Footystats Diary, footy's best kept secret, 1996 Review
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1996 Review
October 1995 to September 1996


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OCTOBER 1995

In the days following the Grand Final there were an amazing set of moves in coaching circles – JOHN NORTHEY with another season to run on contract and who had just taken Richmond into their first finals series since 1982, with acrimony, departed Punt Road. Within days he was appointed coach of BRISBANE for the next three years – it is Northey’s fourth club after Sydney 1985, Melbourne 1986-92 and Richmond 1993-95 for a total of 256 games and a strike-rate of 50% …

<||> St Kilda’s longest-serving captain DANNY FRAWLEY recently retired, was appointed assistant to TONY SHAW at Collingwood …

<||> KEN JUDGE, premiership assistant to David Parkin at Carlton was announced as the new coach at HAWTHORN – Judge returns to Glenferrie where he played 72 games (1983-86) and after 17 games with Brisbane (1987-88) led East Fremantle to WAFL flags in ’92 and ’94 …

<||> another new city called to RODNEY EADE, as he was appointed new coach of SYDNEY – Eade, a four-time flag winning player at Glenferrie (1976-78-83-86) coached the Bears to a Reserves pennant in 1991 and followed-up (beating the Swans) with a further Seconds premiership at North in 1995, as understudy to Denis Pagan …

<||> Port Adelaide named JOHN CAHILL as its ‘first’ AFL coach – Cahill had just led Port to a record 10th SANFL flag; he played 267 games with Port, and coached Collingwood for 47 games, 1983-84 …

<||> DEREK KICKETT signed on for another season with Sydney … the AFL under the melee rule asks Carlton and Geelong to show cause why they should not be fined over a Grand Final half-time dust-up …

<||> the League reveals it investigated five cases of racial abuse in 1995, including two which remained confidential …

<||> after-shock of John Northey departure as RICHMOND conduct meetings and express denial of ‘wrong-doing’ …

<||> former Hawthorn and Richmond player COL AUSTEN passed away at 74 – he played 141 games (1940-52) and was a dual winner of the 1949 Brownlow …

<||> DAVID PARKIN signs for two more years at Carlton – he had received a $250,000 per year offer from Sydney …

<||> out-of-contract Tigers CHRIS NAISH and STUART MAXFIELD are eyed by Sydney … WILLIAMSTOWN are told to merge with Werribee or face the chop from the 1996 VFL – the Seagulls, born 1884 have been recent strugglers — another VFA club PRESTON will merge with VSFL club Northern Knights …

<||> TRIBUNAL – WAYNE CAMPBELL (Rch) was suspended two matches for striking Paul Couch (Gee) in the 1PF …

<||> the late-January USA game before the SuperBowl is shelved …

<||> STEWART LOEWE stays with St Kilda – he is expected to sign a deal believed worth less than the big Freo offer of $900,000 for three years, to remain in Melbourne …

<||> the Saints SOS campaign raised $750,000 and although only half of its target, ST KILDA will remain a single identity …

<||> after calling the Richmond treatment of Northey “a disgrace” and branding the club’s heads “ego-trippers” – Tiger team manager GRAHAM BURGIN resigned his position …

<||> Fitzroy and Sydney are each fined $15,000 over a R19 melee at Whitten Oval – it takes to $40,000 the penalties handed down to the Lions for three melee digressions …

<||> former Bomber NEALE DANIHER (now with the Dockers) emerged as a coaching prospect at Punt Road …

<||> As prospects of mergers before the October 31 deadline dim by the day, the AFL concedes they may expand to 17 clubs for 1996, to enable a PORT ADELAIDE entry. Port’s gm Brian Cunningham predicted his Port Power would have 35 to 40,000 AFL members in its first season, be it 1996 or even 1997 …

<||> two SANFL clubs, North Adelaide and Sturt set to merge …

<||> MIKE NUNAN was named new coach at Fitzroy. Nunan played 259 SANFL games with Sturt, Norwood and North Adelaide (1966-81) later coaching the Roosters to success in the Eighties including flags in 1987 and 1991. He played one game with Richmond in 1971, when in National Service, and brings with him a character well-known for his forthright, abrasive style — the Nunan package as overall Manager of the club is a modest $65,000 pa …

<||> DAMIAN DRUM to stay as assistant in Sydney …

<||> North confirm they have interviewed KEN SHELDON as a replacement of assistant coach Rodney Eade …

<||> Sydney sign STUART MAXFIELD on a deal reported as $150,000 for three years. The quality midfielder played 89 games with Richmond (1990-95) …

<||> many players have between-seasons surgery …

<||> the League fines Carlton and Geelong $25,000 each for the GF half-time melee – $5000 was added against the Cats non-playing co-captain BARRY STONEHAM who was a participant in the dust-up …

<||> the 1996 salary cap is raised by $255,000 to $2.55 million …

<||> the age limit will be increased from 17 to 18 years for the 1996 National Draft …

<||> the League confirmed each club will receive $1,401,600 in distribution of funds …

<||> Adelaide posted a first when it appointed a woman PAT MICKAN, as a senior specialist coach – to help improve the Crows’ speed and agility; she had been a five-year coach of an Adelaide netball team …

<||> PAUL SALMON at 30 departs Windy Hill after 209 games and 509 goals with Essendon (1983-95) to seek new fields …

<||> Carlton fined $3000 for five late starts; Adelaide $5500 for similar digressions plus a $10,000 penalty for the R21 melee against Melbourne … in all, the League collected $317,250 for 1995 rule breaches — the takings are divided equally amongst the clubs …

<||> from a brainwave of Carlton football manager SHANE O’SULLIVAN, the League approved an all-day gab-fest as player trading started on October 20 with the focus of all 16-clubs in superboxes at Princes Park – many new-and-unexpected career paths would be forged from this ‘first’ …

<||> a Friday night October 20 meeting at Williamstown Town Hall drew over 800 supporters who rejected the proposed merger between the Seagulls and Werribee …

<||> hopes for a 1996 entry by PORT ADELAIDE fade as execs visit Melbourne for an update …

<||> ROBERT WALLS was appointed coach of Richmond on a three-year contract — it’s the second direct career-swap as he replaces John Northey who has gone to Brisbane; in 1987, Walls and David Parkin changed-over positions between Carlton and Fitzroy …

<||> DON WILLIAMS the dashing half-back who became a centreman in Melbourne’s premierships of 1955-56-57-59 and 64, passed away at the age of 60 …

<||> Retirements continue — DOUG HAWKINS (Fsc & Fit) at 35 after 350 League games (1978-95); JAMES MANSON (Col & Fit) 167 between 1985-95; STEVEN STRETCH (Mel & Fit) 189 matches (1986-95) …

<||> DARREN JARMAN (Haw) signs a four-year deal with Adelaide after 109 games with the Hawks (1991-95) – chief obstacle is, how his transfer back to SA can be engineered? …

<||> KEVIN MORRIS overlooked for the top spot agrees to stay as assistant coach to ROBERT WALLS at Punt Road …

<||> JIM KRAKOUER former NM & StK player of 147 games (1982-91) who strutted his magic with brother Phil in North’s heady days was convicted by a Perth court to 16 years jail for dealing in drugs …

<||> without any merger, the AFL informs PORT ADELAIDE it will wait until at least 1997 …

<||> ST KILDA set to merge its football and social club operations … former Magpie RON McKEOWN (123 games 1984-93) in the wilderness for two seasons returns to Vic Park training under Tony Shaw …

<||> TERRY WALLACE takes up full-time as assistant coach at Western Oval …

<||> WILLIAMSTOWN will play its 112th season – it was chosen over WERRIBEE as one of the continuing eight Association clubs to participate with Traralgon and North Ballarat in the 1996 VFL. The VSFL Board of Directors with a show of hands on October 28th decided the Seagulls would survive at the expense of the ‘Bees’ who were VFA premiers in 1993. Days later, Werribee made a submission pleading to the VSFL for their retention …

 

NOVEMBER 1995

First market for the 1996 premiership posted by National Sportsbook – Carlton 4/1 favourites, Cats, Bombers, West and North at 6/1, Tigers at 10/1 followed by Sydney 25/1, Hawks at 66/1 ahead of Fitzroy at 500/1 …

<||> NORM DARE, 1990 coach of Brisbane (four years as assistant) and former Queensland mentor, was named assistant to Denis Pagan at North as TONY ELSHAUG moves from development manager to Reserves coach at Arden Street …

<||> 3AK may re-enter the footy broadcasting stakes …

<||> former Sydney and Blues player DAVID RHYS-JONES fresh from a TFL flag with North Launceston is appointed coach of VFL club Frankston …

<||> PETER ROHDE after 163 games (1985-95) with Carlton then Melbourne  is appointed coach of NORWOOD …

<||> CHRIS NAISH again signed with the Tigers after the AFL ruled Sydney could not take a second uncontracted player from Richmond – Naish was willing to sign and join Stuart Maxfield with the Coathangers …

<||> the base rate for AFL newcomers doubles from $7500 and $750 per senior game to a $15,000 minimum as the League arrives at a collective bargaining agreement with AFLPA…

<||> 2500 fans turned out as Werribee fought its expulsion, pleading next for direct intervention by the AFL …

<||> after hearings in the County Court, a $30,000 lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum between Richmond and former ruckman STEVEN O’DWYER (5 Tiger games 1992) …

<||> on considering the captain-coach job at Mortlake, KEN HINKLEY gives it one more season at Geelong …

<||> the career of ROSS LYON former Fitzroy ruck-rover who played but two matches with Brisbane (then suffered a debilitating knee injury) seems over as he returns to Melbourne …

<||> PAUL SALMON settles on Hawthorn after talks with both Richmond and Geelong — the three-way deal involving the 30-year old former Bomber still has to be locked-away with the Darren Jarman move to Adelaide the key …

<||> ALLAN McALISTER after 13 high-profile years, the past ten as Collingwood president stands aside and (to the surprise of many) will not contest club elections in December saying “I’m sad, but I think it’s time”…

<||> BARRY STONEHAM signs for another two years with the Cats on a performance-based deal – the 27-year old co-captain hasn’t played since August 1994 after breaking his leg then associated problems …

<||> QBE Insurance adds another two seasons as major sponsor extending to ten years their backing of SYDNEY FC …

<||> MICHAEL TUCK stepped down as Reserves coach at Kardinia Park … Brisbane’s skills coach, WAYNE BRITTAIN is a surprise choice as understudy to David Parkin at Carlton …

<||> BRIAN ROYAL is named Reserves coach and returns to Western Oval after two seasons with Leongatha …

<||> Melbourne trades ANDY LOVELL to West Coast in exchange for CRAIG TURLEY …

<||> North Melbourne push for a night game on Good Friday, drawing condemnation from several church groups …

<||> AFL reveal plans to stage the 1996 BROWNLOW MEDAL count as a public function in the 1,600 capacity Melbourne World Congress Centre at $350 a throw …
__________

Gran-daddy of horse-trading
In the gran-daddy of horse-trading, the complex PAUL SALMON transfer was finalised involving four clubs and eight players —
Salmon (Bombers to Hawks), PAUL BARNARD (Haw to Ess), ANTHONY INGERSON (Ade to Ess), SEAN WELLMAN (Ade to Ess), PAUL ROUVRAY (Ade to Syd), DARREN KAPPLER (Syd to Haw), DARREN JARMAN (Haw to Ade), LEON HIGGINS (Syd to Haw) and PETER CAVEN (Syd to Ade).
__________

ROD McLEOD, a well-remembered voice in footy broadcasting with both 3KZ and 5AD passed away within days before his 66th birthday …

<||> DERMOTT BRERETON announced his retirement after 211 games (Haw 189, Syd 7, Col 15) and 464 goals – “The Kid” played in 26 finals, eight Grand Finals and was a member of Hawthorn flag sides of 1983-86-88-89 and 1991 …

<||> following protracted talks the FEBEY twins, Matthew and Steven signed for another three years with the Demons …

<||> Footscray traded talented KYM KOSTER (38 games, 1994-95) in exchange for Adelaide’s first (9th) draft pick …

<||> the 15-match Ansett Cup draw was announced starting February 23, with games in Melbourne, Darwin, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide ending with the Grand Final at Waverley on Saturday March 23 …

<||> Former Melbourne 201-goal full-forward ALLEN JAKOVICH at 27 was one of the 500 nominations received for the December draft – most were hopeful VSFL players …

<||> pre-draft trading continues as ADRIAN McADAM (NM) crosses to Collingwood while CRAIG DEVONPORT (StK) is switched to Carlton and teammate DAVID GRANT becomes a Demon; JAMES COOK (Car) is swapped for BEN SEXTON (Fsc) …

<||> in a three-way deal, TROY BOND (Car) moves to Adelaide, MARTIN McKINNON (Ade) to Geelong and ADRIAN HICKMOTT (Gee) to the Blues … CRAIG O’BRIEN (StK) is traded to Sydney in exchange for JAYSON DANIELS back to the Saints …

<||> At Geelong, PAUL COUCH re-signs for a further two seasons – KEN HINKLEY finally quits the Cats and moves to captain-coach Mortlake in the Hampden … RICKY OLARENSHAW walks-out from Essendon …
__________

Innovative rules for lightning premiership
The three-day $170,000 Lightning Premiership series at Waverley on February 9-10-11 will trial several radical new rules – three-points for a poster or when a defender deliberately rushes the ball through; an interchange bench of six; four goal and four boundary umpires; field umpires in general play will throw the ball up, not bounce it; a defender needs not to wait until a goal umpire has waved his flag for a minor score before putting the ball back into play; two 17 minute halves plus time-on; in a draw, play will continue to the next score, and a half-time break of only five minutes.
__________

<||> Prize money for the next Ansett Australia Cup series is up from $377,000 to $455,000 …

<||> Essendon set to announce a Million Dollar profit at its AGM on December 14 …
__________

Draw released for 1996
The 1996 draw is released on November 29 – 176 matches over 22 rounds with a Friday night March 29th opening between the Demons and Geelong. 22 games have been scheduled for Friday nights, 18 on Saturday nights (72 on Saturday overall) and 59 on Sunday. The MCG has been programmed for 51 games. Geelong will play Collingwood at the MCG on Monday night May 27.
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<||> The AFL nominated eight of the 18 matches to be exclusively telecast on the OPTUS VISION Sports Australia network, with the Hawks figuring in five – the additional 10 Sunday games will be announced later …

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DECEMBER 1996

A lobby group headed by coaching legend ALLAN JEANS pushes for the formation of a ‘Victorian Football Council’ …

<||> 17-year old DAVID WALLS (son of Robert) chooses Carlton under the father-son rule …

<||> active trading continued to the cut-off at 2pm on December 1st – JUSTIN MURPHY (Rch) moved to Carlton in exchange for BEN HARRISON … the Magpies gathered ROBERT PYMAN (NM) for a draft pick … ALISTER CLARKSON (Mel) to North for a draft pick … ALEX McDONALD (Haw) and SCOTT CROW (Haw) to Collingwood for draft choices … Fitzroy traded BEN HOLLAND to the Tigers for two draft picks, as brother NICK HOLLAND continues his contract extension talks with Hawthorn … JAMIE ELLIOTT (Rch) is traded to the Saints, as WAYNE THORNBORROW (StK) moves to Punt Road … MICK DWYER (StK) heads to Fitzroy … RICKY OLARENSHAW returns to training at Essendon as the Bombers convince MARK THOMPSON (194 games) to stay another season, but he will step down from the captaincy …
__________

Financial results
Magpies generate $12.2 million
Blues & council ink Princes Park until 2035

Financial figures surface as MELBOURNE post a $321,650 profit – the Demons best in a decade. ESSENDON became the first Victorian-based club to record a seven-figure profit of $1,044,946 from a revenue base of $7,743,973 — COLLINGWOOD which generated $12.2m had to be content with a plus of just $116,405 — RICHMOND from $8,479,377 turned in the largest-ever Tiger profit of $486,003, up 1500% on last year as membership soared by 80% to 14,670 — meanwhile, HAWTHORN blamed poor crowds and abnormal payouts to long-term injured players for their profit slump ($233,524 in 1994) to a modest $14,927 – the Hawks however maintain solid assets put at $2.3m. CARLTON posted an after-tax profit of $581,677 and with Melbourne City Council, extended the lease of Optus (Princes Park) Oval until 2035. GEELONG produced a $622,366 profit from its football operations on a turnover of $8.3m. Geelong also honoured KEN McINTYRE for outstanding service to the Game – the man invented all finals systems since 1931 and is credited to naming ‘The Cats’ … FOOTSCRAY reported a $61,379 profit (but lost $40,000 on the Monarchs baseball team) as the Bulldogs aimed for ‘a spiritual residence at Whitten Oval’ but a financial abode at the MCG … ST KILDA revealed a football club deficit of $115,228 as opposed its social club surplus of $144,473, for a profit of $29,245 which included the SOS campaign contribution of $400,000 – the Saints social club suffered a 50% revenue decline.
__________

<||> The AFL Commission rules there will be no increase to the inter-change bench beyond the present three players …

<||> DAVID GLASCOTT is appointed development-manger assistant at St Kilda …

<||> umpires seek pay rises above their present base of, field $1500 per game, boundary $900, goal $750 …

<||> Test star and present 3AW personality DAVID HOOKES will be Fitzroy’s runner, renewing an Adelaide friendship with Lions coach MIKE NUNAN …

<||> former Cat TERRY BRIGHT returns as Reserves coach at Geelong … Demon forward SEAN CHARLES has surgery for the third time in 10 months to an injured wrist …

<||> Southern Cross Radio, owners of 3AW and 3AK add Magic 693 and 3MP to their stockpile — they will divest themselves of 3AK and 3MP …

<||> Four Quarters said to be under threat but Talking Footy on HSV7 will stay in the new season line-up …

<||> NICK HOLLAND re-signs with Hawthorn following extended negotiations …

<||> ESSENDON will consider moving from the MCG if a redevelopment plan (still in its infancy), offering a 50-60,000 seat stadium at the Melbourne Showgrounds goes ahead …
__________

Carlton aim for 50,000 at Princes Park
CARLTON unveiled the first stage of plans to increase Princes Park into a 50,000 seat venue; first stage under way for a two-tier eastern end stand and due for completion by next April will bring capacity to seat 35,000 and include an electronic scoreboard – long term plans include replacement of the Gardiner and Robert Heatley stands – a large slice of funding will come from Optus Vision which has extended its sponsorship until 2003 …
__________

The draft held on December 8th resurrected several careers with a flow of promising VSFL youngsters – another nine draftees climbing from the Northern Knights to senior lists. Highlights — ALLEN JAKOVICH to Footscray, who also re-listed TONY CAMPBELL after his two years on the sidelines – former Fitzroy forward DARREN WHEILDON to Essendon, GLENN KILPATRICK from the Bombers became a Geelong player, BRAD ROWE after stints with the Bears and the Woods returns home to Fremantle, SCOTT HODGES is back to the Crows, and the Demons honoured a commitment to a dying mother in selecting DONALD COCKATOO-COLLINS, to join his twin brother DAVID …
__________

Football-mad Melbourne
Proving Melbourne is a football-mad town, end of-year overall TV ratings show eight HSV-7 programs of the year were footy — the Top Ten in the Sport category ratings drew –

1–AFL Grand Final (1,350,800)
2–Melbourne Cup (1,167,700)
3–AFL Preliminary Final (1,166,700)
4–Brownlow Medal (1,007,400)
5–Adelaide v Melbourne (911,100)
6–Footy Show GF edition (832,600)
7–State game, Vic v SA (778,200)
8–Brisbane v Melbourne (736,000)
9–Ansett Cup Grand Final (674,400)
10–WA v Allies (655,900).
__________

<||> GARY O’DONNELL is named new captain at Essendon with MICHAEL LONG and JAMES HIRD as joint deputies …
__________

Optus cable-TV plans 200 games in 1996
Optus cable-tv announced the first phase of its Sports Australia channel providing exclusive coverage of AFL games until 2001 with more than 200 games scheduled during the Centenary. The package also includes info programs, AFL Winners, analysis of each game and classic games of the past …
__________

<||> GEELONG’s board ratified a $2.1m development to extend the present social club stand at Kardinia Park …

<||> KEVIN ROSE became the new Collingwood president, easily defeating his challengers. The Magpie members also returned Treasurer PETER WHITE …
__________

DARREN BENNETT former West Coast and Melbourne forward (1987-93) who enjoyed a sensational debut season as a punter for the San Diego Chargers, is honoured with selection for the NFL Pro game in January – he was later selected in the 1995 Associated Press All-Pro team …
__________

Legendary comedian GEORGE BURNS expected to launch the League’s centenary year in person at a three-hour MCG extravaganza on Thursday Feb 8. The AFL has budgeted $3.3m for its centenary events.
__________

<||> McDONALD’S joined the AFL as a major sponsor for five years concentrating chiefly on junior footy …

<||> the Bulldogs signed ALLEN JAKOVICH and JAMES COOK to two-year deals …

<||> though still a listed Brisbane player, ROSS LYON becomes skills coach at Punt Road …

<||> JASON DUNSTALL retains the captaincy of Hawthorn with JOHN PLATTEN as deputy …

<||> future drug tests will include marijuana …
__________

Magpies sign 21-year lease
Collingwood inked their new 21-year lease on Victoria Park …
__________

<||> Carlton and Geelong will meet in a practice match at NHO on Feb 18 …

<||> Tigers at their AGM extend an olive branch to former Richmond legend JOHN NORTHEY; Tigers prez LEON DAPHNE admitted he had threatened to withdraw Nissan’s sponsorship of Sydney in a bid to keep STUART MAXFIELD – Daphne is md of the car group …

<||> the promising DAVID BOURKE (Rch) contracts glandular fever …

<||> The year ended after the coolest December in Melbourne since records started in 1855 …

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JANUARY 1996

Training begins in the earliest days with the Magpies first under way … Sydney showed their firm intentions to be improvers as KEVIN DYSON (Mel) became their second and final uncontracted player concession – Dyson with 70 games experience with the Demons (1991-95) as a recognised centreman signed on for three years and further strengthens the Coathangers midfield … CRAIG BRADLEY at 32 signed a further three-year deal at Carlton …
__________

The trial commenced in the Victorian Supreme Court on January 29 in which JOHN ELLIOTT, president of Carlton FC and five other men faced charges involving foreign exchange transactions, which the prosecution say cost Elders IXL $66.5 million in 1988. All men pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to last several months. The Age estimated Mr Elliott’s legal costs could reach $20 million.
__________

AFL umpires were instructed to police football’s ruck laws with vigilance, to eliminate much of the physical contact from duels at boundary throw-ins and field bounces. A memo from National Director of Umpiring BILL DELLER to all clubs explained – “pushing or bumping an opponent prior to contacting the ball will be deemed as interference; an arm extended across–in front of an opponent will be deemed as shepherding; crowding an umpire who is bouncing the ball, causing him to baulk, will be deemed as interfering the bounce” …
__________

<||> TODD VINEY a proficient Melbourne on-baller, (he won the Demons b&f in 1993) at 29 ended his nine-season 160 AFL game career accepting a $200,000-plus offer to travel with rising tennis star MARK PHILIPPOUSIS as fitness coordinator and right-hand man …

<||> WAYNE CAREY, high-profile Kanga captain pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a woman outside a King Street bar, about 9am the morning after North lost their Prelim Final to Carlton last September – Magistrate Jack Tobin released Carey without conviction, placing him on a 12-month good-behaviour bond; Carey was not fined …

<||> COLLINGWOOD broke a century-old tradition, revealing a new strip for Ansett Cup matches – an aggressive in-flight Magpie is emblazoned on a collage of thick and thin black and white stripes …

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FEBRUARY 1996

DARREN GASPAR quits Sydney – the 1993 No.1 draft pick from South Fremantle played just 21 senior games (1994-95) and is set to join his brother at Melbourne …

<||> clubs indicate they will rest many top players from the Lightning Premiership series …

<||> CHRIS LANGFORD will continue into a 14th season with the Hawks as the key defender wrestles with meeting career commitments working in Sydney while still playing in Melbourne …
__________

Rules to be trialled
With the objective to keep the flow of play, a series of amendments were made to AFL rules, chiefly to be trialled in Ansett Cup games then take effect in the premiership season – (a) under the blood rule, players may be immediately replaced rather than meet at the boundary line – (b) abusive language (previously a report) will now be penalised by a free kick; when the ball is in possession of the offender’s opposition a 50-metre penalty shall apply – (c) a player pushed in the back while kicking, will receive not only a free kick but a 50m penalty – (d) a 10m protective area for a player with a set kick – (e) any player leaving the field on a stetcher will remain off the ground a minimum of 15 minutes playing time – the latter to curtail use of the stretcher as a tactical ploy … other changes included – permission of umpires to use visors in any match, while players will be allowed to wear caps and hats in daytime Ansett Cup matches …
__________

<||> Practice matches in earnest got under way as players went thru their paces, ALLEN JAKOVICH came through his first proper match in 18 months when FOOTSCRAY played an intra-club at Waverley …

<||> at Fremantle Oval to about 8000 fans, FREMANTLE 17.8-110 downed PORT ADELAIDE 9.11-65 … many other clubs engaged in various activities from indoor hockey, to soccer, to triathlon’s …
__________

AFL surplus is $36.4 million
The AFL handed out $180,000 in fines to 11 clubs for salary cap breaches – hardest hit at $30,000 were Fitzroy, St Kilda and North – Richmond $20,000, and $10,000 each to Bri-Col-Ess-Fsc-Fre-Haw-WCE … on the imposed fines, Fitzroy prez DYSON HORE-LACY, QC, said they were considering legal action, after taking advice … the AFL released figures showing a 1995 operating surplus of $36,405,000, (compared with $32,616,000 in 1994) before distribution and payments to clubs of $27,345,000 – it costs about $9m a year to run the AFL …
__________

<||> DARREN BENNETT (ex-WCE & Mel) capped off an incredible year in the US NFL, booting a record 58.5m punt in the Honolulu Pro Ball equalling a 22-year-old record …

<||> DARREN GASPAR (ex-Syd) is asking $275,000 in the March draft for the next two seasons – the Tigers and the Demons are both interested …

<||> SHANE ELLEN (Fsc) is the other uncontracted player to nominate … KARL LANGDON (WCE) announced his retirement after 100 games, 108 goals (1987-95) but only seven games in the past three seasons …

<||> former Hawk prez GEOFF LORD is nominated for the AFL Commission by North and the Magpies …

<||> ESSENDON gm ROGER HAMPSON to end his term on February 28 after seven years with the Dons …

<||> a new member of the AFL Tribunal is tipped will be a woman. Speaking on Radio 3AW, Chief Commissioner ROSS OAKLEY confirmed the League was set to widen the responsibilities of the Tribunal to encompass such issues as melees, player behavioural breaches and the racial vilification rule – “in those cases a woman’s touch might just be very useful” Oakley said …

<||> ADELAIDE reappointed TONY McGUINNESS as Captain with MARK BICKLEY as v-c and NIGEL SMART plus SHAUN REHN as deputy vice-captains …

<||> EDDIE JACKSON one of the first Aboriginal footballers to make his mark at League level, playing 84 games for Melbourne (1947-52) mainly as a wingman passed away aged 71 …

<||> FRED ‘Fritz’ HEFNER who played 102 games as a ruckman in the great days of Richmond between 1925-35 and in several grand finals passed away in Perth aged 87 …

<||> ANDREW McKAY a vital member of the Blues 1995 premiership, announced he was standing down from football and moving to Brisbane to concentrate on a full-time University of Queensland veterinary course …

<||> GARY ABLETT (Gee) has surgery to his left-shoulder injury which has not responded to between seasons treatment – he will miss most major pre-season commitments …
__________

Soccer beckons Blues, Dons & Pies
Carlton, Essendon and Collingwood who have considered fielding sides in the National Soccer League were reminded by AFL football operations manager IAN COLLINS, they would contravene their licences if they became involved with other codes …

<||> following complaints lodged by member clubs, the AFL indicates it will review fines imposed days earlier for salary cap breaches …
__________

The Sunday Age 11-02 reported an expected deal with Optus Vision cable could ultimately result in a single 24-hour channel devoted to AFL football.

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The Centenary begins
12 Legends of the game
Hall of Fame 100 named


The League Centenary was launched at a chilly MCG on Thursday night February 8th. The celebration embraced all of the Australian Game as 136 inductees were named to the Hall of Fame. The selection was made by a special committee of 13 appointed by the AFL Commission and chaired by John Kennedy. The group consists of 100 players, 10 coaches, 10 administrators and six media representatives. The names will be honoured appropriately in the focal point of the Australian Football Museum to be built in Yarra Park.

Twelve of the 100 players have been elevated to the status as Legends of the Game –
RON BARASSI
HAYDN BUNTON
ROY CAZALY
JOHN COLEMAN
JACK DYER
GRAHAM ‘POLLY’ FARMER
LEIGH MATTHEWS
JOHN NICHOLLS
BOB PRATT
DICK REYNOLDS
BOB SKILTON
TED WHITTEN

The administrators named were — THOMAS WENTWORTH WILLS: considered the creator of Australian Football & founder of Geelong FC –
HENRY HARRISON: a cousin of Wills who framed the first rules –
BRUCE ANDREW: with the ANFC from 1949 to 1976 –
THOMAS HILL: SANFL secretary from 1935-73 –
LIKELY ‘LIKE’ McBRIEN: VFL secretary from 1929-56 –
DR W.C. McCLELLAND: VFL president for 29 years from 1926, following 14 years as president of the Melbourne FC –
JACK HAMILTON: 30 years as a leading VFL administrator and Chief Commissioner 1984-86 –
SIR KENNETH LUKE: VFL president 1956-71, who secured land for the development of Waverley Park – ERIC McCUTCHAN: spent 45 years on the League staff and was administrative director for 11 years – PAT RODRIGUEZ: leading WAFL administrator for 33 years, WAFL president 1951-64.

The 10 Coaches inducted —
HAYDN BUNTON
TOM HAFEY
FRANK ‘CHECKER’ HUGHES
ALLAN JEANS
JOHN KENNEDY Snr
JOHNNY LEONARD
JAMES ‘JOCK’ McHALE
JACK OATEY
NORM SMITH
FOS WILLIAMS

The Media honoured were —
R.W.W. ‘OLD BOY’ WILMOTT: a leading writer for many years in the early VFL days – NORMAN BANKS: who pioneered broadcasts of the Game for almost 50 years from 1931 with 3KZ and 3AW – HUGH BUGGY: a leading writer on the VFL for many years – HEC DeLACY: a respected ‘Sporting Globe’ writer – ALF BROWN: ‘The Herald’ chief writer for many years who was regarded as the doyen of his profession – RON CASEY: leading radio commentator with 3DB who led Channel Seven to its football coverage including the long-running ‘World of Sport’.

It is expected that five new members a year will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in each of the next five years.

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FEBRUARY 1996 (cont.)

The AFL’s Lightning Premiership had true football weather – 55mm of rain fell in the two days prior as Melbourne shivered in the coldest start to February for more than 20 years … on a Waverley Park playing area reduced in length by 15 metres, several new rules were trialled and just 24,276 attended over Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Feb 9-10-11. Essendon were the overall winners of the event, taking first prize money of $40,000. For the record, the results –

Round One:
NM 3.5-23 d Mel 3.4-22
Col 6.4-40 d Fit 2.5-17
StK 7.8-50 d Haw 3.2-20
Bri 6.4-40 d Car 3.8-26
Rch 6.1-37 d WCE 4.8-32
Fre 8.7-55 d Ade 6.6-42
Ess 10.7-67 d Gee 6.7-43
Syd 6.6-42 d Fsc 6.4-40

Quarter-Finals:
Col 6.7-43 d NM 5.6-36
Bri 6.7-43 d StK 3.3-21
Fre 8.13-61 d Rch 5.1-31
Ess 7.13-55 d Syd 3.10-28

Semi-Finals
Bri 7.13-55 d Col 4.2-26
Ess 6.11-47 d Fre 5.8-38

Final
Ess 6.2-32 d Bri 2.9-21

<||> CARLTON had only 21 players to pick from as injuries bit at Princes Park – new fresh faces got their chance – ROBERT HARVEY (StK) kicked the first three-pointer, hitting a goal-post and raising a red goal-flag signal – MARCUS SEECAMP (Mel) won the 100m Sprint – PETER CAVEN (Ade) kicked 7.3 from 10 shots – SHAYNE STEVENSON (Haw) booted 73.6m in the Long-Kicking – BARRY STONEHAM (Gee) came through his first game for 18 months, DANNY CORCORAN (Bri) suffered a broken nose and JEFF WHITE (Fre) a fractured cheekbone versus Richmond — days later Tiger newcomer BEN HOLLAND was charged with striking White … the real season with real rules, was still 48 days away …

<||> COLLINGWOOD reconvened its AGM explaining to members financial liquor transactions with former president ALLAN McALISTER across four years and the prospect the club may face an $800,000 loss over the purchase and sale of Vic Park Primary school – the Magpies are reportedly close to signing a deal with Heidelberg Soccer Club (more recently the Melbourne Warriors) to field a team in the NSL as the Collingwood Warriors – eventually intended to be based at Vic Park …
__________

<||> ESSENDON, CARLTON and COLLINGWOOD made official bids to field teams in the National Soccer League next season when it met with Soccer Australia officials in Melbourne on Thursday Feb 16. Soccer Chairman DAVID HILL was told, clubs would require permission of the AFL Commission.
__________

<||> IMG (the sport management giant) acquired Club 10 from Ricky Nixon who last year originated the concept to licence and merchandise many leading AFL stars …

<||> senior umpires pressing for fee increases (or possible strike action) – present base game rates are, field $1500, boundary $900, goal $750 … NORTH to table a $41,180 operating profit at their AGM on Feb 28 …

<||> new Sydney resident ANTHONY ROCCA is joined by his mother “for a few months” – she’ll cook, as he shares with recent Swans’ draftees PAUL LICURIA and CLINTON KING …

<||> as MELBOURNE cool on the hefty $275,000 DARREN GASPAR price-tag, RICHMOND counsel senior players in advance of next week’s draft – the Tigers are second pick …

<||> In weekend pre-season games, gifted Demon forward DAVID SCHWARZ broke down in his comeback at Lavington suffering left knee damage for a third time. Schwarz 23, first damaged the knee pre-season last February and following surgery to the anterior cruciate ligament he returned 16 weeks later on May 28 against Collingwood but broke down six days after in the next game versus Sydney — a third operation is set for April. To about 10,000 fans MELBOURNE 15.11-101 d COLLINGWOOD 11.9-75, in which another Redleg forward SHAUN SMITH broke an arm … two other players returning from knee surgery were more fortunate as MATTHEW RICHARDSON and TONY FREE were back for RICHMOND 19.13-127 who easily beat FITZROY 7.12-54 at Skinner Reserve … North Hobart Oval packed in 18,479 as GEELONG 21.10-136 easily downed grand final rivals CARLTON 12.5-77 … at Football Park, ALLEN JAKOVICH continued his return with seven goals yet FOOTSCRAY 13.8-86 went down to ADELAIDE 16.18-114 to 15,201 … at Griffith, SYDNEY 16.13-109 (Rocca 4) had a strong win over BRISBANE 7.12-54 … at Fremantle Oval to 6500, the DOCKERS 13.16-94 easily accounted for ESSENDON 6.4-40 …
__________

The AFL AGM was held Monday Feb 19 at which the 16 member clubs re-elected Chairman JOHN KENNEDY and Commissioners COLIN CARTER and WAYNE JACKSON – former Hawthorn prez Geoff Lord in a secret vote not disclosed made an unsuccessful bid to be added to the Commission. Carlton ruckman JUSTIN MADDEN, Richmond coach ROBERT WALLS, Commissioner GRAEME SAMUEL and SANFL president MAX BASHEER were elected as Life Members – Sydney’s RICK QUADE was presented with the Jack Titus award; Collingwood administrator ROB PETRIE an outstanding service award and Carlton, the Dr W. McClelland Trophy for being 1995 minor premiers …
__________

<||> Focus of the pre-season draft on Tuesday Feb 20 fell on RICHMOND who picked DARREN GASPER (he’ll become the best-paid 19-year old in AFL ranks) – the Demons were livid, suggesting manipulation by the Tigers had occurred – the highly-rated mid-teens Victorian prospect DAVID WIRRPUNDA now 16 was chosen by WEST COAST …

<||> TRIBUNAL – enduring a four-hour sitting at which 18 witness were called, BEN HOLLAND (Rch) was found guilty of striking and suspended three weeks. Holland, yet to play a senior game was charged by the League on the recommendation of investigations officer Martin Amad with striking Jeff White (Fre) with a left arm to the face in the Lightning series at Waverley – White suffered a broken cheekbone …

<||> former management consultant PETER JACKSON was named new CEO at ESSENDON …

<||> BRISBANE declared an operating loss of $108,964, chiefly explained by the depletion of income during the reconstruction of the BCG throughout 1995 …
__________

Changes to video system
Video system is revamped – umpires are handed the sole responsibility for reporting players in 1996 from the start. They will have access to replays immediately after the game or may refer an incident for further investigation – it’s the fourth revamp to the system introduced following the Neville Bruns (Gee) and Leigh Matthews (Haw) incident in 1986.
__________

Australian rugby league wins costly battle – but ...
Justice James Burchett in the Federal Court on Friday February 23 found the 5-year loyalty agreements to the ARL signed by the 20 clubs in November 1994 and February 1995 were valid until December 31, 1999, and dismissed News Limited’s claim that they were anti-competitive and breached the Trade Practices Act.
The 220-page judgement found News Limited and SuperLeague companies (who had spent upwards of $150-million to establish a rival competition) had acted dishonestly and used News’ financial power to corrupt Australian Rugby League officials.

Justice Burchett singled out SuperLeague officials John Ribot, Peter Moore and Barry Maranta for criticism.

After their comprehensive victory, the following day the ARL indicated their game had suffered irreparable damage and would be seeking damages of $100-million.

The 51-days of hearing in Sydney involved 8,000 pages of transcript and was estimated to have cost $10 million.

Justice Burchett on Monday heard submission of orders sought by the ARL and on Tuesday the Court granted orders precluding the commencement of a rival comp.

The Federal Court will sit next on Wednesday March 6 when the long-awaited clarification of orders will be delivered.

The eight ‘Rebel’ clubs failed to meet with ARL officials causing cancellation of a six-week challenge
series and delayed the start of the season until at least March 15th.
__________

<||> 3LO added TIM WATSON and PETER KNIGHTS to their weekend ABC Grandstand footy team …

<||> heads of agreement are signed between the Magpies and Heidelberg as the COLLINGWOOD WARRIORS became a reality and headed for the 1996-97 soccer season …

<||> ANSETT AUSTRALIA CUP matches started on Friday night (23rd) when ADELAIDE 18.16-124 won by 59pts over MELBOURNE 10.5-65 who were scoreless in the third – the 26,182 at Footy Park witnessed a successful return from injury by the Crows ruck SHAUN REHN … the following night at Waverley, 16,061 saw ST KILDA 19.13-127 blow the Hawks away in the last half for a 54pt win, ST KILDA 19.13-127 (Loewe 8), HAWTHORN 9.19-73 – ex-Don PAUL SALMON rucked early for the Hawks and spent the last half up-forward … 10,000 in warm Darwin night-time conditions at Marrara saw WEST COAST 10.11-71 score over FREMANTLE 7.15-57 – PHILLIP MATERA (brother of Peter) with three goals made a good debut for the Eagles … in practice, a pumped-up NORTH 20.14-134 (Longmire 5) easily accounted for an injury-ravaged CARLTON 6.10-46 to 9,500 at Lavington … in a trial on the Gold Coast, ALASTAIR LYNCH (Bri) played one quarter in his fight-back from chronic fatigue syndrome … the Monday Cup game at Waverley brought a hard fought win to FOOTSCRAY 16.15-111 (Osborne 5) over an improving FITZROY 12.15-87 … on Wednesday night at Waverley to 13,307, COLLINGWOOD 14.10-94 easily beat RICHMOND 8.14-62 …

<||> TRIBUNAL – BILLY BROWNLESS (Gee) was suspended four games for kicking Tony Bourke (Car) in a Reserves practice match played at Glenferrie on Feb 17 – BRAD SHOLL (Gee) was suspended two matches for striking Michael Sexton (Car) in the Hobart trial on Feb 18 …

<||> GAVIN BROWN will lead the Maggies again with GAVIN CROSISCA as his v-c, and three deputies, NATHAN BUCKLEY, GRAHAM WRIGHT and DAMIEN MONKHORST – Sunday basketball hands ankle injuries to three Woods, PAUL WILLIAMS (requiring surgery), GRAHAM WRIGHT and ANDREW SCHAUBLE – all are likely to miss opening games …

<||> A discussion paper to AFL clubs proposes a 17-team competition to include PORT ADELAIDE in 1997 – at the expense of State of Origin contests …

<||> further injuries add to the woes of Melbourne as GARRY LYON nurses a chronic back complaint and DARREN GASPAR bruises a shoulder at training …

<||> Carlton gains approval to twice unfurl its 1995 pennant – at the MCG in R1 and again in R4 when the Blues will first play at Optus Oval …

<||> talks with the State Government raise the possibility of a $50m Olympic Park development to AFL requirements after construction of Domain Tunnel under Yarra River …

<||> the AFL asks FITZROY to prove its solvency following concern whether the club has an ability to pay their way in the competition …

<||> Geelong submitted an amateur video, however Tribunal chairman NEIL BUSSE after viewing ruled the suspension on BILLY BROWNLESS will stand …

<>

MARCH 1996

<||> The coalition returned to Federal Government for the first time since 1983 with a landslide majority over the Labor Party ...

<||> in the ANSETT CUP, the Kangas and Swans had a high-scoring outing for 9405 at Canberra’s Bruce Stadium on Saturday afternoon (March 2) with NORTH proving stronger at the finish 22.18-150 (Longmire 5) to 20.8-128 (Lockett 8.2) … that night at Waverley to 23,837 the Blues after two dismal practice matches burst through for a solid win over the Bombers, CARLTON 14.12-96 (Pearce 7), ESSENDON 7.12-54 … the Saints continued their good pre-season form with a thorough 43pt win over the Crows before 21,726 at Footy Park on Sunday night, ST KILDA 18.11-119 (Loewe 7), ADELAIDE 11.10-76 … on Monday under lights at the Gabba to a terrific 18,325 the Bears were too good for the Cats, BRISBANE 14.25-109, GEELONG 9.9-63 … on Wednesday night at Waverley, a dismal 3109 watched WEST COAST 11.6-72 clip FOOTSCRAY 8.10-58 – ALLEN JAKOVICH (Fsc) and GUY McKENNA (WCE) clashed behind the play leaving the Eagle dazed – PETER SUMICH struggled in his return for the West but they ‘found’ ANDREW DONNELLY (three goals, 11 marks) who failed in Sydney with injury in 1993-94 …

TRIBUNAL – MATTHEW DENT (Fit) was suspended two matches for headbutting Richard Osborne (Fsc); JASON McCARTNEY (Ade) was suspended for three matches for striking Nicky Winmar (StK) – ALLEN JAKOVICH (Fsc) was cited on video for striking Guy McKenna (WCE), the hearing delayed until next week …

<||> TODD VINEY returned to Australia after only six weeks on the tennis circuit and is available for the first four MELBOURNE matches before he goes back …

<||> slow progress on Optus Oval works moves AFL to seek alternative venues for early Carlton games – first is due April 20 …

<||> Essendon abandoned plans to establish a presence in the National Soccer League (NSL) …

<||> AFL asks FITZROY to provide more detailed financial information – Port Power wait in the wings though likely player concessions will stir the pot …

<||> The Federal Court sits a further three days but no end to legal argument between the ARL and News Limited is reached, further delaying a start to the Rugby League premiership …

In ANSETT CUP Quarter Finals – on Saturday night (March 9) at Waverley to a healthy 33,359, CARLTON 16.8-104 clipped COLLINGWOOD 15.9-99 – the Magpies AARON JAMES suffered knee injury requiring surgery, likely to keep him out of the 1996 season … the Bears led early but North (without Carey) at the Gabba hit back in front of 15,629 on Sunday night, NORTH 15.15-105 (Allison 5), BRISBANE 13.12-90 … in practice – on Saturday in two at Waverley, GEELONG 15.14-104 (Ablett 6) beat FITZROY 14.8-92, while FREMANTLE 15.12-102 were too good for HAWTHORN 13.4-82 (Dunstall 7) – former forward MINTON-CONNELL being tested for full back was stretchered with a serious knee injury … on Sunday in Warragul, RICHMOND 14.13-97 (Matthew Richardson with 17 marks showing out) downed SYDNEY 11.10-76, the Swans ‘saved’ Kickett and Lockett as Roos returned for a full game … in Mount Gambier, ESSENDON 13.11-89 aided by superior on-ballers were too efficient for MELBOURNE 9.5-59 – the Bombers enjoyed returns by Denham, Wanganeen, Mercuri and Olarenshaw – Demons draft pick ANDREW LEONCELLI received a broken right ankle …

<||> ADRIAN GLEESON (Car) striving to return from a knee injury, dislocated his elbow after only 40-seconds in a Sunday Reserves trial …

<||> Only three weeks from the official opening, AFL chief ROSS OAKLEY denied the placement of advertisements (Sat 09-03) for field umpires was a provocative gesture in light of the continuing dispute with the AFL Umpires’ Association …

<||> The Age reported ROSS LYON may seek damages from Sydney’s failure to meet promises and draft him 12 months ago. Lyon, a former Fitzroy player was promised a base of $100,000 plus a $35,000 job by the Swans – Sydney would have exceeded their salary cap and in the draft were embarrassed to ‘pass’ on Lyon who ended up with Brisbane. Injury restricted Lyon to just two 1995 games with the Bears – he now is a skills coach at Punt Road …

<||> The COLLINGWOOD WARRIORS were admitted to the NSL for the 1996-97 soccer season – but, days later the AFL telegraphed the likelihood it would veto the Magpies bid to join forces with the rival code …

<||> The Saints ended a 25-year Grand Final drought when it overran a depleted Eagles outfit in the ANSETT CUP Wednesday night semi-final at Waverley to 10,109 – ST KILDA 10.13-73, WEST COAST 8.9-57 …

<||> the season ended abruptly for JOHN LONGMIRE (NM) when he went for a second left knee reconstruction on March 13th. The 25-year old Longmire was first operated on in 1993 – the forward has kicked 494 goals in 155 games since 1988 …
__________

Rugby league wars continue in Federal Court
Rugby League spent the second week of March in court as SuperLeague interests challenged the 37 orders awarded to the ARL – a mid-week decision by the Full Bench of the Federal Court granted News Ltd right of appeal, expected to be heard on May 23 – most rebel clubs returned (albeit without their star players) as the ARL were set to start with 20 teams on March 22nd.
__________

TRIBUNAL – ALLEN JAKOVICH (Fsc) on pleading guilty was suspended three matches for striking Guy McKenna (WCE); DARRYL WHITE (Bri) was fined $1000 on being found guilty of wresting. ANTHONY ROCK (NM) on similar charges was cleared …

<||> Following a $27-million log of claims AFL Umpires agreed to officiate this season on last year’s pay rates. The AFL have agreed to an August 30 deadline to settle a new pay deal for 1997-98-99 …

<||> in an appropriate move to use the MCG to its best advantage, The Age (14-03) announced a State Government decision to abandon the traditional lands agreement when it expires at the end of 1997. The move supported by the Melbourne CC will see the venue available to all sports including soccer and rugby league, as well as concert entrepreneurs …

<||> Magpie coach TONY SHAW bans his players from the infamous King Street night-club strip …

<||> One of the Collingwood’s greatest legends DES FOTHERGILL passed away on March 16, aged 75 – Des won the Brownlow in 1940 (tieing with South’s Herb Matthews). Fothergill’s great roving talent was shown in 111 games (1937-40 and 1945-47) kicking 325 goals. In 1941 without a clearance he crossed to VFA club Williamstown where he won the Recorder Cup. Des returned to the VFL in 1945 kicking 62 goals, and another 63 in 1946 before a knee injury suffered during a wartime Army practice session prematurely ended his career in early 1947 when he was just 26 years old.

<||> In the ANSETT CUP semi on a wet Waverley to 12,306 on Saturday night (March 16), CARLTON 10.12-72 were a class above NORTH 5.14-44 … in practice, at York Park Launceston, 7,000 fans braved the wet to see HAWTHORN 13.9-87 come home strongly to down RICHMOND 10.5-65 … SYDNEY 18.6-114 destroyed MELBOURNE 4.8-32 at Moorabbin … ADELAIDE 9.19-73 beat FOOTSCRAY 10.6-66 at Waverley … at Lavington, COLLINGWOOD 15.8-98 (Rocca 5) beat BRISBANE 10.13-73 – Alastair Lynch continued his comeback with the Bears … in Mandurah WA to 8000, FREMANTLE 16.16-112 easily downed FITZROY 7.8-50 … the City Oval in Ballarat had almost 10,000 on Sunday to see GEELONG 18.7-115 down ESSENDON 14.7-91 …
__________

Rebel rugby leaguers present "Global League"
A new focus emerged as rebel rugby league clubs presented the ARL with a range of 15 proposals to feature the 311 contracted SuperLeague players and eight coaches in ARL matches, on the condition the Adelaide Rams and Hunter Mariners were included into the competition – as talks continued, the Federal Court ruled the SuperLeague appeal would start May 23 – the establishment rejected most of the proposals with dejected SuperLeague voices claiming “they had been given a kick in the guts” with the two parties as far apart as ever.

The rebels players announced they would begin their own independent competition called Global League with 10 clubs over 18 weeks starting March 29th .…
__________

<||> TODD VINEY decides to stay in Australia to play football with MELBOURNE …

<||> the Saints appoint joint captains in STEWART LOEWE and NATHAN BURKE …

<||> BRAD BOYD will again lead FITZROY …

<||> ROSS OAKLEY tipped the earliest the Grand Final would be played at night maybe in the year 2000, to coincide with the Sydney Olympics …

<||> the AFL reveals $5.5m will be spent this season on the development of grass-roots football through the McDonald’s Australia-wide Auskick program …

<||> JOHN WORSFOLD is named captain of West Coast for his sixth season, GUY McKENNA will be deputy …

<||> The AFL rules to protect its seven core sponsors – Coca Cola, Ansett Australia, Challenge Bank, CUB, Norwich Insurance, Channel Seven and McDonald’s …

<||> a Herald Sun sports poll to the Trevor Grant question “is BRUCE McAVANEY a better TV presenter than David Fordham” brought in a 1043 to 144 result, favouring Bruce. Seven had replaced McAvaney with Sydney-centric Fordham on Sunday morning sports show ...

<||> Richmond captain TONY FREE is operated on for suspected cartilage damage to the same knee reconstructed 10 months ago …

<||> CHRIS GROOM a likely Roo replacement for the injured John Longmire suffers knee damage at training, outing Groom for the season …

<||> STEPHEN TINGAY (Mel) will miss the opening rounds after surgery to a persistent buttock–hamstring injury …

<||> the AFL to impose fines on clubs breaching confidentiality – a minimum of $5000 to a maximum of $100,000! …

TRIBUNAL – a tripping charge against IAN FAIRLEY (NM) was dropped, while SIMON ATKINS (Fsc) was cleared on a similar charge …

<||> FITZROY still to hold its AGM could be in breach of the Australian Securities Commission unless it holds the meeting before March 31 … Geelong appoint GARY ABLETT and BARRY STONEHAM as co-captains … in practice, NORTH 25.18-168 routed COLLINGWOOD 7.8-50 at Arden Street … at Kardinia Park, GEELONG 17.13-115 downed RICHMOND 13.10-88 … ESSENDON 11.13-79 clipped FOOTSCRAY 9.12-66 at Whitten Oval, while at Moorabbin, ADELAIDE 14.10-94 won over HAWTHORN 8.10-58 …
__________

Saints take the Ansett Cup
St Kilda won their first League title since 1966 when they convincingly downed Carlton in the Grand Final of the ANSETT AUSTRALIA CUP to the second-biggest night-series attendance of 66,888 at Waverley Park, on Saturday March 23.

The Saints hit the ground running, kicking the first three goals and maintained a buffer of some three to five goals for the next 60 minutes. Then came an astonishing burst of six goals in 12 minutes to wrap up the third term, by which stage the Blues were history.

NICKY WINMAR sparkled for the Saints and was awarded the Michael Tuck Medal as best afield. It was the second night flag for the club who won their first back in 1958. Only blemish went to LAZAR VIDOVIC the Saints ruckman who was booked for striking Earl Spalding (Car) – Vidovic was cleared at Monday’s hearing.

  1/4 time 1/2 time 3/4 time Final
STK 6.5-41 10.7-67 17.8-110 20.10-130 (58)
CAR 2.3-15 6.6-42 8.9-57 10.12-72
GOALS: STK: Loewe 6, Everitt 3, Smith 2, Brown, Burke, Winmar, Sziller, McLaren, Jones, Traianidis, Daniels, Beveridge. CAR: Kernahan 4, Pearce 3, Heaver, Hogg, B.Sexton. BEST: STK: Loewe, Winmar, Sziller, Vidovic, Harvey, Daniels. CAR: Ratten, Camporeale, Pearce, B.Sexton, Christou. UMPIRES: Peter Carey, Brian Sheehan, Mark Nash.
Crowd: 66,888, Gate: $461,097.25

<||> ABC broadcaster ELAINE CANTY who is also a lawyer, became one of three new appointees to the AFL Tribunal. She was joined by barrister and QC BRIAN COLLIS and former Victoria Police prosecutor and Richmond and Footscray player EMMETT DUNNE.
__________

The second-last nail in the coffin of rugby’s SuperLeague was hammered home on Monday March 25 when the Full Bench of the Federal Court lifted stays on Justice Burchett’s orders of February 23. With the ban extending to Global League, all clubs and players responded by returning to the establishment.
__________

Rule changes
Coaches hailed the adoption of several rules trialled in the Ansett Cup – tacklers will receive greater rewards or as Tiger coach ROBERT WALLS said, “if you’ve got it, get rid of it, otherwise the tackler is rewarded” – players will be reported and clubs automatically fined $25,000 if they fail to leave the field on a stretcher as directed by the field umpire; any player removed on a stretcher will be unable to return to the field for 20 playing minutes – a free kick against a player using abusive, insulting or obscene language to an umpire – a 50 metre penalty against a player encroaching over the mark, wastes time or uses abusive or obscene language to an umpire … new uniforms for umpires breaks a 100-year old tradition – the new strip has red and blue diagonal stripes with red and blue trim, on a white background for field umpires, pale blue for boundaries; the traditional laboratory coats and white hats thankfully survive in the goals …
__________

WALLY CLARKE former Fitzroy rover died in Adelaide aged 59 on March 23 following a long illness – he played 107 games and kicked 119 goals with the Lions, 1955-62 …

BRETT HEADY injured in a WAFL practice match underwent surgery to a dislocated left shoulder certain to halve his availability to West Coast this season …

<||> PETER EVERITT a hero in St Kilda’s Ansett Cup victory from x-rays days after confirmed he had suffered a fractured jaw in the game …

<||> an abusive language charge made against ALASTAIR LYNCH (Bri) was withdrawn as it doesn’t exist – it’s now a mere 50-metre penalty! …

<>

Geelong blitz Melbourne
290,856 for opening round
Big guns show their value


ROUND ONE – Fri-Sat-Sun, March 29-30-31.
MILESTONES — Geelong played their 200th game at the MCG, registering their biggest score and biggest margin over the Demons of their 183 contests … DAVID PARKIN (Car) coached his 400th match … 17-year old twins DAVID and DONALD COCKATOO-COLLINS created a first, making their debut in the same game for Melbourne … 150th for SIMON ATKINS (Fit) – 50 AFL games for NICK DAFFY (Rch), DEAN ANDERSON (StK), GAVIN ROSE (Syd) … a new first round crowd figure of 290,856 topped the 1995 opener of 239,882 …

The Centenary season opened under heavy skies on Friday night at the MCG when the Cats and Demons competed for the Wills-Harrison Trophy – GARY ABLETT (Gee) the leading forward of the past three seasons kicked his first of the year within the first two minutes and the Cats were never troubled by a deficient Melbourne – the rainy rampage for 46,832 fans continued to the final siren as the Corio Bay boys added 10.3 in the last term – GEELONG 27.21-183 (Ablett 9.6), MELBOURNE 8.8-56 … Saturday was fine as the Bombers and Tigers drew 52,271 to the G where high-lights included, a stunning return after his knee reconstruction by MATTHEW RICHARDSON (Rch) and two great marks by GAVIN WANGANEEN (Ess) and DAVID BOURKE (Rch). Generally, the Dons were the better side, leading mid-game by almost eight goals but the resolve of the Tigers in the third showed they may be there again – the Bombers seem certain to be, ESSENDON 19.8-122 (Cummings 6.3), RICHMOND 15.14-104 (Richardson 6.4) … the Saints and Kangas staged a spirited contest at Waverley for 23,434 fans who saw WAYNE SCHWASS North’s b&f the past two seasons break his forearm in two places and IAN FAIRLEY suffer a dislocated knee cap in the first quarter – Docker discard PETER BELL had a stand-out debut with the Kangas, with COREY McKERNAN prominent in the air; the Saints fought hard all day but relinquished a 15pt third term lead as the Roos took over for a fine 24pt win, NORTH 15.19-109, ST KILDA 12.13-85 … at Whitten Oval, the Lions under new coach Mike Nunan with a sound opening had the 10,239 fans thinking the Roys had turned the corner leading by 35pts in the second; but a mid-game shuffle by first-game Hawk coach Ken Judge saw the older brigade take over in the last-half to be 21pt winners, HAWTHORN 13.14-92, FITZROY 11.5-71 … at night to 14,222 at the Gabba, the Bears with a trim ALASTAIR LYNCH regaining his confidence and a committed outfit reaped havoc on the Bulldogs – it was the Bears best score and biggest margin over the Dogs, ending a 10-match losing streak, BRISBANE 21.15-141, FOOTSCRAY 7.12-54 … in good Sunday weather 70,152 were at the MCG to watch the unfurling of Carlton’s 1995 pennant, then the typical Blues-Magpies arm wrestle, and a mid-field struggle between GREG WILLIAMS (Car) and MICK McGUANE (Col) – the extra class of the Blues tipped the balance as they gathered their 17th-straight win, CARLTON 16.13-109, COLLING-WOOD 12.15-87 – two Magpies were on report, CRAIG KELLY and JON HASSALL … in brilliant Subiaco sunshine only 33,041 watched a low-scoring local derby where both sides lacked forwards, leaving question marks against both for the season ahead, WEST COAST 9.13-67, FREMANTLE 6.9-45 … on Sunday night 40,665 were at Footy Park as the Crows devastated the Coathangers who had just one goal in the first half – SHAUN REHN enjoyed his return from knee surgery while DARREN JARMAN played his first with his home-town club – the thrashing may prove a marketing disaster for the Swans, ADELAIDE 20.10-130, SYDNEY 6.4-40 …

<||> The national coverage of AFL footy was highlighted by commentator DREW MORPHETT in particular who – called the Friday night MCG game for ABC Radio, then for Channel 7, the Saturday game at Waverley and flew to Subiaco for Sunday’s Eagles-Dockers clash …

<||> TRIBUNAL – CRAIG KELLY (Col) was cleared of striking Greg Williams (Car); SCOTT CUMMINGS (Ess) pleading guilty was rubbed out for two games for striking Chris Bond (Rch); JON HASSALL (Col) received a one-match suspension for charging Scott Camporeale (Car) – from video, ANTHONY CONDON (Haw) in his return from knee injury was found guilty of striking Darren Holmes (Fit) and outed for three games; DAMIEN HARDWICK (Ess) became the second Bomber suspended for striking Chris Bond (Rch) and is out for two matches – Hardwick was the seventh player in four seasons charged for offences against the Tigers’ Chris Bond …

<||> Collingwood signify their intention to defy an AFL ruling and proceed with its entry into soccer – the Magpies were asked to explain the action of coach TONY SHAW for speaking to umpires at the quarter-time break on Sunday – a first offence usually carries a $1000 fine …

<||> Easter Saturday is set for the re-birth of the VFL name as former VFA clubs — Port Melbourne, Frankston, Springvale, Box Hill, Werribee, Sandringham, Preston, Coburg and Williamstown are joined by North Ballarat and Traralgon …

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League reaches 11,000 games
Bears first victory over the Eagles
14 goals to the Jarman brothers


ROUND TWO – Sat-Sun-Mon, April 6–7–8.
MILESTONES — League premiership matches passed 11,000 as Brisbane recorded their first win in Perth and its first over West Coast as MICHAEL MALTHOUSE reached 150 games as Eagles coach … Richmond played their 100th at Waverley when the Tigers recorded their first triple-success over the Hawks since 1979-80 … NIGEL SMART became the second Adelaide player to play 100 games … DEREK KICKETT reached 50 appearances for Sydney (129 overall) … LEIGH TUDOR (Gee) and BEN DOOLAN (Ess) played their 50th and at his third club TONY WOODS (Haw) attained his 50th, while Blues leader STEPHEN KERNAHAN notched his 50th on the MCG and SAVERIO ROCCA (Col) passed 250 goals …

The Easter round was split over three days with 259,424 attending producing a new R2 and new Easter record … in fine conditions on Saturday, North devastated Footscray in front of 30,873 at the MCG to record their biggest win over the Dogs in 126 contests – it was Footscray’s lowest score versus the Roos – as Scray slumped to their fourth successive belting extending back to R22 last year, ALAN JOYCE was under severe pressure to hold his place as coach at Whitten Oval, NORTH MELB 26.12-168, (Carey 6.1), SCRAY 5.7-37 … a big 25,950 were at Kardinia Park where several new records were set – the Cats kicked five goals in the closing seven minutes before half-time for a 10.3 term, their biggest second quarter against the Saints since 1899; St Kilda however were far from disgraced with STEWART LOEWE in a stand-out forward performance – star Cat GARY ABLETT was under focus for a clash which hospitalised the Saints tough back-pocket KRISTIAN BARDSLEY, GEELONG 26.8-164 (Ablett 6.1), ST KILDA 20.14-134 (Loewe 9.2) … in a scrappy outing at Waverley for 38,263 fans, the Tigers with JUSTIN CHARLES in another b.o.g. showing out were clearly the better side to easily down the Hawks – there were three reports, RICHMOND 14.14-98, HAWTHORN 6.15-51 … the Lions wasted the opening wind at the Whitten Oval (8685) and the Crows in the following three quarters blasted away with a remarkable goal-feast performance by the brothers Jarman, ADELAIDE 21.7-133 (Darren Jarman 8.1, Andrew Jarman 6.0), FITZROY 15.11-101 … it was a first for the Bears in Perth on Saturday night at the WACA to 29,213 – the visitors kicked the opening four goals and were always in control to post their first win over the West from 15 outings – key problem for the Eagles is the surgery required for both key defenders, captain JOHN WORSFOLD and GUY McKENNA – BRISBANE 16.7-103, WEST COAST 11.11-77 … an overcast day and rain on Sunday still drew 62,207 to the G – crucial misses by the Dons and four third term goals by BRAD PEARCE were turning points of a keen contest which brought the Blues 18th on the trot, CARLTON 15.11-101, ESSEN-DON 10.12-72 – key injuries to STEPHEN KERNAHAN and BRAD PEARCE (hamstrings) and LUKE O’SULLIVAN may test the Blues attack on the Geelong record of 23-straight … against the congestion of the Royal Easter Show and live-tv game coverage, 10,965 were at the SCG to see a sluggish and inaccurate Freo win their third in a row over a mistake-ridden Swans, FREMANTLE 13.22-100, SYDNEY 9.17-71 … the single Monday contest had 53,268 at the MCG where the Magpies belted the Demons by a massive 94pts – the game produced the Woods highest score over the Demons, with amazing last term accuracy of 15 goals – 10-straight by the Maggies, 5-straight by the Redlegs, who have real problems of depth and commitment, COLLINGWOOD 27.11-173 (Rocca 7), MELBOURNE 11.13-79 (Smith 6) – certain to come under scrutiny would be the melee of up to 20 players at three-quarter time …

NORTH went to the top of the ladder for the first time since 94-R4 with Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong and Carlton unbeaten after the first two rounds … Footscray hit the bottom for the first since 87-R5 … the 14 goals kicked for the Crows by the brothers Jarman equalled the feat of the Matthews when Kelvin 8.3 and Leigh 6.1 notched 14 in 77-R5-JO v Fitzroy – still top are the Coventry’s with 18 from 29-R13-VP v Hawthorn when Gordon kicked 16.5 and Syd 2.0 … the season ends for SIMON TREGENZA (Ade) after surgery to his left knee, while GARRY LYON (Mel) on Monday was admitted to the University of Newcastle’s spinal unit to identify his crippling back injury – surgery looms for Lyon … MATTHEW KNIGHTS (Rch) ankle injury was operated on, to sideline him six-to-eight weeks …

<||> TRIBUNAL – in frantic activity, GARY ABLETT (Gee) was cited for striking, while under the melee rules, JIM STYNES, DAVID NEITZ, CRAIG NETTELBECK, ANDREW OBST and DONALD COCKATOO-COLLINS of Melbourne, and PAUL WILLIAMS, GRAHAM WRIGHT and DAMIAN MONKHORST of Collingwood were cited … on Tuesday, SHANE CRAWFORD (Haw) was suspended one match for striking Justin Charles (Rch); Crawford was also fined $1500 for wrestling CHRIS BOND (Rch) who was fined the same amount … on Wednesday in a hearing lasting almost three hours GARY ABLETT (Gee) was found guilty of striking Kristian Bardsley (StK) with an arm to the head and suspended five matches. It was Ablett’s 13th appearance before the AFL judiciary for eight suspensions totalling 20 matches. In the collision under review the 172cm Bardsley was knocked unconscious and required 18 stiches to his chin … in other suspensions, for wrestling – PAUL WILLIAMS (Col) was fined $1500, DONALD COCKATOO-COLLINS (Mel) was fined $1000 while ANDREW OBST (Mel) and GRAHAM WRIGHT (Col) were both cleared … melee charges against the Demons’ Nettelbeck, Neitz and Stynes, and the Woods’ Monkhorst were thrown out as tribunal chairman NEIL BUSSE handed the AFL a serious problem, calling on the League to overhaul the controversial rule.

<||> The AFL quickly amended its melee rules and relieved umpires of the responsibility of making such reports. The decision to report a melee will revert to the AFL Commission or an appointed nominee.

<||> Fitzroy’s most senior player MARK ZANOTTI after 157 games (WCE, Bri, Fit) faces ankle surgery and possible retirement … merger rumors about Fitzroy surface again, but were most strongly denied …

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2000 for Collingwood
Serious knee injuries bite
Fremantle swamp Carlton
'Damage control' for West Coast


ROUND THREE – Fri-Sat-Sun, April 12–13–14.
MILESTONES — COLLINGWOOD played their 2000th League match as BRISBANE reached its 200th … BRETT LOVETT (Mel) gathers 200 games, MICK McGUANE (Col) 150, WAYNE CAMPBELL (Rch), BRETT RATTEN (Car) and MICHAEL MANSFIELD (Gee) 100, DAVID CALTHORPE (Ess), PAUL BRODERICK (Rch) and COREY McKERNAN (NM) 50 …

The opener drew the biggest crowd of the round when 43,766 on Friday night at Footy Park saw the injury-struck Crows deflate the Cats unbeaten balloon, setting it up with a game-winning first half of 16.8 – however Adelaide’s mid-game injuries to Rehn whose reconstructed knee crumbled again, concussion suffered by Liptak, a sprained ankle to Chalmers with McGuinness carrying a groin, it was a remarkable win, ADELAIDE 21.16-142, GEELONG 12.6-78 … on Saturday the Bulldogs broke through for their first win and extended their current run over the Lions to 10-games when Scray rewarded 14,345 hardy souls at Whitten Oval, SCRAY 17.19-121, FITZROY 10.10-70 … the Kangas at Waverley to 20,331 displayed they are a class-act as they charged home by 73pts for their sixth-successive win over the Hawks, NORTH 22.21-153, HAWTHORN 12.8-80 (Dunstall 6) … the biggest Brisbane rules crowd since 1952 of 20,635 packed the Gabba on Saturday night to see the Tigers apply full pressure on a tired Bears outfit – MATTHEW RICHARDSON and CHRIS BOND sparked Richmond in the second term and with an all-round team-effort it was a surprisingly lean 18pt margin, RICHMOND 15.18-108, BRISBANE 13.12-90 … the Magpies at the SCG on Sunday booted four goals in the first eight minutes to a disappointing 17,674 (and live-TV) for their milestone 2000th League outing. Then, Lockett in a better-than-repeat show (it was 7.4 against the Pies last September) sparked the Coathangers who at last followed coach Rodney Eade’s game plan. Sydney kicked away in the second and were never headed, putting to question the Woods worth, SYDNEY 15.17-107 (Lockett 8.5), COLLINGWOOD 10.13-73 – LEE WALKER (Col) limped off at quarter-time and faces a fourth knee reconstruction … the Bombers at the Park (20,852) on a damp, grey day, toyed with the Eagles who had just 3 goals to -time – the Dons won by a mile as West coach Malthouse admitted the Eagles were in ‘damage control’, ESSENDON 16.13-109, WEST COAST 6.14-50 … at Optus Oval just 11,881 viewed a potential tragedy as the winless Saints star NICKY WINMAR after a brilliant first quarter was stretchered 10-minutes into the second term when his left knee crumbled under a tackle. The gutsy Saints did burst back but the attrition rate, after losing JUSTIN PECKETT with a broken collar-bone and TONY BROWN with concussion yielded a first win for the Demons, MELBOURNE 14.14-98, ST KILDA 13.10-88 … only a half-full Subiaco (22,652) saw the Dockers post their most important League win when they ended Carlton’s 18-match winning streak – Freo played inspired footy against a Blues outfit missing both the injured Kernahan and Pearce – the Dockers with DANIEL BANDY, former Eagle DAVID HYNES and PETER MANN (4 goals) used its speed and possession game to great advantage, FREMANTLE 15.12-102, CARLTON 6.13-49 …

The BCG attendance was short of the 1952 R8 Monday game when an estimated 28,000 saw John Coleman (Ess) kick 13.7 versus Geelong at the Brisbane Exhibition ground in the first League match under lights for premiership points … the Crows three wins equalled their previous best start of 1993 … Fitzroy extend their losing run to 17 … undefeated sides are narrowed down to North and Adelaide … interstate sides occupy three of the top four places – North Melbourne followed by, Adelaide, Brisbane and Fremantle – the Dockers highest-ever placing …

<||> Serious knee injuries to players continued with Shaun Rehn (Ade), Lee Walker (Col) and Nicky Winmar (StK) again facing the knife. In the current year, 14 players have fallen as clubs and medicos search for the elusive answer.

<||> TRIBUNAL – JAMES COOK (Fsc) was suspended two matches for striking Wayne Lamb (Fit) – JEFF HILTON (Mel) was fined $2000 for wrestling Jayson Daniels (StK) – MARCUS SEECAMP (Mel) and DARRYL WAKELIN (StK) were cleared of wrestling with Wakelin also escaping a striking charge against Seecamp …
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Centenary ball dampened by weather
Described as the biggest free-standing marquee in the southern hemisphere, measuring some 110 metres by 72m – it took eight days to erect on the MCG for the Tuesday night AFL Centenary Ball when it accommodated 3200 guests from the PM down — clearing the MCG took longer than expected and weekend games were shifted, Scray-Hawks to Whitten Oval and Sunday’s Tigers-Sydney game to Waverley.

Melbourne’s inclement weather was more than a dampener as the first 18 days brought 24mm of rain, twice the monthly average and 20% of the annual rainfall – counting the cost of the Centenary bash may prove expensive to the condition of the MCG for the rest of the season.
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<||> Examinations found less than expected damage to both Winmar (StK) and Walker (Col) however recovery by each player may be at least two months …

<||> DARREN WHEILDON still to play a senior game with the Bombers after being suspended by the Reserves Tribunal and while departing a King Street watering hole on Friday night was knocked down by a taxi, and ended in hospital, suffering a broken leg …

<||> NEALE DANIHER is named coach of the Allies for the State-of-Origin versus Victoria in June – ROSS GLENDINNING will coach WA versus SA in Adelaide …

<||> the TFL again press for admittance to AFL …

<||> Though a $300,000 loss was experienced in its debut the AFL will continue with the Lightning Premier-ship series next year, by using profits from the successful Ansett Australia Cup pre-season series.
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Geelong & Adelaide draw
suspensions and fines of $55,000

TRIBUNAL – TIM McGRATH (Gee) was cleared of striking Matthew Liptak (Ade) – six Geelong and four Adelaide players were individually fined amounts from $2000 to $5000 for a 17-second ruckus at Footy Park last Friday night, from which came no injuries and no suspensions – the Jarman brothers Darren and Andrew received $5000 fines, with Crow teammates Nigel Smart and Rod Jameson each fined $3000 – the Cats Grant Tanner and Derek Hall $4000, Brad Sholl, Liam Pickering and Ben Graham each $3000, and Leigh Colbert $2000 – the players had been charged with misconduct in that their actions were (1) likely to prejudice the interests or reputation of the AFL; (2) likely to prejudice the interests or reputation of the AFL competition; (3) likely to bring the game of football into disrepute – the following day the League also lumped additional club fines of $10,000 each against Geelong and Adelaide, all-up $55,000 …

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Eagles to lowest-ever 14th placing
Adelaide thump the Bombers
Brisbane stop the Kangas
Dog and Hawks in 121st draw


ROUND FOUR – Fri-Sat-Sun, April 19–20–21.
MILESTONES (GALORE) — JIM STYNES (Mel) played his 200th consecutive match – DARREN KAPPLER (Fit-Syd-Haw) his 150th – CARLTON won its 19th successive game at Princes-Optus-Park-Oval – MARK BICKLEY (Ade), SCOTT TURNER (Rch) 100 games – ALEX McDONALD (Haw-Col) reached 50 along with JAMIE TAPE (Rch) and PETER EVERITT (StK) – while League career goals reached by GREG WILLIAMS (Gee-Syd-Car) 200, BRETT HEAVER (Car), MARK ROBERTS (with NM) and SHAUN SMITH (NM-Mel) 100 and with 8.5, STEWART LOEWE (StK) passed his 100th goal at Waverley – WEST COAST fell to 14th, their lowest AFL placing of 219 games …

The opener was at the Gabba on Friday night for 17,469 fans when the Bears were sound 30pt winners as the previously unbeaten Roos became another big-name scalp. An injured Lynch was replaced by JUSTIN LEPPITSCH who kicked a match-winning 6.2 against three opponents as the home-side started to look like genuine contenders, BRISBANE 18.17-125, NORTH 14.11-95 … after days of rain the Saturday games were played in strong Melbourne sunshine when Carlton unfurled their flag yet again at the much-unfinished Optus Oval where 19,051 watched as the Blues didn’t raise a sweat in handing the wilting Demons a 47pt hiding – Kernahan after four goals again was a casualty with a torn hammy, as injuries bite deep at the Princes Park depth, CARLTON 21.7-133, MELBOURNE 12.14-86 – it was Carlton’s 50th defeat of the Redlegs at Princes Park and they equalled their best second term 56pt tally … the Magpies in one of their four home games due at Vic Park delighted the 23,170 parochial fans with a 9.1 blitz in the second to take a 37pt win from the Dockers, but for the rest of the game Freo many times put the Woods quality and depth to question, COLLINGWOOD 14.14-98, FREMANTLE 8.13-61 … at Waverley (17,625) the Saints fell one-point shy of their best-ever over the Roys with an 85pt belting of the Whitten Oval tenants whose future is a big problem, ST KILDA 24.16-160 (Loewe 8.5), FITZROY 11.9-75 … the Hawks and the Scraggers fought out a low-level contest to 16,804 at the western suburbs venue (Whitten) – the Dogs were 21pts up in the last but the Hawks succeeded in failing to do anything other than draw – their first with the Tricolours in 129 contests, SCRAY and HAWTHORN both 8.9-57 – Paul Salmon made a promising debut for the Hawks, while Allen Jakovich (Fsc) was held to two behinds … in the night at Footy Park for 45,266 adoring fans, it was pay-back time for the Crows who belted the Dons in every department to win by a huge 96pts – after the first 10 minutes it was all one-way as the Crows took over top spot in their own right for only the second time (94-R1) since their admission, ADELAIDE 23.23-161, ESSENDON 9.11-65 … a booming Subiaco Oval (30,837) first term of 8.2 brought the Cats their first successive wins over the Eagles in 20 games – but it was not without a fight as the Eagles striving for failing recognition came back from a wide deficit and pressured the visitors in the last half, GEELONG 16.10-106, WEST COAST 12.16-88 – Peter Riccardi starred for the Cats, as the Eagles slumped to their lowest placing since their 14th of 89-R16 … at Waverley, 33,847 saw the Coathangers gather one of their most important wins for years away from the SCG when they tenaciously gripped a one-point victory over the Tigers – SCOTT DIREEN (Syd) was stretchered in the second then hospitalised with severe concussion but the big-man strength of TONY LOCKETT was a focal point of the Swans gutsy win, with a free-kick count 29 to 16 in favour of the Tigers, yet their fans still complained, SYDNEY 10.11-71 (Lockett 6.5), RICHMOND 9.16-70 – it was the first time since 1913, the Swans had beaten the Punt Road boys by a point, and their first success at Waverley since 88-R19 versus Carlton 

<||> SCOTT DIREEN (Syd) was still at the Alfred Hospital as his family flew in from Hobart – though x-rays and scans had cleared him of spinal damage and he has full movement, his absence from playing may be longer than first expected …

<||> Carlton’s $8-million grandstand extensions to Princes Park are unlikely to be finished this season – the R8 Blues-Cats fixture was moved to a Friday night MCG meeting – further transfers are likely …

<||> ops manager IAN COLLINS confirmed, players guilty under the melee rule were ineligible for the Brownlow …

<||> 39-year-old TREVOR BARKER reserves coach at St Kilda was reported as gravely ill with cancer – Trevor enjoyed star-status with the Saints during his 231 games between 1979-79, kicking 139 goals …

<||> Fitzroy’s much-delayed 1995 AGM now on Monday (29th) when amid speculation, their financial future may be clearer …

<||> ST KILDA formalised its merger of its football and social club affairs …

<||> an on-going back-problem adds STEPHEN SILVAGNI to Carlton’s long injury list …

<||> TRIBUNAL - from video BRENTON SANDERSON (Gee) was charged then suspended for two games on striking Jarrad Schofield (WCE) at Subiaco – Sanderson was the 10th Cat to be charged this year …
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Trevor Barker passes suddenly
On Tuesday morning footy fans learned he was gravely ill – by Friday TREVOR BARKER had so swiftly passed away.

His trademark long blond locks, long sleeves and spectacular marks made him one of St Kilda’s star players in 230 games between 1979-89. He lost his battle with bowel cancer and died at just 39 years. An intensely loyal player to his club in one of their darker periods, Trevor resisted offers from other clubs to stay with the team he loved. He will be long remembered.

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Epic Anzac battle for 87,549
Brisbane go to top position
Tight contests start to emerge


ROUND FIVE – Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun, April 25–26–27–28
MILESTONES — EARL SPALDING (Mel, now Car) played his 200th … ROGER MERRETT his 150th for Brisbane (299 overall), TIM McGRATH his 100th for Geelong  … Carlton by a point, won their 20th on end at home … Sydney got their first win over Hawthorn since 1988 …

The round split over four days started on Thursday as the normal Anzac Day battle drew 87,549 to the MCG – the Bombers burst away with a 7.1 opener and were cruising midway through the second up by 38pts – then, ever so slowly things started to go horribly wrong; the Woods lifted, sensing an under-manned Dons with nine of its best 21 missing – the Magpies got four goals before half-time and were in with a sniff — their spirit lifted and adding 11 goals to six in the last half, the Woods came home by 12pts in what was a terrific battle – the free kick count received focus, 38 to 16 for the Magpies, COLLINGWOOD 17.15-117 (Rocca 6.3), ESSENDON 16.9-105 … Friday night at the WACA (26,618) saw a game still balanced at three-quarter time but the committed Dockers tore away from the injury-depleted Demons for a convincing 37pt win, FREMANTLE 13.18-96, MELBOURNE 8.11-59 – the Redlegs remain at 15th place … Saturday in Melbourne was fine as was the football — 19,927 were at Carlton to see an enthralling struggle that featured a superb performance by the Blues ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES – the match picked it up from where the Blues and Eagles left off last year when it was one point at Subiaco – it was again the same margin and it’s a pity the match will be remembered for a goal umpire’s error which gave Carlton the win when a third term defensive kick by the Eagles TONY EVANS was credited as goal to the Blues GREG WILLIAMS, CARLTON 12.14-86, WEST COAST 12.13-85 – ‘Kouta’ collected 18 marks and 26 kicks — at Kardinia Park to 26,016, it was neck-and-neck all day and only when a last-gasp kick from the Tigers CHRIS NAISH drifted off to the left did the Cats survive, GEELONG 13.13-91, RICHMOND 12.16-88 – the Cats record since 1985 over Richmond is now 17-1, and took their record to 10-straight … 32,215 were at the G as the Roos met the undefeated Crows – for three-quarters it was an arm-wrestle as Adelaide made strides to improve their Melbourne image – at the end, from a last break difference of two-points, the Kangas unleashed their class to blitz through 8.4 and win by 39pts, NORTH 23.14-152 (Carey 5.0, McKernan 4.6), ADELAIDE 17.11-113 – from 46 starts the Crows Melbourne record, 10 wins, one draw, 35 losses … under lights at the SCG, 20,227 watched as the Hawks and Swans were never more than 15pts apart, the lead changed six times and were level on 10 occasions – the Coathangers were steadier in the last half, winning their first after nine-straight by the Hawks, SYDNEY 13.10-88 (O’Brien 6) , HAWTHORN 11.10-76 – with two goals, Jason Dunstall (Haw) moved to 1094 goals) – it was the Swans first triple set of wins since 1989-90 (R21-22+R1) … on Sunday in sometimes heavy rain, the Bears at the Gabba (14,495) posted their second-highest League victory when they won by 109pts over Fitzroy and move to the top of the League ladder for the first time in their 10-year history, BRISBANE 24.14-158, FITZROY 6.13-49 … at Waverley Park 27,094 saw a fitting farewell by officials, players and fans to Trevor Barker – the Saints banner read, “Farewell to a Champion who gave everything and took nothing” – the Saints early were drained and Scray generally led until the long break – then the Saints game-plan fell into place and with a six-goal third – the Doggies came back and levelled in the last but the Saints found a bit extra and took it out, ST KILDA 16.20-116 (Loewe 8.4), ’SCRAY 13.12-90 …

<||> Essendon coach KEVIN SHEEDY called on the League to make the Bombers-Magpie clash at the MCG a permanent fixture on the calendar with a proportion of proceeds to assist RSL war veterans … MICHAEL MALTHOUSE and West Coast sealed a two-year coaching extension … Dr Peter Tannock on ABC Radio announced Subiaco Oval would get lights in 1997 – a WAFL agreement will see night games continue at the WACA until 2000 …
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Lions report debt of $2.36 million
On Monday night FITZROY held their delayed AGM revealing a 1995 loss of $263,834 and accumulated debts of $2.36m – the Lions however were expected to meet the AFL’s solvency criteria. Losses were explained as due to a downturn in profit from the Fitzroy Club Hotel which recorded a profit of just $132,000 – football operations generated only $4.07m – almost half that considered to be viable by most clubs and the AFL. After taking shots at the media and the League, DYSON HORE-LACY the re-elected president said his club would continue in its own right for as long as the board could see a meaningful future for the club – leaving the door for a merger wide open.
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<||> 2000 mourners farewelled St Kilda’s favourite son TREVOR BARKER at a thanksgiving service held at the Moorabbin Town Hall on Tuesday.

<||> The League announced the salary cap for the 1997 season will rise by $350,000 to $2.9 million – in 1991 it was $1.1 million …

<||> TRIBUNAL — SCOTT CHISHOLM (Fre) was cleared of tripping – on wrestling charges, one against MARK GRAHAM (Haw) was withdrawn by an umpire while JUSTIN LEPPITSCH (Bri) and DARREN HOLMES (Fit) were cleared of wrestling but warned ‘to be extremely careful in future’ …

<||> ESSENDON named its inaugural 14 inductees to their Hall of Fame – Dick Reynolds, John Coleman, Albert Thurgood, Bill Hutchison, Simon Madden, Jack Clarke, Ken Fraser, Terry Daniher, Bill Busbridge, Tom Fitzmaurice, together with administrators Alex McCracken, Bill Cookson and Allan Hird.

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Swans and Dons in first SCG draw
Brisbane kick 12-goals straight
Big wins to Tigers, Pies and West
Bears retain top place


ROUND SIX – Fri-Sat-Sun, May 3–4–5.
MILESTONES — RICHARD OSBORNE (Fit then Syd now Fsc) played his 250th, ANDREW BEWS (Gee, now Bri) also his 250th, TONY McGUINNESS (Fsc, now Ade) 100 for the Crows, RICHARD CHAMPION (Bri) his 100th; 50 games for MATTHEW CLARKE (Bri), CRAIG NETTELBECK (Syd, now Mel) and ALLEN JAKOVICH (Mel, now Fsc) while for NATHAN BUCKLEY (Bri, now Col) his 50th for the Magpies …

The first drawn game at the SCG from 169 contests dating back to 1903 finally arrived … Brisbane after five previous visits won their first at Subiaco, and posted their first double-Perth victories after their R5 win at the WACA versus the Eagles … 206,705 attended the round …

It was a rain-affected SCG on Friday night for 22,088; the Coathangers aiming for a fourth-straight win crawled out of the grave; down 29pts, 15 minutes into the last term produced a gutsy finish to tie – late goals started to flow first from the ever-improving GREG STAFFORD with a good old-fashioned torp, then another two from Lockett, SYDNEY 14.6-90 (Lockett 8.2), ESSENDON 12.18-90 – it was the first draw between the two from 187 contests since 1897 … Friday night also drew 50,074 to the MCG where skill, pace and brilliance abounded in a spite-free contest by the Cats and Kangas which was an all-night arm-wrestle – surprisingly three were reported for little else than trivial play errors, NORTH 15.14-104, GEELONG 13.15-93 … TONY MODRA gave the Crows a brilliant start with four goals in the opening 10 minutes at the uniquely feral (26,459) Vic Park; that was the game for the Crows, as two goals in a minute by TONY FRANCIS got the Woods rolling and displaying superior pace and an intense work-rate for the remainder of the contest they flogged the visitors by a 72pt margin, further adding to the lack of respect Adelaide gather from every visit to Melbourne, COLLINGWOOD 23.14-152 (Rocca 7.2), ADELAIDE 12.8-80 (Modra 8.0) … at Carlton a miserly 8747 saw a highly-efficient, though under-manned Eagles outfit humiliate the deficient Demons by 106pts – soul-searching will begin for the Redlegs, as the Eagles begin the long climb back, WEST COAST 24.12-156 (14 goalkickers), MELBOURNE 7.8-50 … at Whitten Oval (13,497) the Lions blooded another three first-gamers, SHANE CLAYTON, BRENT FREWEN and NICK CARTER and despite a mid-match lift by the Roys, the Tigers were comprehensive 92pt victors over their inexperienced opponents, RICHMOND 23.16-154 (Richardson 7.2) FITZROY 9.8-62 … to a big Saturday night 30,225 at Waverley, a struggling Hawthorn midfield reduced a great modern full-forward JASON DUNSTALL to only one kick, three handballs and no goals; the Saints always controlled the greasy ball to easily post their third on-the-trot, ST KILDA 13.8-86 (Loewe 6), HAWTHORN 9.11-65 – it was the Hawks sixth successive loss at Waverley … persistent rain on Sunday make conditions difficult at the MCG (31,024) as a tight Blues defence contained the inventive Bulldog forward line-up – the Dogs stand to lose on a gamble as ALLEN JAKOVICH (three games, a night series suspension and just one goal) limped off in the first term without touching the ball with a return of right knee problems – it was a tight 16pt margin, as was the game, CARLTON 12.8-80, FOOTSCRAY 9.10-64 … in beautiful Subiaco sunshine, only 24,591 watched the Bears confidently retain top place for a second week; they overcame a 28pt second term deficit, kicking 12-goals straight at one stage, as their long game took them to a comfortable 25pt win, BRISBANE 17.8-110, FREMANTLE 12.13-85 …

<||> TRIBUNAL – ace Kanga ruckman COREY McKERNAN received one week for misconduct (in that he kneed John Barnes (Gee) in the back) – for wrestling GLEN ARCHER (NM) was fined $2000 and SHAYNE BREUER $2500 …
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Newspapers herald Centenary
Both the Herald Sun and The Age provided fans with a host of feature articles and commentary in advance of the main focus of the Centenary celebrations. The Herald Sun from Monday May 6th published 16-page lift-outs for six successive days covering the history of the League competition in text and photographs.

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Highest-ever round of 305,573
Eagles massacre the Kangas
Saints & Sydney keep on winning


RE-ENACTMENT MATCHES
ROUND SEVEN – Wed, Fri-Sat-Sun, May 8-10-11-12.
The night of Wednesday May 8th drew an excellent crowd of 75,632 to the MCG as the League celebrated its 100 seasons of football. Clubs who met in the VFL’s first round of competition games played in 1897 were drawn to meet again.

The MCG in the early evening abounded with people in period costume and two teams under the leadership of Ron Barassi and Leigh Matthews featured many legends. Martin Flanagan of The Age recorded – “the champions of yesterday year may not have been as fast as they were in their prime, but their speed with their hands and skill with the ball did not seem greatly diminished … they were not hard to recognise, Gary Dempsey marked in defence, Robert Flower made space on the wing, Bernie Quinlan kicked the ball as long as he ever did and Peter Daicos and Gary Buckenara contributed goals of impeccable quality ... the Barassi team won on the strength of an Alex Jesaulenko goal, which he executed with a place kick …”

After a spectacular fireworks display the players of Essendon and Geelong entered the arena in knickerbockers, caps and modern versions of earlier guernseys – after further formalities, the caps and knickerbockers were dispensed with for modern-day shorts and ‘number two’ cuts, before the match began.

Essendon repeated the victory it won over Geelong in 1897 thanks to a stunning 9-goal display by DARREN BEWICK who had waited 11 months recovering from a knee reconstruction to play his 150th game. Geelong had a great opening, kicking the first four goals – the Dons pegged them back and the match to half-time became one of fluctuating fortunes.

Midway into the second term, Michael Long playing only his second game after a 1995 knee reconstruction was injured in a freak mishap on slipping after kicking a goal from 25m (his 99th in AFL). Long was stretchered and may not play again after snapping the patella tendon in his right kneecap.

After a terrific third quarter by the Pivotonians with some spectacular goals from Tudor, Brownless, Burns, Colbert and Hocking, the Same Old trailed by as many as 17pts in the last – they were set in train with early goals by Bewick, then exploded mid-term with further majors from Misiti, Cockatoo-Collins and Bewick again (his fourth for the quarter) – it put Geelong to question as they tailed off once again on the MCG, ESSENDON 22.11-143 (Bewick 9.0), GEELONG 17.12-114 …

Re-enactment games continued on Friday when a further 71,663 were witness to the resurgence of the Saints who lost their first three games after the Ansett Cup win. St Kilda after throwing the game away in their third term, stormed home – two highlights were the first-half showing by NATHAN BUCKLEY (Col) and the forward dominance of the Saints STEWART LOEWE – ST KILDA 18.10-118 (Loewe 7.5), COLLINGWOOD 14.11-95 (Buckley 5.0) – it was the Saints 4th-straight win …

The remaining re-enactments were played on Saturday – both were lack-lustre, sloppy affairs despite the trapping of the events they celebrated. At the MCG to 23,660, Sydney extended their undefeated run to five games (4 wins and a draw) as they scored an easy 44pt win over a Demon outfit decimated by injury and in spirit, SYDNEY 12.10-82 (Lockett 6.2), MELBOURNE 5.8-38 … at Princes Park, a surprising 16,176 paid only a reported $13,895 as a depleted Blues combination won their 21st successive win at home, handing the Lions their 21st loss as merger-rumours between Fitzroy and North Melb bubbled, CARLTON 18.17-125, FITZROY 8.14-62 …

On Saturday night, Brisbane maintained their leadership status when 20,053 packed the Gabba, celebrating the 300th League game by ROGER MERRETT (Ess, now Bri). The Bears exposed the Hawks limitations and the longer the game, the bigger the margin – ahead for the Bears, Sydney, then Geelong and Carlton, BRISBANE 15.14-104 (Lynch 6), HAWTHORN 5.11-41 … on Sunday, the MCG was rain-sodden (25,691) – after a tight first half, the Tigers swamped the Dogs for an easy 51pt win, RICHMOND 17.11-113 (Merenda 5.0), SCRAY 9.8-62 … in springlike Perth conditions, 32.312 saw the Eagles climb back into calculations as they massacred the forward-less, wayward Kangas by a big 67pt margin, WEST COAST 19.11-125, NORTH MELB 7.15-58 … under lights at Football Park (40,386), Freo were slow to start and didn’t kick their third goal until early in the second half. The Crows displayed total home-ground, midfield dominance and self-belief, winning the pack battles, and the match by 96pts.... raising the obvious, why? – why only in Adelaide? … ADELAIDE 20.12-132 (D.Jarman 6), FREMANTLE 5.6-36 – it was the Dockers lowest AFL score of their 29 contests…

MILESTONES — The four-day re-enactment round shattered the greatest-ever attendance to a single League round – 305,573, beating the previous best of 291,525 set over five days during the 1995 Anzac Day split round … 300th League game for ROGER MERRETT (149 with Ess, 151 with Bri), IAN FAIRLEY (NM) played his 200th (and was reported in Perth), 150th to DARREN BEWICK (Ess), 100 games for ANDREW JARMAN (Ade), also ALASTAIR CLARKSON (93 NM, 7 with Mel), and 50 games for BRENT HEAVER (Car), SIMON HAWKING (Fit), STEVEN KRETIUK (Fsc) …

<||> The Channel Seven Network was moved to respond to viewer sensitivity as commentator Peter Landy offered an apology for their telecast having referred to the North debacle in Perth as a “massacre” … (public perception to the reference closely followed the shooting affray in Tasmania at Port Arthur) ...

<||> TRIBUNAL — DARRYL WAKELIN (StK) was suspended two games for charging Tony Francis (Col) – IAN FAIRLEY (NM) was cleared of disputing an umpire’s decision … in Reserves, ROBERT PYMAN (Col) and JASON CRIPPS (StK) were each fined $750 for the unusual offence of spitting at each other …

<||> Saturday’s knee injury will sideline EARL SPALDING (Car) up to six weeks … TONY FREE (Rch) suffers complications to his injured right knee, likely to keep the Tiger captain out for up to 10 weeks … Docker rookie SCOTT GOOTCH became the 10th AFL senior-list player to have a total knee reconstruction …

Despite intense media speculation, at week’s end there was still no merger between North Melbourne and Fitzroy … in a dramatic twist the Australian Securities Commission confirmed it had spoken to Fitzroy but had postponed an investigation.

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Bears and Woods in new BCG record
Just 5,083 see Fitzroy break drought
Jim Stynes plays game 204
Dunstall reaches 1100 goals


ROUND EIGHT – Fri-Sat-Sun, May 17-18-19.
MILESTONES — JIM STYNES (Mel) played his 204th consecutive game (1987-95), equalling the JACK TITUS (Rch) record established between 1933-43 … JASON DUNSTALL (Haw) passed 1100 goals in his 233rd game … 5,083 attended Whitten Oval to see Fitzroy break their drought after 21 successive losses – it was the lowest Melbourne crowd since 4,846 watched North play Hawthorn at Arden Street in 1967 … 21,644 on Friday night set a new crowd record for matches in Brisbane at the Gabba …

MARK THOMPSON (Ess) played his 200th League game … 150th for JOHN McCARTHY (NM, now Fit) … 100 games for PAUL WILLIAMS (Col), SCOTT WATTERS (WCE, Syd, now Fre), JOHN BARNES (Ess, now Gee), and 50 matches to PETER QUILL (Fsc), LEIGH COLBERT (Gee), MARK GRAHAM (Haw), MATTHEW RICHARDSON (Rch), MATTHEW ROGERS (Rch), and WEST COAST played their 50th night game …

The biggest Brisbane AFL crowd packed the Gabba on Friday night (21,644) as the Bears displayed the necessary flair to maintain their leadership a fourth week. Their 10pt dogged success over the Magpies was highlighted by the forward display of ALASTAIR LYNCH (Bri), the regular use of the blood rule and Collingwood injuries suffered by ALAN RICHARDSON who was hospitalised with concussion, while giant ruck DAMIEN MONKHORST was lost to the match with a first quarter hamstring, BRISBANE 15.18-108 (Lynch 6), COLLING-WOOD 14.14-98 … at the MCG on Friday night, 67,931 were treated to a knife-edge last quarter as the Blues and Cats struggled for the points – tops of the contest were Blues’ full-back STEPHEN SILVAGNI who blanketed GARY ABLETT (Gee) (back from suspension) – his three goals, all came from free-kicks; GRANT TANNER (Gee) did the job on checking GREG WILLIAMS (Car) while ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES (Car) handed out special moments for the cameras, GEELONG 15.8-98, CARLTON 12.14-86 … Saturday was played in fair weather – at the Park (20,527), the Hawks got back on track as the horror run for the Demons extended to seven losses from eight outings and a slump back to wooden-spoon territory; it was also a return to form by JASON DUNSTALL the Hawk captain who has now kicked 1103, HAWTHORN 19.8-122 (Dunstall 8.2) MELBOURNE 10.11-71 … the smallest local crowd for 31 seasons were witness to the beleaguered Fitzroy-comeback at Whitten Oval (5,083) – against all odds the Lions swept the Dockers off the paddock (they led by 51pts at one stage), finally winning their first AFL contest for 364 days and climbing off the bottom rung, FITZROY 16.11-107 (Mellington 6), FREMANTLE 10.16-76 … the Kangas sparkled at the G to 49,939 – after a tight first term, the athletic North ruck COREY McKERNAN dominated, plus the more than serviceable WAYNE CAREY and a surprise performance by DARREN CROCKER at full-forward, it gave North ruthless control over an ineffective Tiger outfit who were thumped, NORTH MELB 20.24-144 (Crocker 5), RICHMOND 14.5-89 … striving for their first success in Perth since 1987, the Coathangers with early goals displayed their steady improvement to 31,411 under the WACA lights on Saturday night – Swan captain PAUL KELLY gave a Brownlow performance as the visitors mid-way in the third looked like they were going to pull it off – however, the Eagles provided proof they are back to their best as they proceeded to carve up the Harbour-siders with ASHLEY McINTOSH keeping TONY LOCKETT kickless for half the game, and DEAN KEMP prominent, showing West have regained their old poise and balance, WEST COAST 14.16-100, SYDNEY 9.10-64 … on Sunday, the skies were heavy at the MCG for 36,766 fans as the Bombers wrapped up the Dogs in just one quarter – the 67pt mauling flattered the Tricolors as the Dons were seemingly back on track and heading in the direction of the finals yet again, ESSENDON 23.13-151 (Cummings 8.1), FOOTSCRAY 13.6-84 … at Football Park (43,370) the Crows were goalless in the first as the Saints played a quality possession game but were then enveloped by a booming second term of 9.5 by the homers – MATTHEW ROBRAN (Ade) gave an all-round display which kept the home-town crowd cheering – after four straight wins, the Saints showed character and fought it out but a steadier Crows outfit maintained a good buffer, winning by 24pts and their return to second place, ADELAIDE 13.19-97, ST KILDA 11.7-73 …

<||> TRIBUNAL — on Monday, from video, PETER DEAN was found guilty on a charge of kicking Billy Brownless (Gee) and suspended four matches; GRANT TANNER (Gee) was outed for one match for striking Greg Williams (Car) – it was the 13th time a Geelong player had appeared this year, for five suspensions and seven fines … on Wednesday, PETER MANN (Fre) was given two matches for striking Darren Holmes (Fit); SCOTT EDWARDS (Fre) was cleared of a charge of striking Matthew Dent (Fit) …

Merger speculation continued as Fitzroy were reported to be battling to meet $100,000 of player payments due on May 31 … ANDREW IRELAND the CEO of Brisbane rejected an offer to hold the same post at COLLINGWOOD … three months after his injury in February, DAVID SCHWARZ (Mel) went under his third left-knee reconstruction … BENDIGO set to join VFL competition for 1997 …
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On May 21st the League announced it supported the entry of Port Adelaide to the 1997 competition, pending the majority approval of member clubs. A delegation which met with the AFL voiced opposition by a majority of Victorian-based clubs to Port Power’s pre-draft concessions. The Commission by end-of-week had brokered a deal which met with the displeasure of Port, but it looked as though they had secured the AFL place they first sought in 1990.

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Jim Stynes sets new game record
Bears, Crows, Tigers get thumped
North Melbourne go to top place
Monday night experiment


ROUND NINE – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, May 24–25–26–27.
MILESTONES – the Dublin-born JIM STYNES of Melbourne, broke the 53-year old 204- game mark set by Richmond’s JACK TITUS (33-R1 to 43-R15) – Stynes of his 209 senior appearances played his 205th successive match which had started in 1987s 17th round … STEWART LOEWE (StK) played his 200th, MARK ROBERTS (Syd, then Bri, now NM) his 150th … 227,781 attended the round taking the season to 2,197,356 fans …

Merger contenders, the Roos and Lions opened on Friday night at the G to a small 19,964 – North exposed the Roys weaknesses and the night turned out little more than a training run and fine-tuning session as the Kangas cruised to a 105pt win as COREY McKERNAN had another top game for, NORTH 25.20-170 (Carey 6.3), FITZROY 9.11-65 … it was the MCG again on Saturday when 37,288 celebrated the 205th successive game for JIM STYNES – in a game punctuated by errors from both sides, there’s no denying, even though they went down, the Demons had a real dip as the off-target Bombers with their 5th clear win held onto 6th placing, ESSENDON 11.23-89, MELBOURNE 12.5-77 … Darren Jarman and Tony McGuinness withdrew but even with them, the Crows were never going to win at Whitten Oval (11,140) as the Doggies found their commitment and focus to gain a confidence-boosting win for the first time since April 13th, FOOTSCRAY 18.11-119 (Watts 6.3), ADELAIDE 11.13-79 (Modra 7.3) … at Waverley for 14,286 fans, even though the battling Hawks had more kicks, handballs, hit outs and tackles they never looked a chance before the ever-improving and more-organised Eagles who gathered their fourth successive win to make them 5+4, WEST COAST 14.6-90, HAWTHORN 8.8-56 … on Sunday in three states – top-of-the ladder Brisbane drew the biggest SCG crowd since 1987 of 26,537; the Coathangers dominated the midfield headed by TROY LUFF and MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN to feed an on-target TONY LOCKETT who finished with a tremendous 11.1 – his 17th double-digit tally. The Bears (five-straight wins) were sluggish all day, and were blitzed by the Swans after half-time who demolished the visitors by 58pts, SYDNEY 21.6-132 (Lockett 11.1), BRISBANE 10.14-74 … at Waverley (41,023) ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES (Car) dominated for three quarters after a flu-and-injury hit Blues were beaten out of the blocks by a pacy St Kilda. Carlton clawed its way back and took control in the third, then with a steadier final term made it home by 22pts, CARLTON 13.13-91, ST KILDA 9.15-69 … at Subiaco only 20,934 watched the Dockers recover after embarrassing losses to the Crows and Fitzroy – with the addition of five youngsters, Freo after quarter time dominated the Tigers who had a dreadful last half and were badly beaten, FREMANTLE 17.18-120, RICHMOND 10.6-66 … the Monday night game started in chilly 10 degree MCG conditions but a big 56,609 were on hand – it was tight until the Cats threatened to break away in the second term – they led by 24pts but the Magpies pegged them back as SAVERIO ROCCA broke through despite an early shoulder injury – the Cats leading by only 12pts at the long break got early goals with four in five minutes and as GARY ABLETT bagged his seventh the flood-gates opened with the Corio lads belting the Magpies by 63pts, GEELONG 21.13-139 (Ablett 9.1) COLLINGWOOD 11.10-76 (Rocca 6.0) – damage to Rocca’s shoulder required surgery on Tuesday and he may be absent for the next six weeks …

Before the State of Origin break, the leaders were North, Brisbane and Carlton on 28pts, Adelaide and Geelong 24, Essendon and Sydney 22, with West Coast making up the Eight on 20pts — outside on 16 were Richmond, Collingwood, the Saints and Freo – Hawthorn and Scray had 10pts, and on the bottom, Fitzroy and Melbourne with one win …

<||> Saints prez ANDREW PLYMPTON presses for more Saturday night games for his club next season …

<||> the Port Adelaide board accepted the player concession awarded to Power – five priority selections before the first round of the national draft and first selection overall; four uncontracted players in the national draft; 46 players next year, reducing to 42 in 1998 …

<||> Fitzroy and North through letters seek membership support as a merger conclusion draws closer – the rumour-mill grinds the message, “unless the Roys merge they will not survive”…

<||> the switch of Talking Footy to 8.30pm on Monday brought Channel Seven a top rating of all programs with 486,000 viewers …
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Plans for 50-60,000 stadium at Olympic Park
The Age and Herald Sun on Wednesday and Thursday revealed the League is in continuing discussions (which started in February) with the State Government to develop a 50-60,000 all-seat stadium at Olympic Park — bringing further into doubt, the future of Waverley Park.

<||> The Hawks and Saints have dual tenancy arrangements in place at the Park until the end of 1999.

<||> TRIBUNAL – a striking charge on JASON McCARTNEY (Ade) was withdrawn … CRAIG O’BRIEN cited from video for charging Adrian Fletcher (Bri), was exonerated …

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Victoria post big win over Allies
South Australia too strong for WA


STATE OF ORIGIN – Saturday-Sunday, June 1–2.
A mid-season focus to the State of Origin concept failed to tap the passion of the average football fan in both Melbourne and Adelaide … a headache to selectors was the lack of many stars who became unavailable due to injuries. Even with their absence, on Saturday at the MCG, 35,612 saw the Big V score a comfortable win over the Allies who were a combination of the minor-states talent from Tasmania, NSW, Queensland and the Territories. The Allies down by 10-goals early in the third fought back to get within 16pts, but the Victorians had too much poise in the run home and posted an easy 53pt win, VICTORIA 20.17-137 (Mercuri 4), ALLIES 11.18-84 (Richardson 3) – the E J Whitten Medal for the Vics went to ROBERT HARVEY (StK), while best for the Allies was Richmond’s MATTHEW RICHARDSON who won the Alex Jesaulenko Medal … in the MCG curtain-raiser, the VFL 15.18-108 beat TASMANIA 13.8-86 … on Sunday in Adelaide, just 16,722 were at Football Park who saw the good preparation of the South Australians pay off with their comfortable 35pt defeat of Western Australia, SA 20.6-126 (Modra 8.2), WA 13.13-91 (Cummings 5.1) – the Fos Williams Medal for SA’s best went to TONY MODRA (Ade), while DEREK KICKETT (Syd) received the Graham Moss Medal as best for WA. Carlton’s STEPHEN KERNAHAN, captain of SA added three goals to achieve 47, the greatest tally in SOO footy. The State of Origin series will see Victoria play SA next season …
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The Sunday Age reported Hawthorn and Melbourne, long linked as potential merger candidates were down the track in negotiations to create the “Melbourne Hawks”… North players at a Gold Coast mid-season think-tank were told to expect their merger with Fitzroy ‘within two or three weeks’ …

<||> PORT ADELAIDE officially entered the AFL on Tuesday June 4 as the 14-day period of objection expired for AFL member clubs. Alberton celebrated with JOHN CAHILL installed as the new coach of PORT POWER, as the hunt for uncontracted players began …

<||> A new $1.5-million electronic score-board was unveiled at CARLTON though the new Legends Stand will not be completed until September …
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Plans for roofed venue at Showgrounds
Plans for roofed venue at Showgrounds
An upgrade costing $170-million for a state-of-the-art fully covered sports stadium on the site of the Melbourne Showgrounds were released – the venue would feature, fabric roofing over all spectator areas and a retractable central roof over the playing arena and provide 60,000 seats for AFL matches, 80,000 for soccer and rugby league. Essendon have long been interested in the project.
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<||> Collingwood star MICK McGUANE required surgery to correct a stricture of the urethra after he was kneed in the lower abdomen on Anzac Day – he will not play again this season …

<||> the outstanding COREY McKERNAN signed for another three years with NORTH MELBOURNE …

<||> Brisbane rest leading forward ALASTAIR LYNCH as flu bring fears of a relapse of the chronic fatigue syndrome which sidelined him in 1995 …

<||> former Scray defender KYM KOSTER became the third Adelaide player to suffer surgery from a serious knee injury sustained on May 25th against, Footscray …

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Lights out – brings chaos to
the Longest Game ever Played
Bears and Cats in thrilling draw


ROUND 10 – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon-Tue, June 7–8–9–10–11.
MILESTONES – ANDY COLLINS (Haw) played his 200th senior game, the past 177 of those consecutively … 150 games for PAUL BRODERICK (Rch), 100 to ROD JAMESON (Ade), GLENN LOVETT (Mel), and 50 for TROY LUFF (Syd), PAUL HOP-GOOD (Mel), JAMIE ELLIOTT (StK), JARROD MOLLOY (Fit) …

On Saturday night a blow-out of a high-voltage fuse cut United Energy supplies to Waverley Park at 9.24pm plunging the area into darkness, 22 minutes into the third-quarter of the St Kilda v Essendon contest when the Bombers were leading by 20pts, 9.9-63 to 6.7-43. Without power restoration the game was abandoned at 10.15 starting a chain of administrative nightmares. Though generally well-behaved, hick-behaviour by small elements of the 43,925 crowd vandalised sections of the one-time-League-jewel, lighting fires in several areas and breaking-down point posts. An emergency meeting of the AFL Commission on Sunday determined the game would be resumed on Tuesday night starting at 7.30 – resulting for the League as ‘The Longest Game Ever Played’ …

The Friday night start drew just 22,416 to the MCG – despite a spirited and determined effort, the Bulldogs allowed too many mistakes against the off-colour and inaccurate Roos. CHRIS GRANT in defence was one of the few Scray positives, with COREY McKERNAN taking five great marks in the first term to again be a stand-out, NORTH 12.17-89 (Daniltchenko 5.0), FOOTSCRAY 10.9-69 … a match thankfully transferred from Princes Park drew 59,062 to the MCG on Saturday to witness one of the best Blues-Tigers encounters of the past 20 years. The Blues were the winners by a narrow 11pts because they had a more even spread of good players and more importantly, the coolness and poise to choose the right option at the right time. The Tigers battled hard and never allowed the Blues to extend their lead by more than two-and-a-bit goals – for all their heart, just a touch less polish and a few errors brought the Tigers undone, CARLTON 15.11-101, RICHMOND 13.12-90 (Richardson 6.6); it was the Blues fifth successive win over Richmond … the Bears in round 10 were playing their first game of the season in Victoria when they met the Cats at Kardinia Park to 24,800 fans who were mostly silenced for the first three quarters as Brisbane dominated the early exchanges, pouring on five goals to one in the third and were holding a 24pt break at the last change. Then suddenly, the Cats were winning out of the centre, Ablett and Brownless came to life and took a three-goal lead. But the Bears found a second wind and a as punch from ruckman MATTHEW CLARKE levelled the scores, no time was left on the clock. The League gathered its 123rd tie, it was the Cats first draw since 87-R6-WH versus Essendon, and the first at Kardinia Park since 1963  – GEELONG 14.14-98, BRISBANE 15.8-98 … the 9701 crowd at Whitten Oval were expecting another big one from ‘Plugger’ who had two in the first three minutes. The Lions were competitive in the first half with the Harboursiders lapsing badly in the second. A tirade from Sydney coach RODNEY EADE saw the Swans blast away from a half-time 14pt lead, kicking six in 14 minutes to be 53pt leaders. This was extended further as the Coathangers boosted their percentage with a confident 70pt win. Forward-wit and teammate SHANNON GRANT summed up ‘Plugger’s’ outing –‘another lazy nine’ – SYDNEY 21.11-137 (Lockett 9.2), FITZROY 10.7-67 … on Sunday, at Subiaco to 19,350 fans, the Dockers and Hawks in both rain and sunshine had a long tight, gritty scrap where almost every movement was closely contested and little more than two kicks ever in it until the last term when the more determined Hawks (7.5 to 0.0) exerted tight forward pressure to carry the points – and could they be back with a sniff? – HAWTHORN 17.8-110, FREMANTLE 7.11-53 … a Football Park crowd of 43,398 saw the Eagles break-away in the first then two goals to both Crow debutant MATTHEW COLLINS and TONY MODRA brought the home side back into an exciting contest with only 11pts in it at the long break after a great hour, West 9.8, Crows 8.3 – the Eagles with an intense work-rate regained the game advantage with five unanswered goals in the third, then their lead blew out to 10 goals at the last change. Little happened in the last as the Sandgropers cruised to a classy victory, WEST COAST 19.16-130, ADELAIDE 11.10-76 … the single Monday match drew 48,302 to the MCG as old rivals Collingwood played Melbourne. The Magpies started without the injured Damien Monkhorst then lost captain GAVIN BROWN (thigh) and full-back CRAIG KELLY (hand) with further injuries in the first quarter, and TONY FRANCIS (achilles) later. Despite the grit of the Woods, they were always behind as DAVID NEITZ and JIM STYNES turned on mid-game specials for the bottom-of-the-ladder Redlegs who led by 53pts at the last change – the Woods fought back with to be honest 38pt losers, MELBOURNE 17.12-114 (Neitz 4), COLLINGWOOD 10.16-76 …

With an expected overnight low of three degrees, an official 17,590 turned out at Waverley to see the completion of the interrupted match in two 12m 24s halves. The remaining time ended up as 19.53 for the first part and 19.41 for the second with the Bombers winning by 22pts, ESSENDON 13.11-89, ST KILDA 9.13-67 …

Essendon selected five players and the Saints had four who weren’t there when the lights failed on Saturday night … 51 players, nine more than usual, were used to complete the game – a Bomber inclusion was JUSTIN BLUMFIELD who became the 1000th player in Essendon history; his 12 minutes of fame failed to get him a touch of the ball ... timekeepers noted the scores after the first four minutes and 48 seconds, which for the record became the official three-quarter time score – Essendon 9.9, St Kilda 7.7 …

The match resumed on Tuesday night would result in games across the AFL’s Centenary Year being played on every day of the week – it was a long call since the days of it just being a Saturday arvo affair …

<||> BRUCE ANDREW a distinguished member of the AFL’s Hall of Fame passed away on June 6 at the age of 88 …

<||> a crushed knuckle to his right hand may keep CRAIG KELLY (Col) idle for two months …

<||> following a knee reconstruction in March JOHN LONGMIRE (NM) returned to the track and may be back in time for the finals …

<||> TRIBUNAL – at his third appearance in his first 21 games, WINSTON ABRAHAM (Fre) was suspended three games for striking Daniel Chick (Haw) … MARK THOMPSON (Ess) was outed one match for tripping Nathan Burke (StK) … JASON WILD (Col) and PAUL HOPGOOD (Mel) were each fined $1500 on a wrestling charge … ILJA GRGIC (Fsc) was cleared of striking Corey McKernan (NM) …

<||> Though courted by several clubs, ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES signed again for a further three years with Carlton.

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Sydney bombard the Kangaroos
Hawks great comeback over Crows
300 games to Paul Roos


ROUND 11 – Sat-Sun, June 15-16.
MILESTONES – PAUL ROOS (269 Fit, 31 Syd) became the 33rd player to reach 300 senior games … STEVE WALLIS (Fsc) 250 games … 150 to WAYNE SCHWASS (NM) … 100 for MATTHEW KENNEDY (Bri), GILBERT McADAM (StK now Bri), and STUART MAXFIELD (Rch now Syd) … PAUL HUDSON (Haw) passed 250 goals …

The Saturday night contest was the biggest-ever for the Brisbane club. It was sold-out four weeks in advance, resulting in live local television cover and national radio exposure.

The Tuesday night completion of the Dons-Saint game caused changes to the Round 11 list, with five games on Saturday, three on Sunday … at Kardinia Park to 21,516, the Doggies jumped out of the blocks and issued a strong challenge to the Cats. But Scray wasted several crucial opportunities in front of goal as the Cats clawed back and their extra class at the finish with seven goals to two gave them a 44pt victory, GEELONG 20.9-129 (Ablett 5), FOOTSCRAY 12.13-85 … the Hawks at Waverley (16,652) were down for the count as the Crows set out to atone for their dismal showing from the previous week against the Eagles – the Crows led by 39pts early in the second. But the Hawks ground back to grab the lead in the last, lost it, then regained it to carry off their fourth successive win, HAWTHORN 16.12-108 (Dunstall 9.2), ADELAIDE 14.15-99 (Modra 4) … at Princes Park for 18,644 fans, North were predictably up by 16pts at the first change – but then the underestimated Harboursiders with a spark provided by 300-gamer PAUL ROOS launched a stunning three quarters as they demolished the League leaders with a rampaging 22-goals to six. The Swans were already in control well before ‘Plugger’ LOCKETT stepped in to add his 10 for the day as the Coat-hangers registered a very important victory by 79pts, SYDNEY 24.8-152 (Lockett 10.3), NORTH 10.13-73 … learning from their mistakes of previous weeks, an efficient Tiger outfit taught the Saints a few lessons in front of 39,029 at the MCG. The Saints were always playing catch-up footy and lost their fourth-straight game as the roar of Tigers was heard again, RICHMOND 21.13-139 (Daffy 5), ST KILDA 15.15-105 … on Saturday night, a sell-out 20,225 were at the Gabba in the battle for outright leadership. It was a dour, low-scoring struggle on a rain-affected BCG, the Blues beyond quarter-time always held the Bears at arms-length and with a 24pt win, the reigning premiers took over top spot for the first time this year, CARL-TON 9.8-62, BRISBANE 5.8-38 … on Sunday at Subiaco, 34,832 saw a fiery, physical opening as the Woods strived to overcome their injury-deficiency. But this lasted only a quarter as the Eagles after half time powered away for a sixth-straight win, winning by nine goals, WEST COAST 16.19-115, COLLINGWOOD 9.8-62 – it was the Magpies fifth successive loss … at the MCG for 31,383, the Bombers broke away and were on track for an easy win. The Dockers however came back with pride to almost take it out – only a late behind in the last minutes from Wanganeen gave the Dons the AFL's 243rd one-point margin, ESSENDON 13.12-90, FREMANTLE 12.17-89 (Wills 5) … at the Western Oval, just 10,836 watched a low-standard affair as the Demons enjoyed another win with a 10-goal battering of the Lions, MELBOURNE 18.11-119 (Yze 5), FITZROY 8.8-56 …

<||> TRIBUNAL – LAZAR VIDOVIC (StK) was suspended for three games for striking Mark Mernda (Rch) – Vidovic’s four suspensions have netted him 12 weeks since 1991 … GLEN ARCHER (NM) was cleared of charging Derek Kickett (Syd) …

<||> AFL Chief Commissioner ROSS OAKLEY after 10 years as League CEO announced on Monday (17th) he would retire at the end of the season.

<||> The Commission determined, a player found guilty under the melee rules and is fined or reprimanded, but not suspended, will still be eligible for the Brownlow Medal …

<||> member clubs were asked to consider rules for 1997 dealing with uncompleted and interrupted matches …

<||> termed by the press as “the most significant change since the medal’s introduction in 1924 – The Age, June 19th”, the new ruling came into effect immediately and reprieved 10 players from melee charges and eight from wrestling. It also reinstalled many players into betting calculations.

<||> The MCC and AFL were looking at a moveable cricket wicket area at the MCG to provide an even grassed surface for football – not dissimilar from the use of wickets at Waverley for World Series Cricket in 1977–the scheme may be some two years away …

<||> Fitzroy coach MIKE NUNAN at a point of concern, announced a range of fines to be applied to senior players for their non-performance in games – it was described as “a classic exercise in negative motivation” …

<||> NICKY WINMAR (StK) returned to training following his R3 left knee injury and resumed in the Reserves …

<||> radio ratings in Melbourne on Saturday’s call placed 3AW at the head with 22.2, 3LO 16.4, Magic 6.7 – for Sunday, 3AW 17.6, 3LO 15.1.

<||> The week was a time of celebration and sorrow for Essendon as they opened their Hall of Fame at Windy Hill and lost a trio of former stalwarts – BILL BRITTINGHAM recruited from Warrnambool, played 171 games for 181 goals between 1943-52 – DOUG BIGELOW from 1947-56 was regarded as a tough footballer of his era, playing 148 games for 27 goals, later coaching Coburg in the VFA and was a Dons committeeman for several years. Bigelow for many seasons was a highly-respected 3LO ABC Radio commentator – JEFF GAMBLE, a product of the Essendon District League who played 90 games (1953-60) also passed away …

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Geelong reach 1900 games
Blues best over Woods for 80 years
Gary Ablett passes 1000 goals


ROUND 12 – Fri-Sat-Sun, June 21–22–23.
MILESTONES – In Geelong’s 1900th League contest, GARY ABLETT in his 238th game became the fifth player to pass 1000 career goals … Carlton posted their fifth successive win over Collingwood equalling their five-straight of 1914 to 1916 … STEPHEN SILVAGNI (Car) played his 200th, matching an achievement of his father SERGIO who played 239 for the Blues between 1958 and 1971 … ALAN JOYCE (Haw, now Fsc) coached his 150th … TONY MODRA (Ade) reached 300 goals in his 75th match when the Crows played their 50th premiership contest under lights … MARTIN PYKE (Mel, now Fit) played his 50th …

The Crows kicked the first two goals of the Friday night game against the Tigers in front of 39,044 at the G but it was the only stage the boys from across the border were in front – the Tigers walloped the visitors with an all-night barrage leading 86 to 25 at the long break – winning by 46pts to replace Adelaide in 8th spot, RICHMOND 19.14-128 (Richardson 5), ADELAIDE 13.4-82 – the Crows brought back forward SCOTT HODGES for his first since 1993 … top versus 12th appeared unbalanced yet it drew 61,448 to the MCG on Saturday when the Blues and Maggies tangled again – without many of its stars, the Woods played courageously and only in the late stages of the third when they kicked four late goals did the Blues get right into it. They continued their momentum in the last to be 21pt victors (11 goals to four in the last half) in what was a terrific game of footy, CARLTON 17.14-116, COLLINGWOOD 14.11-95 (Williams 6.1) – the Maggies sixth-straight failure … the Cats at home on Kardinia Park (22,116) found the Dockers easy pickings until Ablett kicked his 1000th at the 22 minute-mark of the third. Freo took over and gave the tiring Cats a scare as they kicked 7.6 in the last to cut the 47pt -time margin to just 19pts, GEELONG 17.10-112 (Ablett 3), FREMANTLE 13.15-93 (Chisholm 4) … at the Park for 16,217, the Hawks with a better organised attack, controlled the contest most of the day but the young Lions gathered some credit with their persistency to the end, HAWTHORN 17.12-114 (Holland 6.1), FITZROY 12.11-83 (Mellington 4) … only 14,871 under the BCG Saturday lights watched the Bears easily overrun a poor Demon effort – a comfortable 14 goals to three after quarter time held the Demons to a paltry scoreline, BRISBANE 18.15-123 (McRae 6.3, Lynch 5), MELBOURNE 6.10-46 … despite heavy morning rain 22,689 at the SCG were bathed in game-long sunshine, seeing the flu-hit Swans kick two goals in the first 67 seconds, setting the pattern. Though the Harboursiders in a blustery wind were off target in the first, they refocussed and never let the Doggies to challenge, going on for a 46pt win, SYDNEY 18.15-123 (Lockett 4), FOOTSCRAY 11.11-77 – it was Scray’s fifth successive loss … the MCG in rain drew 39,515 who watched two committed teams with remarkable skills slog it out in the heavy conditions – lights were on by half-time. The Roos held a significant all-day edge – when it was tight they always provided the answer, NORTH MELB 16.11-107 (Archer 3, Carey 3) ESSENDON 14.11-95 … in Perth after week-long rains, Subiaco was in remarkable condition – tight until the long break, the Eagles wore the Saints down. The game had two stand-out performances – West Coast youngster BEN COUSINS (days away from his 18th) who was benched for the first half, kicked five last term goals, while STEWART LOEWE (StK) kicked six of the Saints seven last half goals, WEST COAST 22.9-141 (Cousins 5), ST KILDA 17.6-108 (Loewe 6.3) – it was Eagles seventh win on end, the Sainters fifth-straight loss. GLEN JAKOVICH the Eagles star defender left the field in the last, with a serious right knee injury … on Monday, Jakovich had major surgery in Perth, certain to end his season …

<||> TRIBUNAL – Collingwood’s STEPHEN PATTERSON was outed one week for charging Ron DeIulio (Car) … PETER EVERITT StK) was cleared on a charge of striking Daniel Metropolis (WCE) … an investigation was under way why on Saturday JON HASSALL (Col) who though nowhere near play was forced to leave the field under the blood rule with a broken nose – no action was taken as it could not be established how contact was made …

<||> Two days after he coached his 150th League game ALAN JOYCE was ousted as Footscray coach. TERRY WALLACE replaced him for the balance of the season.
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Nauru appoint administrators over loan
On Friday June 28, the Nauru Insurance Corporation endeavouring to recover a $1.25m loan made to the Fitzroy FC appointed MICHAEL BRENNAN of Ernst and Young as administrator of the club. The Herald Sun described the process as – “the issue was brought to a head by the Naruruans who had bailed the club out of its previous cash crisis ... it was the insurance company which brought in the receiver, who officially took possession of Fitzroy’s assets when he arrived at the Fitzroy Club Hotel.”  Brennan said later, he discovered the club owed more than $4.5m.

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Sydney end Blues 21-game run
Bears crumble in Melbourne
Kangaroos back to top place


ROUND 13 – Fri-Sat-Sun, June 28–29–30.
MILESTONES – Essendon’s CHRIS DANIHER achieved his 100th game, joining his brothers NEALE, TERRY and ANTHONY who with the three MORWOOD brothers (Tony, Shane and Paul) are the only two families to attain this unique League century game-record across more than 11,000 matches since 1897 …

The win by Sydney over Carlton ended 21 consecutive victories by the Blues at Prince-Oval-Optus-Park — it was the first time since 1940-42 the Bloods had defeated Carlton in three successive encounters … ASHLEY McINTOSH (WCE) played his 100th … 50 matches arrived for CHRIS JOHNSON (Fit), RON DeIULIO (Car) – while, ANDREW BEWS played his 50th for the Bears, after 207 with Geelong 1982-93 …

The round opened on Friday night when a bumper 69,072 turned out at the G – with SAVERIO ROCCA back from injury, the Maggies were expected to improve. The Tigers however kicked the first four goals and led by 29pts at the first break. The Woods showed some mid-game spark but the Tigers generally kept them at arm-length to bring about the Magpies seventh-successive loss, RICHMOND 14.8-92 (Richardson 5), COLLINGWOOD 10.9-69 … in fair weather on soft grounds the Saturday crowd at Princes Park was a sell-out, tickets only 20,030 — yet to be beaten from four Melbourne contests the Swans and the Blues struggled all day with the reigning premiers gaining positive control by 17pts just before -time; the last term became a test for both as early into time-on, first the Swans then the Blues gained the lead and not until goals by O’Brien then Lockett did the Harboursiders break open their most important victory for almost 10 years, SYDNEY 15.12-102 (O’Brien 6.2), CARLTON 13.13-91 – Swans coach Rodney Eade reckoned PAUL KELLY’s game rated a worth of “six Brownlow votes” … potentially Fitzroy’s last League match turned into a rout as the Cats dominated proceedings at Whitten Oval to 10,504, to score by their biggest margin of 127pts from 183 meetings; the moulting Lions, were kept to a behind in each of the third and fourth quarters, GEELONG 25.16-166, FITZROY 6.3-39 … at the Park, 13,824 saw the Bears in R13 on their first visit to a Melbourne venue; it was one-way traffic for the Saints as HARVEY with 38 touches, BURKE with 27 and LOEWE with 14 marks and nine goals thrashed the Bears to score their first victory since May 10th, ST KILDA 14.12-96 (Loewe 9.5), BRISBANE 7.8-50 … the Dons and Hawks recalled the days of the mid-1980s with a vigorous struggle to 43,481 at the MCG – level-pegging at the last change, the difference in class centred on JAMES HIRD in a great last quarter display as the Bombers kicked away for a 21pt win, ESSENDON (Hird 6.3), HAWTHORN 15.10-100 … in drizzling rain on Saturday night after Perth’s wettest week for 10 years, the Roos and Dockers slogged out a low-scoring affair for 19,360 at the WACA – Freo gathered credibility but a top effort from McKERNAN and the physical pressure by ARCHER gained a good professional win for the Kangas (who kicked 3.10 in the third) NORTH 9.20-74, FRE-MANTLE 8.10-58 … on Sunday at Whitten Oval (11,184) conditions were heavy as both the Dogs and Eagles toiled hard; West seemingly were always in control, then in the last, the Doggies found something extra and pegged back the deficit to only a goal. But the Eagles steadied and by 12pts notched their eighth successive success to narrowly deny new coach TERRY WALLACE his first victory, WEST COAST 11.5-71 (White 4), FOOTSCRAY 9.5-59 … Football Park was soft as 37,557 in sunshine watched yet another tight slog as the Demons held the Crows until the long interval. The Crows ten minutes into the third led by 19pts, then the Redlegs blasted-away with a terrific team effort (14 goals to two) headed by STYNES, NEITZ and CLARKSON. As the Crows caved in, losing their fifth in a row, it may devastate the future of ROBERT SHAW the Adelaide coach, MELBOURNE 19.9-123 (Neitz 6.4), ADELAIDE 10.12-72 …
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Dogs seek action on lease on Fitzroy lease
On Wednesday July 3, Footscray sought redress in a Supreme Court action to their 20-year lease arrangement with Fitzroy for the playing of the Lions home matches at Western (now Whitten) Oval. Scray were seeking satisfaction of $1.3m and named both the AFL and North Melbourne as parties to the action.

<||> MARK WILLIAMS departed his position as Essendon reserves coach. Williams returned to Adelaide to renew his connection with JOHN CAHILL as assistant coach of Port Power. Williams, a former Port player in the SANFL under Cahill was also at Collingwood during Cahill’s 1983-83 VFL coaching stint of Collingwood …

<||> Adelaide hired security guards to protect the house of coach ROBERT SHAW after his house was pelted with eggs and his  parked car was rammed …

<||> prolific Richmond midfielder PAUL BRODERICK signed a new four-year deal …

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Merger creates the Brisbane Lions

One day prior to the AFL Commission-imposed-deadline, Thursday July 4 proved a momentous day in the 100-year history of League football. The morning brought a Footscray FC writ in the Supreme Court against Fitzroy, North Melbourne and the AFL seeking to halt the proposed union – claiming the merger would breach a co-tenancy agreement at Whitten Oval.  Footscray’s writ was unsuccessful; however the Bulldogs said it would continue to seek legal compensation in the on-going matter.

Mid-morning, MICHAEL BRENNAN the appointed administrator held a 25-minute meeting of creditors at Fitzroy Town Hall, saying after their response, he had secured “two legs of the trifecta”.

As details of the merger proposition circulated indicating North would gather a list of some 50-54 players and a salary cap increase of $400,000, the member clubs met mid-afternoon at the Richmond ground. Brisbane by then had re-emerged as a long, but still late suitor to the marriage.

The 5pm meeting of the Commission and clubs at the MCG resulted in a vote by member clubs refusing to approve the concessions. North Melbourne withdrew its merger offer and departed the meeting, refusing to return. Only minutes passed before the remaining clubs voted to approve the offer from Brisbane.

The new entity of the Brisbane Bears-Fitzroy Football Club trading as the Brisbane Lions will have a player list of 44 for 1997, 42 thereafter … Brisbane will select eight Fitzroy players, the balance to be offered in the October draft. … from the $6-million merger income, Brisbane will satisfy the Nauru Insurance Corp. the main Fitzroy creditor, with 90 cents in the dollar; unsecured creditors depending on the outcome of Footscray’s court action may receive up to 50 cents in the dollar … the existing Fitzroy jumper will be used for away games for the first seven years, while a new guernsey for Brisbane home games will be a design predominantly in Fitzroy colours, to be approved by the AFL … Fitzroy will play out the 1996 season with no assistance from the Bears …

MIKE SHEAHAN in the Herald Sun on July 5th observed –

“Fitzroy has been exhumed from the grave it largely dug for itself to survive as a partner in a vibrant new force in Australian Football. The Brisbane Lions will preserve the name and the history of a foundation AFL club that seemed doomed …”

As a new era emerged, speculation began to marry North Melbourne and Footscray, and the long-mooted merger of Melbourne and Hawthorn.

Football in the second 100 seasons would never be the same as the first.

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North Melbourne blitz Carlton
Nunan resigns as Fitzroy coach
44,047 see Sydney take second spot


ROUND 14 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 5–6–7.
MILESTONES – Captain STEPHEN KERNAHAN led the Blues for the 200th occasion … DAVID PARKIN coached Carlton for a 250th time (1981-85 & 1991-96) and his 413th overall in the League … Sydney shattered the Aussie Rules SCG record with 44,047 attending on Sunday – at 12.30pm, overflow members from the sell-out crowd were offered the next-door Sydney Football Stadium to see the match on their giant screen; the game also on local live-TV, peaked mid-game at an unheard of 53% of sets in use …

On Friday night to a great 68,537, the Roos became outright leaders with a thorough shellacking of the Blues. North broke the match wide open when they kicked away in the third with six goals to one and as the Kangas piled the pressure on, the Blues made many uncharacteristic defensive blunders bringing one of Carlton’s heaviest reversals of recent years, NORTH 21.18-144, CARLTON 13.11-89 … in a chilly Melbourne, Saturday’s games were played in pouring rain at times — at Waverley (30,886), even though ROCCA was on target with three first quarter goals, the Magpies were never really in the hunt; as the rain pelted down the Hawks wrapped it up in the third to reach their sixth success from seven and a 7+6+1 record, the Eight was now within reach — for the Woods, an honourable eighth-straight loss, HAWTHORN 17.12-114 (Dunstall 6), COLLINGWOOD 11.15-81 (Rocca 3) … within days of being quoted at 66/1-on, the Bombers in the end played good wet-weather footy at Princes Park for 12,748 hardy fans to overwhelm the struggling Lions by 11-goals, ESSENDON 17.16-118, FITZROY 7.10-52 — at the later press conference MICK NUNAN coach of Fitzroy resigned terminating his three-year contract after only nine months, stating on ABC Radio, he had been paid up only to this day … at the MCG, 37,482 watched the Tigers open strongly with RICHARDSON and GALE as their forward-focus. Then in the rain the Eagles stamped their authority holding the Tigers to a meagre 2.8 after quarter time, going on in a gritty scrap for a 17pt win – the game produced a goalless last term, WEST COAST 10.8-68, RICHMOND  7.9-51 – the Eagles win was its ninth in-a-row and their eighth finals series in ten years now a strong possibility … under lights at Football Park, the Crows against the sluggish Bears led by six goals in the second and were the better most of the night. But they got the staggers in the last as the visitors with a goal from LYNCH hit the lead by three points. The Crows, to the great relief of their 34,183 fans steadied to break their five-game losing streak, ADELAIDE 15.12-102 (D.Jarman 5), BRISBANE 14.10-94 … on Sunday, the much-used MCG hosted another to 22,852 when the Demons defences chiefly dominated and made the Bulldogs efforts look second-rate as NEITZ produced a sensational eight-goal effort and the veteran STYNES again provided inspiration. A 51pt deficit at -time was halved but the Demons after a dreadful start to the year gained with their fourth win from five, MELBOURNE 14.10-94 (Neitz 8.2), FOOTSCRAY 10.7-67 … it was a million-dollar day for the Harboursiders as they carved up the Cats in the SCG sunshine to a pre-sold out record 44,047 crowd. The Swans scored their sixth on-the-trot, rising to second place (their highest since 89-R5); the usual free-flowing Cats were blanketed by the weight of commitment from the Coathangers —even Ablett was held to a-handful of kicks, with just two goals and still hovering on 999 goals for the Cats, SYDNEY 18.17-125 (Lockett 6.1), GEELONG 11.8-74 … the round ended at Subiaco where ROBERT HARVEY had an outstanding game for the Saints and 17,697 fans. After a hectic first and before a third term gale and heavy rain, the Saints put a mortgage on the premiership points with six unanswered goals – Freo made it interesting, but were always held at arms-length, ST KILDA 15.10-100, FREMANTLE 11.11-77 …

<||> ALAN McCONNELL accepted the caretaker role as coach of FITZROY for its remaining eight matches – Alan now 39, previously coached the Lions for the last three games of 1995 when he replaced the deposed Bernie Quinlan …

<||> TRIBUNAL — ALASTAIR LYNCH (Bri) in his first Tribunal appearance (of 238 games) was found guilty of charging Rod Jameson (Ade) and suspended one match … RICHARD CHAMPION (Bri) was fined $2000 for disputing a decision by field umpire Mark McKenzie … BRAD SHOLL (Gee) was cleared of instigating a wrestle with Stuart Maxfield (Syd) …

<||> The League will redraft the competition’s insolvency rule to avoid another club collapsing. The AFL who had put Fitzroy on notice earlier in the year found it could not act on the rule due to legal constraints.
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Picking the carcass
In the aftermath of the Brisbane-Fitzroy merger it was revealed – the Australian Taxation Office had been only days away from demanding $154,279.30 owed by Fitzroy for group tax … days before the marriage, COLLINGWOOD (without the $6m carrot) had offered $1 million in return for a free hand with the Fitzroy playing list, as confirmed by Magpie president Kevin Rose — CARLTON were understood to have approached Fitzroy administrator Michael Brennan with takeover proposals, the Blues willing to strike a deal for only a $5m carrot, while FOOTSCRAY were understood to have been willing to accept only $4.5m — neither approach by Carlton or Footscray were formalised.
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A lower back ailment is likely to sideline Demon key defender PAUL PRYMKE the rest of the season … star West Coast forward BRETT HEADY set for his first game of the season with Subiaco after his pre-season shoulder injury …

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Harboursiders take over top place
Hawks & Magpies in major upsets
One goal, no flags at the WACA


ROUND 15 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 12–13–14.
MILESTONES – BEN HART (Ade) at 23 years and 4 days played his 100th League game, MICHAEL GALE, 50th for the Tigers … GARY ABLETT with six, passed 1000 goals with the Geelong club … the Magpies with a great win over North evaded equalling their worst ever losing run.

The Lions played well in bursts but were overwhelmed by the Eagles class at the WACA on Friday night to 22,044 when PETER SUMICH (WCE) with five goals reinforced his place. The final quarter produced an amazing decision by field umpire MARK PRINCE – 11-minutes in, Sumich missed from a free kick and full-back JARROD MOLLOY (Fit) gained displeasure when – he punched the ball over the fence; not kicking the ball back into play – a free was awarded to CHAD MORRISON (WCE) who goaled from point-blank range and in the confusion without clear direction, the ball was bounced in the centre without flags signalling the Eagles 17th goal – although it was recorded, WEST COAST 20.11-131, FITZROY 9.9-63 – 10-straight wins for the Eagles … at Princes Park to 20,102, ANDREW JARMAN though selected refused to take his place with the Crows; with 7.6 in the first term, the Blues set the pattern and always led to be thorough 67pt winners – it was the Crows 29th defeat of their past 35 outings in Melbourne, CARLTON 19.17-131 (Kernahan 6), ADELAIDE 9.10-64 … tight and close for the first half, 34,514 saw the Magpies (after eight-straight losses) produce a booming last half to give the top-placed Kangas a fearful hiding. Rocca and Williams sparkled up-forward while Buckley blanketed Carey — the Woods recorded one of the major upsets of the season and their first win since May 4, COLLINGWOOD 22.12-144 (Rocca 8.2, Williams 5.4), NORTH MELB 12.11-83 … the Cats at home on Kardinia Park (22,207) again appeared certain of victory, holding the Hawks scoreless in the third. The last quarter turnaround led by a best-afield performance from PAUL SALMON saw the Hawks kick five goals to two and snatch a two-point thriller, HAWTHORN 11.8-74, GEELONG 10.12-72 (Ablett 6) … at Waverley a top crowd of 34,337 saw a highly-entertaining contest until half-time with the Saints just shading the Coathangers. After the break, the Swans displayed power as they kicked eight unanswered goals to split the Saints apart. In the last the Saints whittled away but the Harboursiders took their seventh-straight as comfortable 17pt winners – the win took Sydney to top place for the first time since 87-R18, SYDNEY 14.12-96 (Lockett 6), ST KILDA 11.13-79 … in fine Sunday weather at the Gabba 20,378 saw the Dons in a swirling wind well held in the first. The Bears then gained a match-winning break in the second term to hold a 31pt half-time lead. With BEWICK kicking three in the third the Bombers were far from done and clawed it back. But the Bears steadied and got back on track for a solid 35pt win with FLETCHER, LAMBERT and VOSS turning in great games, BRISBANE 18.19-127, ESSENDON 10.8-68 … best crowd of the round (41,380) in MCG sunshine saw a game which was anybody’s until the last break. The Tigers streaked away in the final term for a big 46pt win. DAVID NEITZ gave the Demons an on-target seven-straight, while MATTHEW RODGERS was b.o.g. for the Tigers, RICHMOND 18.19-127 (Richardson 6), MELBOURNE 12.9-81 (Neitz 7.0) — NATHAN BOWER (Rch) suffered a serious knee injury, ending his season … at the Western Oval to only 8674, the Dockers started well but the Scraggers came back in the second. The third became goal-for goal as the lead changed four times when 11 goals were kicked. As LUKE DARCY sparked for the Dogs (18 kicks, 14 handballs) Scray went away, handing Freo their sixth-straight defeat, FOOTSCRAY 18.9-117 (Hargraves 5), FREMANTLE 15.9-99 …

<||> ANDREW JARMAN on Monday was fined $10,000 by Adelaide and suspended two matches for refusing to play with the Crows against Carlton; Jarman will also be ineligible for SANFL appearances …

<||> TRIBUNAL – DAMIEN MONKHORST (Col) and STUART ANDERSON (NM) were cleared of charges – Monkhorst had been charged of stepping on North defender David King, while Anderson had been charged with striking Robert Pyman (Col) … JEFF HILTON (Mel) was cleared of striking Justin Charles (Rch) … JASON McCARTNEY (Ade) when found guilty on two striking charges was suspended four matches – striking Carlton’s Greg Williams and Brent Heaver; in his six seasons with Collingwood (66 games) and Adelaide it followed suspensions last year of three weeks in R2 and two weeks in R12 …

<||> betting for the BROWNLOW MEDAL by Tabcorp’s National Sportsbook rated JAMES HIRD (Ess) at 5/1 favourite, with three players ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES (Car), GARRY HOCKING (Gee) and ROBERT HARVEY (StK) on the second line at 10/1 … DEREK KICKETT (Syd) was named Aboriginal and Islander Sports Star of the Year …

<||> the WAFL will expand to nine teams in 1997 after MANDURAH was granted a licence on July 16th – Mandurah, south of Perth will field Firsts, Reserves and a Colts team …

<||> TRIBUNAL #2 – following AFL action under the melee rule, 12 players from the Brisbane-Essendon game at the Gabba faced the music on Wednesday. A total of $36,000 in fines were handed down – BRISBANE – $3000 each to Andrew Gowers, Roger Merrett, Darryl White, Craig Lambert and Michael Voss, $2000 to Brent Green. ESSENDON – $5000 for Damien Hardwick and Michael Prior, $3000 from Peter Berbakov, $2000 each to Chris Daniher, Michael Symons and Dean Wallis. Additionally, both clubs were each fined $10,000.

<||> ROBERT WALLS, Richmond coach and DARREN KOWAL (Mel) were charged with misconduct by the AFL following an investigation of incidents from last Sunday – Walls was on report for making intimidating and forceful comments to Kowal at half and full-time; Kowal was cited for chesting Walls at the end of the game and pushing Tiger runner Rod O’Reilly during the contest – charges to be heard next Monday night …
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Brisbane unveil new guernsey
Sacrificing its colours, BRISBANE unveiled the jumper of the merged entity. From next season, the BRISBANE LIONS will carry the traditional maroon, gold and blue of Fitzroy and the long-familiar Lion logo. A version of the existing Fitzroy theme song to the tune of the Marseillaise will also be retained by Brisbane. In a further announcement JOHN BIRT the Fitzroy CEO (and three other full-time administrative staff) was named to run the Melbourne arm of the Brisbane Lions next season.

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Rain + heavy grounds = low scores
Hawthorn crush Carlton
250th premiership match at night


ROUND 16 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 19–20–21.
MILESTONES – From the first staged at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground on Monday June 16 1952, League night contests for the premiership reached 250 on Friday … TROY BOND (Car, now Ade) and TROY GRAY (Syd) played their 50th games … heavy grounds in Melbourne and Perth brought a string of low scores …

Friday night at the MCG suffered from rain and a lack of a true contest as the Kangas for 24,778 fans handed a huge hiding to the Saints who were scoreless in the last and added just 1.4 after quarter-time; McKERNAN again gave a stunning performance while CAREY alone scored more than the entire Saints tally, NORTH 17.16-118 (Carey 5.6), ST KILDA 4.5-29 — the Saints score was the second lowest under lights – they already hold the record with 3.8-26 versus Adelaide, 95-R3-FP … on Saturday a large 58,768 at the MCG saw a match played in two halves – the Tigers controlled the first half with RICHARDSON an imposing target and the off-target Dons (eight behinds with a goal) trailed 3.11 to 8.7. In a dramatic turnaround the Bombers kicked eight-goals straight before their next behind; with the late inclusion COCKATOO-COLLINS playing his best for the year, despite late Tiger efforts the Dons held on for a 20pt win, ESSENDON 15.18-108, RICHMOND 13.10-88 (Richardson 5.3) – ASHLEY PRESCOTT (Rch) suffered a broken collarbone … a bare 9994 braved the slippery, sloshy Whitten Oval as the Bears gained their first win in Melbourne for almost two years. In an ugly game only 58pts were scored, BRISBANE 4.12-36, FOOTSCRAY 3.4-22 — it was the Bears lowest victory tally and their first win from nine contests at Scray. The Bulldogs recorded their third lowest League score from 1425 games. The display again put the question if Whitten Oval was to a standard required for AFL football … the below par Cats put a focus on rumours, that all may not be well within the club – however they were always on top of a limp Redlegs effort in the Kardinia Park gluepot for 17,538, GEELONG 13.10-88, MELBOURNE 4.6-30 … despite the rain, 28,670 were at Waverley on Saturday night. The Hawks stamped their authority from the start and never yielded, gaining their first success over the Blues after 7-straight losses since 1991 – the Hawks enjoyed positive control of the contest with disciplined teamwork which lifted them into the Eight for the first time since R1, HAWTHORN 15.8-98, CARLTON 7.7-49 … the SCG was the only game of the round to be played in near-perfect conditions. The Crows in the first 15 minutes threatened a boilover, and then the Harboursiders got into stride and zapped through 10-unanswered goals to lead 11.4 to 3.5 by the 19th minute of the second. Swans midfielder DYSON was crashed and after being stretchered with concussion the Coathangers lost their focus. The Crows chipped away but never threatened to cut a 48pt deficit to a 22pt defeat for the 29,174 fans, SYDNEY 16.14-110 (O’Loughlin 4), ADELAIDE 12.16-88 … it was their 209th and final League contest when the Magpies and the Roys met at Victoria Park to 23,567. Throughout, the Lions were always competitive but couldn’t counter the Woods 7-goal third term – gallant in defeat, the Roys were accorded the rare tribute in being applauded from the field by the Magpie members, COLLINGWOOD 17.14-116, FITZROY 10.16-76 – SCOTT RUSSELL for the Magpies gave a quality performance … at Subiaco, constant rain still brought 35,406 out for the local derby – the Dockers gave it their all but failed to match the talent and strength of the Eagles who recorded a 34pt win and their 11th-successive win, WEST COAST 12.10-82, FREMANTLE 7.6-48 …

<||> TRIBUNAL — Richmond coach ROBERT WALLS was fined $5000, his senior runner ROD O’RILEY suspended the rest of the season and Melbourne defender DARREN KOWAL fined $1500 – the trio had been charged with misconduct from incidents in the Melbourne-Richmond R15 game at the MCG …

<||> COLLINGWOOD considering abandoning Victoria Park as its preferred venue for a revamped Olympic Park, retaining the MCG as the main focus for major games …

<||> SYDNEY re-signed TONY LOCKETT and PAUL KELLY – the two Brownlow Medalists are under contract until to the end of 2000 …

<||> in a fiery meeting at Dallas Brooks Hall, Brisbane execs NOEL GORDON and ANDREW IRELAND were booed but Fitzroy legend KEVIN MURRAY urged the Fitzroy membership to get behind the Brisbane Lions …
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Demons and Hawks start merger talks
With an AFL inducement of $6m still on the table, officials of both MELBOURNE and HAWTHORN confirmed the two clubs were set to begin merger discussions. Players of both clubs were duly advised.
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North threatens Brisbane merger
The final obstacle to the merger between Fitzroy and Brisbane appeared overcome when Lions’ creditors accepted a payment deal of between 40 and 57-cents in the dollar. But, within hours, North Melbourne, the jilted third party threatened to scuttle the Brisbane Lions through the Supreme Court and the Trade Practices Commission.

Fitzroy administrator MICHAEL BRENNAN suggested the AFL would need to implement stricter financial standards on clubs to avoid a repeat of the Fitzroy saga. He said the Lions would have a cashflow “hole” of between $850,000 and $1.3 million by the end of this month.
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<||> TRIBUNAL — PAUL COUCH (Gee) after an unblemished 248-games pleaded guilty and was suspended one match for striking Darren O’Brien (Mel) … GREG STAFFORD (Syd) and DAVID PITTMAN (Ade) were cleared of wrestling, after the case was thrown out on a technicality …
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Footscray-AFL settle out of court
In Melbourne’s Court of Appeal FOOTSCRAY lost its legal tussle when it was refused leave to sue Fitzroy; Scray’s action against the AFL was dismissed as both reached an out-of-court settlement – costs must be paid by Footscray to Fitzroy — Roys administrator MICHAEL BRENNAN said later “I hope to settle the matter commercially with Footscray” …

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Bears end Eagles 11-game streak
Dockers burst the Sydney bubble
Crows best-ever second quartera


ROUND 17 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 26–27–28.
MILESTONES – MICHAEL MALTHOUSE coached his 300th League game (Fsc 135, WCE 165) … 35-year old JUSTIN MADDEN (327 games) was dropped from the Carlton line-up for the first time since mid-’92; playing early in the Twos, it was Justin’s first game at Punt Road …  DAMIEN MONKHORST (Col) played his 150th, while 50 games arrived for, CHRIS SCOTT (Bri), GLENN MANTON (Ess, now Car), KRISTIAN BARDSLEY (NM, now StK), JASON MOONEY (Syd) … Adelaide with 14.2-86 kicked the highest-ever second quarter tally … Sydney extended its losses in Perth to nine successive games … STEWART LOEWE with 7.3 became the 150th St Kilda player (in club game 1,861) to kick 7-goals-or-more in a match.

The round was marked with the loss through injury of several stars from originally selected sides – TONY LOCKETT (Syd), GARY ABLETT (Gee), NICKY WINMAR (StK) also PETER SOMERVILLE and CHRIS DANIHER (Ess).

WAYNE CAREY gave one of the most highly-rated performances when he kicked 11.2 (those two, were posters!) on Friday night to 20,995 at the MCG as the Kangas tore the dispirited Demons apart – Carey’s showing was sheer brilliance but lots of Roos were star performers, including McKERNAN, ANTHONY STEVENS, BRAD SHOLL and ANTHONY ROCK. NORTH MELB 28.15-183 (Carey 11.2, McKernan 5), MELBOURNE 11.4-70 … the Blues without nine of their premiership stars, met the Bombers who lost three key players with flu before the game when 65,420 were at the G on Saturday. Both sides were under-manned, but the narrow nine-point margin could not alone be put down to the Bombers wastefulness in front of goal, as the title-holders deserve greater credit than that. The Blues under pressure with three losses from four, won with a tight defence and containment of the Dons usual match-winners, CARLTON 13.13-91, ESSENDON 11.16-82 … in a total reversal of form from the previous week, 24,289 at Waverley watched the Saints get a sniff near half-time then crucial goals to LOEWE early in the third gave the Saints the thrust to inflict an important upset win over a the haphazard Cats. Loewe with 14 marks was a clear match-winner, ST KILDA 14.16-100 (Loewe 7.3), GEELONG 11.10-76 … former Blue CHRIS BOND relished a return to Princes Park with a 32-possession game for the Tigers. MATTHEW RICHARDSON capped it off with 7.3 as the top-tackling Tigers left the Hawks lamenting as their midfielders were found wanting – Dunstall’s absence after half-time with a jarred knee didn’t help the Hawks cause, for 19,081 – RICHMOND 17.12-114 (Richardson 7.3, Brendon Gale 4), HAWTHORN 11.7-73 (Dunstall 5.0) … in an unusual Saturday arvo game at the Gabba, the Eagles on 11-straight looked slick and had the early ascendancy. But in a dramatic turn-around, MATTHEW CLARKE (Bri) got on top of RYAN TURNBULL (WCE) in the ruck and tho’ LYNCH was lost to injury, the Bears’ highly-rated midfield took over. JUSTIN LEPPITSCH, out for five weeks with injury came off the bench for three goals, AKERMANIS booted six, VOSS four and HART three — shut the gate, as the Bears ran the legs off the Eagles for a booming win, BRISBANE 25.13-163 (Akermanis 6.0), WEST COAST 17.14-116 … in Sunday sunshine at the MCG for 28,776, the Magpies looked a Million Dollar Side with 8.3 on the board before the Dogs kicked their first goal after 26 minutes. BUCKLEY was great off the half-back flank setting up the Magpies first term onslaught. Then, with sheer persistence, the Doggies wore the Woods down, kicking 15 goals to nine for the rest of the game, with only time beating the Tricolours, COLLINGWOOD 17.12-114, FOOTSCRAY 16.12-108 – Rocca had only four kicks for the game and 0.2 … at Football Park for 31,880, the Lions’ recent brave performances against Collingwood and West Coast were just a distant memory as the Crows had a remarkable first half, kicking an all-time record 14.2 in the second term to lead by 106pts at half-time, 19.3-117 to 1.5-11 — every record looked set to be broken. The Lions however surprisingly outscored the Crows in the last half to finish with some respectability – ADELAIDE 26.10-166 (Robran 5.0, Modra 5.1), FITZROY 9.13-67 … the Dockers had lost their past seven; the Coathangers had won their last eight, as the Subiaco contest for 17,513 opened. Though Lockett was missing his presence would not have made a difference as Freo had too many runners and dominance of the midfield – it seemed as though the Swans had begun to believe in their own press. The Harboursiders struggled and delivered a thoroughly deserved 26pt victory to the Dockers with coach Rodney Eade, admitting – “it’s been coming for a while” – FREMANTLE 15.14-104, SYDNEY 12.6-78 …
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Melbourne and Hawthorn in merger discussions
A Monday night press conference confirmed MELBOURNE and HAWTHORN were officially entering merger discussions; Hawk prez BRIAN COLEMAN admitted his club could lose upwards of $700,000 this season.
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<||> Richmond forward NICK DAFFY suffers a broken left hand … GARRY LYON (Mel) confirms he will not play again this season, as a long-endured back injury clouds his career future …
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Bombers fined $112,000
<||> ESSENDON were fined $112,000 and penalised a second-round draft selection for a series of salary cap violations detected during an unrelated investigation into draft tampering surrounding the Bombers selection of BEN DOOLAN from Sydney in the 1993 pre-season draft.
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<||> TRIBUNAL – TODD CURLEY (Fsc) was suspended one match for intentionally tripping Paul Williams (Col) … from video citings, SCOTT WYND (Fsc) at his first Tribunal appearance was cleared of charging Jason Wild (Col) ... CRAIG O’BRIEN (Syd) who had previously been suspended for 13 weeks in reserve and senior grades, pleaded guilty and was suspended three weeks for striking Dale Kickett (Fre) … LAZAR VIDOVIC (StK) pleaded not guilty and was cleared of headbutting John Barnes (Gee) – video evidence failed to prove the offence …

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Cats blow the Crows away
Another Saints-Pies nail-biter
Sunday Subiaco heart-stopper


ROUND 18 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 2–3–4.
MILESTONES – In his 150th game JAYSON DANIELS (StK, then Syd and back to StK) was stretchered with concussion in the second term … ROBERT HARVEY (StK) was luckier in his 150th, kicking the goal which sealed the Saints tight-victory … PETER RICCARDI (Gee) played his 100th … MARK BAYES (Syd), BRETT HEADY (WCE) and BARRY MITCHELL (Car) played their first senior games of the season … big Melbourne rain during the week meant many heavy grounds, but the placings of the Top Eight clubs failed to change … Friday night’s win brought North Melbourne’s 600th League victory … TONY LOCKETT in Sydney with 5.5 passed 1,100 career goals. Tony joins GORDON COVENTRY and JASON DUNSTALL as the only players in 100 years to pass 1,100.

Well-held early, WAYNE CAREY produced another stunning performance under lights on Friday night for 28,555 at the G – the Hawks showed first half spirit leading at the two breaks but the Kangas were more positive in the run home taking outright leadership with a 31pt win, NORTH 19.16-130 (Carey 7.5), HAWTHORN 15.9-99 (Dunstall 4, all in the first half) … on Saturday, Heaver a late-Blues withdrawal was replaced by Mitchell – Spalding was back after injury and the Blues at home looked powerful in the wet showing remarkable Princes Park accuracy for their 15,277 fans – the Dockers had a real dip, but were no match for the likes of CHRISTOU, KOUTOUFIDES and CAMPOREALE who had a blinder. CARLTON 23.7-145 (Camporeale 7.1), FREMANTLE 11.18-84 … three players were stretchered in a long Waverley second term, DANIELS (StK), MARK RICHARDSON (Col) and ROBERT NEILL (StK) — a sometimes physical match to 30,065; these two maintained the nature of recent close encounters – the Magpies got to within three points just before siren but a late goal by Harvey sealed it for the Saints – NATHAN BURKE and ROBERT HARVEY (StK) had stand-out games with a combined total of 60 possessions … the Saints kept their remote finals chances alive, while the defeat means early mothballs for the Magpies, ST KILDA 13.10-88, COLLINGWOOD 11.12-78 … without a goal for two quarters and down 15pts at the last change, the Cats were ragged at Kardinia Park (17,818) and looked set to hand the Crows a rare win in Victoria. With their season on the line, the boys from Sleepy Hollow woke up, to blow the Crows away with a huge 15 minutes and 9.4 in the last term to win by 35pts, GEELONG 15.14-104, ADELAIDE 10.9-69 … Sunday in Melbourne was 15-degree-umbrella-weather which four sides found difficult to handle – at the sloppy Whitten Oval for a lean 8757, the Bulldogs predictably had their 11th successive win from the past seven years over the Roys; the Lions were not disgraced with the talent they had on offer, FOOTSCRAY 8.12-60, FITZROY 6.9-45 … at Princes Park for 17,157 the Bears led all day, handling the bad conditions far better than the Tigers who failed to goal until the third term (half-time was 4.9 to 0.3). Though not a day for skills or purists it was a very important win  for the Bears, BRISBANE 9.16-70, RICHMOND 7.11-53 … the SCG had clear skies and a windy and warmish 21 degrees – the Harboursiders for 18,850 fans maintained second spot with a 63pt defeat of the Demons in a scrappy often undisciplined performance – had the opposition been of a higher level than what the Demons had on offer, the Swans would have been buried – Lockett had only one goal to the last break, but kicked four in the last, SYDNEY 17.13-115 (Lockett 5.5), MELBOURNE 6.16-52 … the Subiaco Oval crowd of 37,669 saw a stirring contest which in the first half was played at a frantic pace, with both exerting immense pressure. At half-time the Eagles looked to have all the answers with SUMICH in a great return to form already with five goals but already reported for striking in the second. The Bombers in the third quarter unleashed a terrific turnaround, booting 9.4 and grabbing the game by the throat. Not dead by a long chalk, West had the legs to comeback and with two freak goals from CHRIS WATERMAN and MITCHELL WHITE pipped the Dons who managed just a single behind in the last term, WEST COAST 14.15-99 (Sumich 6), ESSENDON 14.9-93 …

<||> After-match focus in Sydney revealed the statistics – the Swans all year had received 58 free kicks on the forward line. West Coast who scores about the same rate, have received 108 … Lockett in his 17 matches has received just six free kicks …
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Hawks plight worse than thought
The Herald Sun on August 5th reported the international accounting firm PRICE WATERHOUSE investigation (pre-dating current merger discussions) had revealed Hawthorn’s financial position was worse than thought and spelt out a real concern with a number of accounting treatments, concluding the club’s net asset position previously thought to be around $2 million, was vastly overstated. The report recommended the club has no option but to merge.
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<||> NORTH MELBOURNE after lengthy Melbourne rains, trained for two days at the SCG …

<||> weekend knee surgery to JOHN PLATTEN (Haw) likely to sideline him two weeks …    teammate CRAIG TRELEVEN (Haw) was hospitalised with four cracked vertebrae after he was met solidly by Mick Martyn (NM) in last Friday night’s game – Treleven may not play again this season …

<||> TRIBUNAL — MARK MERCURI (Ess) was suspended two matches for striking Peter Matera (WCE) … DAVID SIERAKOWSKI (StK) a first-time offender pleading guilty was suspended one match for striking Tony Francis (Col) … PETER SUMICH (WCE) found guilty of striking Damien Hardwick (Ess) was suspended two matches …

<||> Management whiz with Sizzler and Pizza Hut, JOHN MAY at 36 was appointed the new CEO at Collingwood …

<||> Richmond formed the JACK DYER FOUNDATION and an appeal to Tiger members to contribute $2 million to a redevelopment plan of its Punt Road headquarters …

<||> four BENDIGO teams, Golden Square, Kangaroo Flat, Sandhurst and South Bendigo tender submissions and expressions of interest, accommodating the $300,000 required annually to join the statewide VFL in 1998 … after five weeks on the sidelines, ANDREW JARMAN returned to the Adelaide line-up for the weekend game against Essendon at Optus Oval.

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Huge round for forwards
Demons provide a major upset
Eagles crumble to the Cats


ROUND 19 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 9–10–11.
MILESTONES – Hawthorn’s JASON DUNSTALL and Sydney’s TONY LOCKETT added their names to round 19 records with big goal tallies. A vintage Dunstall kicked 14.2 (one poster) on Saturday night in his 100th game at Waverley, while Lockett passed his fifth career century with 12.3 (one poster) at the SCG on Sunday. Lockett joined Dunstall and PETER HUDSON as the only League forwards to kick five centuries … PAUL COUCH (Gee) played his 250th; GARY O’DONNELL (Ess) 200; DEAN KEMP (WCE) 150; MATTHEW LIPTAK (Ade) 100, while PAUL BRODERICK (Fit, now Rch) completed his 100th consecutive match …

The faint Magpie hopes of finals disappeared on Friday night at the WACA to 22,874 when the Dockers posted their first win over the Pies – in a remarkable game of short-term bursts and wild fluctuations, Freo had 10 of their first-18 regulars out. Twice the Woods came back after a Freo run but the young Dockers never let the match slip away – NATHAN BUCKLEY had an explosive third term for the Maggies and almost single-handedly stole the game, FREMANTLE 15.16-106, COLLINGWOOD 11.16-82 … at the MCG on Saturday to 30,166, for most of the day the Demons thrashed the Blues leading by 50pts, moments into the last quarter. The Blues then played a blazing burst of football for 17-minutes to draw within a point — the Demons however steadied to kick the last three goals of the game to be 19pt victors – STYNES and NEITZ had outstanding games for the Redlegs, MELBOURNE 20.9-129 (Neitz 8.0), CARLTON 17.8-110 … after a broken thumb and three weeks in the Reserves, MATTHEW LLOYD was called up for only his 10th senior game and gave a match-winning effort as the Bombers were too strong in the run home from the Crows who had led in the third – at Princes Park for 15,794, TONY MODRA gave the Dons defence big problems yet his effort together with DARREN JARMAN was not enough, ESSENDON 21.17-143 (Lloyd 7.1), ADELAIDE 16.11-107 (Modra 8.2) … the Cats at home on Kardinia Park (21,081) were pumped-up as Brownlow Medalist PAUL COUCH sparkled in his 250th – the Eagles had few winners and received an all-day thrashing when Barnes, Hall and Ablett played dominating roles as the Corio Bay boys repeated their early season success, GEELONG 18.19-127 (Ablett 7.3), WEST COAST 12.10-82 … still with a sniff of possible finals action, the Saints at Western Oval (7781) cruised home to their 9th win as the Lions struggled and rarely scraped a score together – the Footscray venue was little more than a bog, and drew harsh words from Saints coach STAN ALVES, following earlier comments by MICK MALTHOUSE (WCE) and JOHN NORTHEY (Bri) – ST KILDA 13.10-88, FITZROY 5.5-35 … the Hawks climbed back to the Top Eight with a thorough 67pt thrashing of the Bulldogs who only had two goals to half time – key focus at Waverley Park by the Saturday-night 14,914 fans was on the remarkable performance by JASON DUNSTALL who kicked the Hawks first seven goals, finishing with 14.2, four days before his 32nd birthday – HAWTHORN 20.12-132, FOOTSCRAY 10.5-65 … it was another sunny Sunday at the SCG when a big 28,541 turned-out as the Harboursiders were more-committed than in recent weeks, feeding the ball to LOCKETT whose amazing marking ability drew five Tiger opponents. His first eight shots never missed bringing up in the process, his second 100 with the Swans and a career-fifth century. The Tigers were still a chance getting within 11pts in the last when RICHARDSON goaled in the second minute – the Swans finished it off with another 8.3 to be handsome winners, and regain top position, SYDNEY 20.10-130 (Lockett 12.3), RICHMOND 12.10-82 … Princes Park was the scene of another tense struggle for 15,453, as the Bears laid their Melbourne bogey to rest and with three wins from three visits gathered maturity – three crucial goals to JUSTIN LEPPITSCH in the last was enough to tip the scale their way and knock the Kangas off top spot. A surprising stat was, in general play no free-kicks were needed across all of the second term until deep into the third, BRISBANE 11.11-77, NORTH MELB 8.11-59 …

<||> TONY LOCKETT’s match-winning 12.3 against Richmond means he has now scored seven or more goals in his VFL-AFL 220 matches a remarkable 64 times. It elevated ‘Plugger’ ahead of GORDON COVENTRY (Col) who performed the feat 63 times. Next in line is JASON DUNSTALL (Haw) 53, PETER McKENNA (Col) 45, PETER HUDSON (Haw) and GARY ABLETT (Gee) 44, with DOUG WADE (Gee, NM) 40.

<||> Placings in the top four point to possibility that only one of the first four finals may be played in Melbourne … SHAUN SMITH (Mel) suffered another broken left arm on Saturday …

<||> the season ends for ANDREW BEWS (Bri) after Monday night knee surgery …

<||> Essendon defender DAVID GRENVOLD in a Reserves comeback broke a thumb …

<||> former Hawthorn players and officials led by DON SCOTT call upon club members to raise $1.7 million to stave off the merger with Melbourne …

<||> many Demon past players approve a news release supporting the merge …

<||> later in the week the Hawthorn board voted unanimously to the merger proposal with both membership meetings expected within the next month …

<||> TRIBUNAL – GREG STAFFORD (Syd) was suspended one match for striking Robert Powell (Rch) … TODD VINEY (Mel) received one match for striking Craig Bradley (Car) while teammate PAUL HOP-GOOD also received one match for striking Scott Camporeale (Car) – both Demons claimed the threat of the merger with Hawthorn had contributed to their actions … two video charges were laid against SHANE CRAWFORD (Haw) but were later withdrawn …
__________

136 of the greatest gather for Hall of Fame dinner
The greatest collection of football stars assembled at the National Tennis Centre in Melbourne on Wednesday August 14th when the inaugural dinner to members of the AFL Hall of Fame was held. All surviving members of the 136 named last February were officially inducted, receiving their plaques.
__________

NATHAN BUCKLEY signed on again with Collingwood for 1997-99 at a reported deal worth $850,000 until the end of 1999 …

<||> BRAD BOYD Fitzroy captain agreed on a Brisbane Lions four-year deal for $800,000.

<||> On Thursday, the AFL transferred the Footscray-St Kilda game to Optus on Sunday, due to the poor state of Whitten Oval.

<>

Bears roost biggest score of season
Wind and rain halt the goal-feast
Carey, Ablett, Couch and White all booked


ROUND 20 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 16–17–18.
MILESTONES – NATHAN BURKE (StK) reached 200 games … and 100 to STEVE PAXMAN (Fit) … it was game 1,900 for the South Melbourne-Sydney combination … the Harboursiders in their defeat of the Hawks registered the Swans first double in a season over Hawthorn since 1966 … PAUL COUCH (Gee) bagged his 200th goal but on the eve of the finals was booked again for striking, also reported were Ablett, Carey (NM) and Darryl White (Bri) … Brisbane with 29.13-187 against their new Fitzroy club-mates kicked the highest score of the year … from Princes to Paupers was the keynote as in one week, all top forwards were well-held – Dunstall got 0.5 at the Park, while Ablett had only two goals and five touches for his day …

The Friday night opener drew just 15,494 to a chilly MCG where the Demons led all night in a poor-standard contest where many of the basic skills went missing – the Dockers for ‘96 failed to win any in their eight Victorian visits, with a two-year record of two victories from 16 — MELBOURNE 13.14-92, FREMANTLE 10.11-71 … on Saturday, the wind whistled and rain fell at all venues — after 10 successive defeats by the Cats, the Tigers handed them a savage belting at the MCG for 50,633 – the tough contest saw JOHN BARNES (Gee) stretched with concussion in the second term. As the Tigers cruised in with a 65pt victory, on his evaluation, Cats coach GARY AYRES – ‘there were probably only four worth a mention, the other 17 were sub-standard’ – RICHMOND 19.18-132 (Powell 5), GEELONG 9.13-67 … a hardy 28,897 were at the Park to see the Coathangers register their first win over the Hawks in Melbourne by a Swans outfit since they were South Melbourne in 1981 — it started promisingly but as the Swans gradually won the arm wrestle, the three Ws – wet, wind and Waverley conspired to make it a hard, but forgettable encounter – the expected shoot-out by the leading full-forwards never eventuated, ANDREW DUNKLEY kept DUNSTALL goalless (0.5), while LOCKETT only kicked four, all in the first half – the win secured an SCG final for the Swans maybe two, SYDNEY 9.18-72, HAWTHORN 7.7-49 … before one of the lowest crowds of the season, barely 6469 were witness to the thorough 87pt Princes Park thrashing the Bears inflicted on the Roys – the Bears withstood crude confrontation and abuse hurled at them from fans of the near-to-death Lions – one positive was the class displayed throughout by the Bears MICHAEL VOSS – BRISBANE 29.13-187 (Akermanis 5), FITZROY 14.16-100 … under lights at Football Park where rain and hail pelted down with snow not far away, the on-field heat was turned on by the Crows who responded to the criticism of their mental toughness. It was frantic, desperation footy for 33,030 fans and North grafted away for a tight one goal win, but it was their first-ever in Adelaide from five attempts, NORTH 10.16-76, ADELAIDE 10.10-70 … on Sunday, Subiaco was in perfect condition and cloudless skies drew 40,085 for the expected mini-final between the Eagles and the Blues. Carlton looked the goods in the first ten minutes, but then West got on top and exposed the Blues’ lack of manpower – it was a runaway 59pt thumping with the Blues managing just 0.1 for the last term, WEST COAST 19.13-127, CARLTON 10.8-68 … again the Magpies started out promisingly against the Dons for 51,057 at the MCG, but the Same Old commitment, greater talent and class won out by a tight 11-points in a game which didn’t have much riding on it apart from pride and the valuable premiership points for the Bombers, ESSENDON 11.11-77, COLLINGWOOD 9.10-64 … the transferred game had a mere 7677 at Optus Oval where after a sluggish start the Bulldog midfield and forwards, with JAKOVICH in for only his fifth senior Scray appearance took charge in the second and buried all of the faint finals hopes the Saints held, SCRAY 14.11-95, ST KILDA 8.9-57 …

<||> TRIBUNAL — DARRYL WHITE (Bri) was found guilty of kicking Matthew Mansfield (Fit) and suspended for two matches … WAYNE CAREY (NM) was found not guilty on the charge of striking Jason McCartney (Ade) … GARY ABLETT was found not guilty of tripping Robert Powell (Rch) while PAUL COUCH (Gee) was cleared of striking Chris Bond (Rch) … ANTHONY INGERSON (Mel) was suspended two weeks for striking Greg Harding (Fre) …
__________

Demons unanimous vote to merge with Hawks
The Melbourne board unanimously voted to proceed with the Hawthorn merger and will put the issue to a vote of its members on Monday September 16th – the same night the Hawks are also expected to vote on the controversial issue.
__________

CRAIG KELLY (Col) at 30 announced he will retire at the end of the season – he may add another two to the 121 games he’s played since 1989 …

<||> ROBERT SHAW will quit the Adelaide coaching role after the minor round at 130 AFL games on heading Fitzroy for 86 (1991-94) and the Crows 44 (1995-96) – former Geelong coach MALCOLM BLIGHT was declared a hot favourite to fill the opening …

<||> alternate groups continue their fight to halt the merger between Melbourne and Hawthorn.

<||> ‘DALLY’ O’BRIEN in his late-70’s who captained North in their first finals appearance in 1945 passed away on August 15.

<||> The Lightning Premiership will probably not be played in 1997. This year over three atrocious days of February 9-10-11 the series drew only 24,276 and lost $300,000.
__________

John Elliott acquitted of fraud
After six years of one of Australia’s longest legal sagas, Justice Vincent on August 23rd in the Victorian Supreme Court acquitted Mr John Elliott and his co-defendants Mr Peter Scanlon and Mr Ken Biggins of theft and fraud charges. Mr Elliott is president of the Carlton FC.

<>

Bombers halt Sydney's dream run
Bears regain top spot, by a point
MCG farewell to the Fitzroy club


ROUND 21 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 23–24–25.
MILESTONES – DEAN ANDERSON (Haw, now StK) reached his 150th … Sydney lost a tight struggle as Essendon retained a 73-year hoodoo over the South Melb-Sydney combo – the last red-and-white win over the Dons at the MCG was in 1923 … the 69,273 at the G was the biggest minor round crowd ever to see the Swans play … the Tigers ‘farewelled’ the Roys from the Melbourne scene with a 151pt win – their biggest of 166 contests.

Friday night drew 52,426 to the MCG as the Cats recovering from the Tigers’ thrashing from the previous week, enjoyed a spirited 13pt win over the Roos – GARRY HOCKING and BARRY STONEHAM led the Corio Bay charge while TIM McGRATH held WAYNE CAREY pointless. It was a good showing with the Cats well-down on personnel finishing with only 19 fit men, GEELONG 16.13-109, NORTH 14.12-96 … on Saturday at Carlton for 21,674, not many fans of the Blues would have been happy even though they won by five goals over the Bulldogs – a match notable for an avalanche of errors, close range shots muffed and many turnovers, BRETT RATTEN was one of the few positives with 32 possessions for the Blues, CARLTON 13.18-96, SCRAY 9.12-66 … a big 69,237 at the MCG were treated to a great clash, good tough footy, twists and turns, excitement and incident, as the top-reigning Coathangers strived to win all eight games for the year in Melbourne – they were hard at the ball but the Dons three goals in 80 seconds (which was the final margin) to start the second term proved the Bombers had more tricks in their bag. There was still only a kick between them in the last term but the early domination by GAVIN WANGANEEN and CHE COCKATOO-COLLINS, together with the DEAN WALLIS edge on TONY LOCKETT tipped the scales for the Bombers – a game they would have been unlucky to lose, ESSENDON 14.16-100, SYDNEY 12.10-82 — the Swans’ TONY LOCKETT was reported for an early second quarter incident which may prove to be the biggest Tribunal story since the famous John Coleman report of 1951 … at Waverley for 28,118 the Hawks made it eight wins from their past 12 in a scrappy, hard-fought outing with JASON DUNSTALL finding the big opening again and well served by MARK GRAHAM, PAUL SALMON and NICK HOLLAND – the Saints poor showing drew harsh criticism from their coaching hierarchy, HAWTHORN 12.8-80 (Dunstall 6), ST KILDA 9.9-63 … at the Gabba (19,204) under lights, the Dockers were the far-better side all night, more possessions and greater desperation. In what was a low-standard contest it came down to the limp-Bears not only stealing the game by a point (the 247th) but going to the top of the table! — BRISBANE 10.11-71, FREMANTLE 10.10-70 … another day of Sunday Subiaco Oval sunshine drew 33,689 – after a great opening, it looked by just ‘how far’ the Eagles would win, then the Demons seized the advantage as West fell into ‘flash’ footy and there were only 16pts in it at the long break. After half-time, the Eagles with 11 unanswered goals demolished the Redlegs repeating their R6-PP effort, WEST COAST 24.7-151 (Sumich 6 Donnelly 4, Schofield 4), MELBOURNE 11.12-78 … on Sunday night at Football Park, 40,212 saw the Magpies jump out of the blocks with six-straight goals, from which the Crows never recovered. The win (with 11 goalkickers) brought future hope for the Woods, and further soul-searching by the Crows, COLLINGWOOD 24.9-153 (Rocca 5), ADELAIDE 14.12-96 (Modra 6) – Brownlow contender NATHAN BUCKLEY (Col) was booked on a trip charge…
__________

MCG goodbye to the Maroons
An emotional pre-game cavalcade of their past champions farewelled the Fitzroy club in its final Melbourne appearance on Sunday August 25. It was club game 1,927 for the soon-departing Lions and their 165th contest on the MCG. It would bring a 92nd loss and the heaviest defeat suffered at headquarters.
__________

The Tigers for 48,884 fans at the MCG were in firm control all day and only their early inaccuracy saved the Roys from a greater embarrassment – the final term of 11.7-73 by the Tigers was the biggest-ever finish kicked at the MCG — and the final 151pt margin second only to Hawthorn’s 160pts versus the Dons in 1992 – MATTHEW RICHARDSON had 21 marks for the day, and to fully express the Tigers dominance they had 248 kicks to 133, and marks were counted at 113 to 48, RICHMOND 28.19-187 (Richardson 7.5, B.Gale 6), FITZROY 5.6-36 …
__________

Crowds for Round 21 created a new record of 313,444. It topped the 1995 R21 figure by almost 100,000, and bettered the 1996 re-enactment R7 of 305,573.
__________

<||> TRIBUNAL – Followed by a huge media contingent, TONY LOCKETT (Syd) on Monday night was at AFL headquarters and on pleading not guilty was cleared from a misconduct charge of striking Barry Young (Ess) — for his 10th appearance (21-game suspensions) Lockett had been supported by a letter of reference from NSW Premier BOB CARR, but the sitting was brief and Lockett was not required to defend himself …

<||> TRIBUNAL #2 – on Wednesday, NATHAN BUCKLEY (Col) was suspended one match for tripping Ben Hart (Ade) …

<||> Controversy erupted when AFL Investigation officer MARTIN AMAD resigned his position, claiming the AFL had misrepresented him in his findings of the John Howat (Rch) and John Barnes (Gee) matter from R20 – the AFL released a press statement to the contrary.

<||> JOSEPH (‘Diamond Joe’) GUTNICK whose personal wealth is listed at $430 million, entered the Melbourne merger matter, extending his support for the Demons to remain in their own right – his offer however was not clear and remained unclarified after a Thursday meeting with the Demons board … the HAWTHORN survival thrust led by DON SCOTT stutters as only $260,000 is so far pledged to the $1.7 million being sought …

<||> GREG WILLIAMS (Car) at 33 had surgery to his right knee amid speculation his career of 255 matches and two Brownlow Medals may be finished … ALLEN JAKOVICH after only seven goals from seven games agrees to sever his ties from Footscray – Bulldog prez PETER GORDON suggests he may not seek a further term …

<>

Goodbye to the Fitzroy club
Hawthorn claim 8th place
Sydney finish as minor premiers


ROUND 22 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 30–31, September 1.
MILESTONES – FITZROY after 113 years played its 1928th League game at Subiaco Oval on Sunday then fade as a single entity … CHRIS BOND (Rch) and JAMIE SHANAHAN (StK) reached 100 games … the Melbourne club played game 1,900 … STEVE WALLIS after 261 matches with Footscray (1983-96) retired … JASON DUNSTALL (Haw) became the first player in 100 years to kick six career centuries of goals … Sydney, from 12th last year finished on top of the ladder – the first time the Swans have done so since 1945.

The final round Friday opener drew 42,598 to the MCG where the Dons had dominated the second term yet found the gritty Bulldogs in front from a CHRIS GRANT goal with only two minutes left – an unmarked MARK MERCURI gripped the ball, played on to goal moments later to give the Bombers a breathless three-point win, ESSENDON 11.13-79, FOOTSCRAY 11.10-76 … the Blues spirit went up a few notches when they delivered an all-day thrashing to the Cats casting a giant shadow over the Kardinia Park campaign for 27,659 – the stakes were always going to be high but the Blues rose and using the strong wind, again raised the question of how good the Cats are under pressure, CARLTON 16.11-107, GEELONG 9.11-65 — the furious Geelong coach GARY AYRES publicly blasted his players … at Victoria Park, 21,126 saw CRAIG KELLY and ALAN RICHARDSON play their last games as the Magpies blitzed the lethargic Bears throughout the last half – the Woods were always harder to the ball and thoroughly deserved their 49pt win, COLLINGWOOD 15.10-100, BRISBANE 6.15-51 … two of the competition’s great disappointments ended their season at Waverley for just 14,778 – following an even first term, the Saints powered away from the Crows with the strong-marking but erratic PETER EVERITT and an on-target STEWART LOEWE kicking them to a 69 point victory, ST KILDA 20.24-144 (Everitt 7.7, Loewe 4.0) ADELAIDE 11.9-75 … on Saturday night at the MCG, 63,196 were treated as merger-contenders the Demons and the Hawks turned on a thriller with DUNSTALL in brilliant touch, kicking a match-winning 10.3 (six in the second term) – desperation won the vital points for the Hawks but the margin (the 248th one-pointer) was proof of how tight the contest was, HAWTHORN 15.12-102 (Dunstall 10.3), MELBOURNE 15.11-101 … gale-force winds and rain which had bucketed down for 24-hours didn’t deter 29,517 braving the SCG conditions on Saturday (against a live-telecast which rated 19) – without the injured Lockett and no replacements in the last term the Coathangers maintained constant pressure on the fighting Eagles – West kicking home with a strong wind were held goalless as the Harboursiders climbed to the minor premiership with a courage-laden 35pt win, SYDNEY 12.13-85, WEST COAST 6.14-50 … in fine MCG conditions, 61,740 saw the Tigers drag back the Roos early dominance to lead in the third, but the effort left them spent and the Kangas blazed away with 9.2 in the last to be thorough victors, ending the Tigers hope for 8th place, NORTH 21.15-141 (Sholl 5.0), RICHMOND 16.13-109 (Richardson 6.2) … the Dockers at Subiaco Oval provided a fitting farewell to the Fitzroy club on Sunday with 22,574 attending. The emotional baggage was too heavy to bear and the Lions were soundly defeated for their 35th loss of their past 36 contests, FREMANTLE 24.13-157, FITZROY 10.11-71 – it was Freo’s biggest victory of their 44 League matches — for the trivia minded GLEN QUARTERMAIN in The Herald Sun noted, “Fitzroy’s final goal was kicked by SIMON ATKINS. He drilled his memorable major on the run at the 25-minute mark of the last quarter at 4.37pm Melbourne time.”

<||> THE CENTENARY FINAL EIGHT – Sydney 66, North 64, Brisbane 62, West Coast & Carlton 60, Essendon 58, Geelong 54 and Hawthorn 46.

ANDY COLLINS (Haw) in his 189th consecutive game was booked from video for striking Adem Yze (Mel) …

<||> MALCOLM BLIGHT accepted the role as coach of ADELAIDE on a deal reported as $1.2 million for three years – his term starts mid-October. The day after Blight’s appointment the Adelaide board sacked ANDREW JARMAN; inaugural captain CHRIS McDERMOTT will not return nor TONY McGUINNESS while WAYNE WEIDEMANN and GREG ANDERSON will go or be traded – that was just the start of a clean out.

<||> The, Melbourne ‘Demons Forever Foundation’ with $3m over five years was proposed by ‘Diamond’ JOE GUTNICK as former Hawthorn presidents RON COOK, PHIL RYAN and SANDY FERGUSON moved to seek a Supreme Court injunction and halt merger moves.

The Sporting Globe, a pink footy icon since 1922 was published for the last time on September 3 – first Fitzroy, now the Globe! …

<||> FM station TRIPLE-M firms up EDDIE McGUIRE for 1997 calls …

<||> GARY ABLETT (Gee) was fined a reported $10,000 for showing-up 10 minutes late at a compulsory training run – amid threats he would be dropped, Ablett later apologised to his teammates …

<||> Magpie star MICK McGUANE warned by his peers he is on shaky ground on stepping out of line at a nightspot …

<||> the Blues and Magpies issue warnings that court action is likely if the League proceeds to implement its ruling that rival codes could not compete on grounds licensed to play AFL football ...

<||> the FITZROY name and colours may be revived if a proposed union with Coburg goes ahead …

<||> SYDNEY signed KELVIN TEMPLETON (CEO), coach RODNEY EADE and full-back ANDREW DUNKLEY on new deals until the end of 1999 …

<||> TRIBUNAL – ANDY COLLINS (Haw) on the eve of his intended retirement–was suspended one match for striking Adem Yze (Mel) – (the Hawks were eliminated in their opening final) …

<||> Hawk leader JASON DUNSTALL facing a fine, commented on The Footy Show that Collins’ first suspension in a 212-game career was a ‘bloody disgrace’ and ‘a total pack of crap’ …

<||> FOOTSCRAY president PETER GORDON and CEO DENNIS GALIMBERTI stepped down on Sept 4th as a task force headed by former players RICK KENNEDY and RAY BAXTER, together with businessmen DAVID SMORGON and ALAN JOHNSTON took de-facto control of the Bulldogs.

Ladder after Round 22
W L D F A % Total
1 SYDNEY 16 5 1 2152 1737 123.9 66
2 NORTH MELB 16 6 2526 1982 127.4 64
3 BRISBANE 15 6 1 2174 1731 125.6 62
4 WEST COAST 15 7 2201 1758 125.2 60
5 CARLTON 15 7 2116 1909 110.8 60
6 ESSENDON 14 7 1 2209 2023 109.2 58
7 GEELONG 13 8 1 2353 2047 114.9 54
8 HAWTHORN 11 10 1 1893 1921 98.5 46
9 Richmond 11 11 2282 1944 117.4 44
10 St Kilda 10 12 2053 2033 101.0 40
11 Collingwood 9 13 2203 2142 102.8 36
12 Adelaide 8 14 2233 2327 96.0 32
13 Fremantle 7 15 1830 1983 92.3 28
14 Melbourne 7 15 1743 2463 70.8 28
15 Footscray 5 16 1 1654 2139 77.3 22
16 Fitzroy 1 21 1452 2935 49.5 4

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Bears go through, by a point
Eagles, Roos post huge wins
Cats & Hawks bow out of the race


QUALIFYING FINALS – Fri-Sat-Sun, September 6-7-8.
MILESTONES – For the first time in 100 seasons there was no Saturday League footy in Melbourne as Qualifying Finals were played in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth with only a Sunday game at the MCG —SYDNEY won the club’s first final for 51 years – the last was 45-2SF-PP versus Collingwood … DEREK KICKETT (NM, Ess, now Syd) and ALASTAIR LYNCH (Fit, now Bri) reached 150 games … SHAUN HART (Bri) his 100th ….

The Gabba 2QF set a new crowd record of 22,003 on Friday night and it proved to be one of the best finals of recent years. The Bears started at full steam, had a rock-hard defence and Lynch was on fire early up forward. Then it was the Bombers turn, for two remarkable bursts of footy. The Bears led by 27pts midway into the last term and with talent and persistency the Dons dragged it back. It would be sad if after such a terrific game, WANGANEEN would be remembered for hitting the post in the dying minute which could have won the game Fletcher, Champion and Leppitsch were great for the Bears while Wanganeen and Hird were the Dons best and Alessio not far away, BRISBANE 15.11-101 (Leppitsch 4, A.Lynch 4), ESSENDON 15.10-100 … playing tough man-on-man footy, the Eagles slaughtered the Blues at Subiaco in the 1QF on Saturday afternoon to 41,501. West were already looking winners by the time Kernahan (at 23-minutes) kicked the Blues only first term goal – the Blues captain was the single forward focus with Carlton missing the injured Williams and Sexton – McKenna, McIntosh, Kemp and Metropolis ruled the defence area for the Eagles while at the other end Silvagni contained Sumich. The Blues improved in the third but this was offset by McKenna who pulled down six marks and had 14 possessions for the quarter. With the exception of Koutoufides who had 31 match possessions the Blues playing well-below their capacity, received their second 10-goal hiding in three weeks from the Eagles, WEST COAST 18.17-125 (Heady 3, Cousins 3), CARLTON 10.10-70 … Saturday night was near-perfect at the SCG to a disappointing 37,010 with almost 5,000 empty SCG member seats denying fans the excitement of a tough-tight finals contest. While the Harboursiders (without Lockett) struggled to kick goals, the finals-experienced Hawks were menacing – Paul Salmon dominated the ruck, Mark Graham was outstanding up-forward and Jason Dunstall always threatening until a tangle of legs saw him stretchered three minutes into the third with a knee injury. O’Brien for the Coathangers was ferocious to the ball, leading strongly while midfielders Maxfield and Kelly worked hard – the last term produced several tremendous goals, one, almost a miracle from Maxfield for the Swans was equalled soon after by Woods for the Hawks – level pegging with only 1m 11s left, Cress-well for the Swans marked in the square and with a goal made his tally for the year 7.21 but against the gutsy and gallant Hawk outfit, the red-and-white club had held on to win their first final in 51 years, SYDNEY 13.12-90 (O’Brien 5), HAWTHORN 12.12-84 … under heavy Sunday skies, 69,323 were witness to a masterful performance at the MCG as the Kangas in the 3QF led throughout to thrash the Cats – the Corio midfielders were stifled and the Roos defensive pressure on Ablett, Stoneham and Colbert was so thorough they were not allowed a first half mark, and only six by the trio for the whole game – McKernan set the Kanga pattern with seven first term marks while Brett Allison produced a personal-best effort of 7.0, as Carey directed the traffic and Martyn was rock-solid in defence – Hocking one of the few to perform for the Cats, NORTH MELB 19.17-131 (Allison 7.0), GEELONG 9.17-71 – the match produced speculation that several Cats may have played their last games, even Ablett, possibly Stoneham, maybe Couch …

<||> Rating figures for the Qualifying Finals proved interesting. The AFL went live into both Brisbane and Sydney. On Saturday night in Sydney 493,000 (rating 20) watched a live rugby league final against the Swans-Hawks match which brought 371,000 (rating 17). When the rugby ended, the Swans never fell below 20 and peaked with 26 at 10.30pm, corresponding to 534,000 viewers. The Friday night Gabba game rated 39 in Melbourne (852,000 viewers), while peaking in Brisbane at 24, against rugby league which rated 23.

<||> The AFL on Monday declared it would not enforce the rule (it implemented only last Thursday) restricting club involvement with soccer – paving the way for the Collingwood Warriors to become part of the NSL in October – Carlton are expected to have its soccer team playing at Princes Park the following season …

<||> on the eve of the Monday September 16 joint meetings for members, anti-merger groups for both Melbourne and Hawthorn begin to show stronger signs of support – well-known administrator RON JOSEPH joined the ‘Demon Alternative’ group … TERRY WALLACE was appointed coach at Footscray for 1997 and 1998 …

<||> Hawthorn’s JASON DUNSTALL the second-greatest goalkicker in League ranks with 1179 from 248 games will require a full reconstruction of his left knee. He faces as much as 12 months out of the game – at best he would miss the early matches of 1997. The worst-case scenario would be that Dunstall now 32, may decide not to play on.

<||> BEN COUSINS, the exciting 18-year old West Coast forward won the $10,000 Norwich Rising Star Award, by one vote from Sydney’s SHANNON GRANT.

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TEAM OF THE CENTURY

The Princess Theatre in Melbourne was the scene on Monday September 2nd when the appointed selection panel consisting of former VFL President ALLEN AYLETT, former chief football writer of The Age and ex-Melbourne player PERCY BEAMES, Geelong coach and player BOB DAVIS, Brownlow Medal winner GERARD HEALY, umpire JACK IRVING, senior broadcaster BILL JACOBS and chief writer of the AFL Football Record GREG HOBBS, announced 'The Team of the Century' –

B: Bernie Smith
(Geelong)
Stephen Silvagni
(Carlton)
John Nicholls
(Carlton)
HB: Bruce Doull
(Carlton)
Ted Whitten
(Footscray)
Kevin Murray
(Fitzroy)
C: Francis Bourke
(Richmond)
Ian Stewart
(Richmond-St Kilda)
Keith Greig
(North Melb)
HF: Alex Jesaulenko
(Carlton-St Kilda)
Royce Hart
(Richmond)
Dick Reynolds
(Essendon)
F: Leigh Matthews
(Hawthorn)
John Coleman
(Essendon)
Haydn Bunton
(Fitzroy)
Foll: Graham Farmer
(Geelong)
Ron Barassi Jnr
(Melbourne-Carlton)
Bob Skilton
(South Melb)
IC: Garry Ablett
(Hawthorn-Geelong)
Jack Dyer
(Richmond)
Greg Williams
(Gee, Syd, Car)

COACH

Norm Smith
(Melbourne)

UMPIRE

Jack Elder

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All-Australian team of 1996

The ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM of 1996 was also announced on September 2nd.

The team:

B: Nathan Burke
(St Kilda)
Stephen Silvagni
(Carlton)
Michael Sexton
(Carlton)
HB: Nathan Buckley
(Collingwood)
Paul Roos
(Sydney)
Peter Matera
(West Coast)
C: Chris Mainwaring
(West Coast)
Paul Kelly (capt.)
(Sydney)
Shane Crawford
(Hawthorn)
HF: James Hird
(Essendon)
Wayne Carey (vc)
(North Melb)
Mitchell White
(West Coast)
F: Michael Voss
(Brisbane)
Tony Lockett
(Sydney)
Darren Jarman
(Adelaide)
Foll: Corey McKernan
(North Melb)
Robert Harvey
(St Kilda)
Craig Lambert
(Brisbane)
IC: Glen Archer
(North Melb)
Matthew Richardson
(Richmond)
Garry Hocking
(Geelong)

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Eagles destroyed by Bomber blitz
Brisbane devastate the Blues
Essendon ink Sheedy until 1998
Carlton's biggest-ever finals loss


THE SEMI-FINALS – Saturday, September 14.
MILESTONES – The playing career of JUSTIN MADDEN ended in Brisbane at game 332 in the 2nd semi  – Madden first played 45 with Essendon (1980-82) moving then to Carlton in 1983 where he played a further 287 … the Bears kicked the highest score of a Second Semi Final topping the 22.20-152 kicked by Geelong in 1951 – the 97pt Gabba margin was also a new high, greater than the 89pts by Melbourne in 1964 … the 77pt defeat was in the top-six thrashings suffered by the Eagles from their 239 League contests … speculation ended when Essendon revealed KEVIN SHEEDY had been signed for his 17th and 18th seasons as coach until the end of 1998 …

Responding to a plea by Dons coach Sheedy to “support the Victorians” – 85,656 turned out to the Saturday afternoon First Semi-Final played in sunshine and 16 degrees and the pro-Vic crowd gave the Bombers an added edge in what had been forecast as a tight-finals-contest. But as Barry Richardson described in The Sunday Age – “From the opening bounce, the body language and the aggressive nature of the Essendon match-ups showed that the Bombers had come to play. But even in their wildest dreams, Essendon supporters could not have anticipated that everything would fall into place so well that the game would be over by three-quarter time” … the West Coast Eagles suffered a comprehensive 77pt thrashing with JAMES HIRD dominance as great as the Dons winning margin – PETER SOMERVILLE achieved one of the big statistics of the game, with 22 hit-outs, while GAVIN WANGANEEN, DARREN BEWICK, STEVE ALESSIO and BARRY YOUNG were almost knocked-up as their possession count seemed to number in the dozens – the Eagles started out badly making all the early mistakes, yet at half-time there was only 19pts in it after West under heavy pressure had recklessly misspent many second term opportunities with a wasteful 4.8. Beyond the long break, the Dons almost toyed with the Eagles, adding 13 goals to four … deep in the last term with the result concluded, the G became a mass of red-and-black scarves and jumpers as the Kevin Sheedy-inspired jacket-twirling exhibition from 1993 erupted with a crowd participation display rarely sighted — ESSENDON 22.12-144 (Alessio 5.0), WEST COAST 8.19-67 … Saturday night at the Gabba was another sell-out for 21,767 (with live local TV and radio coverage) in near-to-perfect mid-teens – the Blues though out-gunned in the opening 10 minutes of tight footy – their match-ups started to work but already the Bears had broken away and looked a confident combination with a 19pt lead at the first break. Carlton kicked the first four goals of the second and led by five points, but thereafter, Brisbane regained their focus and after ROGER MERRETT came on, rammed home eight goals to take a more than threatening 37pt advantage at half-time – to then, the Blues again had only one forward in STEPHEN KERNAHAN who kicked six goals to the long break. The second half became a procession of telling tactics and confident movement of the ball by the Bears who then unleashed nine last quarter goals to hand Carlton its biggest finals thrashing received in 100 years of footy – by 97pts points … the Bears huge win was tempered by ankle injuries to Brownlow contender MICHAEL VOSS, and MATTHEW CLARKE, with a hamstring suffered by JASON AKERMANIS — BRISBANE 26.14-170 (A.Lynch 7.1), CARLTON 10.13-73 (Kernahan 6.1).
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"Dorks" merger-plan fails
Monday September 16 saw two bitter meetings as Melbourne members met at Dallas Brooks Hall and Hawthorn at the Camberwell Civic Centre. Pro-merger speakers in both camps were dealt with roughly – even the revered former Hawk coach ALLAN JEANS was booed strongly for his views — MIKE SHEAHAN commenting in The Herald Sun – “Differences of opinion are one thing, bad manners, ridicule and naked aggression are something else” … the Demons voted 4679-4220 to merge; the Hawks gave it the thumbs down, 5241 votes to 2841.
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Merger fall-out
Hawk prez BRIAN COLEMAN resigned with a former head RON COOK set to take over as interim leader at Glenferrie … in the Demons camp, a compromise was reached between Diamond millionaire JOSEPH GUTNICK and IAN RIDLEY – Ridley will become the vp to the chairmanship of Gutnick and two members of the ‘Demon Alternative’ will become part of the Melbourne board – no placement however was offered to the outspoken anti-merger candidate BRIAN DIXON who had been suggested as being an understudy to Gutnick …

<||> TRIBUNAL – PETER SUMICH (WCE) was suspended one match on a striking charge against Gavin Wanganeen (Ess) …

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Dramatic finish put Coathangers in
Roos diminate hapless Bears
Two-million watch Sydney v Dons


THE PRELIMINARY FINALS – Saturday, September 21
MILESTONES – MARK HARVEY (Ess) reached his 200th – CRAIG SHOLL (NM) his 150th – BARRY YOUNG (Rch, now Ess) game 100 … the thrashing North handed out on Saturday extended the Bears to 18 successive losses at the MCG since 1988 … the live SCG telecast rated 29 locally, equivalent to 635,000 and over two million nationally. Unable to include the injured MICHAEL VOSS into the 1PF on Saturday afternoon, things for the Bears only got worse as the Kangas blitzed through a record preliminary first quarter of 8.3-51 for 66,719 at the MCG – down by 32pts at the first change, it already was a done deal as Brisbane tried desperately but failed to strike any sort of forward balance – the Roos led by as much as 75pts midway into the third. Collectively and individually North’s backline six of Fairley, Martyn, Laidley, Blakey, Archer and King were outstanding. Captain Carey provided the icing and gave a performance to match his dominating finals influence with 24 possessions, 14 marks and three goals – put simply, the Bears were at a loss to control Carey’s strength and endurance, nor able to curb the Roos other scoring options in Sholl, Crocker, Roberts nor Allison. A corked knee to Corey McKernan in a mid-game clash with his ruck opponent, caused concern in the Roos camp. Craig Lambert finished with 26 possessions for the Bears who along with Chris Scott and Matthew Clarke gave it their all but were overwhelmed in a comprehensive manner by a booming Kanga outfit, NORTH 17.12-114, BRISBANE 11.10-76 … in near-perfect night-time conditions, 41.731 stacked the SCG for the 2PF – a solid start in the opening 20-minutes by the Bombers gained them an early 26pt break before the Coathangers started to gather their composure and their first goal to Lewis just before the first break. Lockett after the most-publicised groin injury for years may have been out there, but to then had limited opportunities. The second term transformation was swift as all the Harboursiders lifted their work rate to overhaul the Dons in just 15-minutes, holding them to only two behinds and going into the long break with a two goal lead. With plenty of changes – Hird on the ball, Wanganeen into attack, Wallis to full-forward, the Bombers began to drag back what was a 19pt deficit and with four goals to close the third, it was a one-point ball-game with a quarter to go. The last term was a titanic struggle and with an early one from Hird, then after a Symons snap found the big ones, the Bombers were two goals up and only four minutes left. Tight, desperate footy by both sides – Kelly off the back flank spied the unattended Maxfield who, with two bounces found Lewis who goaled to make it just six points – with 2m 48s left a ball up, and from a mad scramble Kelly to Garlick, handball to Chapman, kick to Lockett who marked then played on centrering to Cresswell who goaled from 48 metres and level the scores – from the centre bounce, Stafford handballed over his head, another scramble, the Dons cleared then a brilliant Dyson tackle on Misiti – another ball-up; the Dons went forward as Dunkley just kept the attack out, getting the ball to the courageous Kelly who scrambled a kick to O’Loughlin who couldn’t maintain control – as Blumfield kicked, O’Loughlin came from nowhere unbalanced the kicker floating the ball to Chapman. He hooked it across to the charging Lockett who marked with 17 seconds left – Plugger outside of the 50m line after the siren, kicked the longest he had all night to post only a behind, but putting Sydney into their first grand final for the club since 1945, SYDNEY 10.10-70, ESSENDON 10.9-69 …

<||> An investigation began on Monday into a first term incident involving ANDREW DUNKLEY (Syd) and JAMES HIRD (Ess) from which Hird left the field under the blood rule …

<||> GAVIN WANGANEEN (Ess), 1993 Brownlow Medal winner became a prized signing, inking a three-year deal with PORT ADELAIDE for a reported $1.2 million — CHRIS GRANT (Fsc) resisted Port Power and will stay with the Bulldogs ...

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Centenary Brownlow Medal
James Hird and Michael Voss tie
North's McKernan misses honour by suspension


A one-week suspension to COREY McKERNAN (NM) in round six denied the Centenary Brownlow of its first triple-tie. Though leading throughout, McKernan was ineligible. The count held at the World Congress Centre in Melbourne on Monday night September 23 resulted in a tie – the tipsters getting it right. JAMES HIRD (Ess) and MICHAEL VOSS (Bri) were equal on 21 votes with McKernan, who under the old count-back system would have won

North’s unlucky McKernan in 1994 had been denied a win in the $10,000 Norwich Rising Award from a one-match suspension for tripping.

Leading vote-getters 3 2 1 Total
Corey McKERNAN (North Melb) 6 1 1 21
Michael VOSS (Brisbane) 5 2 2 21
James HIRD (Essendon) 4 4 1 21
Chris GRANT (Footscray) 4 3 2 20
Nathan BURKE (St Kilda) 3 4 3 20
Garry HOCKING (Geelong) 5 1 1 19
Paul SALMON (Hawthorn) 4 4 18
Justin CHARLES (Richmond) 5 2 17
Stewart LOEWE (St Kilda) 4 2 1 17
Guy McKENNA (West Coast) 4 2 1 17
Robert HARVEY (St Kilda) 3 2 4 17

Fittingly, on the day of the count, the grave bearing the body of Charles Brownlow (who died in 1924) and his wife Matilda in Geelong’s Eastern Cemetery was transformed into a site of historical importance.

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Sydney win Victorian Supreme Court injunction
Andrew Dunkley wins right to play in grand final


Preparation for the Centenary Grand Final was over-shadowed by media attention toward what will obviously be remembered as the Andrew Dunkley–James Hird incident from the Saturday (21st) SCG Second Preliminary Final.

An AFL investigation commenced on the Monday, but not until two-days later did JEFF BROWN and MARK PATTERSON cite Dunkley on a misconduct charge for striking Hird. Late on Wednesday the Sydney club sought an injunction which was heard in the Victorian Supreme Court most of Thursday.

Just before the Sydney side began to train at the SCG in front almost 5000 and a large media contingent, news came through from the Supreme Court that Justice Hampal foudn it was fundamental to the concept of natural justice that a person be given the chance to present their case properly, freeing Dunkley to play on Saturday – the Tribunal case was then scheduled to be heard in the days, after the Grand Final.

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North Melbourne takes Centenary Cup
Sydney loses but wins many hearts


THE GRAND FINAL – Saturday, September 25.
A wait of 19 seasons ended for North Melbourne when it captured the gold AFL Centenary Cup with a 43-point success over a gallant but tiring Sydney who had delivered a great contest for 93,102 fans at the MCG.

It was a popular win as the Kangaroos after their recent disappointments in finals added the coveted prize to their premierships of 1975 and 1977.

A meteoric rise for Sydney from 12th position last year, proved a losing-triumph for coaching debutante RODNEY EADE as the Harbour City in a positive manner embraced the Swans. Though many Victorian politicians, columnists and media personalities strived to portray the League ugly-ducklings in the guise of northern invaders with cutting selections of vitriol, the AFL Cinderfellas in the early stages took it all before them and threatened a boil-over, with Lockett kicking three in the first and the Coathangers leading by 25pts mid-way in the second term, 7.3-45 to 3.2-20.

Then it was North who lifted their work rate as several of their combination took advantage of slowly emerging skill errors by the Harboursiders ending the second term with a flurry of goals to Crocker, Allison and Freeborn (his third) for the Roos to take a two-point lead at the half-way mark, 8.7 to 8.5.

Once the Roos were switched on, there was nothing stopping them — COREY McKERNAN who had begun slowly played a pivotal role to finish with 29 possessions as he forgot about his wonky knee. But it was the total team-effort of the Kangas led by WAYNE CAREY which was the difference – GLEN ARCHER a courageous player at either end teamed brilliantly with MICK MARTYN when defending, ANTHONY ROCK showing all his cheeky qualities, ANTHONY STEVENS with plenty of possession and two valuable goals, PETER BELL providing the links, CRAIG SHOLL and WAYNE SCHWASS always prepared to battle when the chips were down.

The key contributors for the Swans were – PAUL ROOS who shone with class and defended resolutely, DARYN CRESSWELL had plenty of the ball and was extremely tough typifying the team spirit, DALE LEWIS played hard in the backline and was elusive up-forward, GREG STAFFORD played a fabulous first half but then faded to McKernan’s strength, Captain Courageous PAUL KELLY got 10 out of 10 for effort and had a memorable duel with Stevens, TONY LOCKETT who despite injury kicked 6.1, MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN who around the ground displayed coolness beyond his years.

The win for North Melbourne coach DENIS PAGAN topped a memorable career – as he became the first to coach Premiership teams in all three grades. Pagan led North to five flags in the Under 19’s, then in 1992 had coached Essendon to the Reserves pennant, before returning to Arden Street in 1993.

GERARD WRIGHT for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald provided a perfect summation — “The scoreboard said North won by 43 points, 19.17-131 to 13.10-88, but that was a no-more accurate picture of the difference between the two teams than the 79-point margin in favour of the Swans after their round-11 win at Optus Oval … the difference was not seven goals, but the day and the stakes, North Melbourne were ready, Sydney was not.

For the development of Australian Football in the ‘northern’ states the success of both Sydney and Brisbane in the 1996 season was paramount as reflected in the editorial of The Sun Herald in Sydney on Sunday September 29th, which said in part —

“… The warm reception the Swans received in Friday’s parade through the streets of Melbourne surprised even the players. In their former incarnation as South Melbourne, the Swans had not won the flag since 1933.

They had not contested a grand final since 1945. After relocating to Sydney, the Swans’ fortunes did not improve. The team’s financial and management crises were treated as a joke in some quarters, a tragedy in others.

The red-and-white jersey became associated with the wooden spoon.

The Swans were even dubbed easybeats south of the border, and had little more than novelty value at home.

But the Swans’ reversal of fortune – hard won over two seasons – gave it yesterday’s shot at the impossible dream … Sydney took the team to its heart. The Swans gave us thrills and spills, and acted as a unifying influence on the city. And in Sydney even those who couldn’t tell a mark from a shark were glued to television sets, urging on a new set of heroes.

Sydneysiders have flocked to the Swans not just because they’re winners, but for the pluck and style they have displayed during the finals.

Thanks, Swans, for a wonderful year.”

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Footystats Diary
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006


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