: AFL RECORD, VOL. 100, ROUND 22, 2011 Copyright. ACN No. 004 155 211. ISSN 1444-2973, Print Post approved PP320258/00109




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Changing of the guard for the game’s big men.




The Carlton-Hawthorn match shapes as a critical one.


The versatile Saint looms as a finals wildcard.

Hayden’s generous and personable nature has made him popular wherever he goes

Bounce views


first person

Paul Daffey on Hayden Kennedy, p20





Seven-year itch claims Eade as Dogs seek fresh start


SO CLOSE: Rodney Eade took the Bulldogs

to three successive preliminary finals, after reaching a Grand Final with the Sydney Swans (below).



even years without a premiership. In simple terms, these five words explain why the Western Bulldogs this week parted ways with coach Rodney Eade. It is about the samee time Eade spent at thee Sydney Swans beforee he resigned midway through 2002, and it is the same length of time premiership coaches David Parkin and Paul Roos said it took for their message to become stale with their players. d he Although Eade said had not ‘lost’ his, even he acknowledged in an interview with last August there was always a danger things could naturally go sour as the seventh year approached. Last year, Eade said he was working on making his message to his players different and was more than aware he needed to keep things “fresh”. He said then he loved coaching and, tongue-in-cheek, it had him “jump out of the house and skip to work” every day.

I am bitterly d disappointed. I thought I had a lot to offer RODNEY EADE

There is no doubt injuries hurt the team this year, particularly in the second half of the season. One of the Bulldogs’ most important players—two-time All-Australian Brian Lake— never got going. Eade admitted at Wednesday’s press conference he had not been as equipped as he could have been to cope with the number of teams using forward presses. The Dogs struggled to get the ball forward, with Eade conceding the loss of

Jarrod Harbrow to Gold Coast, Ryan Hargrave to a long-term foot issue, Lindsay Gilbee to form issues and eventually Lake to unmanageable knee soreness robbed the team of run out of defence. And, the three quick players recruited from other clubs—Nathan Djerrkura, Justin Sherman and Patrick Veszpremi—have not had the impact the Dogs desired. Veszpremi is yet to play at AFL level for the Dogs.

» Rodney Eade’s seven-year tenure as Western Bulldogs coach will end after the home and away season, with the club announcing on Wednesday it would not sign him to a new contract. Eade said: “(I’m) not shattered or angry, but I am certainly disappointed— I am bitterly disappointed. d.. I thought I had a lot to off ffeer.” ffer err. President David Smorgon said the board had simply felt “it was time for a change”. “It’s time for a different approach. We nearly got there and it wasn’t Rodney’s fault,” he said. “Rodney’s given it his all, and we’d previously extended (his contract) twice, and we just felt on reflection, no matter how difficult it’s been … it’s time to find someone else.” Eade, 53, led the Bulldogs to preliminary finals in the past three seasons. He played 259 matches for Hawthorn and the Brisbane Bears and has coached the Bulldogs and Sydney Swans in 314 matches. GARY WALSH AND JENNIFER WITHAM

After the round 12 loss to St Kilda, Eade started to tweak the game-plan and the wheel turned, slightly, with the Dogs winning the next four. Everything seemed back on track. Then, in round 17, they faced North Melbourne at




Bulldog Adam Cooney’s knee injury will sideline him for the rest of the season, says manager Rick Olarenshaw.

Etihad Stadium in a match they were expected to win, but lost by 31 points, despite the Roos’ 20-goal hiding at the hands of Collingwood the week before. Eade said afterwards the players had not listened to instructions and had handballed too much. Before the start of the season, president David Smorgon went on The Footy Show and said the coach, who had taken two clubs—the Swans and then the Dogs—from the lower rungs of the ladder to deep in the finals, needed to make a Grand Final to gain a pass mark. Eade is a well-liked character. He has a good relationship with the media, sometimes ringing journalists for information on upcoming opponents. He has a sound relationship with his players. Just hours after being told his contract would not be renewed, he was out in the cold taking training at Whitten Oval. He was asked by Smorgon and CEO Simon Garlick if he wanted to coach the remaining three games of the season, and didn’t want to consider it until he had spoken to the players. After 12 of the team’s senior members told him they wanted him to coach until the end of round 24, Eade said he would—but reserved the right to change his mind should he find it too emotionally hard.



Changing of the guard as young ruckmen emerge




risbane Lions ruckman Matthew Leuenberger played the most complete game of his five-year career against Gold Coast last Saturday night. The 23-year-old dominated the ruck contests, winning 42 hit-outs, and showed just how influential he can be around the ground. The two goals he kicked in a four-minute period in the last quarter perhaps best showcased Leuenberger’s all-round talents. At the 11-minute mark, he pounced on a loose ball in the middle of the ground, ran to the edge of the centre square and kicked truly from about 60m. He then took a strong overhead mark in front of Suns vice-captain Nathan Bock 35m out from goal and converted. Leuenberger’s performance was the icing on his excellent 2011 season, in which he has ably carried the Lions’ ruck division. After 21 rounds, Leuenberger is ranked second in the competition for total hit-outs (611, at an



Total hit-outs 659


Todd Goldstein (23)

North Melbourne


Matthew Leuenberger (23)

Brisbane Lions



Dean Cox (30)

West Coast

577 493


Sam Jacobs (23)



Robert Warnock (24)




Shane Mumford (25)

Sydney Swans



Ben McEvoy (22)

St Kilda



Brad Ottens (31)




Mark Jamar (28)




Ben Hudson (32)

Western Bulldogs

367 349


Aaron Sandilands (28)



Nic Naitanui (21)

West Coast



Zac Smith (21)

Gold Coast



Stefan Martin (24)




Angus Graham (24)




David Hille (30)




Patrick Ryder (23)


266 263


Tom Bellchambers (22)



Darren Jolly (29)




Max Bailey (24)



*Age in brackets

Twelve of the AFL’s top 20 hit-out winners in 2011 are aged 24 or under average of 32.2 a game) and is averaging 15.2 disposals. The No. 4 selection in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft, Leuenberger’s 2011 form is a continuation of the strides he took last year, when he put the injury problems of his first three AFL seasons behind him to finish ninth in the club’s best and fairest award.

Leuenberger is also one of a brigade of young ruckmen who have developed this season to challenge the AFL’s established order of big men. The effort of fellow 2006 draftee Todd Goldstein to carry North Melbourne’s ruck division in Hamish McIntosh’s absence has been well documented.

When they’re not playing PLAYER


Whose autograph did you get as a kid:

Best advice received:

First job: ob:

Person you would m most like to meet:

Dean Cox West Coast

Peter Matera tera

Th The pain of discipline is no nothing like the pain of di disappointment i

Paperr boy

M Michael JJordan

Harley Bennelll Gold Coast

Ryan ey Crowley

Yo You o only get out w what you put in

Never had one

M Michael Jordan

Bryce Gibbs Carlton

n Stephen Kernahan han n

D o leavee anyy Don’t stone unturned st t r ed rn d

Check-out at ssupermarket

Lance Franklin

Aaron Edwards North Melb

Shane Crawford ord

Don’t D o countt your yyo our games, gamees make them count m


Cristiano Ronaldo do



Geelong’s Cameron Mooney suspended one week for high bump on Adelaide’s Graham Johncock.

TAKING FLIGHT: Alex Fasolo took this

magnificent mark for Collingwood against St Kilda last week.

He was really good for the morale among the boys WA COACH BRAD WIRA ON ALEX FASALO


Goldstein, 23, leads the competition in hit-outs—both in total number (659) and average (36.6)—and if he maintains his this rate, will finish 2011 with the second highest season tally in history, behind Gary Dempsey’s 878 in 1982. Ben McEvoy, 22, has also emerged as St Kilda’s No. 1 ruckman in Michael Gardiner’s injury enforced absence. Of the competition’s leading 25 ruckmen in total hit-outs, McEvoy is ranked third for average marks (5.6) behind West Coast’s Dean Cox and Essendon’s David Hille (both 6.1). And there have been other young ruckman who have put the likes of Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle), Cox, Darren Jolly (Collingwood), Ben Hudson (Western Bulldogs) and Brad Ottens (Geelong) on notice that their positions near the top of the AFL ruck food chain are under threat. These include Adelaide’s Sam Jacobs (aged 23), Gold Coast’s Zac Smith (21), Essendon’s Tom Bellchambers (22), Fremantle’s Zac Clarke (21) and, of course, West Coast’s Nic Naitanui (21), who has formed such a damaging partnership with Cox this season. You can also add to that list three 24-year-olds who have overcome significant injury problems: Hawthorn’s Max Bailey, Carlton’s Robert Warnock and Melbourne’s Stefan Martin. Notably, 12 of the AFL’s top 20 hit-out winners in 2011 are aged 24 or under. Admittedly, veterans Sandilands and Jolly and, to a lesser extent, Hille and Hudson, have been sidelined for significant periods this season. But even when you look at the statistics for average hit-outs, 11 of the top 20 ranked players are 24 or under. And Champion Data statistics reveal that the ruckmen under-25 also account for 10 of the top 20 in hit-outs to advantage, led by Goldstein at No. 2 (9.4 a game), Warnock at No. 5 (7.6) and Leuenberger at No. 8 (7.1). Sydney Swan Shane Mumford, 25, is the top-ranked player (9.9).


Young Magpie in flying start to career PETER RYA N


here is something about the first eight games played by Collingwood’s Alex Fasolo that invites you to look deeper. He has forced his way into the defending premier’s line-up. He is yet to play in a loss. He kicked a goal with his first kick at AFL level. He kicked a bag of five goals in just his sixth game. He wears the No. 35, famous at the Magpies. As a basis for comparison, it took the precocious Collingwood star of the late 1930s Des Fothergill nine games to kick his first bag of five goals. Of the more modern types, it took Jarryd Blair 15, Steele Sidebottom 18 and

Alan Didak 19 games to do that. Collingwood hero Peter Daicos was 28 games into his career before he kicked five in a match. Needless to say, Fasolo— who wears 35 as part of a club initiative to give the first draft pick each year the number Daicos and Simon Prestigiacomo made famous—has started his career in fine fashion. It is his ability to kick goals that has impressed his coaches all along, a trait obvious to his new teammates from the time he arrived at Collingwood. But there is more to Fasolo than his ability to find the goals. Former Western Bulldogs and Fremantle player Brad Wira coached Fasolo in Western Australia’s under-18 team. He said the youngster is an elite kick and good overhead, as well as being an outgoing character. Importantly, says Wira, he is also respectful, smart enough to know when to have fun and when to get serious. Fasolo was part of the West Australia program for two years, impressing enough

to be a member of the state team’s leadership group in last season’s NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. “He was really good for the morale among the boys,” Wira said. That’s an impressive assessment of Fasolo, who is shaping as a bargain at No. 45 in last year’s draft. He is one of a host of first-year players this season with a chance of playing in a flag in their first season. The others are Hawthorn’s Isaac Smith (nine wins from 10 games) and Paul Puopolo (12 from 14), West Coast’s Andrew Gaff (eight from 11) and Jack Darling (14 from 19) and, although it’s a long-shot, Essendon’s Dyson Heppell (10 and a draw from 20). Not many players achieve that feat, with only Geelong’s Joel Selwood, Hawthorn’s Cyril Rioli and the Lions’ Robert Copeland (who came off the rookie list as a 20-year-old to play in his club’s 2001 flag) managing to do so since 2000. Fasolo knows there is plenty of water to flow under the bridge before he gets that opportunity, with competition for places in Collingwood’s forward line strong, but he has shown he can keep his feet while others around him are losing their balance. That is a good foundation for a strong career whatever happens between now and the start of October. AFL RECORD



Back, groin and shoulder injuries force Essendon’s Darcy Daniher to retire after just six matches.


Stakes high as double chance on the line NICK BOW EN


his weekend could be the round that shapes the make-up of the final eight. Most significantly, the three-way battle to claim the final two spots in the top four could effectively be decided. Third-placed Hawthorn takes on fourth-placed Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, while West Coast (fifth)—half a game behind the Blues but with a game in hand—hosts the Bombers (seventh) at Patersons Stadium on Saturday. On Saturday night, the teams sitting sixth and eighth on the ladder, St Kilda and the Sydney Swans, do battle at ANZ Stadium, as will Fremantle (ninth) and North Melbourne (10th) at Etihad Stadium.

But the Hawks-Blues clash is the one that should capture most fans’ attention. Adding to the sense of anticipation is the fact the teams have not played since round nine last year, when the Hawks were convincing 50-point winners. It proved a significant win. Before that game, Hawthorn had won just twice in 2010. The week before, the Hawks had broken a six-game losing streak, but it had taken a desperate tackle by Sam Mitchell on Shane Tuck to ensure they hung on for a three-point win over a thenwinless Richmond. Hawthorn’s subsequent win over Carlton proved a turning point for the club. Realising the game-plan that took them to the 2008 flag was outdated, the Hawks, among other things, embraced a higher interchange-rotation policy. It helped them salvage their season and make the finals. This year, Hawthorn has overhauled its game-plan even

more radically, negotiating its way through opposition zones with precise short kicking. The Blues are also a different team in 2011. After bombing out in the first week of the finals for the second consecutive year in 2010, Andrew Walker has given their forward line added potency, while Chris Yarran’s move to defence has provided pace and flair in the defensive 50. This Friday night’s game will give us an insight into the legitimacy of both teams’ chances of challenging this year’s top two, Collingwood and Geelong. Neither has been able to beat the Magpies or Cats this season. However, neither has h been disgraced. Hawthorn lost to Geelong by 19 and five points and to Collingwood by 41, while Carlton Ca lost to the Mag Magpies by 28 and 19 points i and d the Cats by jus st just two.

If Hawthorn wins, it will have a stranglehold on a top-four spot

DANGER MAN: Lance Franklin booted five goals against Carlton last year and shapes as the obvious danger again this week, with Michael Jamison a possible opponent.




So where can both teams gain an edge? The Hawks’ greatest strength is obvious—a forward line with Lance Franklin as the focal point and Cyril Rioli as his crumbing sidekick. Franklin kicked five goals against the Blues in the 2010 clash, and he and Rioli combined for 14 against a hapless Port Adelaide last Saturday. Michael Jamison has missed the past seven rounds with a knee injury, but Blues coach Brett Ratten said this week his best key defender was likely to return to man Franklin. If Carlton chooses to focus on shutting down Rioli, Dennis Armfield looms as a likely option. However, the Blues could choose to play Yarran on him with the licence to counterattack whenever possible. Midfields don’t come much stronger than Carlton’s, with Chris Judd, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs (when not in defence), Kade Simpson and Mitch Robinson forming a formidable unit. The Hawks do not want for ball-winners either, with Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis and Brad Sewell. However, 2011 statistics statist show the Blues may hav have an edge in the middle of the ground. They are ranked second in average clearances cleara to Hawtho orn’s eequal Hawthorn’s seventh, and fourth fo in averag ge contested cont average possession ns to the t possessions Hawks’ 1 10th. It pro omise to be a promises fascin ating duel. d fascinating If Hawth horn wins, w Hawthorn it will ha ave a have strang glehold on a stranglehold top-fou ur spot top-four spot, with Carlto on facin Carlton facing a fth-p likelyy fifth-placed finish fi nish a and an eelimin elimination final. fi nal. But a Blues w win would keep nd tru them well an and truly in the fo or the double d running for B ha chance. Both have p for. fo much to play SEE PAGE 12 FOR PROJECT TED FIN PROJECTED FINISHES BASE ED ON A BASED ALL PO OSSIBLE RESULTS POSSIBLE TH HIS WEE THIS WEEKEND.


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Western Bulldogs defender Dale Morris to miss rest of season after breaking his leg against Essendon.






WINS v Brisbane Lions MCG, Saturday night LOSES


Can seal the minor premiership with a win over Fremantle next week.


Round 24 against the Cats would likely decide the minor premiership.




Needs to hope Collingwood drops one of its next two matches to keep its round 24 clash ‘live’ for the minor premiership. Cannot finish lower than third.


v Carlton Etihad Stadium, Friday night



Third place is virtually sealed, with a game and large percentage break over its rivals.


Fourth, but with a game in hand on Carlton.

Will still finish third if it wins its last two games, but one more loss would jeopardise the double chance.



The Blues would still be odds-on to finish fifth, as the Hawks and Eagles are expected to win their remaining matches. However, just one slip-up from a rival will be enough.


Fifth if West Coast wins; otherwise it stays fourth.

Will almost certainly finish fifth; would need West Coast to lose two of three to stay fourth.


Remains fifth if Carlton wins; into fourth place if Hawthorn wins.

Ninety per cent chance of a top-four finish; has to keep winning to guarantee it.


Remains fifth.

Fifty per cent chance of a top-four finish, needing Carlton to lose a match or Hawthorn to lose two.



Finals action is signed and sealed. One more win guarantees a sixth-place finish.


Only stays sixth if the losing margin is less than 32 points, and Essendon loses. Drops to seventh if the Bombers win, or the loss is bigger than 32; eighth if both happen.

Still a good chance to claim sixth, with its fate in its own hands. However, must find another win to guarantee a final, or could drop as far as 10th by round 24.


Moves to sixth if Sydney wins; seventh if St Kilda does.

Effectively guaranteed an elimination final, and has a 50-50 shot at sixth place.


Sydney would knock the Bombers down to eighth with a win; otherwise stays seventh but has a bye to come.

Difficult to see Fremantle or North Melbourne winning enough matches to eliminate the Bombers, and the ladder permutations indicate a likely first final in Melbourne in any case.


A win by 32 points would put Sydney sixth (seventh if Essendon wins). A smaller win leaves the Swans seventh (eighth).

Restores the Swans’ grasp on a home final, although they may have to beat Geelong next week to finish sixth. Percentage versus the Saints is vital.


Keeps a tenuous hold on eighth if Fremantle loses; ninth if the Dockers win.

Thirty-three per cent chance of missing the finals, but just one more win will probably be enough. Has virtually no chance of a home final.


Will take eighth from Sydney if it loses. Otherwise stays ninth.

Thirty-three per cent chance of making the finals. Needs one more win to tip the odds in its favour.


Drops to 10th.

Only faint finals hopes—even wins against Collingwood and Western Bulldogs may not be enough.

4 West Coast (up 1)


Will move past the Dockers into ninth with a far superior percentage.

If the Kangaroos win their last two against the Saints and Tigers, they have an 80 per cent chance of making the eight. One loss will probably kill their hopes.

6 St Kilda


Could be as low as 12th.

Mathematical chances only.

4 5

v Hawthorn Etihad Stadium, Friday night

v Essendon Patersons Stadium, Saturday


v Sydney ANZ Stadium, Sunday


v West Coast Patersons Stadium, Saturday


v St Kilda ANZ Stadium, Sunday

» Melbourne and the Western

Bulldogs are both rated less than a one per cent chance to break into the eight. If the Demons win all three games, they are still only a five per cent chance to sneak in with 42 points and a poor percentage. The Bulldogs, with a maximum 40 points, are a two per cent longshot. Richmond has some chance of finishing ninth.


» Port Adelaide is one win behind Gold Coast but has a seven per cent advantage, and would still boast a higher percentage even if it loses by 25 goals again. The equation is simple: the Power must win one more game than the Suns to avoid finishing last. Technically, Brisbane could also drop to 17th. FOUR MELBOURNE FINALS?

» The odds of having four games in Melbourne in the first week of the finals have shortened after Sydney’s loss last week. Although West Coast will likely finish fourth (earning the right to a home final in the second or third week) Sydney is rated less than a 20 per cent chance to take sixth place and gain hosting rights, and Fremantle has less than one per cent probability. That all adds up to a 70 per cent prospect of Etihad Stadium hosting a final. PREDICTED FINAL LADDER 1 Collingwood

9 10

v North Melbourne Etihad Stadium, Saturday night

v Fremantle Etihad Stadium, Saturday night

3 Hawthorn



2 Geelong


5 Carlton (down 1) 7 Essendon 8 Sydney

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Brisbane Lions Tom Rockliff (until the end of 2014) and Jesse O’Brien (2013) sign contract extensions.



Sun sets on Harris’ career

Houli repays Tigers’ faith

» Gold Coast midfielder

Daniel Harris has retired after 160 games. Harris told his Suns teammates on Monday and made the official announcement on Wednesday morning, citing persistent groin troubles as the main reason for his decision. The 29-year-old made his debut for North Melbourne in 2001 and earned a reputation as a hardened in-and-under midfielder in his 149 games for the Kangaroos. He was delisted at the end of 2009, when the Suns pounced and selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Rookie Draft. “I think my body made the decision for me,” he said. “It was definitely time with where my body was at and with the kids coming through and they’re developing really quickly, so it was a pretty easy decision.” Harris said he would “always remember” Gold Coast Football Club, its hierarchy and coaching staff for giving him a chance to revitalise his career. But after a full season in the VFL last year and most of the year, his thee A th AF AFL FL L season seeas ssea aso son on n this thi tth his iss ye y body bo bod dy could dy cou cco ou uld d no n ott keep up. o body not game’s “The “T “Th The hee gam ga g game am ame meee’s ’s changed ch cha ha han ang nge ged ed d a lot,” lot llo ott,” t he t, said sa sai d. ““It’s “Itt’s “It’ ’ss more mor mo m orrree of a said. running ru un unn nni nin ing ng g game g ga now and, now no w an a nd, d, if you can’t keep can’ ca can n’t ’tt k ke e up, itt exp exposes eex xp po p o you you yo u pretty p quickly and quiick qu qui c there’s theerr th the nowhere no no ow w to hide.” oh




Daniel Harris got the best out of himself in a fine 160-game career.




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ichmond made a concerted play to convince Bachar Houli to leave Windy Hill at the end of last season. At the time, Houli had mes for Essendon played 26 games in four years, including just five ut the Tigers last season, but ugh to believe had seen enough he would be a valuable eirr list. addition to their Bo ombers coach In fairness, Bombers ad de a last-ditch James Hird made rsu uade Houli to attempt to persuade h appointment stay soon afterr his er. But it was too last September. ecame a late and Houlii b became earr’s NAB Tiger in last year’s on Draft. AFL Pre-Season H This season,, Houli has hm mond’s faith. vindicated Richmond’s ve defender d The creative has played all 19 off the Tigers’ gin ng 22.4 games, averaging disposals at an efficiency c rate of 77 perr cent.

match against the Sydney Swans last Sunday. His goal in the second quarter of that game showed just what a damaging player he can be. Receiving a handball just inside the centre square, Houli took off, taking two bounces and kicking truly from outside 50m. After the Tigers’ 43-point win over the Swans, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said Houli’s consistent performances this season had been the result of hard work. “I think the thing that he’s improved is the contested side of his game,” Hardwick said. “He probably wasn’t noted for that when we got him across, but (assistant coach) Justin Leppitsch has done a truckload of work with him on his critical contest stuff and he’s improved dramatically in that area.”


Medal win sweet as Black, Lions restore lost pride MICH A EL W HITING


risbane Lions champion Simon Black added another medal to his cabinet last Saturday night when he was named best on ground in his team’s 62-point win over Gold Coast at the Gabba. Black won the Marcus Ashcroft Medal after he collected 31 disposals, had a match-high nine clearances and finished with a magnificent goal in the final quarter. The 32-year-old adds the medal to his three premierships, Brownlow

The thing hiing g that he’s improved p proved is the contested nttested side e DAMIEN HARDWICK DWICK

ityy to Houli’s ability h short sh hort pin-point both etss by foot and long targets Riichmond has meant his Richmond avee been keen to teammates have to his hands as get the ball into often possible.. ne out o by the This is borne hee Tigers in fact he leads the nd d is second in marks (116) and posssessions (308) uncontested possessions reb bound 50s (61). and fourth in rebound ad 30 or more Houli has had disposals in five games this season, including his 32-disposal

HARDER EDGE: Bachar Houli has

always been a good ball-winner but this year has improved the contested side of his game.

Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus says Kane Cornes is a “required player”.

We wanted to win. We played a lot better than last time

ALL CLASS: Simon Black was a popular figure after this goal last Saturday night.


and Norm Smith medals and three l bb d ffairest awards. d club best and The Lions’ Mr Nice Guy was as humble as ever in accepting the medal named after his former premiership teammate. “It’s nice to win it,” he said. “We had several guys who could have won it, a lot of contributors.

“Matthew Leuenberger was fantastic I thought, ‘Polks’ (James Polkinghorne) was really good and so was ‘Rocky’ (Tom Rockliff).” After losing to the Suns in the inaugural QClash in round

seven, Black admitted he was hungrier going into last weekend’s return match. On the first occasion, Gold Coast hammered the Lions in the clearance count 60-30, and Black took it personally.

Last weekend, the ledger read 50-28 the Lions’ way. “I was hurting a lot from that last game, particularly looking at those clearance numbers. That’s where I play and have an ownership for that part of the ground, so it was really disappointing,” he said. “It was a big focus. I’ve never been in a game where we’ve lost by 30 clearances, so it was an absolute mauling. “We knew we had to be a lot better and we came up with a couple of different structures to counter what they were doing and it worked pretty well.” Black said it was an important match for the Lions and they treated it as such, winning every quarter on the way to their fourth victory of the season. “We really wanted to win. We played a lot better than last time,” he said. “We’ve been really competitive in a lot of the games this year, but just haven’t been able to do it for long enough. The guys were up for it and it showed.” Black has played 293 games for the Lions and has indicated he is keen to play next season.


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Collingwood d captain cap ptain Nick Maxwell to miss up to a month with a broken thumb. thu


No respite as Port powerless to halt record blitz



n the past two weeks, Port Adelaide has lost by a combined 303 points. This has never happened in back-to-back games. The Power, only a week after losing to Collingwood at home by 138 points—a club record losing margin—lost to Hawthorn by 165 points last week at the MCG. Again, new marks were set. None of them attered Port. It was the ďŹ rst time in history a team has lost consecutive games by 20 goals or more. The Power’s ďŹ nal score of 5.2 (32) was their third-lowest score in history and their lowest in a match outside South Australia. Hawthorn scored more in each quarter than Port did for

the entire match. That was also the case for the Power against the Magpies. St Kilda also has this dubious honour, in rounds nine and 10 of the 1899 season. The 165-point margin was the highest in a game at the MCG, beating Hawthorn’s 160-point win over Essendon in round 20, 1992. It was also the equal-sixth greatest winning margin of all-time, and Hawthorn’s greatest winning margin. The Hawks’ ďŹ nal score of 31.11 (197) was the highest at the MCG since Essendon’s 31.12 (198) against North Melbourne in the 2000 ďŹ rst qualifying ďŹ nal. Last Saturday was the third time this season a team has won by 150 or more points. STATISTICS SUPPLIED BY CAMERON SINCLAIR AND COL HUTCHINSON.


Matthew Primus and Port Adelaide are going through a tough period.

MCG BLOWOUTS Margin (points)

Biggest wins at the MCG


Hawthorn 31.11 (197) d Port Adelaide 5.2 (32),

Round 21, 2011


Hawthorn 32.24 (216) d Essendon 8.8 (56)

Round 20, 1992


Richmond 28.19 (187) d Fitzroy 5.6 (36)

Round 21, 1996

Melbourne 21.28 (154) d Hawthorn 1.7 (13)

Round 9, 1926

North Melbourne 32.17 (209) d Richmond 9.14 (68)

Round 2, 1990





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CEO Andrew Demetriou indicates AFL considering shortening games next season.


Koschitzke looming as Saints’ wildcard


A confident Justin Koschitzke taking marks like this is just what St Kilda needs in September.



or just about his entire career, Justin Koschitzke has been considered St Kilda’s X-factor. Since winning the AFL Rising Star award in 2001, Koschitzke has battled injury and played inconsistently, but few doubted his ability to impact a game when on song. And, as the Saints make their run to the finals, the boy from Brocklesby in New South Wales shapes as one of their crucial players. This season hasn’t been a great one for Koschitzke. An ankle injury wrecked his pre-season and he wasn’t sighted at AFL level until the round five win over the Brisbane Lions. After a month of footy, he missed another three weeks before he returned for the round 13 clash against Geelong. But a suspension for a sling tackle sidelined him again for two weeks and he was forced to find his way back via Sandringham in the VFL. For the early part, at least, it seemed the 2011 season might end up a write-off for Koschitzke, but he turned his year around when he was a late inclusion for the Saints’ match against West Coast in round 17. Against an in-form team with the most imposing ruck combination in the League, Koschitzke was a more than

Interestingly, Koschitzke has opened up publicly this season adequate support for Ben McEvoy in the middle, and he also slotted two goals. Since that game, he has steadily improved and seems to be relishing his new role as a back-up ruckman

who occasionally goes forward, rather than a player permanently based in attack. Nick Riewoldt, who traditionally has pushed up the ground to run his opponents around, has been the focal point

Get personal this Father’s Day

playing closer to goal, while Koschitzke rotates with McEvoy. Koschitzke’s recent form surge was best exemplified in the win over Fremantle in round 20. He gathered 17 disposals, kicked two goals and had 21 hit-outs. Although his output was down in last week’s loss to Collingwood, Koschitzke showed his value to the team by playing the various roles he was assigned. The Magpies nullified Riewoldt by double-teaming him and putting pressure on the ball-carrier up the ground. The Saints might have concluded from that game that to have Koschitzke also up forward and presenting could make a significant difference if they meet the Magpies again in the finals. And it’s not out of the question that Koschitzke will spend more time in attack in the remaining weeks of the season. Coach Ross Lyon has spoken about the possibility of Michael Gardiner returning to the team after a long injury spell, with the match committee looking at ways of accommodating such a move. The obvious suggestion would be to play Koschitzke out of the goalsquare as an alternative to Riewoldt, with McEvoy and Gardiner taking turns in the ruck. Interestingly, Koschitzke has opened up publicly this season and appears to be free of the frustrations and expectations that have followed him for the past decade. The usually media-shy veteran has made himself available for television and radio shows, with Lyon also having mentioned how Koschitzke’s mindset has changed for the better since he became a father at the start of the year.

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Essendon’s property steward taken to hospital after a chemical spill at the club’s Windy Wind ndy nd y Hill Hill ll headquarters. ll h adquarters. he



FEET UP: Hayden Kennedy is now happy in retirement after a record 495 games as an AFL umpire.

A After 24 seasons, the se final whistle so sounds




200 20 0 GAMES GAM MES Antoni Grover G Frema Fremantle antle


Bret Thornton Carlton Domenic Cassisi Port Adelaide Michael Gardiner St Kilda Brendon Goddard St Kilda



Hamish McIntosh North Melbourne


Ben McEvoy St Kilda Nic Naitanui West Coast Robert Rob Warnock Carlton Ricky Petterd R Melbourne The list includes those not necessarily selected but on the verge of milestones.


would assign someone to tag him. Hayden was quietly very pleased with this badge of honour. I’m sure it built his confidence. It was in this period that Hayden was said to have the lowest body-fat level in the AFL. A big photo of him doing pre-season training with his top off adorned the wall of his Pascoe Vale home. It was a great photo, but really! You’ve got to have an ego to be a successful umpire. I met Hayden during Year 8 at St Bernard’s College. We were at the old junior school campus in Moonee Ponds. Hayden was renowned for being a sportsman. He was a top batsman with St Christopher’s in Airport West and a handy rover with Doutta Stars. He was also renowned for his infectious cheer; classmates would laugh in anticipation whenever he entered their circle. And he was small. It was this fact that drove him to give away

I knew he had given everything until he could give no more

Aaron Davey Melbourne


ayden Kennedy rang the other day. He rang as part of a round in which he info informed select friends and fam he was retiring. family A After more than two decades w in which his body had been mostly kind to him, one hamstring had given up. He acknowledged his body’s plea. At 45, an age when most men find it difficult to do the gardening without incurring an injury, he had finally run his last 20km stretch during an AFL game. I’m glad I was among those he chose to ring. I felt privileged to have been part of a journey that lasted 495 AFL matches, from 1988-2011, including five Grand Finals. Hayden used to say that umpiring was cut-throat because you could be dropped for missing a decision or two. Given his record, it must have been a mighty spur. If ever I doubted his motivation, it became clear all over again as I was cycling along Royal Parade a couple of months ago. A large group was running in the opposite direction, heading towards the Carlton footy ground. It was the umpires. About seven comprised the front row. Hayden was in the middle of the front row, shorter than his fellow runners, yet clearly in charge. He wanted to show the young blokes he was up with them. He always was a competitive beast. David Parkin was the umpires’ boss for a short period, in 198990, between his days as Fitzroy coach and his return to Carlton. During the umpires’ touch football matches, Hayden was too fit and competitive. Parkin


playing football, his first sporting love, and take up umpiring. Having captained Brunswick in the Hatch Shield for the state’s best under-14 cricketers, he could well have gone down the cricket path. He began umpiring in the Essendon District Football League. After leaving school, he joined the VFL umpires panel. His promise was recognised when, aged 20, he umpired the 1986 under-19 Grand Final between Collingwood and North Melbourne. In those years, junior umpires learned their craft in the VFL under-19s and reserves, but also in the country. A taxi would pick up four or five umpires at the crack of dawn and ferry them to a distant part of the state. For the longest trip, to Naracoorte, just over the South Australian border, they caught a train. At Naracoorte they often had to sprint to get on the 1am train for the journey home, leaving friends and admirers on the platform. In Wangaratta one night, Hayden had the entire bar singing while someone played the piano. In Shepparton, he threw up in the centre circle at Deakin Reserve after the two of us had pushed

Hawthorn nominates board member Andrew Newbold as preferred ferred successor to president Jeff Kennett.

things too far the previous night in Melbourne. At one stage in those early years, Hayden wondered whether he really wanted an umpire’s life of discipline. At the end of the season, he took off to London to see a few old school mates. It was amid the good times on the other side of the world that he worked out he really wanted to make his mark as an umpire. On returning just before Christmas, he embarked on a mad fitness campaign in an effort to make up for the time he had lost overseas. He ran twice a day. Once or twice, he ran three times a day. He ran so often he risked injury. His path was crystal clear. He went on to umpire League football for 24 seasons. Besides being fit, Hayden was renowned as a decision-maker. He developed a reputation for having the nerve to pay a free kick in the dying seconds of a close game. I remember one match, in 1992, when he paid a free kick to St Kilda near the siren in a Queen’s Birthday Monday match against Collingwood. The free was there. The Saints won. Hayden went up in his

coaches’ estimation as he strung together a series of gutsy decisions. ted His efforts culminated in selection for his firstt final, a Geelong and Footscray match in 1992. He had to wear a g suit to the game. Being a canny spender, he he bought two suits for the price of one. He was so nervous before the p match that he threw up on both of them. His ultimate aim was achieved when hee was chosen to umpire the 1995 Grand Final between Carlton and Geelong. I was living near the MCG at the time. Hayden dropped into our Grand Final breakfast on his way to the ground. He stayed an hour. We were worried about him getting to the ground. Clearly, he was handling his nerves better by then. Hayden’s generous and personable nature has made him popular wherever he goes. He’s bouncy. He’s into life. Often he’s been to a party or the races and enjoyed himself,

BOOKED: Hayden Kennedy reports Bomber Barry Young during a match against North Melbourne in 1999.

despite the fact he might be the only one not drinking. On such occasions, he’s the butt of many jokes. He’s also the centre of much affection. We all admire him for taking such good care of his body. It’s this care that enabled him to run up and down and round and round football grounds for so many years.

The other factor behind h his longevity is his family. H has a wonderful, patient He w Maree (with a good wife se sense of humour), and three ch children aged from 15 to nine, H Harrison, Molly and Finn. Th They’re a very happy bunch. I was always struck by his re relationship with his father Pa Hayden and I lived in Pat. Da Darwin for a short time when he was umpiring in the Top End in 1988. Every few days he received a letter from his fath Every letter was one father. sm page. small P would write a few lines Pat abo something that was about hap happening in Melbourne, gen generally of a sporting nature, and sent the letter off. No one does that any more. It’s one of my enduring memories of our short time together up north. When Hayden rang, he was emotional. To my surprise, so was I. There’s something humbling about a long journey that’s come to an end. I knew he had given everything until he could give no more. THIS IS AN EDITED VERSION OF A STORY ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON AFL.COM.AU




Demons Jack Trengove rengove (until end of 2015), Luke Tapscott (2014) and Max Gawn ((2013) sign contract extensions.


Festival of footy as Cup kicks off

» The fourth International Cup

started in Sydney last week, with 18 men’s teams, including newcomers Fiji, France, Tonga and Timor-Leste taking part in the two-week carnival. The opening day coincided with a ‘Festival of Nations’ at Blacktown. Cup ambassador and former Sydney Swans co-captain Brett Kirk and participants visited Kirribilli House, where they met Tim Mathieson, the partner of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. And on Tuesday, Greater Western Sydney player Israel Folau met members of the Tongan team at a multicultural clinic at Doonside High School, including his cousin Penisimani Mahina. The 19-year-old Mahina recently signed with Greater Western Sydney on an international scholarship. This year’s tournament also features the debut of a women’s competition. The United States and South Africa will play a curtain-raiser to this Sunday’s Sydney-St Kilda match h at ANZ Stadium, with games moving g to Melbourne next Wednesday. The final will be played as a curtain-raiser to the round 23 Hawthorn-Western Bulldogs match at the MCG next Saturday, August 27.

CUP HIGHLIGHTS: Above, action from the China-Denmark game; top right, Israel Folau catches up with his cousin Penisimani Mahina from the Tongan team; Brett Kirk and Tim Mathieson at Kirribilli House; captain Lylian Barnabas and a Papua New Guinea teammate celebrate a goal in the women’s event.

LEADERS: (left to right) Alipate Navuso (Fiji), Andrew Crighton (New Zealand), Penisimani Mahina (Tonga), Alestair Sione (Papua New Guinea), Ken Sato (Japan), Trent Depaune (Nauru), Zhang Hao (China), Cian Quigley (Ireland), Johan Lantz (Sweden), Romualdo Gouveia (Timor-Leste), Troels Ottesen (Denmark), Clayton Holmes (Canada), Frederic Zohar (France), Sudip Chakraborty (India), Kamal Abu Altom (Peace Team), Paul Harris (Great Britain), Bayanda Sobetwa (South Africa), Avi Benvenisty (Peace Team) and Dan Sarbacker (United States).



T Ticket Tic prices released for finals re ele

» Tic Tickets ckets to this year’s finals series

have incr increased in price by five per cent across acro the four weeks, however, a the A AFL FL has h dropped the cost of admis admission ssio to the semi-finals to ensur ensure re the th majority of matches are accessible acces ssibl by all fans. Ent try to t the semi-finals in week Entry two will w be b the same as tickets for qualifying and elimination finals the qu uali in thee ope opening week ($44.50 for a standard stand dard ticket to Melbourne games, $46.50 $46.5 50 for fo Sydney matches and $62.5 50 for fo games in Perth). $62.50




For the preliminary finals in week three, standard tickets will cost $79 (Melbourne and Sydney matches) and $113.50 (Perth). The AFL’s move to level the price of tickets across the first fortnight of finals is to ensure as many fans as possible can attend the majority of finals. Members of the competing clubs will retain the exclusive right to buy tickets to any finals game in weeks one-three on the Monday before games. The general public will be able to buy finals tickets in weeks one-three from midday on the Tuesday of each week.

Tickets to the Grand Final, to be played on October 1, range from $150 for standing room and restricted view, $170 for standard entry, $254 for prime and $295 for premium. The AFL said it had sought to keep price increases as low as possible. “We believe the AFL Grand Final, for its significance as a sporting event in this country, remains outstanding value when judged against any other major event in Australia and when judged against the great sporting contests across the world,” the AFL’s general manager of commercial operations ations JENNIFER WITHAM Darren Birch said.

st e b y r e v e h t experience r e f f o o t s a h the afl The excitement, the drama, the MCG packed to the brim with 100,000 screaming fans – it’s an unforgettable experience. And while there’s still a lot of football to be played between now and Grand Final day, you can guarantee your spot right now.

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Grover in elite company Ever-reliable defender Antoni Grover is this weekend set to become just the fifth Fremantle player to reach 200 games.


Antoni Grover has been at the Dockers through the club’s highs and lows and said he had “bled purple for a while now”.



ntoni Grover has played alongside and looked up to each of Fremantle’s 200-game players, a group he describes as “the heart and soul of Freo”. Shane Parker was one of Grover’s early backline mentors; he played with Shaun McManus and Paul Hasleby for the majority of their careers, and the club’s games record-holder Matthew Pavlich is his captain. They remain a significant collection of players in a young football club’s history, and Grover will join them when he runs out for his 200th game, against North Melbourne this Saturday night. He will become the first indigenous player to reach the milestone with Fremantle. The 31-year-old key defender, who made his debut in 1999, said it was an honour to join Fremantle’s burgeoning 200-club. “They’re the heart and soul of this club and, when you say these names over the club’s history, they’re very important,” he said. “I’ve looked up to all of those guys in one way or another.” Grover wouldn’t describe himself as heart and soul Fremantle—“that’s for other people to judge”—but he said he couldn’t fathom playing anywhere else and he had “bled purple for a while now”. Indeed, the veteran has earned his milestone, having performed at Fremantle’s highest and lowest ebbs, and often

I’ve looked up to all those guys in one way or another ANTONI GROVER ON FREMANTLE’S OTHER 200-GAMERS

against bigger opponents. The 189cm defender made his debut against the Sydney Swans in round 21, 1999, lining up against the great Tony Lockett, and he remembers shaking as he ran out on to the WACA Ground.

“I was very nervous that day,” he said. “We lost, but I played OK and I played against Tony Lockett, which is something I normally mention to people. It was his last game in Western Australia.”

Physical strength in ays one-on-one duels has always been Grover’s main asset and it has allowed him to regularly play relatively undersized on the competition’s best power forwards. He said he hadn’t grown up wanting to be a defender, but it was the niche he had found at AFL level, save for a brief foray forward two years ago. Grover enjoyed his finest season in 2007, when he finished runner-up in the club’s best and fairest award, and he was also in top form in what remains the club’s most successful year, 2006, before he suffered a shoulder injury. “Back then, I was playing as the No. 1 key defender, but now we’ve got Luke McPharlin down back,” he said. “So I’m probably a bit more suited to the second or third forward. I like to think it’s about the roles you’re given.” Grover signed a one-year contract extension last October and said he had never let himself feel comfortable with his position on Fremantle’s list. He said he wasn’t looking beyond this Saturday’s milestone game, with a decision on whether he played a 14th season to be made at the end of this campaign. It has been a career made possible, he said, by his friends and family, particularly his wife, Melinda, and he said he looked forward to running through the banner on Saturday with the couple’s 16-month-old daughter, Aaliyah. “Friends and family are the support,” he said. “It’s amazing how many of them are Fremantle supporters now. “I’m just really looking forward to walking out there with my daughter in my arms. That’ll be sensational.”





LEARNING TO FLY AGAIN With injury worries hopefully behind him, Sydney youngster Craig Bird is starting to fulfil the potential that saw him awarded one of the Swans’ most revered guernsey numbers. JA MES DA MPNEY


s a child, Craig Bird would don his Sydney Swans jumper with Paul Kelly’s No. 14 on the back and hope that one day he would run on to the SCG wearing the famous number for the Swans. Remarkably, that hope turned into reality in 2007 when he was drafted by the Swans and handed the No. 14 guernsey, which the club had not used since Kelly had retired in 2002. “I was a little bit taken back by it to be honest,” Bird said of the honour. “I watched the Swans a fair bit growing up living in Sydney and then in Nelson Bay (in northern NSW). “Paul Kelly was definitely one of my favourite players growing up, with Tony Lockett. “Everyone wanted to wear the 14 and four (Lockett’s number) as kids. They were




the two biggest names at the Swans back then.” Bird made his debut the following year and his career was unfolding just as he had foreseen. He played 36 games in 2008-09, emerging as a tough and talented tagging option. What Bird didn’t envisage, however, was an injury problem that would plague him for the next 18 months. In February last year, Bird was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. After spending three months on the sidelines, he returned through the reserves before being picked for his first AFL game of that season, in round 11. He managed just four appearances, however, before the injury flared again, ending his season in round 14. Medical staff at the Swans discovered the structure of Bird’s feet made him susceptible to fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone on the outside of his foot.

It is a common sporting injury that has also struck English Premier League players Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney and New Zealand rugby union captain Richie McCaw. The nature of Bird’s problem, and the fact he was a young player just making his way in the AFL, made it a frustrating time to say the least. He had yet another setback with his troublesome foot during the pre-season, which forced him to sit out round one this year. “It’s been extremely challenging for him,” Swans physiotherapist Matt Cameron said. “Whenever anyone gets a chronic injury that doesn’t necessarily have a fixed recovery time, which those stress fractures or stress injuries are, it can be really frustrating. “If you’re out for say 12 weeks, you can get your head around

FULLY FIT : Craig Bird appears to

be over the injury problems that plagued him early in his career.


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CRAIG BIRD C that. Those injuries are a bit easier to deal with. g for “But when you’re waiting something to heal and improve enough, and then it recurs, we had to (end) his season early because of it and then you’ve got to sit around and wait for another pre-season. It’s definitely a challenge.” Bird was in danger of breaking the metatarsal bone in half, Cameron said, which would have had far longer-term consequences. The 22-year-old was put on a modified training and monitoring program and given customised boots—and so far the results have been encouraging. “He returned to the pre-season and we built him up gradually and were constantly monitoring how the stress was going through his foot,” Cameron said. “This bone sometimes doesn’t heal, so you might have to have surgery, bone grafts, all sorts of things when it does break. It’s the sort of injury that you have to let heal itself. “In the pre-season, it reared its head again and we had to keep him on fairly light duties in preparation for the season. “There was a danger he wouldn’t be physically prepared enough elsewhere in his body for the season. “But we’ve been able to slowly increase it since then from round one, when he wasn’t doing a lot of training, building his game-time and his training load. “Now he’s not far off doing the full training load and has no problems whatsoever and is approaching the full load of an AFL player of his age. That’s taken well over 18 months of gradual loading.” Bird’s modified boots have an insert that spreads the load away from the outside of his foot and towards other areas. Using them has had the desired result, with Bird missing just one game since round one, a minor knee injury keeping him out of the round 16 match against Gold Coast. Bird admitted he had been surprised by how his foot had responded in 2011. “It’s been fine, no problems at all. It’s been managed really 60



BOOT FIX : Bird has had a frustrating run with foot injuries but wearing special boots has helped solve the problem.

well this year, which is a bit of a surprise,” he said. “Earlier in the year, I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it’s been good and I’m really happy with it. “I’ve got the system right now with my boots and the training schedule, so I’ve been able to work it pretty well. “Last year was probably the most frustrating year since I’ve been with the Swans, and I played only four games. ally “So this year’s been really good. To play nearly all

the games and really contribute to the side has been good. I’m really happy with how things are going.” Cameron believes there is no reason why Bird can’t have a long AFL career. “Absolutely. The bone has healed, he’s virtually back to full training load and, as long as we manage him carefully and don’t overdo it, he’s certainly shown on a limited preparation he can compete in the AFL,” he said. “He’s a ve vvery ry good go patient. There would be p plenty of other

players who’d get frustrated and grumpy and so on, but you hardly ever saw that side of him. “His approach was first-class. He never let it get him down too much.” One man who has seen first-hand what Bird has dealt with is teammate Rhyce Shaw. When Shaw was traded from Collingwood to the Swans at the end of 2008, he moved in with Bird and they lived together for two years. Shaw has enormous respect for the way his good mate has

Tom Harley AFL Premiership Captain


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handled himself while trying to overcome the serious injury. “It was pretty hard on the kid. Obviously, he’s still young, but it seems like he’s been around for a while,” Shaw said. “He’s only 22 and, to have those problems he had last year, it was pretty hard on him. “He kept trying to come back and every time he got close, it’d flare up again. “From where he’s come from, it’s been a pretty good effort to play the kind of footy he’s playing this year. “It’s a pretty cut-throat industry and there’s always a fair bit of pressure on guys to play well and to come back from injuries quickly and get games into them. “His attitude towards his injuries has been fantastic and I suppose, with his limited pre-season this year, it shows how professional he has become. “‘Birdy’ kind of goes unnoticed, but he’s such a good player and we rely pretty heavily on him to do those tagging jobs. “He’s going to be a good player for us for a long time.” Bird was a two-time All-Australian at under-18 level, but still had a little trouble getting noticed as he tried to make the move from promising junior to AFL player. “I played under-18s and had a pretty good year as a 17-year-old with the (NSW/ACT) RAMS and thought I might’ve been a chance for the 2006 draft,” he said. But Bird stuck with it. He soon had the rare luxury of knowing exactly what was going to happen at the draft in 2007. “I was overlooked that year (2006) and then moved to Sydney on a scholarship and I knew before the (2007) draft the Swans were going to pick me up. They did, with selection No. 59. “I was already doing pre-season training before the draft, so it was a great feeling once they told me. I was pretty excited and couldn’t wait to ring up Dad and tell him. “The nerves were taken out of it that day. “It (going in the draft) can be nerve-racking. I’d done it the year before and I missed out, which was pretty shattering. 62




Craig Bird

Born: January 21, 1989 Recruited from: Nelson Bay/NSW-ACT U18 Debut: Round 1, 2008 v St Kilda Height: 180cm Weight: 85kg Games: 57 Goals: 24 Draft history: 2007 NAB AFL Draft 4th round selection (Sydney) No. 59 overall as NSW scholarship holder.

GREAT PRIDE: Craig Bird was honoured to accept the No. 14 jumper previously worn by Swans champions Bob Skilton (left) and Paul Kelly.

“So it was good to know to worry about the pressure before the draft the year after.” that comes with it. Once he knew his immediate “I took that on board and future was secure with the ended up receiving the jumper, Swans, Bird was then stunned which was nice. And I certainly when he was handed the famous take great pride in wearing it. No. 14, which long before 1995 “There were definitely times Brownlow medallist Kelly when I thought, ‘Gee, I don’t wore it in the bulk of his 234 know about this, do I really games was carried 237 times by deserve it? I haven’t really played another great Swan, three-time much footy yet’.” Brownlow medallist Bob Skilton. Shaw believes Bird, who has Bird played 57 games, admitted he is justifying the had to think faith shown in twice about him by the club’s accepting the hierarchy. honour. “To get that “I knew number is the number a pretty big hadn’t been honour at our worn for a club,” Shaw said. couple of “The fact the years and RHYCE SHAW coaches had obviously such confidence Kelly and in him to come Skilton were the two biggest straight into the side off limited names to wear it,” he said. preparation (this season) is a “I didn’t know what to do. I tribute to how talented he is spoke to a few of the coaches and and what he means to us.” they gave me their opinions and One clear gap in Bird’s resume said the number had to be given is finals action. to someone at some stage. A groin injury kept him out of “They said to look at it as the finals in his first year at the club in 2008, when Sydney beat an honour and take pride in ot North Melbourne in the second wearing it. They told me not

To get that number (14) is a pretty big honour at our club

elimination final before losing to the Western Bulldogs in the second semi-final. The Swans’ hold on a position in the eight has slipped, with consecutive losses to Essendon at Etihad Stadium in round 20 and Richmond at the MCG last weekend. But they still control their fate and face a critical game this Sunday, against St Kilda at ANZ Stadium. Bird said he was desperate for finals action. “In my first year, I played every game and then got injured in the last round before the finals,” he said. “Then the second year, we didn’t make the finals and, last year, I played only four games. “So, hopefully, this year we can finish the season off well and get to play finals.” Bird said he found it difficult watching his teammates fight through the early part of the finals last year without RRP ($499??) Camera being involved. The Swans defeated Carlton in a superb elimination final on the opening week of the series before losing a heart-breaker to the Bulldogs at the MCG in what was co-captain Brett Kirk’s last game. “They went so close to making a preliminary final and it’s something I want to be part of,” he said. “We’ve been in the eight for virtually the whole season. We were pushing for a top-four spot for a while, but a couple of losses lately have hurt us a bit. “Hopefully, we can finish the season off well and cement our spot in the there and have a crack once the finals come around.”

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NO LOOKING BACK W Nathan Bock’s gamble of leaving Adelaide and joining the Gold Coast Suns has paid off handsomely for both player and club. MICH A EL W HITING

hen young Adelaide defender Phil Davis announced his intention tto sign with Greater Western Sydney last month, the Crows S ffelt like they had lost a winning lottery ticket. lo In their words, Davis was a ““future captain” and, after three yyears of investment, they had a dividend of just 18 games to sshow for it. The news came 12 months after another Crows defender a made headlines for leaving m South Australia and heading to S an expansion club. a Nathan Bock made history this ttime last year when he became tthe first uncontracted player to publicly commit to Gold Coast. p He packed his bags, left behind a lifetime of memories b in Adelaide and headed for the Sunshine State. S There was extra responsibility and a new lifestyle in one of a Australia’s tourist hotspots, but A it was a big gamble for the 2008 All-Australian centre half-back. A When Bock announced his decision, he had no senior d tteammates, an untried coach at

I grew up in the city (Adelaide), so it was always going to be a tough move NATHAN BOCK

AFL level in Guy McKenna and was heading to a market that wasn’t exactly a traditional one for Australian Football. But he took the plunge, and after 21 rounds of the Suns’ inaugural season, both player and club could not be happier with the move. Bock has been a tower of strength off the field with his leadership and, on the field, undoubtedly one of the best key defenders in the competition. He said being the trailblazer for moving to the Suns was not easy, particularly when there were no guarantees about which players he would be lining up alongside. “I’d spent so long with Adelaide. They’d given me the opportunity to play at AFL level and I grew up in the city, so it was always going to be a tough move,” Bock said.

“But it was an exciting opportunity to be part of a club that’s built from the ground. “You hear rumours of other players potentially coming up, especially guys like Gary Ablett and (Michael) Rischitelli, and you sort of hope they’re true and you can play with those experienced guys. “I wouldn’t say I was concerned, but I was definitely hoping there was going to be some quality players up here to make that transition easier.” Bock enjoyed a stellar 113-game stint for the Crows after joining the club as a rookie. He started as a key forward and shot to prominence on debut when he kicked goals with his first two kicks, against Richmond in round five of the 2004 season.




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BOCK But, over time, coach Neil Craig moved him to the backline, where he eventually starred at centre half-back, with Ben Rutten in the other key defensive post. Bock was a running, rebounding defender who enjoyed his best season in 2008, when he was All-Australian and won the club’s best and fairest award. His football couldn’t have been going better. But, in 2009, he struggled to play consistently (the result of a hamstring injury) and had to deal with an off-field incident that saw him in court and subsequently suspended by the club. And late in what was a patchy 2010 season, the big decision came. “The Crows were ite disappointed but quite ck said. understanding,” Bock “A lot of my friendss and mmunity family and footy community anding. were really understanding. sitive and They were really positive egative I didn’t have much negative n the media backlash, other than wanting to pump it up a bit. “Once I’d made myy decision, I was really content.” Bock said he was surprised of Davis’s —but not critical—of elaide. decision to leave Adelaide. aide was a “I can see why Adelaide little angrier with thatt one than mine,” he said. “It’s great (for the players) with two new clubs coming in. rtunity If you have the opportunity e, I say to go at the right time, good luck to anyone who ty. takes that opportunity.


younger guys, trying to develop “Sometimes it’s a them and turn them into quality once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and, if Phil didn’t take it or I didn’t kids and players. “It’s been challenging at times take it, someone else is going to.” but very enjoyable. We’ve had a When Bock made the move few wins (three) and been very last October, he was greeted by competitive, three months of so there are torrential rain. definitely a lot It wasn’t of promising exactly what he signs. had envisaged. “‘Gaz’ But once the (Ablett), skies cleared ‘Browny’ and the season (deputy got underway, vice-captain one thing BOCK ON HIS DECISION TO LEAVE ADELAIDE Campbell quickly became Brown), apparent. Rischitelli and I In Adelaide, have all been in similar situations, the constant scrutiny placed not being involved in leadership on players in the two-team groups. Now that we’re together, town did not sit well with the quietly spoken 28-year-old. we’ve evolved and it’s been good.” p y golf g and Bock said the Bock likes to surf, play generally get away from footy Suns’ inaugural when he can, so the relatively campaign was always low-key media attention on the more about longSuns suited him perfectly. term development than simply Although he likes to play it quiet off the field, he was wins and losses. thrilled to be named Gold He said it had Coast’s vice-captain. been exciting to see Zac Smith “That was a pretty big honour,” he said. take on the best “I wasn’t involved in the leadership group at the Crows, so to take on that leadership role here was really encouraging and I’ve really embraced it. “I’ve been able to lead the

The Crows were disappointed but quite understanding


Nathan Bock

Born: March 20, 1983 83 Recruited from: Woodville-West Torrens/ rrens/ Adelaide Debut: Round 5, 2004 04 v Richmond Height: 194cm Weight: ight: 92kg Games: 131 Goals: 58 Player honours: Adelaide best and fairest 2008; All-Australian n 2008; International Rules Series 2008 Brownlow Medal: career votes 14

CHALLENGE: Nathan Bock has enjoyed the extra responsibility with the Gold Coast Suns this year.

ruckmen in the League, the emergence of David Swallow in the midfield and the booming kicking style of Trent McKenzie from the wing. “I didn’t really know what to expect being part of a new team,” he said. “At times in the pre-season, there was a little bit of a concern about whether or not we were going to cop a few hidings and that was probably inevitable at some stages. “But I think the improvement we’ve shown since the first couple of games has been good. I probably didn’t expect that. To have some wins and be competitive against Collingwood and St Kilda is really promising,” he said. “Once these kids get 20 or 30 g y going g g games into them, they’re to turn into quality players and it’s pretty exciting to watch.” Despite an interrupted pre-season, Bock’s form h s been nothing short ha has of sensational. He has developed from a rebounder at the Crows to the No. 1 stopper at the Suns.

BOCK Although some might chuckle at the suggestion of Bock being in line for All-Australian selection this season, those who see him every week know he deserves to be in the conversation. West Coast’s Darren Glass, Geelong’s Matthew Scarlett and Carlton’s Michael Jamison (before he injured his knee) all have legitimate claims to the full-back position, but Bock’s work on the opposition’s No. 1 forward every week in a backline that is seeing more than its share of action has been first class.

play different roles to those I did at Adelaide, including being a bit deeper at times. wards “Playing on the best forwards at every week has been a great challenge and I’ve really enjoyed it.” Occasionally, Bock has managed to mix a bit of the rebound-style play into his mainly negating role. Against the Brisbane Lions last week, he shut down opponents Mitch Clark and ged Aaron Cornelius and managed mself. to find the ball 27 times himself.



Playing on the best forwards every week has been a great challenge BOCK ON HIS SEASON TO DATE

He has beaten players such as Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt and Collingwood’s Travis Cloke and the only influence Hawk Lance Franklin and Docker Matthew Pavlich had against the Suns was when Bock took five minutes on the bench to help recover from a gastro bug he took into those games. “The back end of the season has met my expectations. I was disappointed with my form early on. I had a disrupted pre-season which might have contributed, who knows, but I feel I’ve played more footy and my form’s been getting better,” he said. “You never want to be complacent but I’ve been pleased with some performances. “I knew coming up here I’d be the key defender and I’d have to




“Probably early on (in the season) when the ball was coming into our defence, we didn’t have the type of pressure on that we do now,” he said. “The more pressure we can apply up the ground, the more it allows me to run off and play more offensively. So it’s just about getting that balance right.” It is a balance Bock desperately wants to get right when he faces his old team at Metricon Stadium on Saturday. He played his former teammates in round eight at AAMI Stadium and the Suns lost, but he doesn’t want that feeling again. “The Crows haven’t had one of their better seasons and I think we’ve improved quite a lot since we last met, so we’ll be confident,” he said.

Nathan Bock says the warmer weather in Queensland has helped him get into the best shape of his career.

» Revelling in the Sun » The warmer Gold Coast

weather has helped Nathan Bock improve his surfing and golf handicap. Interestingly, the Suns defender said it also had contributed to him being in the best shape of his career. Although many of his younger teammates have struggled with the physical demands of a 22-match season, Bock is going from strength to strength. Not only is he continuing to shut-down opposition key forwards, but the run and dash that made him a household name in Adelaide has come to the fore as the season has worn on.

Since the Suns’ last bye in round nine, Bock has averaged the midfield-like numbers of 22 disposals a game and said it was due in no small part to the clear skies and the mostly perfect surrounds on the Coast. “The weather is 22, 23 degrees every day,” he said. “I feel it’s been conducive to good recovery. “I don’t think my body has felt any better at this time of year in my past 10 years. I enjoy the warmer weather and it’s been great being able to train and play up here.” MICHAEL WHITING




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Our AFL history guru answers your queries.

col hutchinson NAME GAME

Hooked oked on football tball » Thee

DEFLATED: West Coast won

21 times in 1991 but lost the Grand Final. Pictured here are Guy McKenna and Dean Irving.

Brilliant B ril illi liantt seasons seasons, but no silverware

With Collingwood and Geelong clearly ahead of everyone else, there is a likelihood they will play off in the Grand Final, both having won at least 20 games, including finals for the season. Is it true that, other than Geelong in 2008 and St Kilda in 2009, no team has won more than 20 games and not won the premiership? EMILIO BEDIN, NARRE WARREN, VIC.

CH: There are two other

cases. In 1972, Richmond won 18 home and away matches and two finals, as well as drawing a semi-final against Carlton. The Blues defeated the Tigers in a high-scoring Grand Final. West Coast was victorious 19 times before the finals in 1991, then won a semiand preliminary final before losing to Hawthorn in the premiership decider.

OLDEST FITZROY PLAYER FOUND » Happily, we recently discovered Fitzroy’s oldest living player. Merv ‘Friday’ Brooks was born on January, 19, 1919, and initially played for Ariah Park in New South Wales. Later, he worked as a blacksmith in the Massey Ferguson farm machinery assembly plant before joining the Roys from Sunshine District Football Club as a tough 182cm, 75kg half-back flanker. He made one senior appearance in

each of the 1943 and 1944 seasons. He was a member of Fitzroy’s seconds premiership team in his second season, before moving to Preston in the VFA. When Brooks made his League debut, Fitzroy defeated North Melbourne by 77 points, and in his other game, the Roys defeated Collingwood by eight goals. One of his teammates, Des Calverley, is due to celebrate his 92nd birthday on November 21.

Do you know of other senior players who are close to 90 or older, or who reached such an age before calling it a day? Should you have such information, contact Col Hutchinson on (03) 9643 1929 or 70



surnames ames of West est Coast’s Andrew ew Gaff (right) and Essendon’s Cale Hooker seem to have nothing in common. A gaff is an iron hook or a barbed fishing spear. The medieval ancestor of somebody named Gaff was probably a seller of hooks as agricultural implements— as was the ancestor of most people named Hook/ Hooke/Hooker. When Gaff made his debut in round one he became the first person of that name to play League football; and Cale became the first Hooker, athough there have been two players named Hooke (Harold, North Melbourne, 1931, and Len, Fitzroy, 1929-30, and North Melbourne, 1931). Gaff may also be a variation of Gayfer, derived ultimately from “grandfather” but coming to mean “foreman”. Mick Gayfer played in Collingwood’s 1990 premiership side. Fortunately for Gaff, there seems to be no connection between his surname and the word “gaffe”, meaning an embarrassing mistake. One suspects, however, that there’s a headline writer waiting for Gaff to make a clanger. KEVAN CARROLL

WRITE TO ANSWER MAN The Slattery Media Group, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, 3008 or email

The story of Jock McHale is not just the story of a man, a legend, but also of the foundation years of the great Collingwood Football Club. Glenn McFarlane’s research is astonishing, and he paints the complete picture of a genius coach. This book will be like McHale—it will stand the test of time. eddie mcguire, am, president, collingwood football club

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rick milne

Ask the expert about all your footy memorabilia. I recently acquired a few w footy jumpers. They include a Fitzroy 1995 home jumper (with No. 2 on the back and signed by Chris Johnson), a Brisbane Bears 1987 home jumper and an old Northcote Dragons VFA jumper from the 1950s (with No. 22 on the back). They are all in very good condition. Would these jumpers be worth anything?


A reader has a signed Chris Johnson jumper.


RM: They sure are, Luke..

In order: $400, $300 and $350. I especially like the 1950s Northcotee jumper. And that’s from a Lions and former Brunswick fan. I clearly Northcote remember Brunswick-Northcote games were ‘war’, often umpired by the legendary Frank Vergona.

I have a range of Essendon season tickets and was curious to see if they were of any value. The oldest is for the 1946 season; CONTACT RICK MILNE or drop him a line: 5 Cooraminta St, Brunswick, Vic, 3056 or call (03) 9387 4131. One query per reader.




then 1951 through to 1955; then 1987, all of which have been ‘clipped’; then a plastic 1992; and finally a 1995 in a plastic Essendon Football Club member wallet, which also includes a card with the fixture on a separate card. They are in good condition, although not perfect. JOHN, VIA EMAIL

RM: John, as the Bombers

won the 1946 flag, that’s your best membership card by far.

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» There seems to be eternal

debate about the way the home and away fixtures are set. Some complain their clubs plays too many interstate games, others that some teams get too many home games, or play too many against the top sides. And so it goes. That would not have been the case in 1911 though—there were 10 teams and, with 18 rounds, it meant they played each other twice. Essendon, Collingwood, Carlton, Geelong, St Kilda, South Melbourne, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Richmond (which had just joined) and University were the

About $500 for this one, $500 for the rest. I have a 1974 History and Year Book of the Collingwood Football Club with about 31 signatures, including Wayne Richardson, George Bisset, Peter McKenna, Ian Cooper, Ross Dunne, John Greening,

10 teams of the day. Believe it or not, there are many dedicated football fixture collectors. This 1911 fixture is worth around $200; the other from 1954, $50.

Ray Shaw, Bill Picken and Peter Moore. The back cover is a bit shabby, but otherwise in good nick. Is it of any value? REBECCA, VIA EMAIL

RM: Some famous names

there, Rebecca. And 30-plus autographs is pretty impressive too! Around $500.


answers at bottom of page

Find the 5 DIFFERENCES between the 2 cards

Unscramble Barn Not Tents to Can you guess this AFL discover the AFL player’s name! Player’s NICKNAME?

_____ _______

Melbourne player Fred Fanning holds the AFL record for goals kicked in a single match. How many did he kick? A. 12 goals


B. 14 goals

C. 16 goals


game card

D. 18 goals

Silver CODE cards and enter codes to play

Answers: 1. “Hollow” instead of “Swallow”, “Melbourne North” instead of “North Melbourne”, pony tail, missing logo on guernsey, added stripes on sock 2. Brent Stanton 3. Kosi 4. (D)







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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Feathers coming out of Swan Craig Bird’s mouth; Tiger Trent Cotchin’s leggings changed to blue; tongue on Cotchin’s right boot changed to yellow; white flash removed from boot on bottom right; white on Bird’s jumper extended to the back.



The AFL Playground outside the MCG will continue to operate for the rest of the season due to popular demand. The playground, the coolest fan zone for kids looking to test their footy skills and warm up before watching the footy, attracted more than 14,000 kids and families in the first nine rounds of the season.

Located below Gate 6, the playground features activities of all types for kids, with club mascots also in attendance. It is open 90 minutes before the start of the match until the end of the half-time break. (An AFL Playground is also operating at Metricon Stadium.) Visit playground for more information.

Scrambled Sc S crra am mb blleed Footballer: Fo F oot otb ba all ller er: Cryptic Cr C ryyp pti tiicc Footballers: Fo F oo ottb ba alllleerrss:: BI B IG MOUTH: MO M OU UT TH H:: BIG 74 AFL L RECORD R EC RECO RE CO COR ORD OR RD visit viis vvis isit it afl afl flrec rree




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Luke Dahlhaus’ individuality has made de him a Bulldogs ffavourite. a ourite. av

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n the surface, it would be reasonable to expect Luke Dahlhaus’ long dreadlocks would not be to Rodney Eade’s liking. The Bulldogs coach has always favoured the no-nonsense type but hasn’t spoken out against Dahlhaus’ eye-catching hairdo, according to the youngster. If anything, he has encouraged it. “When I came to the club, I thought it would have to come off, but he said it shows I’m different and I don’t mind showing that,” Dahlhaus said. “He doesn’t mind it, which is good. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it. We’ll have to see.” Of course, Dahlhaus’ hair is not the only thing drawing attention. His enthusiasm, hard tackling and knack for a sneaky goal have quickly made him a fan favourite and a genuine bright spark to emerge in what has been a disappointing season for his club.

2011 NAB AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES Round 1 Dyson Heppell (Ess) R Round 2 Luke Shuey (WCE) R Round 3 Mitch Duncan (Geel) Round 4 Jasper Pittard (PA) Round 5 Brandon Matera (GCS) Round 6 Jack Darling (WCE) Round 7 Zac Smith (GCS) Round 8 Shane Savage (Haw) Round 9 Reece Conca (Rich) Round 10 Jack Steven (St K) Round 11 Jordan Gysberts (Melb) Round 12 Sam Reid (Syd) Round 13 Daniel Menzel (Geel) Round 14 David Swallow (GCS) Round 15 Luke Breust (Haw) Round 16 Jake Batchelor (Rich) Round 17 Trent McKenzie (GCS) Round 18 Allen Christensen (Geel) Round 19 Andrew Gaff (WCE) Round 20 Zac Clarke (Frem) Round 21 Luke Dahlhaus (WB) EYE-CATCHER: Luke

He (Eade) said it shows I’m different. He doesn’t mind it, which is good LUKE DAHLHAUS ON HIS HAIR

His 19-possession, two-goal performance against Essendon earned him the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination for round 21. He had made a strong case over the past two months.

Dahlhaus has been a bright spark for the Bulldogs this season.

Those two goals came at important times in the heavy loss to the Bombers. After going into the half-time break eight goals down, the Bulldogs were in desperate need of a spark. And not for the first time this season, Dahlhaus was the one to provide it when his more experienced teammates struggled to get things moving. Both his third-quarter goals came from unlikely opportunities, and he again

THREE THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW praised Eade for backing him. “He put me on the wing at the start of the second half. He said we needed some run,” he said. “That was the first time I’ve played there and I just wanted to give the team some run. Fortunately, I got two goals out of it, which was good. “He encourages us to play to our strengths. He always says to me ‘You’ve got your run, so use it. Get the ball, take them on and keep trying to win the ball.”


Dahlhaus broke the record for agility at a pre-draft state screening session.


He is officially listed at 72kg but is still not the lightest player on the Bulldogs’ list. That honour goes to Jason Johannisen (68kg).


He was the leading tackler in the TAC Cup last year playing for the Geelong Falcons.

Each week throughout the home and away season, a panel of judges will select the nominee for the 2011 NAB AFL Rising Star. At the completion of the season, one outstanding player will be chosen as the 2011 NAB AFL Rising Star winner. He will receive an investment folio, a dedicated personal banker, a financial planner and the Ron Evans Medal, all courtesy of the NAB. The NAB Rising Star award is the final stage of the NAB AFL Rising Stars Program, which supports grassroots players and football communities and helps young Australians fulfil their dream of playing in the AFL.







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nab afl rising star

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Applying data laterally to analyse and understand the modern game.

New roles carried out with military precision


ew breeds of players are L impacting on the AFL r, game—a transporter, an insurgent and a counter-insurgent. I saw clear evidence of these archetypes during last Friday night’s St Kilda-Collingwood game at Etihad Stadium. The most obvious examples of transporter types were Dane Swan for the Magpies and Leigh Montagna for the Saints. Today, terms like ‘on-baller’ or ‘midfielder’ are no longer adequate to describe the roles this breed plays. Slick, skilled and robust, they are the main ‘transport’ vehicles, conveying the ball from one end of the ground to the other. In military terms, they support the vital supply lines. Both Swan and Montagna have the pace, stamina and leg strength to kick their teams out of congestion and into goal-scoring opportunities. Swan registered 34 disposals, the second-highest tally for the game, and scored two goals, while Montagna had the most disposals of any Saint (24) and booted three goals. Covering distance is what they specialise in. They prevail in both congestion and open territory, and they can finish around goal. Outstanding transporters are a unique breed and highly prized because they are line-breakers equipped to change the dynamic of the game (in this game, where the ball is at any given time). This is essential in the context





Dane Swan and Leigh Montagna (inset) are part of a new breed of AFL players who cover the entire ground.

(Leon) Davis played as if he was wearing camouflage of ‘pressing’ tactics and to break ultra-congested zones. As the name implies, an insurgent is not always easily identified. To some, the breed may appear obvious, but to others, not so. Insurgents are never what they seem. When the explosion happens, it is obvious, but how it occurred seldom is. How else is it possible to explain why Collingwood’s Leon Davis was able to ‘swallow’ so many of St Kilda’s advances and mount counter-attacks? Were the Saints wearing blindfolds? Or, more likely, was it because they simply could not see him? Davis played as if he was wearing camouflage. This confused the Saints. They were lost. Anyone watching the game could see what was happening, but St Kilda players could not. The official definition for Davis (what he is considered for the sake of statistical capture) is “small forward”. This season,

Collingwood has nominally planted him in the back pocket. Neither description suffices. Davis can bob up anywhere, and does. He finished with a game-high 36 involvements and two delightful goals. How did he do that? He is an insurgent. As with the transporter type, the Davis example is evolving quickly because the game itself is changing so rapidly. Conventional definitions, statistical measures and game-based thinking are quickly becoming out-of-date. As has always been the case, the gifted players and smart coaches are adapting and redefining roles. There was another pertinent example in the game last week: the insurgent up against the counter-insurgent. Like Davis, St Kilda’s Sam Fisher fits the role of insurgent, but in a different way. Nominally a “tall defender” who is

accomplished overhead, he has the appearance of a steady-as-it-goes, solid citizen. But don’t be fooled. Looks can be deceptive. He also wears camouflage. Opponents kick the ball high into the forward line as if totally unaware of his presence. He has little trouble mopping up and delivering the counter-attack. He baffles spectators and statisticians. A long bomb delivered deep into St Kilda’s defensive zone seems destined for a contested marking duel. Fisher is credited with an “uncontested mark”. Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse is a student of military tactics. He knows the best means of countering an insurgent is with a counter-insurgent. And this is how the Magpies chief commander approached the game. He assigned captain Nick Maxwell, who nominally holds a defensive post, to go forward as a counter-insurgent and quell Fisher’s impact. Interestingly, ‘Disruptive Pattern Material’ (DPM) is a name of a camouflage pattern used by British forces and other armies, and even appears in nightclubs frequented by AFL players. Collingwood has dominated the 2011 season because it has understood the importance of mapping new roles and measures for deployment suited for how footy is played now, not yesterday. The traditional black and white stripes have been refashioned into DPM. TED HOPKINS IS A CARLTON PREMIERSHIP PLAYER AND FOUNDER OF CHAMPION DATA. HIS BOOK THE STATS REVOLUTION (SLATTERY MEDIA GROUP) WAS RELEASED RECENTLY AND IS AVAILABLE VIA FOOTYBOOKCLUB.COM


After 50 years, it’s still about guts and determination

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AFL Record, Round 22, 2011  

The AFL Record is the most loved and read football magazine in the country and for the first time, is now available free to read online each...

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