‘We are chasing it again’: Hungry Cats stay the hunters

The Cats will start the 2023 season carrying both a 16-game winning streak that was capped off with a dominant grand final win and a target on their backs as all other sides look to close the gap.WHAT WE SAW AT GEELONG’S FIRST FULL TRAINING SESSIONBut despite the smell of success still lingering around Geelong just over two months after the premiership triumph, Grigg said his players were still hunting others.“We don’t feel like anyone is chasing us, we feel like we are chasing it again,” he said.“Our players have come back with that mindset and have shown that with the way they presented themselves. We haven’t been training for very long but the guys have hit the track running so we are pleased with how they have returned.”Grigg knows only too well how a premiership defence can suddenly fall apart.The reliable midfielder was a key part of Richmond’s 2018 side that appeared a lay down misère to repeat as premiers before being stunned and thrashed by Collingwood in a preliminary final.Having lived through that collapse, Grigg said a key to carrying on after success was by always looking to improve.“We take nothing for granted, albeit we were lucky enough to win on the last day this season but that doesn’t give us a right that we are going to be even there next year,” he said.“For us, we started to do some things right in the second half of the year and started to jell as a team so we want to continue that on but also to evolve and develop.“In my experience, you can’t just roll out the exact same thing season after season. We have to evolve and we have to develop and that will come in varying ways for us such as different personnel. We will tinker with how we want to play so (getting better) is the things for us.”josh.barnes1@news.com.au

What’s Sheeds’ next move after Hird backing?

The Dons have a new coach (Brad Scott), new president (David Barham) and four new board members (Dean Rioli, Tim Roberts, David Wills, Andrew Welsh) amid profound change at the club.Sheedy made clear that he voted for club legend James Hird over Brad Scott, telling the Herald Sun he was “extremely disappointed” by the club saying Scott’s appointment was “fully endorsed”.But amid calls for him to stand down Sheedy has the club’s backing with that board seen to be united and having brought in experts with skills that will help the club’s rise up the ladder.Former player Welsh will be the football director, Rioli is the club’s first Indigenous board member, Wills will chair the club’s audit committee and property and construction expert Roberts helped build the club’s NEC Hangar.Sheedy brings a wealth of football experience and has not been pressured to move on. Vozzo will arrive at the Essendon from his role at West Coast on January 16 and will decide if more changes are needed after a series of reviews.Essendon brought in Dan McPherson as the head of performance and Cam Roberts as the head of development with the development team boosted from two full roles and a part-timer to six full-time roles.List boss Adrian Dodoro has at times been under pressure, but the club has made clear the development pathways were lacking and did not fast-track enough of the club’s elite talent.The Dons again went back to the draft this year and brought in Sam Weideman and Will Setterfield for little trade outlay.So Vozzo will have time to assess the club’s needs and strengths before taking charge of any other personnel changes.The club secured Elijah Tsatas (pick 5), Lewis Hayes (pick 25), Alwyn Davey (pick 45), Jayden Davey (pick 54) and rookie Rhett Montgomerie as well as NGA talent Anthony Munkara.

AFL announces huge uniform change

In a statement, the AFL said all teams across the AFLW, VFLW, AFLW U18 National Championships, and any AFL-managed women and girls talent pathways activity would now be exempt from wearing white shorts as part of their uniform.The decision was made to reduce barriers for women and girls playing sport, given the global challenges faced during menstrual cycles.Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >AFLW boss Nicole Livingstone said she was pleased with the change in uniform rules.“I’m proud of the position the AFL has taken with this decision and thank our players for their leadership and passion. Whilst this is a policy change for women and girls in AFL-run competitions, the ripple effect for community sport for women and girls is immense – we want to lead to remove any barriers that prevent women and girls participate in Australian football,” Livingstone said.AFLW competitions boss Laura Kane said the announcement was an historic day for the sport.“This is a pinnacle moment in the AFL’s history, creating a uniform policy that reflects the modern needs of female athletes,” Kane said.“There has been a movement in women’s sport globally to address athlete anxieties around wearing white shorts or pants during menstrual cycles.“We have listened to our players and industry experts and created a best-practice policy to ensure we are removing any participation or performance barriers.”All 18 clubs will have a home set of coloured shorts, while the AFL will have to approve a separate coloured set for clash strips.The new-look uniforms will be in place for the 2023 season.Just last month, Wimbledon tournament organisers made history when the strict all-white outfit rules were relaxed to allow women to wear dark coloured undershorts.Earlier this year former Australian top 20 player Daria Saville admitted she used to skip her period in fear of the prestigious tournament’s all-white dress policy.“One time I got a period mid-match. I went to the bathroom and then was like oh surprise. We are only allowed two toilet breaks during a match,” she stated on social media.“Thank god I had a female umpire.”

Gather Round revealed: Full fixture, details locked in

News Corp can reveal the Crows and Blues will play at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night, powerhouse Richmond will take on last season’s runner-up Sydney there 24 hours later, then the venue will stage two weekend double-headers.The city ground will be the centrepiece for the new event, which will feature all 18 clubs playing in South Australia across four days from April 13-16.Norwood Oval will hold two matches, while Hills town Mount Barker will have one.Saturday’s double-header at Adelaide Oval is among the round’s highlights.Traditional Victorian clubs Essendon and Melbourne battle during the afternoon, before Port Adelaide faces 2021 preliminary final nemesis the Western Bulldogs that night.Club members will get free entry to their team’s games during the round, while general public tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for concession (15 to 18-year-olds) and free for children under 15.AFL fixture boss Travis Auld described the football festival as an unbelievable opportunity for the competition.“Our clubs, our players and coaches are excited to come together and put on a great show,” Auld said.“South Australians love their footy, and with no SANFL or metropolitan community matches that weekend, we are hoping they also come and experience what will be a great four days of celebration, fun and a true festival of footy,“By pricing it affordably it hopefully helps entice fans from all over the country to make a trip of it and visit the state and enjoy all the activities in and around the state.”The league awarded SA the hosting rights for its extra round last month after a strong push from Premier Peter Malinauskas helped it stave off New South Wales.Malinauskas had hoped the regional game would be in the Barossa Valley, north of Adelaide, to showcase the state, but AFL officials could not find a suitable venue there.On track to become SA’s second-largest city, Mount Barker is located on the doorstep of the Hills wine region and is about a 30-minute drive from the CBD.Gather RoundThe area’s main oval, Summit Sport and Recreation Park, will host a game between premiership contender Brisbane and North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.Sunday’s double-header at Adelaide Oval will feature Geelong-West Coast then Collingwood versus St Kilda to close the round.Malinauskas said excitement was already building in SA for “the biggest round of footy in our state’s history”.“With the release of the fixture, fans can start booking their tickets, visitors can begin booking their accommodation and planning their trip to South Australia,” Malinauskas said.“The economic benefit to our tourism and hospitality sectors is going to be exceptional.”The AFL’s airline partner, Virgin Australia, has added an extra 13,000 seats specifically for the round, set to go on sale on Friday, December 9.Tickets for the double-headers will be $30 total for both games.Prices are capped for all matches in any seat at all three grounds, allowing fans to sit anywhere at each.Tickets will go on sale on Monday via Ticketek.The fixture for the first 15 rounds, as well as match-ups and venues for the remaining home-and-away games, will be released later this week.GATHER ROUND TICKETS

‘Sad and pathetic’: Hawks board stoush erupts

Matthew Berriman, who is the chair of Mental Health Australia and sits on the club’s commercial advisory board, made the extraordinary claim as he backed Peter Nankivell to lead the club into a new era ahead of the final day of voting on Friday.But Gowers hit back at Berriman late on Thursday, saying it was “outrageous” to suggest a victory in the presidential battle would impact the Hawks’ playing list. Berriman said Gowers had dragged the club “into the mud” in recent weeks and feared players and staff would walk if the former Hawthorn premiership star was successful. “The big concern I have is if the Gowers ticket gets up, I feel like there will be a pretty significant exodus of key talent from on and off the field,” Berriman told News Corp. “And that will destabilise the club. I am certain that will happen. “He does not have the support of the key people around the board table, around the executive group and the playing group to be the president of this football club. “Peter has that (support) unanimously.”Berriman said he had close links with the players and key corporate partners through his role as a mentor and commercial adviser, and urged members to vote for stability.“What Sam and the young players are doing and building is something that I think in years to come will be pretty special,” Berriman said.“The last thing it needs is instability at the club where players may question — and I have had some of them — may question whether they (want to leave).“If it is unstable off the field, on-field tends to follow it and that is the last thing the Hawthorn Football Club needs.”But Gowers bluntly rejected the “exodus” barb on Thursday, and said Hawthorn fans were “sick” of the politics. “My initial reaction is a reluctance to comment because of how outrageous this is, but it does give me an opportunity to repeat that my entire campaign has been based on unity,” Gowers said. “If elected, I am intent on unifying the club after a period of division led by the (Jeff) Kennett/Nankivell board. “It is disappointing but not unexpected that Jeff would continue to go down this road.” The Hawks For Change group, which has backed Gowers and board candidate James Merlino, blasted Berriman. “This is nothing but yet another desperate attempt by members of the outgoing board to tarnish Andy Gowers 24 hours from the voting closing,” the group said. “We are very much looking forward to Jeff saying his final goodbye on Tuesday. The Club is ready for him to move on, it has become sad and pathetic.”The result will be announced at the club’s annual general meeting on December 13.

2023 AFLW season kickoff set

Two seasons of AFLW were played this year after the decision was made to move the competition away from summer. There were fears the growing competition would have lost momentum had it waited 18 months between seasons to make the spring switch next year, which aimed to provide a little more clear air.AFLW general manager Nicole Livingstone said last month that it had “been a phenomenal year for women’s football”, adding that “the future is really bright for the women”. The most recent season was the first in which all 18 AFL clubs were represented in the women’s competition. The exact structure of the 2023 AFLW season will be guided by a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which is still being worked through between the AFL and the AFL Players Association (AFLPA). The AFLPA is awaiting financial forecasts from the AFL before determining its position for negotiations. The association is hoping to do a joint CBA for its men’s and women’s players, with both groups being without a current agreement for next year.Outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has delayed his departure until next April, with a new CBA being one of his key priorities over coming months.THE AFLPA agreed to a one-season CBA for its most recent campaign, which began on the last weekend of August and concluded with a November 27 Grand Final. The home-and-away season was kept at 10 games, but an extra week of finals was added. List sizes remained at 30 players, but average salaries increased 94 per cent. The AFLPA has voiced its hopes that AFLW players will become “full time footballers by 2026”, with the last CBA considered a “first step” towards that. A new CBA – which now looks unlikely to be ticked off before Christmas – will determine the length of the season, list sizes and player wages. Melbourne tasted premiership success in season seven of the AFLW last month, scoring a four-point win over Brisbane at the Lions’ new Springfield home base. EVERY AFLW CLUB’S BEST AND FAIREST TOP-THREEADELAIDE Winner: Anne Hatchard (343 votes)Runner-up: Ebony Marinoff (339 votes)Third: Chelsea Biddell (336 votes)BRISBANEWinner: Emily Bates (190 votes)Runner-up: Ally Anderson (187 votes) Third: Nat Grider (184 votes)CARLTONWinner: Mimi Hill (86 votes)Runner-up: Abbie McKay (84 votes)Third: Breann Moody (61 votes)COLLINGWOODWinner: Jordyn Allen (84 votes)Runner-up: Jaimee Lambert (81 votes)Third: Chloe Molloy (71 votes)ESSENDONWinner: Maddy Prespakis (98 votes)Runner-up: Bonnie Toogood (71 votes)Third: Steph Cain (57 votes)FREMANTLE Winner: Kiara Bowers (169 votes)Runner-up: Hayley Miller (114 votes)Third: Aine Tighe (110 votes)GEELONG Winner: Amy McDonald (127 votes)Runner-up: Georgie Prespakis (123 votes)Third: Nina Morrison (67 votes)GOLD COASTWinner: Charlie Rowbottom (279 votes)Runner-up: Alison Drennan (240 votes) Third: Claudia Whitfort (237 votes)GWS GIANTSWinner: Alyce Parker (99 votes) Runner-up: Georgia Garnett (69 votes)Third: Tarni Evans (68 votes)HAWTHORNWinner: Tilly Lucas-Rodd (83 votes) Runner-up: Aileen Gilroy (74 votes)Third: Jasmine Fleming (71 votes)MELBOURNEWinner: Kate Hore (69 votes)Runner-up: Tyla Hanks (64 votes)Third: Olivia Purcell (61 votes)NORTH MELBOURNEWinner: Jasmine Garner (208 votes)Runner-up: Ash Riddell (175 votes)Third: Jenna Bruton (174 votes)PORT ADELAIDE Winner: Hannah Ewings (86 votes)Runner-up: Erin Phillips (81 votes)Third: Abbey Dowrick (80 votes)RICHMONDWinner: Monique Conti (30 votes)Runner-up: Eilish Sheerin (26 votes)Third: Gabby Seymour (24 votes)ST KILDAWinner: Kate Shierlaw (37 votes)Runner-up: Bianca Jakobsson (34 votes)Third: Molly McDonald (32 votes)SYDNEY Winner: Cynthia Hamilton (81 votes)Runner-up: Montana Ham (71 votes)Third: Sofia Hurley (62 votes)WEST COASTWinner: Emma Swanson (43 votes)Runner-up: Aisling McCarthy (34 votes)Third: Isabella Lewis (33 votes)WESTERN BULLDOGSWinner: Ellie Blackburn (94 votes)Runner-up: Alice Edmonds (78 votes)Third: Isabelle Pritchard (70 votes)TRADITION DUMPED IN CHANGE TO AFLW UNIFORMSFemale footballers will no longer be required to wear white shorts during matches, with the AFL breaking tradition in a bid to remove “barriers to participation”.Away teams have long been forced to wear white shorts across the league’s men’s and women’s competitions.However, a memo sent to clubs on Thursday stated that from next year all teams would be allowed to wear coloured shorts in all women’s competitions under the AFL’s control, including AFLW.“Following extensive industry consultation, the removal of white shorts will address athlete in-competition performance anxieties and barriers to participation across all levels of women’s and girls’ footy,” the memo read.“This initiative will take place across the AFLW competition, VFLW competition, AFLW U18 National Championships and any AFL-managed talent pathway activities from 2023 onward.”AFL head of mental health and wellbeing Dr Kate Hall said the change was an important one that could lead to greater participation in women’s football.“This policy is to ensure women and girls can confidently play and enjoy Australian Rules Football, free from the impact of period stigma,” Dr Hall said.The move is in step with other sports around the world which have also recently changed their uniform guidelines, including cricket and tennis.Wimbledon last month announced it would drop its strict all-white uniform rules for women next year.The All England Club, which runs the tennis Grand Slam, said it would allow female players to wear coloured undershorts “if they choose” so that they could “focus purely on their performance by relieving a potential source of anxiety”.Former and current athletes have campaigned to put an end to white shorts in female sport, which can be problematic for women experiencing their menstrual period.SCBBL PROMOA national study of 727 Australian girls aged 12 to 18, which was released by Victoria University last year, found that 64 per cent of respondents preferred to wear dark coloured bottoms during sport outside of school.“I would prefer to wear dark blue or black shorts,” one study participant said.“I have white shorts now and every month I get really concerned about leaking and that people can see too much.”

Buckley’s son injured in horror accident

Jett Buckley, was been driving around a track in Melbourne during a practice session this week when the brake line on his kart snapped.Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >It caused the 15-year-old to be thrown from the kart down an embankment, eventually ending up on the tarmac where his kart landed on top of him.Jett was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital, where scans showed he had snapped his collarbone.“To everyone that has reached out….I’m ok,” he wrote on Instagram.“Yesterday at practice I had my brake line split and had a bad crash.“I was thrown from the kart down an embankment landing on the tarmac with the kart landing on top of me.“I have lacerated my kidney and liver. I have also snapped my clavicle.“My elbow and forearm are yet to be determined, waiting for scans.“Thanks for all the messages they are appreciated.”Jett shared photos of Instagram showing the aftermath of the crash, which show paramedics attending to him on the track and his mum Tania comforting her son in the back of the ambulance.An X-ray shows his collarbone was shattered and he will remain in hospital for treatment on a lacerated kidney and liver.Jett thanked the ambulance and hospital staff for their medical care“Thank you to the ambulance drivers Ben and Laine and everyone else that was on the scene,” he said.“Thanks to all the nurses and doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital.“Spending a few days here for complete rest.”Jett is coached by Brad Jenner, who has won several Australian Kart Championships.The Daily Mail reports Jett is mentored by leading coach Australian Kart champion Brad Jenner and has enjoyed some success on the track so far in his career in a kart worth around $7000.Karting has long been considered one of the best junior pathways to eventually enter professional motorsport and get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.Jett’s dad Nathan hasn’t addressed the crash publicly.The Collingwood legend has transitioned into media roles with Fox Footy and SEN since stepping down Magpies coach in mid 2021 after 10 years as senior coach.After separating from Tania, Buckley was in a relationship with influencer and cosmetic injector Alex Pike, but has reportedly since moved on with Melbourne socialite Brodie Ryan.

Hutchy issues apology after radio slur goes to air

Caller “John from Epping” – a North Melbourne supporter – made demeaning comments about his club drafting Jewish star Harry Sheezel, saying it would be a financial boost for the club because his family would be “loaded with money”.Lyon jumped in and angled the conversation towards Sheezel’s playing talents instead, saying, “I wouldn’t worry about that, I’d just worry about the fact that he’s a very, very good player, they reckon he plays a bit like Stevie Johnson, what about that?”However, Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dr Dvir Abramovich argued Lyon and Watson should have denounced the comments on air, or the producer used the short delay to cut them out. It came after Sheezel was subjected to a slew of antisemitic social media comments on the eve of the draft. Hutchison has since emailed Dr Abramovich to apologise, acknowledging the comments “could have been addressed on air” and that Lyon and Watson have spoken to the caller “several times” since the incident. “Garry and Tim recognised the inappropriate nature of the comment and made a judgment call that it was best handled and discussed with John off air,” Hutchison wrote in the email. “We are pleased with their intent to address it directly with the caller, but we do acknowledge that it could have also been addressed on air.“Garry and Tim have always stood for an inclusive show for everyone. As a business, we pride ourselves on our standards and respect for all communities and acknowledge our role in the sports industry as leaders in this space.“We appreciate you taking the time to discuss the matter today and once again apologise for the unintended offence this has caused, and your leadership in addressing this with us and with me directly.”Dr Abramovich has accepted Hutchison’s apology and called on Lyon and Watson to use their platform to “speak out against intolerance and racism”. “I accept the apology by Craig Hutchison on behalf of the radio station and Garry Lyon and Tim Watson which is sincere and heartfelt, as well as his acknowledgment that the hosts should have repudiated the caller’s bigoted slur immediately on air,” Dr Abramovich said. “During our conversation, Mr Hutchison heard my concerns and immediately expressed his feelings of remorse, and I believe him when he says that Lyon and Watson did not have any intent to cause hurt or to give any legitimacy to antisemitism. “It is my view that the SEN hosts now better understand why their failure to challenge the hateful expression and to speak out when they heard that reprehensible stereotypes about Jews was wrong. “Public figures have a duty … we all have a responsibility to push back, at every stage, in every instance, and in every way that we can, against prejudice. “My hope is that Lyon and Watson use the platform that they have and their public voice and following to speak out against intolerance and racism.”

Dramas, dust-ups, implosions: 2022’s biggest AFL stories

It’s fair to say that 2022 was the year we had to have in footy after two years of Covid setbacks. And the season had it all - extraordinary controversies that emerged from nowhere, heartwarming comebacks and fairytale storylines, the return of Victorian crowds and a goal-kicking milestone we may never experience again. GLENN McFARLANE looks at the moments that mattered in 2022.1. CAT EMPIRE RULESIt wasn’t just that Geelong fulfilled what some thought was its destiny by winning a fourth flag in 16 seasons - and its first in a decade - but it was the devastating manner in which Chris Scott’s team made it happen. They proved modern marvels, bucking every AFL equalisation measure, including age, list profile and first-round draft picks. On Grand Final day they selected the oldest team in history - at an average age of 28 years and a half years - and saluted with one of the most clinical premiership wins. Who says you need to rebuild? Regeneration on the run will do the Cats fine.2. HAWKS’ FIRST NATIONS REPORTHawthorn’s external review into its history with First Nations players was always going to make big news, but no one could have envisaged its seismic impact. Within 12 hours of an ABC report on the review, two AFL coaches - Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan - stood down pending an AFL independent probe but now back working. Both fiercely deny the explosive allegations of “bullying and intimidation”, while North Melbourne and Brisbane have stood behind their coaches. So much rides on the outcome of the independent investigation for so many people.3. BUDDY’S 1000TH GOALBuddy Franklin became the sixth player in history to push through the 1000-goal barrier in the Round 2 SCG clash with Geelong. It sparked a fan invasion as a sea of red and white charged onto the ground. It forced players to seek refuge wherever they could, with two Swans exiting onto Driver Avenue. Buddy revelled in the moment as the Foo Fighters’ ‘My Hero’ played across the speakers. There was a 20-minute delay before the game was restarted. The moment will go down in history as Franklin potentially became the last player to reach that magical figure.4. THE BROWNLOW BOMBSHELLPatrick Cripps always looked like a Brownlow medallist; now he has the medal to match. But his 2022 victory didn’t come without some controversy. The Carlton midfielder polled three votes in the round 23 loss to Collingwood to overtake Brisbane’s Lachie Neale by one vote. Six weeks earlier, he had been ineligible for a few days … after being suspended for two games for high contact on Lion Callum Ah Chee. A subsequent appeal - which lasted longer than the Brownlow count - cleared Cripps on a technicality, much to the AFL’s initial chagrin. But the real bombshell came post season when an AFL umpire, Michael Pell, was among a group of four men arrested over suspicious betting activity on this year’s medal count. It was alleged that Pell leaked information on who would receive votes in multiple games he officiated in. Victoria Police has widened its investigation into the scandal.5. GILL QUITS, BUT INKS RICHEST TV DEAL. NOW FOR TASSIE?The AFL chief executive made the big call in April, setting up one of the longest farewell tours in the game. Gill will remain in the role until round 5 next year, given the key issues he needs to finalise. He negotiated the biggest TV rights deal in Australian sporting history (worth $4.5 billion) and is now trying to close out a collective bargaining deal, a proposed new Tassie team and the probe into Hawthorn’s First Nations’ report before he leaves. He even got to dance with Delta Goodrem, and locked in Robbie Williams as grand final entertainment.6. YEAR OF THE COMEBACKHas there ever been a season with as many emotional comebacks? The off-field embrace between Carlton’s Sam Docherty and North Melbourne’s Ben Cunnington - who have both fought back from testicular cancer - in round 7 was one of the moments of the season. Docherty’s goal in the round 1 match against Richmond almost brought the house down, as did Cunnington’s first game in almost 400 days in round 22. Former No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin missed two seasons after eight separate concussions, but never gave up the fight as he transformed from Sydney rookie-listed selection to a grand final player. Essendon’s Michael Hurley was granted a farewell game having been to hell and back following a serious hip infection. Coleman Medallist Charlie Curnow silenced those who wondered if his knees would allow him to reach his best again. And Tyson Stengle capped off his own remarkable redemption story with a premiership medal.7. ESSENDON’S IMPLOSION Just over six months ago Mick Malthouse tipped Essendon to win the 2022 premiership. That seems an eternity ago, given the Bombers’ annus horribilis in their 150th year. They won two games in the first half of the season - and seven overall - before the president, chief executive and coach ended up departing. New president David Barham made an unsuccessful bid for Alastair Clarkson. The fact that Rutten was forced to coach out the final game knowing he would most likely be sacked the next day was a cruel end to another poor season. They’ve bounced back quickly signing Brad Scott as coach and the well-respected Craig Vozzo as CEO.8. THE RACE FOR CLARKOOne of the biggest news stories of the season centred on which club would win the race for Alastair Clarkson. Greater Western Sydney were the first to publicly speak with him after the Giants parted company with Leon Cameron. North Melbourne entered the fray after sacking David Noble as coach. Then at the eleventh hour Essendon made an approach. Clarkson chose his former club, the Kangaroos, over the Bombers. 9. PERFECT SEL It’s hard to think of a more apt conclusion to an AFL career than Joel Selwood’s grand final day exit. The Geelong skipper knew it would be his 355th - and final - game and he made the most of it. He carried out Levi Ablett - the son of his former teammate Gary - before the game, he dragged much loved footy department assistant Sam Moorfoot onto the ground to celebrate and he presented a pair of boots to the Auskicker in the Year. Oh yes, and he was also one of the Cats’ best in the grand final, securing his fourth premiership. Some of the other big name 2022 farewells included Eagle Josh Kennedy (who signed off with eight goals), Swan Josh Kennedy, Docker David Mundy, Tigers Shane Edwards and Kane Lambert, Saint Jarryn Geary, Paddy Ryder and Dan Hannebery, Hawks Ben McEvoy and Liam Shiels, and Bombers Michael Hurley and Devon Smith, to name a few.10. YEAR OF THE PIES’ COMEBACKSCraig McRae and his Collingwood side did something many thought was impossible. The way they played the game, and fought back from seemingly impossible positions had rival fans acknowledging the black and white ride. McRae would help lift the Magpies from 17th to footy’s penultimate weekend, winning Coach of the Year honours. Collingwood created history by becoming the first team in VFL-AFL history to win 11 matches by two goals or less, culminating in the Round 23 fightback to sink Carlton. And a kid called Nick Daicos announced himself as a star.11. DEMONS DUST-UP Melbourne’s 2022 premiership defence looked impregnable after 10 rounds. Then along came the Entrecote restaurant mid-year get-together which resulted in a Demons’ dust-up between Steven May and Jake Melksham. May upset those in attendance with his behaviour and a few choice words. Melksham ended up having hand surgery as a result of his altercation. It would be incorrect to suggest this moment was the downfall of the Demons in 2022, but it created a news yarn Simon Goodwin and the Demons could have done without. It wasn’t just that. The Herald Sun revelations about Melbourne, its board angst and the coach in the aftermath of the 2020 season came to light, providing an awkward backdrop to their flag defence.12. THE DE GOEY SAGAWas there a footballer who made as many headlines as Jordan De Goey this season? The year started with a probe into a drunken incident in a New York nightclub late last year which resulted in a court appearance via Zoom and a $10,000 donation to charity. There was his mid-season trip to Bali, with social media footage of him creating a controversy the Magpies didn’t need, as well as a $25,000 suspended fine from the club. Collingwood took a contract offer off the table for a time, then he produced a stunning second half of the season to help the Magpies go deep into the finals. A bigger, longer contract was then on offer (with some conditions) as well as strong interest from St Kilda. But he ultimately chose to stay with the Magpies.13. BAILEY’S BLUNDERWhat happens when photos and a video emerge of one of the AFL’s most marketable young footballers appearing to use an illicit substance? Simple. Bailey Smith got on the front foot and owned his mistake. He copped a two-game ban from the AFL for ‘conduct becoming’ - served alongside his two-week suspension for headbutting Zach Tuohy. Explaining his own mental health battle after last year’s grand final, he admitted he “spiralled out of control” for a short period of time late last year before football helped him get back on track again.14. BLUES IN ALL SEASON ... THEN OUTIt still seems bizarre that Michael Voss’ Blues sat inside the top eight at the conclusion of every round, except one … the one that mattered. Carlton won eight of its first 10 matches and looked certain finalists for all but the last month of the season when their inability to close out games hurt big time. They lost five of their last six games including two heartbreaking losses in the final two rounds against Melbourne and Collingwood, giving up late red-time goals.15. DISSENT OVER DISSENT RULE The AFL went into the season with a near-zero tolerance for umpire dissent in an effort to improve the treatment of the whistleblowers at all levels of the game. But as admirable as the motive was, the execution left much to be desired. The strict interpretation ended up being counterproductive. After weeks of controversy, the AFL was forced to dial it back, given the way it was impacting games where body language was used as a means for 50m penalties. It came in a season in which the Herald Sun revealed a secret 62-page AFL report on the abuse of female umpires at all levels that stunned the footy public.16. CLUTCH GOALSIn a season of spectacular comebacks and clutch goals across the competition, Jamie Elliott, Noah Anderson and Jordan Dawson deserve special mention. All three won games for their respective clubs Collingwood, Gold Coast and Adelaide after the final siren. Elliott’s mark in between two Essendon players in the last 30 seconds of the Round 19 clash followed one of the most spectacular coast to coast passages of play from Collingwood. With nerves of steel, he nailed the goal from 50m on the boundary line. Anderson did the same thing for the Suns in sinking Richmond with pinpoint accuracy. Dawson’s kick in the Showdown clash looked more awkward but bent back when it mattered to secure the win.17. BEVO’S BLOW-UPThey call it the fifth quarter and Luke Beveridge’s round 1 press conference after the loss to Melbourne was like few others in recent times. The Bulldogs coach launched a verbal outburst at Fox Footy’s Tom Morris over selection news he had revealed earlier in the week that Lachie Hunter would not be selected in the starting side. In a compelling presser that went live to air, Beveridge accused Morris of “preying on the Bulldogs … causing turmoil within our football club” and of barracking for the Demons. The coach would later apologise and Morris would depart Fox Footy a few days later on an unrelated matter.18. EDDIE’S EMOTION Eddie Betts’ book - ‘The Boy from Boomerang Crescent’ - lifted the lid on the Crows’ now-infamous 2018 preseason camp and detailed how it had affected him as a footballer and as a person. An emotional Betts revealed how he was left traumatised and disrespected by the cultural sensitivities he and others had to endure on the camp. It shocked the footy world and finally brought an apology from the Crows to Betts.19. GINNIVAN RULES Jack Ginnivan started 2022 as a five-game Magpie who was almost unknown. He ended it as one of the most recognisable players in the game. Part of that was due to his strong form this season (40 goals) and his Anzac Medal win, but it also came back to the head-high debate that divided the footy world. Was Ginnivan being denied head-high free kicks because of a perception he had played for them earlier in the season? Leigh Matthews said he was “disturbed” in the manner that Ginnivan was being adjudicated, saying an incident with Mason Redman “showed the fabric of the game was under attack.”20. FOOTY’S THE WINNERHow good was footy in 2022? When even the great Leigh Matthews suggests it is the best season he can remember, it says something. The standard of football was outstanding, with extra attacking layers; the personal and team stories were next level; the crowds returned in Melbourne after two years of pandemic restrictions; and after a slow start with attendances, we ended up with 6.1 million fans attending the home and away footy before the crowds went through the roof in the finals. This was a season to absolutely savour.

AFL nickname a complete laughing stock

Plenty according to footy fans after the AFL announced its additional round in Adelaide next year would be called “Gather round...a festival of footy”.While the AFL is following in the footsteps of the NRL’s successful “Magic Round” concept, it clearly wanted a name that was different to its rival code.Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >The event will take place in round five next season and will see all 18 teams converge on Adelaide for a nine-match, one-city showcase. “Gather Round” was settled on after the AFL received submissions from supporters and league boss Gillon McLachlan opened the forum to fans.“I’ve got the best team in the world, certainly in any form of sport and they get most things right,” McLachlan said last month.“However, all of their suggestions are terrible around this name.“I saw a list of them, we’ve done polling and research … so it’s an open invitation to all South Australians but frankly all football supporters nationally.“This thing, I feel, is going to be huge and it needs to have its own life and its own identity, and its own character.”The many fan ideas for the round included United Round, AFL Roadshow, Footy Fiesta, The Big Show, Family Round, Connection Round, Roving Round, Premiers Round, The Grape Escape, Hanger Round, Round Five!, AFL Mega, Celebration Round, All-in Round, Magnetic Round, Destination Round, Fanatics Round and Festival of Footy.The AFL rejected options proposed by an agency.But it’s safe to say the Gather Round moniker has fallen flat with fans, with many arguing the AFL would have been better off just blatantly copying the NRL’s Magic Round.Sports reporter Michael Atkinson tweeted: “Gather Round, people. I’ll tell you a story.“A story about how to ‘copy’ an idea and butcher it at the naming phase. “The name choice comes days after the AFL was widely criticised for announcing its Round 1 fixture during the Socceroos’ World Cup clash with Argentina in the early hours of Sunday morning.The AFL defended its choice of Gather Round, saying it had strong public support.“We had a lot of momentum around ‘Gather Round’ with many fans suggesting it,” an AFL spokesperson told News Corp.“We think it’s perfect as we all — clubs, players and fans — gather in South Australia, bringing a footy festival to the city.”Adelaide Oval will host six of the nine games, while a venue for the other three matches has yet to be confirmed.Venues in the Barossa Valley and Norwood have been flagged as potential options.The addition of Gather Round to the AFL fixture will extend the home and way season to 24 rounds and reduce the number of pre-season games from two to one.

Boss responds to ‘inappropriate’ radio slur

The SEN Breakfast segment, hosted by AFL legends Garry Lyon and Tim Watson, took place on the 2nd of December and featured a discussion with regular caller ‘John from Epping’.The demeaning comments came after the North Melbourne fan was asked about his side’s performance in the AFL Draft by Lyon.In response, John singled out 18-year-old star Harry Sheezel, who became the first Jewish person to be drafted to the AFL since 1999 as he was taken as the third overall pick by the Kangaroos. “We got this Jewish player (in the draft),” John said.“You know, the Jewish, they are loaded with money, so maybe, we don’t need to go to Tasmania anymore, because probably if we needed some money his parents might pay for it.”Lyon then attempted to steer the conversation away from Sheezel’s religion by replying: “I wouldn’t worry about that, I’d just worry about the fact that he’s a very, very good player, they reckon he plays a bit like Stevie Johnson, what about that?”The discussion then moved on, however neither Lyon nor Watson called out or denounced the harmful stereotype of Jewish people.To make matters worse, a podcast featuring the segment was then uploaded to SEN’s website, and wasn’t taken down until Tuesday afternoon.Now, after the actions of the hosts and SEN were criticised by Dr Dvir Abramovich, the chairman of The Anti-Defamation Commission, Hutchison has apologised over the incident while acknowledging the comment ‘could have’ been dealt with on-air.“I would like to extend a personal apology on behalf of SEN for any inadvertent offence caused regarding the segment on SEN Breakfast from our regular talkback caller, John from Epping,” Hutchinson wrote to Dr Abramovich, in a statement provided to news.com.au.“As mentioned, hosts Garry and Tim recognised the inappropriate nature of the comment and made a judgement call that it was best handled and discussed with John off air. “This conversation with the caller took place prior to the program ending, such was their desire to address it. They’ve spoken to him in fact several times since.“We are pleased with their intent to address it directly with the caller, but we do acknowledge that it could have also been addressed on air.“Garry and Tim have always stood for an inclusive show for everyone. As a business, we pride ourselves on our standards and respect for all communities and acknowledge our role in the sports industry as leaders in this space.“We appreciate you taking the time to discuss the matter today and once again apologise for the unintended offence this has caused, and your leadership in addressing this with us and with me directly.”Dr Abramovich has since accepted Hutchinson’s apology, telling news.com.au that the SEN hosts now have a better understanding of the importance of calling out harmful stereotypes.“I accept the apology by Craig Hutchison on behalf of the radio station and Garry Lyon and Tim Watson which is sincere and heartfelt, as well as his acknowledgement that the hosts should have repudiated the caller’s bigoted slur immediately on air,” Dr Abramovich told news.com.au.“During our conversation, Mr Hutchison heard my concerns and immediately expressed his feelings of remorse, and I believe him when he says that Lyon and Watson did not have any intent to cause hurt or to give any legitimacy to antisemitism. “It is my view that the SEN hosts now better understand why their failure to challenge the hateful expression and to speak out when they heard that reprehensible stereotypes about Jews was wrong. “Public figures have a duty, when they hear anyone denigrated because of their faith, to model for young people that words and actions do count. “At a time when antisemitism is reaching record levels, we all have a responsibility to push back, at every stage, in every instance, and in every way that we can, against prejudice. “While we understand that many people were upset with their behaviour, this is an important first step in putting this issue to rest. “My hope is that Lyon and Watson use the platform that they have and their public voice and following to speak out against intolerance and racism.”Dr Abramovich had initially been unhappy with SEN’s response to the issue earlier in the week, in which the company provided no apology while outlining steps made by the hosts to rectify the situation.“Garry heard one reference only and immediately corrected course with the caller and moved to shut the comment down,” an SEN spokesman told news.com.au on Tuesday.“Garry and Tim spoke to the caller within half an hour of the program ending and addressed the issue with him and told him that sentiment“Garry and Tim have always stood for an inclusive show for everyone.”Dr Abramovich described the stereotype of Jewish people as being extremely wealthy as: “One of the most pernicious and enduring antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracies.”He said it “portrays Jews as unscrupulous and stingy, corrupted by an insatiable greed for hoarding wealth, and depicts the community as relentless in its pursuit of money.”Meanwhile, Sheezel has had to learn all too quickly how to deal with antisemitic comments in the past few weeks since he’s been linked to the high draft picks.The young forward was subjected to disgusting antisemitic social media attacks in the hours before he became an AFL player in late November.He was on the receiving end of a series of slurs after an article about his prospects hit social media the night before the draft.The comments focused on Jewish stereotypes and made light of the Holocaust.Sheezel, who has played in the NAB League for premiership team the Sandringham Dragons, kicked 36 goals across the season.He is the first Jewish player to enter the AFL since Ezra Poyas was drafted by Richmond in 1999.