Footystats Diary, footy's best kept secret, 1997 Review
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1997 Review
October 1996 to September 1997

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Definitive TV figures for the 1996 Grand Final showed almost nine out of ten Sydney sets watched the Swans last Saturday (28th) pulling a peak audience of 1.279 million Harboursiders of the four-million who saw the game nationally. On Sunday, the Rugby League final across the nation peaked at 2.29 million—figures released by the Seven and Nine networks as published in The Age

AFL nationally 3,998,800
Rugby League nationally 2,291,000
Rugby League Sydney 1,320,000
AFL Sydney 1,278,900
AFL Melbourne 1,439,500
AFL Brisbane 370,700
AFL Adelaide 494,300
AFL Perth 415,100

<||> HAWTHORN changes following the failed merger were announced—RON COOK will head an interim board until the December AGM, comprising businessman IAN DICKER, former players MICHAEL PORTER and DON SCOTT, former football manager IVAN MOORE, solicitor ROY WEISMAN and accountant LEO SLATTERY—Operation Payback raised some $900,000 banked as the old board steps down– further Hawk players retire, PAUL DEAR, PAUL COOPER, LEON HIGGINS and GORDON FODE joining ANDY COLLINS and SCOTT MAGUINNESS …

<||> official trading started with a talk-fest of all clubs meeting each other at Optus Oval—ANTHONY ROCCA to quit Sydney, with his mother stating “he won’t be coming back” …

<||> BILL TWOMEY the Collingwood star of 189 games (1945-58) passed away aged 69 …

The ANDREW DUNKLEY saga continued with the AFL deferring its Tribunal hearing until Monday (7th).

<||> WAYNE SCHWASS (NM) was charged on video evidence for striking Troy Luff (Syd) in the Grand Final … ST KILDA set to announce it’s strongest trading result for five years … TOYOTA renewed its major sponsorship deal of ADELAIDE believed to be worth up to $750,000 annually … TONY FREE stepped down as RICHMOND captain to undergo another knee reconstruction  keeping him out until 1998 – Free will become a development coach …

Melbourne’s anti-merger heroes JOE GUTNICK and BRIAN DIXON split, with the new Demon prez refusing to endorse Dixon’s bid to join the board – Gutnick wants unanimous support when four of the present board stand for re-election in December …

Best and fairest awards get under way – PAUL KELLY (270 votes) won his second in Sydney from Andrew Dunkley (236), Daryn Cresswell (211) and Tony Lockett (201) … STAN ALVES gets another (his fourth) year as coach at ST KILDA, equalling the second-longest span for the club …

New AFL chief executive
WAYNE JACKSON was named the new CEO of the AFL on October 2nd. The former head of SA Brewing has been a part-time member of the Commission since June 1995. Jackson at 52 was a First and Reserves player (160 games) with SANFL club West Torrens where he also coached at senior and seconds level and was an original member in 1991 of the SANFL Commission. His key AFL role follows the retirement of ROSS OAKLEY who will exit mid-November.

In a Herald Sun exclusive by Mike Sheahan on Friday (4th), the AFL under a new approach in a four-page advertorial stated their revised agenda, telling Victorians the fate of their football clubs rests in their hands – and their pockets, and—

<> the $6 million merger incentive is withdrawn.

<> merger talks will only be held with clubs which have the backing of their members.

<> the AFL will let clubs die rather than promote a merger without the support of the particular members.

<> League funds will not be used to pay debts of failed clubs.

<> Clubs will be banned from running soccer or other sports, with banishment the ultimate penalty.

BOB PRATT the South Melbourne champion of the 1930’s at 84 suffered a stroke on October 3, five days after presenting the Norm Smith Medal at the MCG Grand Final …

Rugby league in turmoil
The full bench of the Federal Court (Justices Lockhart, von Doussa and Sackville) in Sydney on October 4 overturned the March judgement of Justice Burchett clearing the way for the News Limited-backed SuperLeague to start their 10-team Global League. Twelve ARL establishment clubs voted for unity, paving the way for two opposing competitions in 1997 and a High Court challenge.

The Sydney Morning Herald said “the big loser is Optus Vision which has poured close to $60 million into the Australian Rugby League’s fighting fund …”. 

It may cost Optus several million dollars more to fight SuperLeague into which News has spent $121 million and committed another $152 million.

<||> CARLTON admits it registered the name—Carlton Rugby League Club, earlier this year—speculation that 1996 runners-up ST GEORGE will defect the ARL and become Melbourne-based, possibly at Optus …

<||> Collingwood also indicated their interest to host SuperLeague matches at Victoria Park …

<||> 152-game veteran MICK McGUANE, refused terms of a new two-year deal and severed his ties with Collingwood …

Not dead yet – FITZROY’s body is still warm as former club powerbrokers aim for an alliance with North Melbourne …

PORT ADELAIDE 11.14-80 won their 34th SANFL flag from Central District 6.8-44, at Football Park to 46,120 on Sunday October 6th …

TRIBUNAL—ANDREW DUNKLEY (Syd) was suspended two matches of the 1997 season when found guilty (Oct 7) of striking James Hird (Ess) in the 2PF … WAYNE SCHWASS (NM) pleaded guilty to striking TROY LUFF (Syd) in the GF and was outed for two matches …

<||> PETER HUDSON, CEO at Hawthorn is the latest to resign, effective October 31st.

<||> CAMERON SCHWAB former Demon recruiting manager and Richmond gm returned to Melbourne FC as football manager, replacing RICHARD GRIFFITHS …

Draft picks traded
<||> draft picks were bartered as trading zoomed for the Friday 11th cut-off—SCOTT CAMPOREALE (Car) rejected a lucrative Port offer—but MATTHEW PRIMUS (Fit) was shunted by the Bears to Port Power who also netted BRENT HEAVER (Car) SHAYNE BREUER (Gee) and SCOTT CUMMINGS (Ess); SIMON MINTON-CONNELL crossed to Footscray—his fourth League club, after Car-Syd-Haw; ADAM HEUSKES (Syd) defected to Port; ILJA GRGIC (Fsc) went to the Eagles; RICHARD OSBORNE signed with the Woods—his fourth club after Fit-Syd-Fsc; MICK McGUANE (Col) heads to Carlton; Port sign IAN DOWNSBOROUGH (WCE) as their final uncontracted player and also got BRENDAN LYLE and SHANE BOND—the Eagles grabbed the prized recruit, 17-year old Claremont ruckman MICHAEL GARDINER … on the bell, ANTHONY ROCCA (Syd) was signed for Vic Park—while sipping champagne, Rocca’s mum said “I’m ecstatic – really ecstatic” … Sydney in return got the promising MARK ORCHARD and BEN WILSON.

Carrot attracts 12 rugby league loyalists
Of the 20 clubs in 1996, twelve remained loyal to the Rugby League establishment, sugared by an estimated $120 million carrot from Optus Vision. The ARL announced a start for March 14, seemingly ensuring two parallel competitions. The remaining eight, plus the Adelaide Rams and Hunter Mariners will play for Murdoch’s News Limited 10-team SuperLeague.

<||> GEOFF MILES (former Col-WCE-Gee defender) was named coach of the Mandurah-based and 9th WAFL club, the PEEL THUNDER …

<||> the round-ball game (soccer) got an AFL boost when 12,561 watched the Warriors at Collingwood’s Vic Park on Sunday …

<||> figures from the Australian Sports Drug Agency for 1995-95 revealed one AFL player tested positive for the narcotic-analgesic Dextropoxyphene in July 1995, but the ASDA ruled the doping was inadvertent—this compared with 12 rugby league players and 11 powerlifters who had positive tests for the same period …

<||> MAC HOLTEN who played 82 games with Collingwood (1942-48) and district cricket with Melbourne passed away at 74—Holten was later a Federal MP and Minister for Repatriation, holding the Country Party seat of Indi for 19 years …

Lists will extend to 48 players
A new AFL initiative starting from next February’s pre-season draft will effectively increase playing lists to 48—six young players will be named, who will be exempt from the salary cap but more importantly will be able to play senior football.

The bid to encourage the development of youngsters will include those from overseas; all will be put “through an intensive training program to try to bring them up to speed” said IAN COLLINS general manager of football operations.

<||> JUSTIN MADDEN who wants another season survived delisting by Carlton—he’ll be given until February to prove his fitness as will GREG WILLIAMS …

Club awards completed by the Crows on Oct 17th – best for 1996 –

ADELAIDE Matthew Liptak
BRISBANE Michael Voss
CARLTON Stephen Silvagni
COLLINGWOOD Nathan Buckley
FITZROY Martin Pike
FOOTSCRAY Chris Grant, Jose Romero
FREMANTLE Stephen O'Reilly
GEELONG Garry Hocking
HAWTHORN Paul Salmon
NORTH MELB Wayne Schwass
RICHMOND Paul Broderick
ST KILDA Nathan Burke
SYDNEY Paul Kelly
WEST COAST Drew Banfield
QAFL closes its doors
The QAFL (founded 1879) under pressure of its many financially-strapped clubs dismissed all staff and closed its doors on Thursday October 17th. It seems certain a new second tier competition of Brisbane, Gold and Sunshine Coast clubs under the control of the AFL Brisbane club will be formed for the 1997 season.

<||> only one State of Origin game to be played in Adelaide seems likely for ’97 …

AFL will profit near $8.7 million
The AFL at its quarterly information meeting (21st) with clubs, reported its greatest net finals profit of some $8.74m–about $21,000 more than last year despite the number of finals played at smaller interstate venues. The windfall came with lower costs compared with the MCG.

Though budgets were yet to be finalised, after each club receiving $1.48m this year, the League said in 1997 they could expect an increased distribution of near $1.63m to each member—the salary cap for 1997 will go up by $350,000 to $2.9m, with a further $300,000 increase due in 1998 …

<||> PORT ADELAIDE started training at Alberton on the 22nd …

<||> The AFL in determining the 1997 draw due mid-November, coming to terms with a State Government request not to stage MCG games on the weekend of July 26—the MCG that Saturday night is required for a rugby union test against NZ.

Enter the Western Bulldogs
The Footscray board on the 24th voted for a name change to the Western Bulldogs. They will play most future home games at Optus Oval with an eventual home planned at the new Docklands facility due for completion in 2000. The Doggies administrative base will remain for the time at Whitten Oval.

<||>The High Court agreed (24th) to hear an appeal on November 15 by the ARL against the Federal Court’s decision in the SuperLeague case.

The draft on Friday October 25th raised no eyebrows—the Eagles as tipped took young Claremont ruckman MICHAEL GARDINER with the No.1 pick … after Brisbane had bagged the best nine from the July merger, 11 other ex-Lions found new homes with MARTIN PIKE taken up by North as selection 42, JOHN ROMBOTIS to Port and ROHAN WARFE to Sydney … youth was high on the shopping list for most as the VSFL provided 28, with five coming from the Tassie Mariners, and four from the NSW-ACT Rams … ANDREW JARMAN (Ade), BARRY MITCHELL and ADRIAN GLEESON (Car) were left on the shelf—until February at least.

<||> Just past his 34th birthday DAVID CAMPESE played his 100th Rugby Test in Padua, Italy on the 24th.

<||> TONY LOCKETT (Syd) was recovering after three-hours surgery, during which two hernia’s, one groin tendon, his left kneecap and cartilage were treated in a Melbourne hospital.

<||> Delayed on holidays in Bangkok, GARY ABLETT missed two flights and Geelong’s first training session (29th)—a $10,000 fine was imposed despite apologies, adding to his September $8000 pre-finals penalty …

Victoria Stadium gets go-ahead
Victorian premier JEFF KENNETT on October 31 announced the $2 billion high-tech super stadium development at Docklands, due for completion by August 1999.

The centrepiece will seat 52,000, with retractable roof and hydraulically-driven movable seating catering to both AFL requirements and rectangular code facilities and is presently tagged Victoria Stadium.

Twenty Australian and international consortiums are tenders for the 220ha sporting, retail, residential, commercial and technology precincts. The winners of the short list will be announced soon with construction expected to begin by the middle of 1997.

<||> the 19-year old Rocca ANTHONY (“now I’m back with my mother”) did inside rehab work at the Vic Park Magpies first training on the 28th …

<||> former player MORTON BROWNE was appointed CEO at Hawthorn—he played in the 1961 flag winning team.



Fitzroy – officially dead
Fitzroy ended its 113-year history and was officially buried—the Brisbane Lions AFC commenced operations on the 1st …

<||> anti-merger campaigner BRIAN DIXON abandoned his bid for election to the Melbourne board next month …

<||> former captain MARK THOMPSON (202 games 1983-95) accepts full-time assistant coaching role at Essendon …

<||> CARLTON registered a company and will field a soccer club in 1996-97 after reaching a compromise with the AFL …

<||> ROSS OAKLEY departed the AFL Chair on Friday November 8th.

The ARL CEO JOHN QUAYLE resigned in Sydney—saying after 13 years he had come to the end of his tether with the job.

Three days later (15th) after 21 months of legal battles, it took only minutes for three judges of the High Court to dismiss the ARL's application against last month’s Federal Court victory by Rupert Murdoch’s SuperLeague.

<||> Collingwood set to play Carlton at Optus Oval for first time since 1982—in a one-off February practice game …

<||> Footscray takes Federal Court action (12th) to recover claimed debts of $696,285 on the co-tenancy agreement with Fitzroy at Whitten Oval—case was adjourned until next month.

<||> The $455,000 ANSETT AUSTRALIA CUP draw released—starting Feb 21 with the opening nine games over 11 days in Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne. The MCG grand final on Saturday March 22 will carry a winners prize of $105,000.

<||> ALAN McCONNELL the two-time caretaker Fitzroy coach was named by Geelong as its new development coach.

Draw delayed by Carlton ground agreement
A hiccup over leasing arrangements at Optus Oval delays the Nov 18 release of the AFL’s draw for ’97—an agreement signed last year between the Carlton Social Club and the Melbourne City Council primarily allows for just three weekends of Saturday-Sunday footy a season—”it was dumb to sign a lease like that” said the AFL’s IAN COLLINS ops manager on Sport 927.

<||> Former Essendon CEO ROGER HAMPSON is named new gm of the TFL in Hobart, replacing Barry Breen …

<||> with a projected annual income of $620,000, a 1998 VFL entry for BENDIGO is confirmed …

<||> to provide a replacement for the now-defunct QAFL and a feeder for the Brisbane Lions, the AFL will fund—the Queensland State Football League with former Melbourne FC gm RICHARD GRIFFITHS as its head …

<||> GARY ABLETT was in Geelong Hospital for several days (from 22nd) with a “severe bout of gastro-enteritis”—on the 28th, Ablett faced a traffic charge, having a suspension for driving reduced to two months …

<||> JOHN ELLIOTT at Optus Oval launched the Carlton Soccer Club on Nov 25—it will start 1997 with a $2 million budget ...

Council clears Carlton oval but denies lights
Councillors of the City of Melbourne (26th) cleared the use of Optus Oval allowing five Saturday-Sunday weekends of AFL—but the council ordered the club not to lift its seating capacity from 35 to 55,000 or install permanent light towers.

<||> The Western Bulldogs board resigned en-masse (27th) for the DAVID SMORGON-led task force—new name, new jumper, new home ground and now a new president … the Doggies expect a trading loss of $1.2 million which is slowing end of season match payments …

Magpies lose members and post $477,000 deficit
Collingwood will lose around $477,000 with a 2000-odd slump in support to just 20,752 members …

<||> a Brisbane soccer club which has used the Lions moniker for 25 years set to challenge the AFL club on naming rights.

Draw for 1997; footy-free weekend in June
The 1997 draw was finally released on Nov 28—the 16-team 22-rounds of 176 home-and-away matches starts Thursday night March 27. Only 21 for Friday night, 59 games listed for Saturday, 61 on Sunday, with Monday night into the field with five.

Two quirks, Richmond will meet Geelong in the opening round—the only other time the two did, was back in 1913, and a Melbourne footy-free mid-winter weekend is listed for June 21-22.

<||> Former AFL CEO Ross Oakley ruled out his joining the organising committee of the Sydney Olympics …

<||> the Sydney club hot with membership enquires following release of the draw—they could reach 18,000 members in ‘97 …

<||> peace-plans afoot in Rugby League between ARL and SuperLeague interests …

<||> GILBERT McADAM quits Brisbane after 111 games (StK+Bri) to follow tribal life in WA …



The NSW Rugby League on the 6th announced a loss of $9.7 million on season 1996 ending October 31—cash reserves are $4.5m and non-cash assets of $38m. Optus Pay TV are sponsors for $120m over five years and their recent injection of $24m was evenly distributed to the 12 loyal clubs—Neil Whittaker was named the ARL's new CEO replacing John Quayle—a rugby league team for Melbourne is aimed for 1998 …

<||> HAWTHORN on the 9th reported a loss of $1.1m—the new board and president IAN DICKER were elected unopposed …

<||> a profit by MELBOURNE of $268,000 was announced (10th) despite failed merger expenditure of some $250,000—the Gutnick ticket of eight received overwhelming support from members. The administration will soon move from Jolimont to join its football department in a new complex to be built at the Junction Oval. President Joseph Gutnick will contribute at least $500,000 to the development …

Pies bury "Maggieland" project
<||> A COLLINGWOOD loss of $477,000 on a turnover of $13,016,000 was revealed at the 111th AGM. This will be offset when the $2m sale of the nearby Victoria Park State School is completed – where “Maggieland” once had been planned. Woods’ members were also told captain GAVIN BROWN (after rejecting a strong offer from Melbourne) had re-signed for a further three years …

<||> RICHMOND on the 11th named a profit of $126,574, the Tigers’ ninth consecutive profit—the club is on-target for 25,000 members next season …

Police charged three Collingwood players over a late-night (6th) Russell Street incident. The Magpies reacted by sacking the yet-to-play ex Crow JONATHON ROSS — AARON JAMES and TRENT HOTTON were fined by the club and will undergo counselling …

Former player and well-loved footy radio personality TOMMY LAHIFF passed away Sunday (8th) aged 86—he first played with Port Melbourne in the VFA then Essendon (1935-37), South (1942) and Hawthorn (1942-44) during which he captained-coached the Hawks for 18 games in ’44—overall 74 VFL games and 100 goals. From the mid 1960s he teamed with HARRY BEITZEL on 3KZ then 3AW where his post-match interviews and comments were legendary.

<||> The AFL announced life memberships to former greats, ALEX JESAULENKO, ROD CARTER, GARY AYRES, DALE WEIGHTMAN, together with PAUL ROOS, ROGER MERRETT, CHRIS LANGFORD, MICHAEL MALTHOUSE, ROSS OAKLEY, PETER TANNOCK and JOHN WINNEKE. Former Fitzroy player BILL STEPHEN and later coach of both the Bombers and the Roys is the 1996 recipient of the Jack Titus Award for outstanding service.

<||> The SCG Trust gm NOEL NEATE on the 10th announced the surface of the Sydney Cricket Ground would undergo a two-year redevelopment upgrade, costing some $2-million …

<||> the AFL Players Association asked the League to intervene on the matter of unpaid monies—up to 60 players were still owed money from 1996, with a ‘couple of dozen’ in the $40 to $60,000 bracket …

<||> after 17 years of admin League experience at head-quarters the 35 year-old MARK PATTERSON was appointed (17th) the new CEO of the Western Bulldogs …

Farewell Ross Oakley – hello Ross Oakley
Retiring AFL Chief ROSS OAKLEY was farewelled by 300 guests including the Premier Jeff Kennett and his wife at a black-tie function held in The Great Hall of the Arts Centre on Monday the 16th.

The following day the AFL Commission announced Oakley would be retained as its consultant on the $250 million Victoria Stadium (Docklands) project. Oakley will also represent the AFL in the establishment of a football Hall of Fame “as a labour of love”.

<||> The Federal Government on the 16th pledged $1 million toward the establishment of an AFL Hall of Fame. The Federal Minister of Sport WARWICK SMITH also announced a $300,000 grant for each of the next three years to help establish an Australian Football Academy in conjunction with the AFLs Talented Player Pathway initiative to which the League will contribute $3.4m …

Second Sydney team possible after 2000
AFL chief WAYNE JACKSON said a second team in Sydney after the 2000 Olympics was a strong possibility. The $665 million Stadium at Homebush would be its aim …

<||> GEELONG at its AGM (18th) announced a $579,125 profit and plans to invest $2.7m to improve facilities at Kardinia Park …

<||> CARLTON at its AGM revealed a healthy $773,107 profit with a list of more than 23,000 members …

<||> ADELAIDE was up on last year’s profit with $1.85 million reported, but fell short of the Crows’ record …

AFL revenue a record $70 million
The AFL for the 1996 season lifted revenue by 13.8 per cent to a record $70.1 million which includes tv rights, corporate sponsorship, receipts from finals and licensing revenue.

The operating surplus was $38.5m with $29.22m being equally distributed to its member clubs. The League also spent $5.37m on junior development, which will be increased to $6.23m in 1997.

<||> High-profile Carlton recruit MICK McGUANE was fined some $10,000 after he turned-up for an early-morning (18th) training session and became involved in a fight with teammate Matthew Hogg. McGuane had been drinking at an AFL function at Crown Casino. On being asked what state McGuane had been in when he arrived, Carlton CEO Stephen Gough said: ‘There were effects of alcohol there, yes, I think you could say that’ …

Drug and alcohol testing possible
<||> the AFL in a response suggested they may introduce drug and alcohol testing at early-morning sessions …

<||> ST KILDA on the 18th reported an $87,826 loss for the season but Saints prez ANDREW PLYMPTON said: ‘the club has moved forward in a significant fashion—’ …

<||> BRISBANE announced ALASTAIR LYNCH and MICHAEL VOSS will share the 1997 captaincy …

<||> PAUL HUDSON walks out of Glenferrie to continue his career with the WESTERN BULLDOGS, who confirmed all of their players had received full payment for 1996 …

<||> Bomber prez DAVID SHAW tipped to fill one of the vacancies on the AFL Commission …

<||> LEN MURPHY the last surviving member of Collingwood’s record-breaking 1927-1930 premierships passed away Dec 20 aged 87—he played 173 games for the Woods (1928-37) and a further 25 with Footscray (1940-41) …

"Footscray forever" against name change
Opposition to recent announcements surface as a Footscray Forever Committee is set to serve a petition calling for an extraordinary meeting–it intends fielding candidates at the February AGM, halting the planned change of name to Western Bulldogs.

Sydney forward TONY LOCKETT on the 23rd was charged with nine counts of deception and 18 counts of false documentation by Victoria Police investigating alleged breeding irregularities involving Lockett’s champion stud greyhound, Malawi’s Prince. On Thursday 19th, detectives had charged a 27-year-old greyhound breeder and trainer over alleged irregularities at Lockett’s Devon Meadows stud, south-east of Melbourne.

It was announced (24th) the SANFL with a $2.5m purchase, has fully acquired the land at West Lakes on which Football Park is situated. It previously had held a 99-year lease on the property since 1974.



<||> Serious training at all clubs resumed within days of the 1st—Gary Ablett even phoned making certain of the start time at Kardinia Park … however in Sydney, neither Lockett, Dunkley both after surgery, nor Stafford suffering a Coogee Beach accident, injuring a toe and hospital, were in training … Port delivered ANDREW JARMAN a ‘don’t call’ card … JOHN LONGMIRE (NM) and MICHAEL LONG (Ess) back to major workouts, though NICKY WINMAR (StK) suffering personal problems still to resume at Moorabbin.

<||> St Mary’s FC 15.6-96 on the 12th won their Northern Territory FL match in Darwin over Waratahs 13.8-86— at State League level it was a new record of 50-straight wins, passing even, North Melbourne’s 49 VFA games between 1914-18.

<||> In Rugby League, the arrival of a (16th) peace deal between the Murdoch and Packer camps dealt a body blow to the establishment—Channel Nine will telecast Monday-night SuperLeague games—days later radio broadcast rights were granted to the ABC … on Jan 22, chairman KEN ARTHURSON resigned from the ARL after 13 years in the top job, effective February 28th; his departure follows the December bow-out by ARL GM John Quayle … DAVID LECKIE Channel Nine’s CEO also resigned, the day after his network went to SuperLeague …

The first indoor oval
ESSENDON at Windy Hill unveiled (23rd) Australia’s first indoor oval.

The $500,000 facility with Rebound Ace floor covers a 500-square metre training area—a scaled-down oval. Since their 1992 shift of games to the MCG, the Bombers have invested almost $5-million at their home base.

<||> ROD AUSTIN was appointed (23rd) AFL football administration manager …

<||> PORT ADELAIDE was fined $50,000 for breaching salary cap rules—earlier in the day (24th) Port chairman GREG BOLTON announced Power had posted an operating surplus of $526,664; assets were $2.5m and unused borrowing’s of $3.8m …

<||> MARK BICKLEY is named captain of Adelaide …

<||> Hawks report knee injury to JASON DUNSTALL progressing well—he may be back in the first month of the season …

<||> as many as six clubs may by-pass the February draft ...

Big Mac back with the ball
McDONALD’s resumes its AFL sponsorship replacing Challenge Bank whose three-year $900,000 deal has expired …

<||> AFL toppers WAYNE JACKSON and IAN COLLINS visit Canberra (29th) and propose the WA–Allies June State of Origin may be played there …

<||> NEIL BUSSE aiming for one of the four vacancies on the AFL Commission—the outgoing Graeme Samuel and Ron Evans are expected to contest, with Essendon prez DAVID SHAW and CRAIG KIMBERLEY, the Just Jeans and Swans stalwart also interested …

<||> North Melbourne $500,000 per year sponsorship deal with HYPERTEC in doubt as company (31st) sacks 94 and withdrew from the PC market …

Bombers shock loss of $731,665
ESSENDON on the 31st revealed a shock $731,665 loss in 1996, following their headline-grabbing 1995 profit of $1,044,946.

The reality was a healthy 1996 profit of $494,335 recorded on a turnover of $10m, but abnormal items amounted to $1.22m—these included an AFL fine of $112,000 for salary cap breaches, $250,000 for ATO tax and penalties, $175,000 for 1995 fringe benefit tax, $500,000 to the Dons Hall of Fame and $189,000 for a senior management restructure. Bomber CEO Peter Jackson said the 1995 profit had been ‘overstated’ by about $350,000 and there were some ‘inappropriate procedures’ that year.




Pre-season games under way as Collingwood scraped home by 5pts, 12.7-79 to 11.8-74 under lights at Darwin’s Marrara Oval on the 1st—to beat the heat, the Pies used a 12-man interchange …

<||> Carlton’s ADRIAN HICKMOTT knee surgery will cull him for two months … GEELONG choose BARRY STONEHAM as captain …

<||> LEIGH MATTHEWS named as Victorian coach for the June 21 versus SA game at Football Park …

<||> Legal threats by ‘Footscray Forever’ group continue to bubble over name change to WESTERN BULLDOGS—the AFL warned any legal challenge would seriously affect the finances of the club and the League …

<||> PORT ADELAIDE opener against Collingwood moved to the MCG, and Bulldogs-Dockers to Princes Park.

<||> Essendon coach KEVIN SHEEDY proposed a future home-and-away fixture be played in London, possibly at The Oval.

<||> Doubts surface on the planned DOCKLANDS Stadium facility—the need for it, where backing is being raised, and the eventual cost to the grass-roots supporter …

<||> The Age on Feb 5 revealed several clubs felt it may be time for AFL Commission chairman JOHN KENNEDY to retire …

Fitzroy win in Supreme Court
Supreme Court ruled (5th) that MICHAEL BRENNAN the Fitzroy administrator was not entitled to acquire the business at the Fitzroy Club Hotel valued during the case between $750,000 and $800,000—former FFC chairman DYSON HORE-LACY said Brisbane Lions AFC would be forced to pay costs of the action.

<||> JUSTIN MADDEN at 35 and GREG WILLIAMS now 33 confirm they will play on at Carlton in 1997 …

<||> CHRIS LANGFORD agrees to his 15th season at Hawthorn …

<||> GARY ABLETT under pressure at Geelong to improve his fitness—Cats coach GARY AYRES said: “You have to remember he is 35 …”

Port Adelaide stranded as Tigers grounded
PORT ADELAIDE’s long-awaited AFL premiere on Friday the 8th at Alberton Oval was cancelled when RICHMOND were stranded for seven-hours at Tullamarine. Two separate electrical faults grounded their Ansett Airlines flight causing them to miss the 6pm bounce down. The Tigers finally reached Adelaide at 10pm. The Friday practice game expected to draw 18,000, was played at 11am on Saturday to 8158 fans, resulting in a win for the Power 14.6-90, Tigers 6.1-37

<||> DARYN CRESSWELL re-signs for another two years with Sydney …

<||> former Ansett m.d. GRAEME McMAHON is appointed new vice-prez at Essendon …

<||> at 23, GAVIN WANGANEEN is the youngest AFL skipper—he was named inaugural captain of Port Adelaide, with former Eagles ruck BRAYDEN LYLE the deputy …

<||> GAVIN BROWN continues as Collingwood captain for a fourth season—NATHAN BUCKLEY and DAMIEN MONKHORST are the deputies …

<||> Richmond captain TONY FREE retired after three injury-plagued seasons …

AFL to fund earlier travel
The Herald Sun (11th) announced the AFL will provide almost $500,000 funding for all clubs to travel one day earlier to interstate venues and avoid the embarrassment caused last Friday by the cancellation of the Tiger-Power practice match. AFL clubs face a $100,000 fine if they cannot be at a ground in time for a match.

<||> NORTH MELBOURNE set to announce a $8425 loss from their premiership season … the Kangas welcomed the Quit campaign as ’97 sponsors at $150,000 …

<||> SYDNEY reveals it posted a $74,000 profit on revenue of $9.3 million in 1996—compared to the 1995 $377.000 loss (on $6.97m) and 1994 $637,000 loss (on $4.88m). Sponsorships were up by 44%, membership reached 10,600 and merchandising up 800%.

<||> Comprise reached as ‘Footscray Forever’ agree not to proceed with court action—name will change to WESTERN BULLDOGS but will be put to a vote ‘within 12 months’. The Dogs accumulated debt of $3.2m, will soon show out at the AGM.

<||> The pre-season moved up a notch with major practice games starting in hot conditions in all states. Carlton and Collingwood met at Optus late Friday (14th) afternoon for 15,000 fans, Blues 9.13-67, Pies 9.11-65 … on Saturday at Waverley, Geelong 12.6-78 to Bulldogs 9.13-67—at night on Football Park for 13,436, Adelaide 12.24-96, Essendon 6.18-54 … on Sunday, in 40 degrees in Wagga, almost 10,000 saw Sydney 16.6-102, Brisbane 8.8-56—at Waverley, Melbourne 14.9-93, Richmond 8.7-55—at Football Park, 18,733 saw John Longmire return for the full game when North 14.4-88 beat Port Adelaide 5.13-43—at Fremantle Oval to 7000, the Dockers 16.14-110, Eagles 3.9-27 — it was still mid-February, and they were only hit-outs …

AFL revenue climbs to $84.84 million
$5.3 million spent on junior footy

The AFL 1996 Annual Report was released on Feb 17 confirming their Centenary revenue hit a record $84.84 million—producing a surplus of $38.7m, compared to $36.4m the previous year. The report shows the AFL reduced its debt by $3.4m to $10m, compared to $16.22m in 1993.

Other highlights from the report— Waverley was listed to be worth $38m, land at $27m, the stadium and buildings at $11.2m … marketing exceeded a retail sales target of $75m … player payments by clubs rose to $47.96m (average salary $77,695m compared with $47,940 in 1992) … legal fees were $612,000 … travel for the 16 teams was $2.49m, while accommodation was $318,000 … umpire salaries were $2.19m but will rise to $2.98m in 1997, $3.27m in 1998 and by 1999 will be $3.54m … $5,278,000 was spent on junior football development … $23,680,000 was distributed to member clubs …

<||> DAVID SHAW and GRAEME SAMUEL were re-elected to the AFL Commission on the 17th. The two vacancies were filled by CRAIG KIMBERLEY and DAVID SHAW.

Matter over the name is settled out of court and it will be the BRISBANE LIONS …

Pre-Season draft
On the 18th, 20 players were chosen by clubs in the Pre-Season Draft— Port Adelaide drafted STEPHEN PAXMAN from Fitzroy; Western Bulldogs–PAUL HUDSON (Haw), STEVEN PITT (Col); Melbourne–LEIGH NEWTON (Albury), ROBERT PYMAN (Col-NM), SHANE WOEWODIN (East Fremantle); Collingwood–JASON TAYLOR (Haw), ROBERT SCHAEFER (Sturt-Rch), MICHAEL GARDNER (Subiaco); St Kilda–BRETT COOK (Fit), BRAD CAMPBELL (Port Melb); Richmond–BRETT EVANS (Springvale); Hawthorn–JON HASSALL (Col), TODD RIDLEY (Fre), NIGEL CREDLIN (Fit); Carlton–DARREN HULME (supp list); Essendon–MATTHEW BANKS (Ess); Sydney–JOHN STEVENS (Col supp list), North Melbourne–BRETT CHANDLER (Fit), ANTHONY MELLINGTON (Fit).

<||> In an aftermath to the draft, Sydney faces AFL investigation and threat of legal action by TONY McGUINNESS over the failure of the Swans to draft him, as promised—shades of 1995 …

<||> TONY LOCKETT appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on the 19th and was charged with a further 19 counts, relating to the matter of greyhound breeding irregularities. The case was adjourned until April 9.

Merger money pays Fitzroy creditors
BRISBANE will report an operating surplus of $87,822, before they received $6m for the merger with Fitzroy—most of which has gone toward paying Fitzroy’s creditors including $1.2m to Nauru Insurance. Unsecured creditors will divvy up about $950,000. Another $450,000 went to administrators Ernst and Young, while another $1m went to pay out Fitzroy player contracts. Brisbane included $1.2m from the merger as an abnormal item bringing an accumulated surplus to $1.3m … the Brisbane club are confident the Queensland Government will further redevelop the Gabba to a capacity of 30,000 …

<||> ANSETT AUSTRALIA CUP games commenced—on Friday night (21st), ADELAIDE 17.14-116 impressively downed COLLINGWOOD 9.8-62 to 20,617 at Football Park … in the Saturday night wet at Waverley (7752), GEELONG 9.10-64 found WEST COAST 5.4-34 easy meat … on Sunday night at VFL Park (18.129), RICHMOND 11.12-78 defeated HAWTHORN 9.12-66, with Charles (Rch) and Shane Crawford (Haw) casualties–a groin, and an ankle … on Monday night at Waverley (8141), NORTH MELB 13.9-87 d BULLDOGS 11.8-74, with John Longmire continuing his good comeback form … in practice—on Saturday at North Hobart Oval for 15,632, ESSENDON 15.13-103 d SYDNEY 13.14-92—Lockett was still absent with a groin strain … at Merimbula for 4500, BRISBANE 14.11-95 accounted for ST KILDA 8.17-65 …

<||> From 1998, all officials including coaches, will be required to wear AFL approved apparel—gone, never-to-be-seen-again, the likes of John Kennedy’s raincoat or Barassi’s wing-tip shirts, unless it’s got a logo.

In the Wednesday (27th) Waverley Ansett Cup, CARLTON 13.9-87 had an easy win from MELBOURNE 9.10-64 … from the game, Blues captain STEPHEN KERNAHAN required surgery to torn tendons in the ring finger of his left hand—six weeks out at least … the Dockers gave the Power a taste of the step-up in class as they easily accounted for the newcomers in the Ansett Cup at Football Park for 21,770—FREO 11.9-75, PORT 4.15-39 …


MARCH 1997

In a hot-afternoon conditions, on Saturday (1st) at Bruce Stadium, ST KILDA 9.14-68 pipped SYDNEY 10.7-67 for 11,510—the Swans were without nine of their squad, including Lockett … the Cats scored a rare win at Football Park when they cruised home on Sunday night from the Crows to 22,425, GEELONG 11.14-80. ADELAIDE 7.10-52 … on Monday night at the Gabba, the Dons excluded 10 regulars and were too inexperienced for the Lions, BRISBANE 15.13-103, ESSENDON 8.7-55 … Michael Prior (Ess) was cited from video on a trip charge against Craig Lambert (Bri) … in practice, COLLINGWOOD 11.18-84 downed WEST COAST 10.8-68 at Victoria Park …

A Saturday night Sydney hotel incident severed a tendon to the left thumb requiring surgery for Swans midfielder STUART MAXFIELD. Going to the aid of his brother-in-law a glass was thrust at Maxfield—he could miss up to six weeks …

Mediation settles McGuinness and Swans wrangle
Following private mediation (4th) between Tony McGuinness and Sydney, a confidential settlement over their draft dispute was settled. It was believed the settlement was $100,000, which the AFL will monitor, as any figure paid must be included under their salary cap … new AFL Commission member CRAIG KIMBERLEY a South Melbourne and Sydney stalwart from way backed spoke out in support for a future second AFL side in Sydney.

PETER MANN was named captain of Fremantle, when it was revealed the Dockers inaugural leader BEN ALLEN at 28 is suffering chronic knee problems … WAVERLEY PARK   may still be saved as a Melbourne company (The Breakaway Group) have expressed interest to the AFL in developing the site into the world’s first sporting theme part at a cost of $200 million.

PAUL KELLY will captain Sydney for a fifth season; ANDREW DUNKLEY the vice-captain, with Tony Lockett, Daryn Cresswell and Dale Lewis the deputies … out-going Bomber prez DAVID SHAW was guilty of a major gaffe at the Essendon AGM (6th) when striving to define a $112,000 fine from 1995. The recently-elected Commissioner revealed he had sighted documents showing other clubs including “Carlton” had been well above the salary cap but were “protected”—he later apologised …

TV rates better for Mardi Gras than rugby league
Is there a message in this? The Australian Rugby League opened its season on Friday night March 7. Its first game drew a Sydney Channel Nine viewing peak of 358,000—the rival Channel Ten telecast of the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras drew 516,000.

In ANSETT CUP games at Waverley, on Friday night (7th) the Kangas with 11 unanswered goals cruised to a 79pt win, NORTH 22.10-142 (Sholl 5) to RICHMOND 9.9-63—crowd 20,747; Tiger captain MATTHEW KNIGHTS suffered a left knee injury operated on Saturday—he will be out at least eight weeks … on Saturday under lights just 8135 at Waverley saw CARLTON 15.13-103 accounted for FREMANTLE 9.11-65 … on Sunday night to 13,745, ST KILDA 11.10-76 had a stirring win over BRISBANE 11.7-73 … in weekend practice games—MELBOURNE 13.10-88 beat COLLINGWOOD 6.11-47 for 9000 fans at Devonport … WEST COAST 19.12-126 were too good for PORT 10.6-66 to 4282 at Subiaco … ESSENDON 17.9-111 beat HAWTHORN 9.9-63—both Michael Long and Darren Bewick came back … in Ballarat for 3500 fans, BULLDOGS 18.10-116 easily beat SYDNEY 10.8-68, when Swans coach Rodney Eade admitted Tony Lockett is in doubt for the major opening and will see a specialist in the coming week, about his groin strain.

The AFL moved the ANSETT CUP MCG grand final to Friday the 21st … back problems sideline CRAIG TURLEY (Mel) … 57-year-old GRAEME McMAHON the former Ansett chief was appointed president at ESSENDON … exhaustive tests cleared TONY LOCKETT (Syd) of any serious groin damage, but he is almost certain to miss round one in Perth … the AFL and mining giant CRA will combine to spend $650,000 in developing footy in northern Australia …

Tribunal hands out new level of fines
The AFL Tribunal handed out a surprise—on March 12th to MICHAEL PRIOR (Ess) and SIMON BEAUMONT (Car) by fining each 1/52nd of their base salaries and one week of match payments after being found guilty of Ansett Cup misdemeanours.

Tribunal chairman NEIL BUSSE said such fines was an attempt to ‘inject some equity into the fines players receive’. The fines are intended to apply only to relatively minor incidents. Exact fines will be determined by the AFL’s payments commissioner RALPH LANE, after checking the players’ salary arrangements with his club.

Prior admitted attempting to trip Craig Lambert (Bri) and Beaumont pleaded guilty to a video charge of wrestling Tony Delaney (Fre), both in Ansett Cup matches.

<||> TRIBUNAL—Geelong’s TIM HARGREAVES was suspended three matches for striking Anthony Parkin (Car) in a practice game.

<||> AFL Chief Commissioner WAYNE JACKSON removed the mouthguard from other Commissioners—they may speak on strategic issues, but not on day-to-day matters … Jackson in a 3AW radio interview also said, “that, if Docklands went ahead, Waverley would not be knocked down”—others see the matter in a different light …

<||> GREG WILLIAMS finally signed a one-year deal with Carlton …

Blues' colours go for the money
For the launch of M&M’s new blue chockie, Carlton’s most cherished symbol, the navy blue jumper will be replaced—for one game, to coincide with their first Optus Oval game on April 13 and the opening of their ‘Legends’ stand, the Blues expect to pick-up $200,000 for the promotion (and a lot of flak).

<||> Footy gets closer as the lift-outs, tipping charts and fixture cards are added to The Age and Herald Sun

<||> In a tingling last term, GEELONG 14.13-97 snatched a one-point win over NORTH 14.12-96 in the Friday (14th) Ansett semi at Waverley for 14,404 … on Saturday evening at the Park, 25,940 saw the Saints drag back a 41pt deficit and get to within three points, but a cooler-in-the-crisis CARLTON 12.11-83 held on against ST KILDA 10.13-73—setting up a Friday night Blues-Cats playoff.

<||> In weekend practice games, FREO 19.16-132 beat HAWTHORN 15.11-101 for 2454 at Subi … WEST COAST 19.8-132 downed BRISBANE 7.6-48 at Waverley … on Saturday night in Alice Springs, ESSENDON 19.12-126 were too good for ADELAIDE 13.14-92 for 10,000 fans—the Bombers lost DARREN BEWICK with another serious left knee injury—a damaged medial ligament—it will out him some 8-12 weeks … at Lavington, MELBOURNE 13.11-89 blitzed SYDNEY 5.14-44 to 5000 … in Port Lincoln for about 7000, PORT ADELAIDE 17.10-112 downed RICHMOND 7.8-50—Power captain GAVIN WANGANEEN was reported … while at Traralgon for about 7000, COLLINGWOOD 23.12-150 did it easy over the BULLDOGS 13.10-88.

<||> On Sunday in a successful promotion at the old Brunswick Street Oval, the BRISBANE LIONS to at least 2500 receptive fans launched their Melbourne campaign of attracting the Fitzroy faithful.

<||> TRIBUNAL—SIMON BEAUMONT (Car) was suspended three matches on a charge of kicking Austinn Jones (StK) … DAVID SIERAKOWSKI (StK) was suspended four matches on pleading guilty to striking Anthony Koutoufides (Car).

<||> From an accidental knock in Saturday’s Ansett Cup game, TONY BOURKE (Car) had surgery Monday to repair a ruptured spleen …

<||> in a surprise move, GREG DURHAM, Geelong CEO for six years resigned; he vacated earlier than anticipated following a random breath test before reaching the Cats Friday night game at Waverley Park …

<||> AFL calls special Saturday (22nd) meeting for presidents and CEO's of all clubs—it’s expected to be announcement on the Docklands project …

<||> the AFL officially closed the books on the Tony McGuinness–Sydney draft matter—as no formal complaint was made by either, no action could be taken …

<||> Alternate designs to remove the clash of guernseys come on the agenda …

<||> Brisbane’s prize signing BRAD BOYD, the former Fitzroy captain—a groin tear will take him out of the first two months of the season …

<||> JOHN WORSFOLD was named captain of West Coast for a seventh consecutive season— GUY McKENNA will be vice-captain, with GLEN JAKOVICH and CHRIS MAINWARING deputies …

Neil Kerley added to Rising Star panel
NEIL KERLEY was added to the judging panel for the NORWICH RISING STAR award, replacing SA and VFL-AFL legend MALCOLM BLIGHT, now coaching Adelaide—Kerley joins KEVIN BARTLETT, ROSS GLENDINNING, LEIGH MATTHEWS, GERARD HEALY and IAN COLLINS …

TRIBUNAL—Port Power captain GAVIN WANGANEEN will not lead his side in their opening AFL game—he was suspended one match for striking Ashley Prescott (Rch) with an open hand … DAMIEN HARDWICK (Ess) was outed two games for charging Mark Graham (Haw) … MICHAEL WILSON (PA) and JOEL BOWDEN (Rch) were each fined 1/52nd of their base salary plus one match payment for wrestling in the Port Lincoln practice match …

Carlton towel Geelong in Ansett Cup grand final
In a lacklustre affair, the Blues with ruthless efficiency thrashed Geelong on Friday night (22nd) for a near-record 74,786 in the 1996 Ansett Cup Grand Final at the MCG.

The Cats failed to kick their first goal until close to half-time when Carlton led by 31pts.

A highlight was the drive given the Blues by Justin Murphy who booted two memorable goals and Craig Bradley who won the Tuck Medal as best afield.

  1/4 time 1/2 time 3/4 time Final
CAR 2.1-13 (10) 6.6-42 (31) 10.8-68 (42) 14.13-97 (57)
GEE 0.3-3 1.5-11 3.8-26 5.10-40
GOALS: Car: Murphy 4, Clape 2, Whitnall 2, Hamill 2, Williams, Camporeale, Bradley, Koutoufides. Gee: McKinnon 2, Burns, Roberts, Riccardi. BEST: Car: Christou, Bradley, Murphy, Clape, Sexton. Gee: Mansfield, Sanderson, Graham, Hocking. Umpires: Nash, Dore, Sheehan.
Crowd at MCG: 74,786

<||> JASON DUNSTALL made a surprise return in a Friday reserves practice game at Waverley against the Western Bulldogs, only seven months after he had a knee reconstruction. The Hawk captain played the first half, kicking three goals, with the Dogs narrowly winning 8.16-64 to 8.11-59 … Richmond 14.8-92 beat Sydney 13.8-86 in a Saturday hit out, also at Waverley …

AFL backs Docklands; secures freehold
On Saturday March 22, the AFL announced it had secured an outstanding deal and will proceed to acquire the freehold of the new Victoria (Docklands) Stadium by paying $30 million by December 2000.

The League after 10 years will gain freehold and ownership of the stadium within 40-50 years. The Waverley Park area has a book value of $38 million—some say a realistic figure is some $27 million.

At Docklands, the AFL will retain exclusive rights for the scheduling of matches on Fridays and Saturdays and from 2000 expects to play 27 official league matches each season at the new stadium and one qualifying final if the fixture allows—the AFL will retain the sole right to set admission prices, and will not incur maintenance expenses at the facility.

<||> TRENT HOTTON disciplined by Collingwood last month after a Court fine of $600 but no conviction for urinating near a nightclub in Bourke Street Melbourne on New Year’s Eve was sacked by the club when found to have arrived on Sunday morning (23) for a team meeting—in an “unacceptable condition” …

<||> the Magpies look toward Waverley Park as an option, in light of recent interest shown by the Breakaway Group in developing the area into a theme park ...

<||> with the go-ahead given for Docklands, both Hawthorn and St Kilda look to compensation payouts—each have 30-year tenancy agreements with the AFL on Waverley Park …

<||> Sydney coach RODNEY EADE confirmed (24th) TONY LOCKETT will not play in the opening round against West Coast in Perth—groin surgery recovery is still a problem …

<||> Club 10 added three more players to its stable—Brownlow winner MICHAEL VOSS (Bri), COREY McKERNAN (NM) and ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES (Car). At a season launch at Crown Casino (24th), player-management guru RICKY NIXON predicted the next biggest issue for players will be the cut they should receive from TV rights, based on the recent deal firmed by soccer players in England …

<||> CARLTON seeking to broaden their membership base internationally, will sponsor radio reports of sports journalist FRANK VARDENEGA, who travels the world to top profile events as Wimbledon and the US Masters. Vardenga is heard throughout the US, Europe, Britain and New Zealand, as well as Australia.

<||> HEWLETT PACKARD, a US major player in the computer market became the key sponsor of NORTH MELBOURNE for the next four years in a deal believed worth some $2 million—on the same day (24th), Kanga captain WAYNE CAREY inked a four-year deal with the Roos, expected to earn him close to $1.3m and will rank him amongst the AFL’s highest paid stars.

At the Sydney Town Hall launch to the season, on Monday night (24th) attended by AFL CEO Wayne Jackson and the NSW Premier Bob Carr, SYDNEY announced club membership for the 1997 season had already passed 17,000 (a far cry from the days of barely 3000 in 1993).

At a Tuesday gathering in Double Bay, Jackson stated the AFL was confident the Olympic Stadium at Homebush would become a regular League venue after the 2000 games. The AFL had spent $50,000 in financial viability and technical studies to establish it was technically feasible for football to be staged at Homebush.

<||> TRIBUNAL—From Friday’s night grand final, a video charge against GARRY HOCKING (Gee) resulted in his suspension (24th) for two matches. Hocking pleaded guilty to striking Matthew Hogg (Car) with an open hand to the face soon after the start of the game …

<||> NEWTON CHANDLER, the oldest League footballer and the first to turn 100, passed away in his sleep in a Melbourne hospital on Monday (24th) aged 103. He played 69 games for Carlton between 1919 and 1924 and maintained his long association with the Blues as a committee-man, club secretary and treasurer from 1924 to 1958.

<||> Geelong confirmed GARY ABLETT will play his 16th League season—presently 248 games and 1030 goals …

<||> ANSETT AUSTRALIA set to extend their sponsorship of the pre-season competition—their three-year deal concluded with the Grand Final last Friday night.

<||> CARLTON get the worry beads out on the future of their venue in light of the total commitment to the Docklands site—they may seek the support of Essendon, Richmond and Collingwood to play more games at Optus-Princes Park …

<||> the Players’ Association plan a restructure—managers RICKY NIXON and PETER JESS will assist the revamp.

<||> Overseas matches are back on the planning board with AFL Chief Exec WAYNE JACKSON revealing that Essendon, Geelong, Carlton or North are likely to feature in another game at The Oval in London, while it’s on the cards Fremantle and West Coast will play in South Africa or NZ. In just one week — first Docklands, then Homebush — tomorrow “the world”.


Wayne Carey, Paul Roos injured
Tough initiation for Port
329,369 sets new crowd record

ROUND ONE – Thu, Sat-Sun-Mon, March 27 & 29-30-31
Big crowds and injuries grabbed the headlines in the opening round. Crowds for the eight games created a new record total of 329,369, topping the 313,444 set last August.

On Thursday night at the MCG despite steady rain, 35,802 showed up for the heart-starter and the unfurling of the 1996 pennant. All quickly slipped into the memory box as by early in the second quarter, the Kangas had lost WAYNE CAREY and key ruckman COREY McKERNAN with a strained knee. Carey at the 9-minute mark of the second term was sandwiched in a marking contest and fell heavily dislocating his left shoulder, while McKernan strained the right knee he had surgery on after last year’s premiership. Surgery to Carey is likely to sideline the star for 10 to 12 weeks.

Long-priced Melbourne, caused the first blockbuster boilover when the Demons started well with their first after only 24 seconds. Grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and with both Jeff Farmer and Sean Charles in fine form, the Redlegs earned a thoroughly deserved 15 point win, MELBOURNE 10.10-70 (Sean Charles 3, Jeff Farmer 3)–best, Viney, Leoncelli, Farmer, NORTH 7.13-55 (Brett Allison 2)–best. Martyn, Anderson, Allison … no football was played on Good Friday.

The history-making occasion of Port Adelaide’s AFL debut on Saturday brought 51,883 to the G. The Power boys put on a gusty effort but were no match for a spectacularly accurate Collingwood who for the record books kicked their first 11 straight (they had 13-straight in 1929s opening round v Richmond at Vic Park)—then went to 13.1, 19.2 and 21.3 before blowing out to end with 26.10-166 (Saverio Rocca 6.1, Paul Williams 4, Stephen Patterson 3)–best, Williams, Buckley, Patterson, PORT 13.9-87–best, Dickie, Francis, Poole—SHANE BREUER, former SA and Geelong player was Port’s first goalkicker. Magpie forward LEE WALKER was injured and faces his fourth career knee reconstruction.

For their first ‘home’ game at Optus Oval, hundreds of Western Bulldog fans were said to have walked away when asked to pay up to $24.50 a seat—the crowd was given as 8664, ten less than when the two played at Western Oval last July 14—a big start and a lucky last-minute bomb from 60 metres by WINSTON ABRAHAM got Freo their third competition win in Melbourne, FREMANTLE 10.20-80 (Andrew Wills 3)–best, Wills, White, Parker, BULLDOGS 11.10-76 (Simon Minton-Connell 3)–best, Johnson, Hudson, West—Rohan Connelly in the Sunday Age reported, the Dogs recruit forward, Minton-Connell was treated for slight concussion after throwing himself to the ground in despair after the final siren, knocking his head on the turf.

An injury-hit Hawk outfit and the dogged Saints fought out a gritty battle at Waverley Park on Saturday night for a good 35,732 (and they want to bulldoze it!). It was hard-nosed stuff with only a goal in it—Hawk skipper Dunstall was back but held goalless, HAWTHORN 11.11-77 (Nick Holland 4, Daniel Harford 3)–best, Salmon, Harford, Holland, ST KILDA 10.11-71 (Stewart Loewe 3)–best, Harvey, Loewe, Gray.

The highlights at Subiaco on Saturday was the first AFL night game under the WAFL's $5m installation. It failed to be ruined by hailstorms during the day and the 29,965 who turned out saw a lot of magic—the brilliance of PETER MATERA who performed as great as he did in the Eagles 1992 premiership win; his last term major, will be as close as you could possibly get to the ‘goal of the season’—the class of youngster BEN COUSINS, and the persistency of ILIA GRGIC who saw off everyone the Swans tried to challenge him with. It was a thorough, professional win against and underdone and undermanned Sydney outfit. Despite the dogged Sydney skipper PAUL KELLY, he ran out of teammates to back him up. Even had Lockett and Dunkley et al been in the side, no way would the West Coast have lost this one, WEST COAST 12.6-78 (Ben Cousins 3)–best, Matera, Grgic, Cousins, SYDNEY 5.7-37–best, Dyson, Kelly, Lewis—both MARK BAYES (hamstring) and PAUL ROOS (left knee) were mid-game injuries, though surgery is unlikely for either.

In perfect Sunday weather, 36,602 were at Football Park where Adelaide were efficient in their 34pt disposal of a lack-lustre Brisbane. TONY MODRA kicked six goals to half-time and the Crows were never headed, giving new coach Malcolm Blight much to be pleased about. AARON KEATING the new Crow ruckman suffered a broken pelvis, leaving Adelaide deficient in ruck power—ADELAIDE 20.12-132 (Tony Modra 7, Barry Standfield 5, Andrew McLeod 3)–best, Recite, McLeod, Smart, BRISBANE 14.12-96 (Alastair Lynch 3, Michael Voss 3)–best, Ashcroft, Lappin, Johnson.

Clear weather at the MCG brought 48,358 on Sunday where the Tigers defence spent havoc on a weak Cat forward set-up. A big opening was followed by a bounding third term and whilst Geelong came back in the closing stages, their wasteful 2.8 couldn’t bridge the gap giving the Tigers a much-valued first win, RICHMOND 15.14-104 (Nick Daffy 5)–best, Richardson, Bowden, Daffy, GEELONG 13.17-95 (Ronnie Burns 3)–best, Colbert, Burns, Couch—the good news for Geelong was that GARY ABLETT kicked 7 goals—in the Twos—but injured his right knee!

The Easter Monday MCG contest was played with the intensity and excitement not experienced in most grand finals—it was as good as you’ll get! 82,363 in perfect conditions saw a tooth-and-nail fight come down to a 7-point result. JAMES HIRD was quiet but his three goals in the opening seven minutes of the third term, tilted the scales, ESSENDON 16.10-106 (Peter Berbakov 4, James Hird 4)–best, Hird, Prior, Fletcher, CARLTON 15.9-99 (Lance Whitnall 4, Matthew Clape 3)–best, Williams, Clape, McKay.

Greg Williams' nine-match suspension
goes to the Victorian Supreme Court

The conclusion to the Essendon-Carlton match resulted in a week of extraordinary happenings. A verbal confrontation after the siren between GREG WILLIAMS (Car) and Sean Denham (Ess) resulted in umpire ANDREW COATES moving in to restore peace. TV pictures however displayed Williams pushing the umpire.

Williams was cited by the AFL on Tuesday and at a two-hour TRIBUNAL hearing on Wednesday night, he was found guilty of “unduly interfering with field umpire Coates” and suspended for nine matches.

From the same match RICKY OLARENSHAW (Ess) from video, pleaded guilty to the charge of striking Scott Camporeale (Car) and suspended for four matches.

With media speculation estimating Williams would lose some $80,000 as a result of the suspension, his lawyers on Friday morning (4th) lodged a writ in the Victorian Supreme Court. That afternoon Justice Howard Nathan awarded an injunction with a trial expected to be heard in some eight or nine weeks.

It released Greg Williams to continue to play.

From the same game, SEAN DENHAM (Ess) and PETER DEAN (Car) were asked to explain “actions”.

To avoid future confrontations the AFL decreed teams must immediately leave the field after the final siren and clubs at all future MCG matches will be required to use dressing rooms on opposite sides of the venue.

<||> TRIBUNAL—DANNY HARGRAVES (WB) was found not guilty of elbowing Andrew Wills (Fre).

Following an investigation, Craig O’Brien (Syd) was cited for striking Daniel Metropolis (WCE)—the case will be heard next Wednesday (9th).

<||> GARY ABLETT (Gee) suffered damage to his right knee in the Sunday Reserves match against Richmond and following medical advice on Tuesday underwent an arthroscope on Wednesday (2nd). He is likely to be absent for 4 to 6 weeks, but the GEELONG club insists he will continue to play—what is expected is his final season …

<||> LEE WALKER (Col) went under surgery for his fourth knee reconstruction …


Pies' 50 goals in first two games
250th game for Jason Dunstall
Blight – Crows' "pathetic"

ROUND TWO – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, April 4–5–6–7
MILESTONES—Hawthorn captain JASON DUNSTALL reached game 250, and kicked 4.1 … BARRY STANDFIELD his 100th senior outing, (Fsc 98, Ade 2).

The Friday opener drew 61,138 to the G and with the Rocca brothers receiving great support from SHANE WATSON and JASON TAYLOR, the Magpies romped away with another huge victory, and brought up 50 goals in their first two games. The Demons who promised so much were swamped by a barrage of scoring with the Maggies 107pt win falling only two points short of their 1919 best against the Redlegs. Revitalised ’Wood captain GAVIN BROWN, together with NATHAN BUCKLEY and SCOTT RUSSELL were in dominating form—COLLINGWOOD 24.19-163 (Saverio Rocca 10.2) best, Sav Rocca, Richardson (his 50th game) and Anthony Rocca, MELBOURNE 7.14-56 (David Neitz 3) best, Clarkson, Glenn Lovett, Neitz.

Saturday was overcast as the Tigers brought 32,880 to the MCG—they were up by 40pts early in the second term as BENNIE GALE controlled the centre bounces, to the degree his opponent DAVID PITTMAN was dragged, never to return. The Crows were revved-up and got back into the contest but Richmond were still in control at the last break by 21pts. Though Adelaide monopolised play in the first half of the last quarter to draw within one point, they let the Tigers surge back, chiefly through the efforts of Richardson who kicked three in the last, and the margin blew out to 28pts at the final siren. The result drew a tirade of criticism by coach Malcolm Blight against the ‘Adelaide culture’ in a press conference rated — “by several media representatives as the best in football history” — JAKE NIALL Sunday Age. RICHMOND 19.14-128 (Matthew Richardson 6.3, Nick Daffy 3, Trent Nichols 3) best, Campbell, Richardson, Charles, ADELAIDE 15.10-100 (Tony Modra 5, Nigel Smart 3) best, Smart, Williams, Edwards.

Kardinia Park was the scene of a see-sawing struggle between the Cats and the Eagles watched by 17,988 fans. First it was West to take the ascendancy, then Geelong—positions were reversed, then back again. A gritty contest came down to just a six point result with the mainstay of the Cat attack being PETER RICCARDI who was coming off a shocker of a first game. His 6.2 was the difference in the points staying at Corio Bay, GEELONG 11.12-78 (Peter Riccardi 6) best, Riccardi, Colbert, Robbins, WEST COAST 11.6-72–best, Heady, Kemp, Lewis. First quarter injuries saw CHRIS MAINWARING (WC) off with a left knee injury—he faces surgery, and a sickening collision of heads between ASHLEY McINTOSH (WC) who received concussion and BRENTON SANDERSON (Gee) who had 30 stitches to a cut eye.

At Optus Oval, the struggle was just as keen. Sydney with endeavour swept to lead by 25pts, then SCOTT WYND went into the ruck for the Bulldogs. With CHRIS GRANT providing great defence and creating a springboard for attack, the Dogs blasted 8.2 in the second. The last half was a torrid contest, with goal-for-goal being swapped. One of the key match-ups for the day was the TONY LIBERATORE and PAUL KELLY battle. Both ended with only two kicks each—Libber got two goals with his, and the Doggies the points, WESTERN BULLDOGS 13.12-90 (Simon Minton-Connell 3, Luke Darcy 3, Leon Cameron 3) best, Grant, Liberatore, Johnson, SYDNEY 12.11-83 (Craig O’Brien 3) best, Cresswell, Chapman, Stafford, crowd, 12,604.

On Sunday, the Gabba (17,123) was hot and steamy, as the Saints found out—the Brisbane Lions went in without ALASTAIR LYNCH (hamstring), but far from being hamstrung, the Lions blitzed their visitors. St Kilda were competitive for the first 10 minutes but thereafter Brisbane added 11 unanswered goals. sweeping to an unassailable lead. JUSTIN LEPPITSCH and CLARK KEATING provided the focus as the Lions outclassed the Saints in every department to win by 97pts, BRISBANE 23.16-154 (Clark Keating 5, Justin Leppitsch 4, Chris Johnson 4) best, Johnson, Robbins, White, ST KILDA 7.15-57 (Stewart Loewe 2) best, Cripps. Burke, Brown.

Port Adelaide backed by their home-town crowd of 32,747 at Football Park opened with ferocity, but failed to translate it to the scoreboard. The Power’s 16pt lead at the first break was whittled back, with the Bombers taking the lead with a goal from JAMES HIRD 18-minutes in the second. From there the Dons went away to post the true ‘hard-fought’ win by 33pts, ESSENDON 14.9-93 (Steve Alessio 3, Mark Mercuri 3) best, Mercuri, Misiti, Alessio, PORT ADELAIDE 8.12-60—best, Brown, Lyle, Breuer.

Port Adelaide’s first ‘home’ AFL game was preceded by a cavalcade of former champions. Sods of earth from the Alberton Oval were flown in by helicopter and placed into the ground at Football Park at the point of each 50 metre arc.

The final game of the Sunday triple-header played in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth resulted at Subiaco Oval (19,057) with a 14pt win to Fremantle. For the second week, the Dockers displayed character as they fought back from tight situations to record consecutive victories. In Dunstall’s 250th, Freo had to withstand a terrific third quarter comeback which took the Hawks from a 23pt half-time deficit to a 5pt lead. The Dockers however proved stronger in the closing stages, holding the spent Hawks to a single goal in the last, FREMANTLE 13.9-87 (Daniel Bandy 3) best, Harding, Callaghan, Bandy, HAWTHORN 10.13-73 (Jason Dunstall 4) best, Harford (37 possessions), Salmon, Platten.

Monday night football at the MCG was played in wintry, rainy conditions, when 38,170 witnessed  North deliver an unexpected blow-out—a confident Kanga outfit carved up a forward-less Carlton. It was a game-long, full-of-running effort by North with PETER BELL, ROBERT SCOTT, GLEN ARCHER and BRETT ALLISON leading the charge. In contrast, for most of the game the Blues noticeably lacked spark and spirit until the closing stages—NORTH 12.14-86 (Brett Allison) best, Bell, Archer, Rock, CARLTON 8.12-60 (Glenn Manton 2) best, Sexton, Allan, Hamill.

Notable from Round 2 — SYDNEY failed to goal in the last quarter for the second week … SAV ROCCA kicked 10.2 at the MCG — the last three bags of 10 goals or more at the MCG have all been against, Melbourne … the 9.7-61 by the Pies was their best finish of 208 games versus the Demons … Saturday’s MCG loss by Adelaide was their 44th Victorian defeat—of 55 games, the Crows have won 10, lost 44, and drawn one.

TRIBUNAL—the Wednesday (9th) sitting was a marathon. GREG WILLIAMS (Car) was cited from video of having ‘kneed’ Dean Laidley (NM) to the leg during the first term of the Monday night MCG game. Williams was granted his request for a panel other than those who had suspended him for 9 matches the previous week, and on which he won a Supreme Court injunction enabling him to continue to play until the Court hears the case on May 13th.

However, the 33-year-old Williams was found guilty of the charge against Laidley and suspended for three matches—his second suspension in eight days. It was his 19th appearance covering 14 seasons of 239 games with Gee, Syd and Car. The dual Brownlow winner of 1986 and 1994 has now been found guilty on 12 occasions; suspended 34 weeks, together with one severe reprimand and a fine of $3000 … in other cases, CRAIG O’BRIEN (Syd) was found not guilty of striking Daniel Metropolis (WCE) … DARREN JARMAN (Ade) pleaded guilty to the charge of striking Matthew Rogers (Rch) and outed two games … ASHLEY McINTOSH (WCE)–not guilty of striking Brenton Sanderson (Gee) … JUSTIN CRAWFORD (Haw)–found guilty of striking JASON NORRISH (Fre) and is out for two games … three players, DALE KICKETT (Fre), BRENDAN KRUMMEL (Haw) and SHANNON GIBSON (Haw) were found guilty of wrestling and each fined one week’s pay and one match payment.


Essendon are only side unbeaten
Saints rise to clip Pies – yet again
Port Adelaide notch first AFL win

ROUND THREE – Fri-Sat-Sun, April 11–12–13.

MILESTONES—Port Adelaide tipped by many to remain winless and certain wooden-spooners in their first AFL season, emerged from Round 3 as the biggest winners with their first AFL victory over Geelong. Not far behind the Power, were St Kilda, rising from their 97pt thrashing at the hands of Brisbane the previous week, and proving to STAN ALVES their coach—a week is certainly a long time in football … Melbourne captain GARRY LYON played his 250th … SCOTT WYND (WB) his 150th … TODD VINEY (Mel) kicked his 100th goal for the Demons in his 175th.

The good weather across all venues brought crowds of 296,994.

Friday night at the SCG proved a nail-biter for the 23,598 fans who battled with an equal next-door number at a SuperLeague State game. Sydney posted their first win for the season. The Coathangers led by as much as 41pts early in the second term, then let the Redlegs back, conceding five unanswered goals. In the second half it looked at though the Demons would take the points as GARRY LYON gave his side the desperate drive they needed, but a down-to-the-wire fight saw the Swans narrowly come away with their first points of the year. The game was marked by good debuts for the Harboursiders by TROY COOK and JOHN STEVENS—SYDNEY 15.9-99 (Paul Kelly 2, John Stevens 2) best, Kelly, Seymour, Stevens, MELBOURNE 14.7-91 (David Neitz 3) best, G.Lovett, Stynes, B.Lovett.

On Saturday, following 16 successive losses at the MCG since early 1994, the Doggies stormed home with a burst of 7.1 in one of the upsets of the round. The Tigers in an always tight contest (for 35,438), seemed to have the measure of the Dogs, but Richmond in the last term, started to lose centre bounces at the critical time and an accurate Bulldog forward line, sent the Tigers looking for answers despite the early contribution by MATTHEW RICHARDSON — WESTERN BULLDOGS 16.9-105 (Luke Darcy 4, Simon Minton-Connell 3) best, Smith, Johnson, Darcy, RICHMOND 12.14-86 (Matthew Richardson 6.5) best, Richardson, Campbell, Turner.

The Waverley clash was tipped as a cakewalk for the undefeated Collingwood over the wounded Saints. Played in a fierce manner, with many head-high hits—SHANE WATSON (Col) then STEWART LOEWE each left the field bloodied, yet both returned for the second half. Moments of brilliance by NICKY WINMAR (StK) and PAUL WILLIAMS (Col) thrilled the 54,699 (the biggest minor series Waverley crowd since 1993). The match was further notable by the forward efforts of two Sainters, PETER EVERITT and the former Eagle JASON HEATLEY. The ebb-and-flow went the way of the Saints in a damn good game of tight footy, ST KILDA 19.11-125 (Peter Everitt 6.1, Jason Heatley 5.3) best, Everitt, Winmar, Young, COLLINGWOOD 17.16-118 (Paul Williams 3, Saverio Rocca 3) best, Burns, Williams, Curran.

The boilover of the round came on Saturday night at Football Park for 32,074 parochial Power fans. It was almost a game-long procession as Port Adelaide despite their lack of height, showed team spirit and commitment typical of what had given  34 premierships to their long SANFL history. It brought Port their first AFL win after only three games at the highest level. Geelong were ragged and ‘Power-less’ for most of the contest, and only when Port eased off did the Cats gain respectability on the scoreboard. PORT ADELAIDE 18.21-129 (Scott Cummings 5, Bowen Lockwood 4) best, Dickie, Brown, Lyle, GEELONG 14.6-90 (Michael Mansfield 4, Robbie Burns 3) best, Couch, Burns, Mansfield.

The good weather continued on Sunday in both Perth and Melbourne with 39,294 packing into Subiaco for the local derby. But the fans saw yet another easy win for the Eagles, as the Dockers failed to match their early expectations gathered from two opening game victories with their forward weakness exposed—the win carried the Coasters back to third spot, WEST COAST 16.15-111 (Phillip Matera 4) best, Lewis, Phillip Matera, Banfield, FREMANTLE 9.17-71, best, Wills, Harding, Norrish.

At the MCG, in the sunny mid 20’s, the Bombers never looked like being beaten by North—they were too swift and too strong for a Kangas side desperately seeking big-man strength other than just COREY McKERNAN who did a two-man job, but was overwhelmed. The 57,978 crowd watched as the Dons went to a lead by as much as 54pts in the last. The final quarter drew 13.1 from the two, but the 42pt margin equated the difference between the two sides on the day, ESSENDON 18.14-122 (Che Cockatoo-Collins 4, Matthew Lloyd 4) best, Fletcher, Denham, Symons, NORTH 12.8-80 (Mark Roberts 3) best, McKernan, Roberts, A.Stevens.

The Navy Blues in their 1,995th League game, became the Pale Blues and received $250,000 for the trouble in sponsorship for a new M&M blue-coloured sweet—the white logo on a mid-blue background was unchanged but the familiar white numbers were replaced by black ones. The Crows after being blasted by coach MALCOLM BLIGHT for their efforts the previous week were competitive for the first half, but fell away badly in the last half, but were saved from another debacle as the Blues finished with a woeful 4.10 in the last to be just 28pt winners, CARLTON 15.18-108 (Aaron Hamill 3, Anthony Koutoufides 3) best, Bradley, Allan, Murphy, ADELAIDE 12.8-80 (Nigel Smart 3, Barry Standfield 3) best, Smart, Koster, Tregenza — at Optus Oval to 25,966.

At Waverley Park (27,947), the Lions and Hawks both played in patches, but chiefly it was Hawthorn who led the charge. In a gritty finish, the Hawks held on to win by 12pts against a side who rarely win away from the Gabba, HAWTHORN 12.15-87 (Jason Dunstall 5) best, Treleven, Lekkas, Harford, BRISBANE 11.9-75 (Jarrod Molloy 3) best, Lambert, Molloy, Hart. Major injuries in the round included MICK McGUANE (Car) who tore a groin, and will be absent some two to four weeks … SCOTT WYND (WB) a fractured bone in his right hand—he had screws inserted … SHAUN McMANUS (Fre) tore the ACL in the left knee, ending his season … in a second term collision with teammate JIM STYNES, SHAUN SMITH (Mel) injured his left knee and was concussed … JARROD MOLLOY (Bri) suffered a broken hand—six weeks … DARRYL WHITE (Bri) a dislocated kneecap—12 weeks …

<||> The long-running co-tenancy dis-agreement over Western Oval with FITZROY was concluded out of court. The Bulldogs settled for $70,000 of their $696,285 claim.

<||> On Friday (11th) final bids for the $2 billion-plus Docklands project were awaited. Construction is expect to begin early next year.

TRIBUNAL—DARRYL POOLE (PA) pleaded guilty and was suspended two matches for striking Leigh Colbert (Gee) with an open hand … MARK MERENDA (Rch) was found guilty of a video charge for striking Scott West (WB) and given a two-match suspension … a striking charge against NICK DAFFY (Rch) was not heard as the League were unable to produce video evidence to sustain the case … however, NICK DAFFY (Rch), JUSTIN CHARLES (Rch), JOSE ROMERO (WB) and CRAIG ELLIS (WB) were found guilty of wrestling and each fined one match payment … SCOTT BURNS (Col) was found guilty of striking Stewart Loewe (StK) and suspended two matches … STEVEN SZILLER (StK) found guilty of striking Scott Russell (Col) and suspended two matches … DARRIN PRITCHARD (Haw) was found guilty of tripping Chris Johnson (Bri) and given one match—the first suspension Pritchard has received in 202 games …

The Channel Nine Footy Show on Thursday (17th) celebrated its 100th airing—and they said it wouldn’t last!


Geelong shoot down the Bombers
Port Adelaide take "Showdown 1"
The Kangas tumble to 14th place

ROUND FOUR – Fri-Sat-Sun, April 18–19–20.

MILESTONES—Port Adelaide in only their fourth AFL game took the much-publicised first clash against bitter rivals Adelaide … Essendon with a loss to Geelong suffered their 800th League defeat … the Carlton win over Collingwood took the Blues to six consecutive victories over the Pies, the equal of 1985-87, but short of their nine-straight across 1905-1909 … 100 games were achieved by ANG CHRISTOU (Car), GLEN ARCHER (NM) and MITCHELL WHITE (WCE).

The 4th round was attended by 315,244, with 161,669 at the three MCG matches. Across all venues, most results were tight, with margins of 2, 5, 7, 11, 24 and 26pts—the biggest being the 46pt win by Sydney over the Saints on Saturday night.

The Friday night MCG clash when 28,043 saw a rugged opening with plenty of bumps being traded between the Demons and Bulldogs. Melbourne had the bulk of the play and in the third quarter went ahead by five goals, but the Dogs came back to trail by only six points at the last change. The last term ended kick-for-kick with the Dogs narrowly taking their third win. DAVID NEITZ and JIM STYNES were honest toilers for the Demons, while JOSE ROMERO and CRAIG ELLIS had terrific games for the Dogs—WESTERN BULLDOGS 13.11-89 (Simon Minton-Connell 3) best, Ellis, Darcy, West, MELBOURNE 13.9-87 (David Neitz 7.2) best, Neitz, Stynes, Nettelbeck.

The sun shone brightly on Saturday at the G for 78,704 for the always-classic confrontation between Carlton and Collingwood. The lead changed six times, and the match had passion. The Blues won by 17pts, when maybe a goal or a point would have reflected the difference between the two. ANG CHRISTOU played his 100th and was one of the better Blues, STEPHEN KERNAHAN returned after injury, but Carlton can be thankful for an inspiring 55 metre kick from CRAIG BRADLEY which resulted in a goal to GLEN MANTON starting the last term off—it was the Blues again for the sixth-straight time, CARLTON 15.11-101 (Stephen Kernahan 3) best, Bradley, Christou, Koutoufides, COLLINGWOOD 12.12-84 (Saverio Rocca 4, Anthony Rocca 3) best, Russell, Buckley, Crosisca.

With only two late behinds in the third term, Richmond fans let both the team and coach ROBERT WALLS know their feelings with loud booing at the last break. With a limp 15,461 at Princes Park, the game til then seemed as though the Dockers were going to break through for another win in Melbourne. However, a last quarter revival denied Freo, who were held scoreless as the Tigers ground out an unconvincing 5pt win, without the suspended MARK MERENDA and injured BRENDAN GALE, JUSTIN CHARLES and MATTHEW ROGERS—RICHMOND 10.12-72 (2 to Daffy, Bowden, Richardson) best, Gaspar, Kellaway, Campbell, FREMANTLE 10.7-67 (2 to D.Parker, Waterhouse, Leach) best, S.Parker, O’Reilly, Leach.

The fans on Saturday night voted with their feet again as 35,061 turned out at Waverley. St Kilda opened in grand style, carrying on from their win over the Pies of the previous week. But, their effort lasted all but 20 minutes as Sydney found touch and lifted by PAUL KELLY, MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN and CRAIG O’BRIEN, the Coathangers had a valuable training run and were easy victors. The Swans had the luxury of adding TONY LOCKETT, 11 minutes into the third when they already led by 32pts. Big Tony with just eight kicks and seven marks added 3.2 to his career tally, and fully tested his surgery and recovery with two goals from the 50 metre arc, SYDNEY 18.19-127 (Craig O’Brien 5, Michael O’Loughlin 4, Tony Lockett 3) best, O’Loughlin, Cresswell, Stafford, ST KILDA 12.9-81 (2-Winmar, Loewe, Heatley, Smith, Traianidis) best, Loewe, Harvey, Cripps.

At Subiaco, the night brought out 38,222 as the Eagles with PETER SUMICH back in touch with seven well-earned goals were only marginally challenged. Leading by 49pts, the Coasters were well placed to withstand a late six-goal surge from the Hawks who closed the end margin to 24pts. The win took the Eagles back to top place and if it’s any indication of his worth, Suma may get more than the 12 games he was restricted to across 1995-96—at the other end, we saw the rare occurrence of Hawk captain JASON DUNSTALL held goalless for the second time in four weeks, WEST COAST 17.10-112 (Peter Sumich 7.0, Phillip Matera 4) best, Symmons, Sumich, Grgic, HAWTHORN 13.11-89 (Aaron Lord 4) best, Lord, Treleven, Harford.

Sunday was great in Melbourne and Adelaide, but early rain made starting conditions slippery at the Gabba. In a contest which never reached great heights, the Lions powered away from a disorganised North to lead by six goals at half time. How far, was the question, but the Kangas with DAVID KING playing a top defenders role, and the always dangerous JOHN BLAKEY plus good efforts from JOHN LONGMIRE and COREY McKERNAN kicked seven goals in the third and drew within a point. The Lions however again took charge and were comfortable 26pt winners, BRISBANE 15.19-109 (Justin Leppitsch 5) best, Lappin, Lambert, Leppitsch, NORTH 12.11-83 (John Blakey 3) best, Blakey, King, Longmire, crowd–18,575. The flag holders dropped to 14th place.

A sell-out 47,256 packed Football Park for ‘Showdown 1” as the Port-Crows clash was billed. In only their fourth AFL game, the Port fanatics were joyous as their 127-year SA tradition made their ‘upstart’ opponents bow to their presence. Port enjoyed a game-long control with a 40pt lead early in the last. The Crows displayed a strong desire, with a flurry of goals for a final margin of just 11pts, but the Power had turned it on and re-established themselves as the ‘kings’ of Adelaide footy, PORT ADELAIDE 11.17-83 (Scott Cummings 4), best, S.Bond, Wilson, Lyle, ADELAIDE 11.6-72 (Tony Modra 7.2), best, Ricciuto, Tregenza, Modra.

The MCG was well-attended by 54,922 for the game which everyone (but the faithful) said Geelong couldn’t win. The undefeated Dons seemed certain winners after the Cats had sprayed 0.7 in the second to trail 2.11 to Essendon 5.8-38 at the half. With losses mounting following the injuries to JAMES HIRD, then MICHAEL LONG, MICHAEL SYMONS, and DUSTIN FLETCHER, the Bombers while running out of options could not contain the fierce desire of the Cats. The solo ruck effort by JOHN BARNES was an outstanding contribution to Geelong, while GARRY HOCKING, DAVID MENSCH and first-gamer ADAM HOULIHAN carried the Cats over the line in a game worthy of a final, GEELONG 11.19-85 (Marty McKinnon 4) best, Barnes, Mensch, Hocking, ESSENDON 11.12-78 (Matthew Lloyd 3) best, Misiti, Fletcher, Chris Daniher.

Victoria Park to be renamed?
The media spotlight over the weekend fell on the Collingwood club, with speculation extending to the possibility on a change to the name of Victoria Park.

The FAI Insurance group have offered $1 million to buy naming rights to Victoria Park for a period of five years, and there is the further possibility there will be a new design for an ‘away’ strip. However the famous black-and-white colours are sacrosanct, according to Magpie prez KEVIN ROSE.

A weekend poll published in The Sunday Age found most Pie supporters are providing sensible insight toward the changes, in light of the commercial reasons—as long as the traditional guernsey is retained for ‘home’ games.

<||> TRIBUNAL—JEFF FARMER (Mel) was found guilty of striking Brad Wira (WB) and suspended two matches … ANDREW OBST (Mel) guilty of striking Matthew Croft (WB)–one match … TONY FRANCIS (Col) guilty of striking Brett Ratten (Car)–one match … STEVEN ALESSIO (Ess) guilty of kneeing John Barnes (Gee)–three games … the video charge against GLEN ARCHER (NM) for striking Richard Champion (Bri) was thrown out …

Call for players to be named in racial abuse
Racial abuse again was brought to the forefront as STEVE KOLYNUIK, the Western Bulldogs defender, publicly apologised to young Demon forward JEFF FARMER on calling him “a black bastard” in last Friday’s MCG game.

Leading Aboriginal players including MICHAEL LONG and CHE COCKATOO-COLLINS called for the scraping of the confidential mediation process presently in force under the AFL’s Racial and Religious Vilification rules, and for players who offended, to be publicly named for racial abuse.

<||> The AFL’s Grievance Tribunal met for the first time (21st). Former Crow ANDREW JARMAN was fined $10,000 by the Adelaide club for refusing to play against Carlton on July 13 last season. The League found Jarman in breach of his contract, but reduced the fine to $6000—the Crows will refund $4000.

<||> TRIBUNAL 2—GARRY HOCKING (Gee) though found not to have committed any offence after a video review, was cited on Tuesday after an Optus Vision tape emerged. Hocking was charged with striking Matthew Lloyd (Ess)—however, at Wednesday night’s hearing, Hocking was found not guilty of the charge … ROD JAMESON (Ade) was suspended three matches, being found guilty of an amended charge of attempting to strike Scott Cummings (PA), with whom Jameson broadcasts on Adelaide radio in a weekly spot …

<||> TRIBUNAL 3—Western Bulldogs defender TODD CURLEY became the first player to be cited under the AFL’s Racial rules. After four hours of intense negotiations on Wednesday broke down, Curley was charged with having racially vilified DAVID COCKATOO-COLLINS (Mel) last Friday night. The case was heard by the League Tribunal on Thursday, when Todd Curley was cleared of the charge. The AFL bench found the case unsustained on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

<||> Brisbane’s co-captain ALASTAIR LYNCH has suffered a recurrence of chronic fatigue syndrome, and is expected will be restricted in 1997.


Racial abuse flares again
Pies get the Anzac Day medal
Port claim their third AFL scalp

ROUND FIVE – Fri-Sat-Sun, April 25–26–27.

MILESTONES—CRAIG BRADLEY (Car) reached game 250 … SCOTT RUSSELL (Col) his 150th … while, the 50th for their club was gained by KYM KOSTER (Ade) and JASON DANIELS (StK, also 58 with Syd) … DENIS PAGAN coached the Kangas for the 100th occasion.

The footy enjoyed another great patch of weather for the 5th round, with a total of 278,707 attending.

The now-traditional Anzac Day clash drew 83,271 to the G and was telecast direct into Melbourne. It was an absorbing game, with Essendon clearly below strength by the absence of key players. However their endeavour and depth was confirmed when the Bombers got to within 5pts of the Pies, 10 minutes into the last term. Collingwood despite their early off-target effort—they were 3.11 early in the 2nd—were clearly the better side on the day and were comfortable winners. One of the match highlights was the ANTHONY ROCCA’s first term goal. Stranded 70 metres from the northern goal, the younger Rocca lay-back with a magnificent old-fashioned torp and banged it straight through—COLLINGWOOD 14.15-99 (2 to Patterson, Ahmat, A.Rocca, S.Rocca, Williams) best, Monkhorst, Brown, Buckley, ESSENDON 10.10-70 (Peter Cransberg 3) best, Calthorpe, Cransberg, Lloyd.

Under lights at Subiaco (23,504) on Anzac Day, Freo defied the critics and denied the Saints with a hard-fought six-point win. Previously the Dockers had been suspect under pressure, yet in this one, they may just have proved, they’ve turned a corner. STEWART LOEWE gave a great performance for the Saints with 14 marks, and CLIVE WATERHOUSE for Freo finally emerged to live up to his expected reputation with four goals. Each played in waves of domination, and a close result was a worthy outcome, FREMANTLE 16.11-107 (Clive Waterhouse 4) best, Waterhouse, Toia, Callaghan, ST KILDA 15.11-101 (Joel Smith 2, Stewart Loewe 2) best, Harvey, Burke, Smith.

While the record books will show the Demons on Saturday at the MCG (19,655) outscored the Eagles in both the first and last quarters, it was the middle two terms which brought a 48pt thrashing from West Coast. The Eagles mid-game produced winners in every department and led by as much as 75pts. With too many running players and with big contributions from PETER MATERA, BEN COUSINS and CHRIS LEWIS, the Sandgropers showed the disparity of talent the Redlegs have on hand, WEST COAST 19.12-126 (Ben Cousins 5, Peter Sumich 3) best, Peter Matera, Cousins, Lewis, MELBOURNE 12.6-78 (David Neitz 6) best, Neitz, Clarkson, Stynes — it was the Eagles seventh consecutive win versus Melbourne.

The Crows after a week-long needle following their defeat by Port, effectively responded with their first victory at the Carlton ground since 1992. Adelaide with TONY MODRA starring launched a first term shock wave, and while the Bulldogs staged an expected comeback in the 2nd, their 1.8 for the term destroyed their chances. But, it was the way in which the Crows took over after half-time which commanded the greatest attention, with them recording a rare win in Melbourne, by a blowout 50pt margin, ADELAIDE 19.7-121 (Tony Modra 8.1, Barry Standfield 5, Darren Jarman 3) best, Recite, Bickley, Modra, WESTERN BULLDOGS 9.17-71 (Rohan Smith 3) best, Johnson, Romero, Cameron—crowd 12,694. The match brought the return of Crow ruckman SHAUN REHN following his second right knee reconstruction.

Saturday night at Waverley for another big 37,576, was a crucial contest for both the Hawks and the Swans. In the end, it was Hawks who prevailed but only after some anxious moments. Sydney opened with a dominating first 20 minutes and seemingly would strangle the game—but for all their efforts only led by 9pts. PAUL SALMON became one of the Hawk match-winners outpointing GREG STAFFORD while in the centre CRAIG TRELEVEN emerged. TONY LOCKETT was brought on for the second half, but top defence headed by BEN GRAHAM kept Plugger to two goals and he hardly influenced the game. With Stafford forced out of the game with a groin strain in the third, the Hawks thrusts to the forward line improved and they started to dictate. The last term was full of pressure with backbreakers coming when they added three goals in eight minutes, in spite of three from DALE LEWIS for Sydney, the Hawks went away with it for a 25 point win, HAWTHORN 15.9-99 (Jason Dunstall 4, Aaron Lord 3) best, Graham, Treleven, Harford, SYDNEY 11.8-74 (Paul Kelly 4, Dale Lewis 4) best, Kelly, Lewis, Dunkley. (Paul Kelly 4, Dale Lewis 4) best, Kelly, Lewis, Dunkley.

Sunday was hot in both Melbourne and Adelaide. At Football Park, a disappointing 31,757 got their money’s worth when Port’s early initiative paid off. Going in as hard as they could, the Power put the Lions off balance with their tenacity. Brisbane recovered and the match developed into a thrilling struggle for all of the last half, with eight points the biggest margin. A late goal to PETER BURGOYNE snatched a thrilling two-point win for the Power. It was Port’s third successive victory and lifted them to 8th placing, on the 57th birthday of coach JOHN CAHILL who said: “That was a gutsy effort over four quarters.” — PORT ADELAIDE 10.13-73 (Cummings 5) best, Lade, Bond, Wanganeen, BRISBANE 10.11-71 (Leppitsch 4) best, Ashcroft, Akermanis, M.Voss.

North Melbourne ravaged Richmond in a notable return to form at the MCG for 44,449, recording a 95pt win. The Roos persistence and aggressive attack on the ball gave the Tigers no opportunity. A highlight was the game by GLEN ARCHER at centre half-back who shut-down Richmond’s highly-rated MATTHEW RICHARDSON. MARTIN PIKE gave the Roos a top game, as did other former Lions, JOHN BLAKEY and ANTHONY MELLINGTON who proved a good foil for JOHN LONGMIRE on the forward and bagged five, NORTH 21.15-141 (Mellington 5, Longmire 4) best, Archer, Pike, McKernan, RICHMOND 7.4-46–best, Kellaway, Bowden, Broderick.

Geelong defeated Carlton at the Blues true home-venue for the first time since 1984. The Cats early had more run in their legs, and kicked longer, then when the trend changed were willing to experiment. It paid dividends against a sluggish Carlton who noticeably had several short of game-fitness in, EARL SPALDING, STEPHEN KERNAHAN and BRAD PEARCE. However, the late 3rd term injury to key Geelong ruckman JOHN BARNES who fell badly from a mark, breaking his left arm forced the Cats to use the down-on-form BILLY BROWNLESS in the ruck. He rose to the occasion and gave them the lift they needed at centre bounces. Barnes will miss 6-8 weeks, and the turn of events may well have saved the career of Brownless. The Blues were only a couple of kicks out of it, but the Cats to 25,801, deserved the points,–GEELONG 13.16-94 (Burns 3), best, Colbert, Pickering, Kilpatrick, CARLTON 12.14-86 (Bradley 2, Brown 2) best, Sexton, Ratten, Hogg.

Racial abuse flares again
Collingwood speedster ROBBIE AHMAT and Essendon’s MICHAEL PRIOR clashed verbally early in the final term of the MCG game on Friday. The Collingwood club lodged a formal complaint.

It was alleged Prior had called Ahmat a “dark c - - t” with Prior insisting the words he had used were “dumb c - - t” – Ahmat at the time was clearly upset, facing Prior with clenched fists, then pursued umpire JOHN HARVEY who noted the incident.

Monday proved a long day in the efforts to bring the two parties together through conciliation and mediation. These however broke down and the matter was referred to the AFL Tribunal. At its sitting on Tuesday evening, Prior was judged not guilty. It was one of the more difficult decisions for football’s judiciary to reach.

Essendon’s CEO PETER JACKSON following the decision of the Tribunal was quoted on ABC Radio as saying “there had to be a better way of handling such situations … we think mediation and conciliation would be a far better process to go through.” JOHN MAY, the Collingwood chief executive expressed the view, the Tribunal is not the perfect forum for resolving such issues, but his club were supportive of the process. The AFL Chief Executive WAYNE JACKSON said, the League were open to suggestions on how the process can be improved.

<||> TRIBUNAL #1—on Monday night, JASON MOONEY (Syd) was found guilty on the charge of head-butting Brendan Krummel (Haw) and was suspended for four matches. (Following a League investigation, Mooney days later was further cited on the charge of poking the left eye of Krummel) …

Umpire Harvey told to back-date report
<||> TRIBUNAL #2—an amazing sequence unfolded from the Wednesday hearings. The case against DEAN WALLIS (Ess) of jumping into Andrew Schauble (Col) was thrown out, when umpire JOHN HARVEY told the Tribunal he had been instructed to back-date the report. Harvey had viewed video evidence and judged no offence had occurred, but was called back to headquarters on Monday. AFL internal arrangements as a result were adjusted with umpires’ coach DAVID LEVENS relieved of the process of reporting … in other cases, MATTHEW BANKS (Ess) was found not guilty of kneeing Anthony Rocca (Col) … ASHLEY PRESCOTT (Rch) was found guilty of striking Wayne Schwass (NM) and received a one-week suspension …


Results brings pressure on coaches
Bulldogs down the Eagles in Perth
Carlton slip to 14th place

ROUND SIX – Fri-Sat-Sun, May 2–3–4.

MILESTONES—ANTHONY LOVELL played his 150th (Mel 121, now WCE 29) … CHRIS GRANT (WB) his 150th senior game, while EARL SPALDING played his 100th for Carlton, adding to his previous 109 with Melbourne.

The opening upset of the round came on Friday night at the WACA when the Western Bulldogs confirmed their worth. The Dogs who led at every quarter took over the game in the third with 6.7 and from thereon were worthy enough to hold-out the sustained comeback by the Eagles in the last. CHRIS GRANT topped off his 150th game for the Dogs with many outstanding marks at both ends of the ground. The Eagles’ GLEN JAKOVICH returned after a 45-week absence and a knee reconstruction. WESTERN BULLDOGS 17.11-113 (Minton-Connell 5) best, West, Smith Wynd, WEST COAST 14.15-99 (Phillip Matera 3) best, Peter Matera, Symmons, Jakovich – crowd 29,838.

Overnight rain in Melbourne made conditions slippery for the Saturday games. At the MCG (37,642), the Bombers stepped up a notch in the second half to deliver the 19th consecutive loss for Brisbane at head-quarters. Costly injuries for the Lions will apply additional pressure to their rate of improvement. The Dons were heartened by big performances from Lucas and Misiti, ESSENDON 15.12-102 (Lucas 3, Cransberg 3) best, Lucas, Misiti, Denham, BRISBANE 9.17-71 (Leppitsch 3) best, Clarke, T.Lynch, Lambert—the Lions’ Justin Leppitsch was reported in the 3rd term for misconduct against Damien Hardwick.

At one of the now infrequent games at Victoria Park, 24,633 enjoyed a return to suburban-style footy as Adelaide made a determined bid to win their first at Abbotsford—and they only failed by only a point, with a controversial goal kicked for the Pies by RICHARD OSBORNE after the quarter-time siren. Rarely more than a few kicks in it, a spirited Adelaide outfit took it right up to Collingwood. If anything, the Crows had plenty of opportunities, but by adding 4.6 in the last they fell short by a point, from 28 shots to the Pies 19. The Woods’ NATHAN BUCKLEY starred again, with 35 possessions and 10 marks off half-back, while MODRA and JARMAN were prominent for the Crows, COLLINGWOOD 13.6-84 (Osborne 3), best, Buckley, Burns, Russell, ADELAIDE 11.17-83 (Modra 5) best, Koster, Modra, McLeod.

At Kardinia Park (16,467), steady rain for the game failed to dampen the Cats who won most positions all day, handing out a good old-fashioned thrashing to Fremantle who were lost. RONNIE BURNS relished the conditions, kicking as many goals as the Dockers did. ADAM HOULIHAN also did well and LIAM PICKERING was prominent in a great return to form. For Freo coach Neesham, he branded it one of the worst defeats his club had suffered, GEELONG 14.13-97 (Burns 6) best, Houlihan, Burns, Pickering, FREMANTLE 6.7-43, best–Wills, Allan, Black.

On Saturday night, 38,953 flocked to Waverley Park in spite of the rain, and they were well-rewarded with one of the best of clashes. Both the Hawks and Kangas were desperate—the lead changed 10 times, it was anyone’s right down to the final minutes. The Roos gained a 10pt win, but it was gritty stuff throughout. PAUL SALMON again dominated the ruck for the Hawks, but COREY McKERNAN was a great influence around the field for the Kangas. Both coaches agreed it was “terrific” and even the defeated Hawks were applauded off by their ever-growing flock of fans, NORTH 16.7-103 (Schwass 4) best, McKernan, Archer, Schwass, HAWTHORN 14.9-93 (Dunstall 4) best, Salmon, Chick, Pritchard.

In warm conditions on Sunday in Sydney, 37,933 were at the SCG—the best-to see the Blues in Sydney. The Swans swamped Carlton in emphatic style, leading by as much as 79pts at the start of the last term. The Blues had many passengers but were well rewarded by the persistent efforts of big-man MICHAEL SEXTON. The eventual 59pt victory by the Harbour City boys came chiefly from the alternate forward achievements by CRAIG O’BRIEN, DALE LEWIS and DARYN CRESSWELL—TONY LOCKETT rested on the bench in the last quarter, having contributed just 1.3 for the game, SYDNEY 21.16-142 (O’Brien 5, Lewis 4, Cresswell 3) best, Kelly, O’Loughlin, Lewis, CARLTON 11.17-83 (Kernahan 3) best, Sexton, Silvagni, Manton — it was the Swans fourth consecutive win over the Blues, their best in 72 years, since 1924-25.

In the often driving rain at Waverley, things looked better as STEWART LOEWE had kicked his five goals before the Dees got their first. The Saints were terrific and the Demons were woeful as the Saints recorded their biggest-ever win over Melbourne in 180 matches. Everything was down-hill for the Redlegs with chairman JOSEPH GUTNICK telegraphing changes to come in a half-time radio interview; when they only trailed by seven goals. The Saints shutdown the influence of the Demon mainstay JIM STYNES, tagging him with ROBERT HARVEY who gained 25 possessions, ST KILDA 17.19-121 (Loewe 5, Everitt 4) best, Brown, Everitt, Harvey, MELBOURNE 4.11-35 – best, Neitz, Leoncelli, Stynes—crowd 21,104.

Port Adelaide swept back into the top Eight with a thorough 64pt defeat over Richmond at Football Park for 36,090 fans. Exceeding all predictions, the Power with spirited attacks to the ball have racked-up four-straight wins against Geelong, Adelaide, Brisbane and now Richmond, but, all on their home turf. The big test will come in the weeks to come as Port “hit-the-road” in Melbourne games, without their fanatical Adelaide supporters. The Tigers performance was rated lowly by their devastated coach ROBERT WALLS. Richmond suffered a further disaster when star forward MATTHEW RICHARDSON suffered a broken left arm in the dying moments of the match in a collision with teammate MARK CHAFFEY and Port defender ADAM HEUSKES — PORT ADELAIDE 19.8-122 (Cummings 4, Wanganeen 3) best, Wanganeen, Lade, Wilson, RICHMOND 8.10-58 (B.Gale 3) best, Tape, Kellaway, M.Gale.

Demons hold crisis meeting
The Melbourne FC board conducted a two-hour crisis meeting on Monday night (5th) following radio statements by Demon prez JOSEPH GUTNICK during the half-time interval of Sunday’s game at Waverley.

Beating the gun, HASSA MANN severed 38 years with the club as a player and administrator by resigning as CEO. His position will be taken by football operations manager CAMERON SCHWAB, a former key admin at Richmond.

Coach NEIL BALME, was said to be under no threat after GARRY LYON and the players put forward their case. Balme is expected to stay at least until the end of the season.

<||> TRIBUNAL—In a heavy night, nine cases were heard Monday (5th)—JASON MOONEY (Syd) was found not guilty of poking the eye of Brendan Krummel (Haw) … JUSTIN LEPPITSCH (Bri) was found not guilty of misconduct against Damien Hardwick (Ess) … however, DAMIEN HARDWICK was found guilty of striking Marcus Ashcroft (Bri) and suspended for two weeks … of players charged with wrestling, MATTHEW YOUNG (StK) and ROBERT HARVEY (StK) were cleared—four others however were each fined one match payment, DAVID NEITZ (Mel), DAVID SIERAKOWSKI (StK), TODD VINEY (Mel) and JAMIE SHANAHAN (StK) … making the even dozen reports for the week the TRIBUNAL sat again on Wednesday—BRETT MONTGOMERY (WB) was found guilty of striking Jarrad Schofield (WCE) and suspended two matches … FRASER BROWN (Car) was guilty of striking Dale Lewis (Syd) and outed two games … ANDREW OBST (Mel) was found not guilty of striking Matthew Young (StK).


A weekend for the record books
Bulldogs win hard-earned respect
Jason Dunstall passes 1200 goals

ROUND SEVEN – Fri-Sat-Sun, May 9–10–11.

MILESTONES—Hawthorn captain JASON DUNSTALL kicked five in a losing side to become only the second player in League history to reach 1200 goals. Dunstall nearing his 33rd birth-day is closing on the 60 year old record of Collingwood’s GORDON COVENTRY who retired on 1299 goals in 1937.

Carlton’s STEPHEN KERNAHAN with two, became the greatest club goalkicker of Princes Park. He passed the 722 goals kicked by HARRY VALLENCE between 1926 and 1938 … Geelong played their 500th League game at Kardinia Park, while Sydney in their defeat registered the Swans lowest score against the Cats for 33 years … 100 senior games arrived for DARYN CRESSWELL (Syd) how-ever he suffered a dislocated kneecap in the second term … and 50 games came for JUSTIN LEPPITSCH (Bri), RAYDEN TALLIS (Haw), SEAN WELLMAN (Ess, now Ade), BRENTON SANDERSON (Gee, now Ade), and in his 240th AFL outing including those with Geelong and Sydney, GREG WILLIAMS attained 100 games with Carlton.

The round opened to 54,901 at the G on Friday night when Collingwood swept aside any doubts to their worth with a disciplined and thorough dispatch of North Melbourne. Even though several of the Pies had quiet games, they controlled the midfield and used the central corridor to effect against an often listless Roo outfit—it was a solid Magpie performance, COLLINGWOOD 17.9-111 (S.Rocca 4) best, Williams, Burns, Brown, NORTH 9.14-68 (Mellington 4) best, Mellington, Rock, Bell.

Old rivals Carlton and Richmond both had something in common when they met on Saturday to 48,833 at the MCG. It was a tense struggle between two badly out-of-form sides. The Blues went away in the third but the Tigers proved tops in the desperation stakes when they came back within two goals in the last, but the Blue boys steadied to win by 22pts, CARLTON 14.14-98–best, Bradley, Sexton, Koutoufides, RICHMOND 10.16-76–best, Kellaway M.Gale, B.Gale.

Following up on their defeat of the Eagles the previous week, the Bulldogs had a sluggish opening and found themselves behind the Hawks by five goals in the second term at Optus Oval. Finding touch, the Dogs earned respect as they applied a 75pt turnaround through great efforts from the talented CHRIS GRANT and forward SIMON MINTON-CONNELL who kicked five for the second week in a row—the important victory kept the Dogs in the top three, WESTERN BULLDOGS 19.19-133 (Minton-Connell 5) best, Grant Wynd, Johnson, HAWTHORN 13.10-88 (Dunstall 5) best, Treleven, Taylor, Holland – crowd 18,860.

The Cats at Kardinia Park enjoyed a day of celebration with the appearance of many former greats. Their on-field display was spearheaded by the rising talent of a newly committed and harder Geelong who with two bursts of four goals at the start of the first and third quarters pummelled the Swans who were never in the hunt. The heavy conditions had the Sydney side floundering for answers to the hard-game-edge now found in the Cats, GEELONG 11.10-76 – best, McGrath, Graham, Kilpatrick, SYDNEY 6.8-44 (Maxfield 3) best, Maxfield, Kelly, Seymour—crowd 22,151.

On Saturday night at Waverley (17,752), the Saints proved they’d done their homework, as they shut down the new kids on the block. Port Adelaide were never really in the game from mid-way into the second term when STEWART LOEWE, PETER EVERITT and ROBERT HARVEY produced their best—Harvey had a sensational game with 38 possessions, closely followed by AUSTINN JONES with 32. The Saints enjoyed a big finish with 7.2 to give a much-needed percentage boost, ST KILDA 20.6-126 (Loewe 5, Smith 3) best, Harvey, Everitt, Brown, PORT ADELAIDE 8.13-61 (Breuer 3) best, Lade, Wilson, Burgoyne.

At the WACA, the gods of misfortune descended again on Melbourne who suffered their sixth defeat with a 55pt loss to Fremantle, and lost their leading goalkicker DAVID NEITZ, who suffered a broken jaw on both sides of his face in a collision in the early minutes of the third quarter. After surgery, it is possible the season will be over for Neitz, adding to the long list of debilitating injuries in the Demon camp. Under-manned, the Melbourne side had few answers to the home side, FREMANTLE 17.22-124 (D.Parker 3, Abraham 3) best, Toia, Harding, Leach, MELBOURNE 10.9-69 (Charles 3) best, McDonald, Stynes, Viney—crowd 18,198.

Brisbane went into their Sunday game at the Gabba with 19 of their 42-man squad on the injured list. The Lions stayed with the Eagles until half-time when the difference was only 10pts, but then the Eagles powered away, kicking 16 of the last 20 goals to win by 79pts—it was heaviest defeat Brisbane has suffered since moving to the BCG. The percentage-booster lifted the efficient Eagles back to top place, while the Lions plunged to 15th, WEST COAST 21.13-139 (Gehrig 5, Ball 3, Lewis 4) best, Peter Matera, Jakovich, McKenna, BRISBANE 8.12-60 (Leppitsch 3) best, Lambert, Fletcher, Lappin—crowd 17,524.

A Mother’s Day crowd of 39,275 at Football Park saw an injury-ravaged Essendon suffer a big defeat from a rampant Adelaide outfit. Striving to cover their deficiencies, the Bombers held the Crows in check until the last term when they trailed by only a point. In a powerful surge, Adelaide took control of the contest to burst away with 9.5 to 1.1 for a 53pt win, lifting the Crows into the Eight. MATTHEW ROBRAN in his first game for the season was a match-winner at centre forward for the home side while TONY MODRA held his leadership on the goalkicking table, ADELAIDE 18.18-126 (Modra 5, Liptak 3) best, Jarman, Robran, Recite, ESSENDON 11.7-73 (Lloyd 5) best, Misiti, Lucas, O’Donnell.

<||> TRIBUNAL—In Monday’s hearings, Carlton ruckman MICHAEL SEXTON was found not guilty of striking Mark Chaffey (Rch) … PAUL DIMATTINA (WB) on pleading guilty to striking Daniel Harford (Haw) and was outed one game.

CHRIS GRANT (WB) late Monday was charged from video by football operations manager IAN COLLINS. At the TRIBUNAL hearing on Tuesday, Grant was suspended one match for striking Nick Holland (Haw) in the first quarter of the Saturday Optus Oval game—despite evidence given by the three central umpires who failed to find an offence had occurred.

Decision awaited in Williams case
The Supreme Court in Melbourne heard evidence across three days (May 13-15) in the GREG WILLIAMS case against his 9-game suspension for interfering with an umpire.

Justice JOHN HEDIGAN on Thursday concluded the hearing and reserved his decision, expected to be handed down sometime in June.

<||> ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES and the Carlton club agreed to defer the disputation of arrangements with different boot manufacturers until the end of the season—the player had recently signed a deal until 2001 with adidas—the club has agreed to a four-year sponsor deal with Nike worth some $2-million.


Pies show clean heels to Bulldogs
Sydney and Brisbane in trouble
Racial spotlight lit again

ROUND EIGHT – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, May 16–17–18–19.

MILESTONES—Carlton celebrated their 2000th League game, and the 900th match played at Princes Park (Optus Oval) with a 25pt victory over Hawthorn … GUY McKENNA played his 200th becoming the first West Coast player to achieve this level … BRENDON GALE (Rch) reached his 150th … while MATTHEW FEBEY (Mel) in his 100th for the Demons created a unique record, joining STEVEN as the only twins to each play a century of matches in 101 seasons of League footy … media commentator PETER LANDY at Subiaco on Sunday called his 1000th game for the Channel Seven Network —Peter joined HSV-7 in 1977.

JASON DUNSTALL crashed to the ground at the 7-minute mark of the 2nd term at Optus Oval on Sunday and immediately clutched his left knee—the same one injured in the SCG Qualifying last September, which required reconstruction. The week before Dunstall became only the second player to reach 1200 goals.

The round started Friday night and in the early part was a ripper for the big MCG crowd of 61,014, as both full-forwards, SIMON MINTON-CONNELL for the Bulldogs and SAVERIO ROCCA for the Pies staged a first-half shoot-out. Beyond half time however, the mid-field dominance of NATHAN BUCKLEY contributed to the Pies gradually over-whelming the Doggies. Buckley was outstanding with 29 kicks, six marks and five handballs. The 46pt win by the Pies returned them to top place, COLLINGWOOD 19.15-129 (S.Rocca 5, Williams 3) best, Buckley, Williams, Curran, BULLDOGS 11.17-83 (Minton-Connell 6, Croft 3) best, Minton-Connell, Ellis, West.

Even though Melbourne drew within one point of Geelong  early in the 3rd term, the Cats were always going to comfortably win the Saturday MCG game. The Demons clearly were under-manned and to that stage had battled gamely. Thereafter it was one-way traffic as Geelong kicked 12 un-answered goals, inflicting a huge 79pt thumping, GEELONG 19.14-128 (Hargreaves 5) best, Sholl, Hargreaves, Colbert, MELBOURNE 7.7-49 (Farmer 3, Charles 3) best, Stynes, Pyman, Clarkson—crowd 28,989.

North set up their Optus Oval win over Port with a seven-goal opening. Though still playing below their premiership standard, it was the older Roos—SCHOLL, STEVENS, ARCHER, PIKE, LONGMIRE that rose to the occasion to hold back a bid by the Power. Port fell short, but are growing by the week, so far as their ‘on-road’ efforts are concerned, NORTH 19.14-128 (Craig Sholl 6.0, Kirzner 4) best, A.Stevens, Pike, Sholl, PORT 15.10-100 (Bond 4) best, Bond, Primus, Wilson—crowd 13,056.

Injuries and a virus were said to have depleted Sydney for their Saturday encounter with Adelaide at Footy Park for 40,147. Clearly under-manned, the Swans were no match for the disciplined Crows who are starting to look like finals prospects with recent performances. JARMAN, BICKLEY, RICCIUTO, LIPTAK and TREGENZA from the midfield swept past the flagging Harboursiders with ease, as the runners-up of last year were thrashed by 89pts, ADEL-AIDE 22.12-144 (Modra 4, Jarman 4, Standfield 4) best, Jarman, Ricciuto, Tregenza, SYDNEY 8.7-55 (Carey 3) best, Kelly, Lewis, Cresswell.

On Sunday in great MCG conditions, the Saints against the Bombers had an explosive first term, with TONY BROWN out of the centre prominent. Although guilty of wasteful finishing St Kilda were in control 6.8 to 2.4 at the first break. Then the tables turned and with JAMES HIRD (back from injury) and MATTHEW LLOYD providing twin avenues of attack, the Dons were equal to the demands and slammed on 7.7 in the second and go to a 14pt lead at half-time. The third quarter turned into a see-sawing battle with the Saints succeeding in niggling tactics on Hird. As both applied final quarter pressure, it was Essendon who cracked as the Saints won a contest by attrition, ST KILDA 18.16-124 (Everitt 4, Brown 3) best, Young, Brown, Everitt, ESSENDON 14.16-100 (Hird 4) best, Fletcher, Lloyd, Olarenshaw—crowd 51,928.

Essendon suffered further injuries from the match, which was also marked by a heated third quarter verbal skirmish between MICHAEL LONG (Ess) and PETER EVERITT (StK). Long referred the matter to an umpire, which resulted in the incident being passed for action to the AFL.

Carlton on Sunday at home on Optus gave 29,783 their best opening quarter for several weeks, racing away from the Hawks, setting up a powerful grip on the contest. ANG CHRISTOU linked with a dominating midfield of GREG WILLIAMS, CRAIG BRADLEY and BRETT RATTEN. Only in the closing stages did Hawthorn recover to make a game of it, CARLTON 15.16-106 (Manton 3, Murphy 3) best, Christou, Ratten, Bradley, HAWTHORN 12.9-81–best, Treleven, Kappler, Krummel.

Only 14,721 witnessed a cliff-hanger at Subiaco. Freo burst away early but after Brisbane drew them back, the balance was one long battle. For both sides, the encounter was important—for Freo to build their hopes, and for the Lions to redeem themselves. The contest was marred with the blood-rule being used 12 times, and several misplaced decisions at crucial points. Brisbane were vocal in their condemnation, but no official action was taken. The match result was gained only by an after siren 35 metre goal from QUENTON LEACH — FREMANTLE 14.14-98 (D.Parker 3, Bandy 3) best, Wills, Toia, O’Reilly, BRISBANE 15.3-93 (Bradshaw 4, Lappin 3) best, Lappin, Lambert, Clarke.

On Monday night at the MCG, the 14th-placed Tigers gaining value for their efforts, with BRENDON GALE (in his 150th) doing well at the centre bounces, had West Coast on shaky ground from the start. Almost anything the Tigers touched turned into yellow-and-black. Running the Eagles defence ragged, and manning-up well with intensity. JOEL BOWDEN enjoyed a purple patch in the 2nd term kicking four goals. with Richmond racing away to a commanding 10-goal lead by half-time—the Eagles seemed powerless to stem the flow which yielded 8.2 in the second for the Tigers. Little improved for the West, and though CHRIS LEWIS gathered three majors in the 3rd, Richmond led by as much as 77pts into the last term. The Tigers however eased, and blew the chance of improving their percentage–RICHMOND 18.11-119 (Bowden 4, Daffy 3) best, Broderick, B.Gale, M.Gale, WEST COAST 9.13-67 (Lewis 3) best, Ball, Lewis, Heady—crowd 26,721.

Knee surgery for Dunstall and Long
JASON DUNSTALL (Haw) and MICHAEL LONG (Ess) each went under further knee reconstructions following weekend injuries. Dunstall a second to his left knee, the same operated on last September, and Long, a third since 1993 to his right knee. Following rehabilitation, each will review their likely return to the game.

<||> TRIBUNAL—FRASER GEHRIG (WCE) was cleared of charging Paul Bulluss (Rch)—the only senior case.

Jackson confirms investment in Homebush
AFL chief WAYNE JACKSON on May 22 at Homebush in Sydney confirmed the League were investing $1 million in the $600 million Olympic Games complex. The money will go towards preliminary configuration work so the stadium can stage Australian Football after the Games in 2000.

Stage two after the Games will cost a further $30-40 million to make ready the facility for the playing of AFL matches.

Jackson was cautious in the Herald Sun on May 23 as quoted: “We have not given a commitment that AFL will definitely be played there …”

Long and Everitt issue far from resolved
The matter involving MICHAEL LONG (Ess) and PETER EVERITT (StK) was resolved via confidential mediation on Tuesday (20th).

The incident however remained on the boil and was stirred by comments made by NICKY WINMAR (StK) on May 23rd at a new Victoria Police initiative called ‘Towards Reconciliation’ when the St Kilda teammate of Everitt stated Long had been racially abused last Sunday.

Winmar told Channel 10 he had spoken to Everitt – “Peter’s very sorry he used those words.”


Pies & Cats 5-game streak ended
Adelaide on a roll – Crows down Hawks
Lockett and Lewis reported

ROUND NINE – Fri-Sat-Sun, May 23–24–25.

MILESTONES—PETER MATERA played his 150th for West Coast … 50th games for DARREN GASPAR (Rch 29 and 21 Syd) and AUSTINN JONES (StK) … MALCOLM BLIGHT in his 161st coaching game (NM, Gee, now Ade) obtained his 100th win … Bulldog forward PAUL HUDSON kicked four goals, joining his father’s 727, for Peter and Paul to enter the Hudson family name into the records with 1000 goals … 254,764 attended the round, bringing crowds to 2,454,328 for nine weeks—an average of 34,088 per game.

Football Park drew 32,658 for the Friday night opener—the Demons always struggled and didn’t kick their first goal until 8 minutes into the 3rd quarter—(their previous goal had been at 7 minutes of the 3rd term the previous week against Geelong). Port who won their 5th AFL game were little better in a terrible game, PORT ADELAIDE 10.18-78 (Cummings 4) best, Brown, Wilson, Cummings, MELBOURNE 3.9-27–best, Clarkson, Stynes, David Cockatoo-Collins.

The Blues at home on Saturday at Optus Oval (18,187) were generally in control but the Dockers displayed a persistent ability to always press. Freo though down by as much as 38pts in the third, came back in the last, to close the gap to just three points. Overall it was a mixed bag, with CRAIG BRADLEY in his 253rd game playing like a youngster for the 17pt winners, CARLTON 16.9-105 (Whitnall 3, Manton 3) best, Bradley, Williams, O’Sullivan, FREMANTLE 14.4-88 (Wills 3) best, Wills, Bandy, O’Reilly.

The Crows on a roll, jumped the Hawks at Waverley (23,463) and always found something extra when needed. Gritty throughout, Hawthorn were dangerous right down to the concluding minutes when they levelled. Adelaide went to 5+4 and up to 5th place. They may have reached the turning point of their struggle to gain out-of-town respect—the Hawks on the other hand, lost their 4th in-a-row and slipped to 15th, ADELAIDE 14.18-102 (Modra 5) best, Ricciuto, Bickley, Tregenza, HAWTHORN 13.10-88 (Krummel 5) best, Salmon, Treleven, Holland.

Saturday night in Sydney brought out another big 39,780 to see the Swans coming off an 89pt belting, facing League leaders Collingwood. The Pies to quarter time looked like millionaires, but beyond the first break, the Coathangers tightened their game and in spite of an earlier Lockett booking, kicked 15 goals to four, to be thorough victors. While the Magpies boasted a potent attack, the two Rocca’s were benched, and the Woods held to their lowest score of the year, SYDNEY 16.15-111 (O’Loughlin 3, Lockett 3) best, Carey, O’Loughlin, Stafford, COLLINGWOOD 11.8-74 (Osborne 3) best, Monkhorst, Wild, Buckley.

The four Sunday matches had stacks of action—in Brisbane, the Lions after a bad run of outs took on the Cats, on a 5-game winning streak. The Lions 10 minutes into the third were heading for a record, 60pts up. The game took an astonishing turn-around—Geelong swept back kicking the next nine goals and pulled to within three points. The Lions however regained control to boot the last four goals and win their first in five weeks, BRISBANE 19.12-126 (Bradshaw 6) best, Lappin, Bradshaw, Voss, GEELONG 15.8-98 (Burns 5) best, Burns, Pickering, Sholl—crowd, 19,828.

The North premiership hangover became a nightmare at the MCG for 29,307 fans as the Bulldog roadshow motored on. The Dogs nullified the Roo standouts, and swept to their 6th victory, having cleaned up both 1996 grand finalists, and the Eagles in Perth—bring on the rest of them, will now be their call, WESTERN BULLDOGS 16.7-103 (Hudson 4) best, Ellis, Smith, Grant, NORTH MELB 10.11-71 (Mellington 3) best, Stevens, Rock, King.

The Saints to a big 52,257 at Waverley swept to a commanding 47pt win over the Tigers and their 4th on-the-trot. Coming into half-time, it had been all Richmond in the second term, and they seemed to have the game. The last half however was a thumping re-emergence by the Saints who booted 15 goals to four, as their younger stars of JONES (his 50th), BROWN and SMITH sparked with WINMAR, BURKE and SHANAHAN—it was a very thorough performance with the Saints posting 9.2 in the last, ST KILDA 22.9-141 (Heatley 5, Loewe 4) best, Jones, Burke, Everitt, RICHMOND 14.10-94 (Bourke 4) best, Campbell, Kellaway, Daffy.

The scarves and jackets were twirling as the Eagles recorded an emphatic 25pt victory over the Bombers in front of a sellout 38,984 crowd at Subiaco. The lowlights of the West win came when CHRIS LEWIS was reported on two separate occasions, and the after-siren departure by stretcher then ambulance of young star BEN COUSINS with an ankle injury. The Eagles from quarter-time ruled proceedings against a Bomber side struggling to stay in touch with their big list of injuries. JAMES HIRD and STEVE ALESSIO were again the standouts of the Dons gutsy effort, WEST COAST 16.14-110 (Fewster 4) best, Peter Matera (his 150th), Grgic, Morrison, ESSENDON 13.7-85 (Hird 4) best, Hird, Alessio, Denham.

<||> TRIBUNAL—TONY LOCKETT at his 11th Tribunal appearance with both St Kilda and Sydney pleaded not guilty with striking Scott Burns (Col) with an elbow to the head, and was cleared.

CHRIS LEWIS (WCE) faced charges of striking two Essendon players BARRY YOUNG and DANNY MORGAN and though pleading guilty to both, was suspended a total of seven matches … DONALD COCKATOO-COLLINS (Mel) was outed two matches for headbutting Nathan Eagleton (PA), while DAMIEN GASPAR (Mel) escaped suspension for misconduct for charging David Brown (PA) … ANTHONY STEVENS (NM) was found not guilty of striking Jose Romero (WB) … TRENT CARROLL (Fre) in his debut game was suspended one match for striking Lance Whitnall (Car).

A three-day long power-struggle resulted in Port Adelaide coach JOHN CAHILL having his contract extended, upped by $20,000 to the end of 1999, and the match-day influence of football manager MICK MOYLAN reduced.


Williams: Court overturns 9-week suspension
Body-blow as AFL Tribunal rules questioned

The century-old process of Tribunal hearings were brought into question by Justice John Hedigan on Thursday May 29 in the Supreme Court in Melbourne.

The Age in its editorial of May 30th headed “A body-blow for sport” said: “While the Carlton centreman Greg Williams, had every right to appeal to the Supreme Court where Justice John Hedigan overturned his nine-match suspension by the AFL Tribunal, the process and decision will cause dismay to football administrators and sports organisations throughout Australia. Justice Hedigan appeared to anticipate this point in delivering his decision on Williams’ appeal after the dual Brownlow medalist was suspended for pushing a field umpire. The judge said such court proceedings in future would not necessarily have a successful outcome for prospective plaintiffs and there were particular circumstances prevailing in the case.

“‘This was a case about interference with an umpire said to be undue,” Justice Hedigan said. “The contact was slight, was inadvertent and was made without appreciation that it was an umpire involved and with no knowledge or intention to interfere with him.” None the less, the court’s overturning of the tribunal’s decision, which had been partly intended to underline the fact that the umpire is sacrosanct, will send shock waves through the sports world. The decision has the potential to make the AFL’s present disciplinary system inoperable.”

Williams had been found guilty of “unduly interfering with umpire (Andrew) Coates” at the conclusion of the round one game between Carlton and Essendon at the MCG on Easter Monday, March 31st

The 61-page judgement prompted David Poulton, a lawyer with the national law firm Minter Ellison to write in The Age saying in part — “Justice Hedigan’s judgement contains many sensible recommendations for reform, which the AFL Commission would do well to study closely ... (he) endorsed the concept of an appeals system like the Racing Appeals Tribunal, but with the sensible proviso that it be reserved only for the most serious cases ... it is also seen as a turning point for the way disciplinary matters are handled by the Australian Football League.”


Bulldogs – the new glamour side
Leadership shake-up
Geelong brings up 1000 wins

ROUND 10 – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, May 30–31, June 1–2.

MILESTONES—GEELONG with a 28pt win recorded their 1000th League victory … 100 AFL senior matches arrived for KEVIN DYSON (70 Mel, now Syd 30), NIGEL KELLETT (WB), SEAN SIMPSON (7 StK, now Gee 93) and CRAIG O’BRIEN (21 Ess, 52 StK, now Syd 27) … 50 games for SCOTT BURNS (Col), JOEL SMITH (StK), RICKY OLARENSHAW (Ess), FRASER GEHRIG (WCE), BRAD SEYMOUR (Syd) and MATTHEW YOUNG (StK) … two coaches responded to results from their charges—TONY SHAW (Col) and ROBERT WALLS (Rch) noted the Tigers and Pies were both “insipid” …

Although their six wins have all been posted at Football Park, the way Port Adelaide put away Carlton on Friday night, shows the Power in only their first AFL season are potential finalists. The Blues were humbled again as Port turned on the speed, with 10 contributing their 14 goals, leaving behind the many older legs—all the Power need is to start picking up a couple of away fixtures to make it—PORT ADELAIDE 14.9-93, best, Primus, Heuskes, Brown, CARLTON 7.13-55, best, Bradley, Ratten, Sexton—crowd 40,116.

North by dropping acting captain WAYNE SCHWASS to the Reserves showed they wanted improvement to recent patchy form—and they got it with a dominating finish to towel the Eagles at Optus on Saturday to a limp 13,614 fans. West have similar worries with a W-L-W-L-W-L record from their past six—then again, it is a very even season, NORTH 15.13-103 (Scott 4) best, Roberts, A.Stevens, McKernan, WEST COAST 9.4-58, best, Kemp, Peter Matera, Lovell.

Hawthorn blew Collingwood off Waverley Park with a blistering opening of 7.6 to 0.1–which was rushed through by the Hawks. The Pies without any semblance of play which made them the leaders caused coach TONY SHAW to say: “The whole group were totally insipid …” PAUL SALMON again was the power out of the ruck for the Hawks, with top performances coming from MARK GRAHAM and STEVE LAWRENCE among a host of others. SAV ROCCA down on form for the Magpies was dragged for a second week, HAWTHORN 16.12-108 (Holland 5, Gibson 3) best, Salmon, Graham, Holland, COLLINGWOOD 8.7-55 (Osborne 3) best, Brown, Crow, Osborne—crowd, 51,494.

The Cats at Kardinia Park shut down the in-form contributors of the Saints recent four-win surge, BARRY STONEHAM cut out STEWART LOEWE, LEIGH COLBERT had a good game against ROBERT HARVEY, while LIAM PICKERING nullified NATHAN BURKE. The break for Geelong came with three goals in three minutes from RONNIE BURNS in the third, and the Saints never recovered, GEELONG 16.11-107 (Burns 4) best, Colbert, Pickering, Stoneham, ST KILDA 11.13-79 (Heatley 4) best, Lappin, Cripps, Thompson—crowd 22,731.

The Demons at the MCG on Saturday night responded to the inner turmoil created by the sacking of coach NEIL BALME, out-playing the Tigers in the last half, and sweeping to a 25pt upset. Led by the inspiration of the tireless efforts of JIM STYNES, ‘wizardry’ from JEFF FARMER, and the presence of GARRY LYON, in for his 5th match of the year, and despite a chronic back complaint—it was the first Redleg win for nine weeks, and a near-disaster for the Tigers sending them down to 15th—MELBOURNE 14.8-92 (Farmer 4) best, Viney, Stynes, Yze, RICHMOND 9.13-67 (Nichols 5) best, Nichols, Broderick, Gaspar—crowd 28,879.

Sunday brought the Western Bulldogs their most important win to date when they proved positive victors over the Bombers on the MCG to a big 50,138. The Doggies blasted in 8.4-52 to open and though the Dons came back, the Westerners answered every challenge. Essendon suffered further injury with JAMES HIRD limping off, and he may be absent for 4-6 weeks—in the meantime, the Bombers losing five of their past six, tumbled to the desperation zone at 13th place. The Bulldogs climb to second place, and deserve their high-rank, WESTERN BULLDOGS 20.16-136 (Minton-Connell 4, Kolynuik 3, Darcy 3) best, Romero, S.West, Kolynuik, ESSENDON 17.12-114 (Lloyd 6, Alessio 3) best, Lloyd, Caracella, Daniher.

On the holiday Monday in Perth, only 22,464 saw the Crows post their 6th with a comfortable win over the Dockers, ADELAIDE 16.9-105 (Robran 5, Vardy 4) best, Ricciuto, Robran, McLeod, FREMANTLE 10.12-72 (Bandy 4) best, Wills, Chisholm, Callaghan.

A steamy Gabba packed in a close to capacity 20,403—the first half was mistake-ridden by two sides desperate for the points. The Lions and Swans struggled in a match where the lead changed 15 times, with only three-points difference at the siren, granting the points to the Lions. Lockett, a late withdrawal with a virus, may have just been the edge the Swans lacked, BRISBANE 13.14-92 (Leppitsch 3) best, Lambert, Clarke, White, SYDNEY 13.11-89 (Lewis 4, Bayes 4) best, Lewis, Kelly, Bayes.

<||> TRIBUNAL—at Monday's hearing, Carlton captain STEPHEN KERNAHAN was cleared of striking MATTHEW PRIMUS (PA) — it was a rare appearance for the 242-game veteran ... PAUL HOPGOOD (Mel) had an early night — following viewing of video evidence his charge of striking WAYNE CAMPBELL (Rch) was withdrawn ... JUSTIN CHARLES (Rch) was found guilty of headbutting ALASTAIR CLARKSON (Mel) and suspended for one match ... SEDAT SIR (WB) was charged from video, for charging BARRY YOUNG (Ess) — Sir was found guilty, and suspended for one match ...

AFL appeals Williams judgement
The AFL on Thursday (5th) lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court judgement by Justice Hedigan of May 29, which overturned the nine-match suspension by the AFL Tribunal.

The court agreed to an early hearing on the basis of public interest.

A three-judge panel is expected to hear the appeal on Monday, June 16.


Dogs lead for first time since 1992
Adelaide jump to second spot
Saints triumph over Eagles in Perth

ROUND 11 – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, June 6-7-8-9.

MILESTONES—100 games were achieved by SAVERIO ROCCA (Col) … 50 for STUART ANDERSON (NM), SCOTT CUMMINGS (40 Ess, now PA 10), GREG STAFFORD (Syd), PAUL SYMMONS (WCE).

The four-day Queen’s Birthday split round kicked away Friday night with a big 70,350 at the MCG. Both the Pies and Tigers coming off two losses turned on a thriller—throughout, Richmond appeared more solid with goals at a premium. The ball was attacked ferociously by both sides, and only a strong defensive last term effort by BRENDAN GALE and a late goal to MATTHEW RICHARDSON gained a 6pt win for the Tigers, RICHMOND 11.11-77 (Richardson 5) best, Richardson, Kellaway, Prescott, COLLINGWOOD 10.11-71 (S.Rocca 4) best, Brown, Russell, Buckley.

On Saturday at the MCG, Essendon’s horror run continued as they suffered their 7th loss from the past eight, going down to an inspired Hawthorn in front of 60.594. The Hawks after half-time went away kicking 12 goals to six and were delivered a best on ground performance by SHANE CRAWFORD in his second game after a lengthy period of injury. Only a fortnight ago, the season looked to have passed the Hawks by, but two wins place them in line for a possible finals berth. Injuries to the Dons have plummeted them from top place after three opening wins, to second last, HAWTHORN 17.22-124 (Holland 3, Chick 3, Dixon 3) best, S.Crawford, Holland, Platten, ESSENDON 13.13-91 (Lloyd 5) best, Lloyd, Morgan, Prior.

The clash of the two leaders drew 24,897 to Optus Oval, and the Dogs went to top place for the first time since 1992s R20. To get there, the Tricolours had to overcome early inaccuracy and a last half fight back which took the Cats to a 10pt lead early in the last. Yet the Dogs found the lift and were 21pt victors, going away at the end. The question is—how long can the Doggies maintain their emotional high? – WESTERN BULLDOGS 14.12-96 (M-Connell 4) best, Dimattina, Johnson, Southern, GEELONG 11.9-75 (Hocking 3) best, Kilpatrick, Pickering, Houlihan — two Cats, GARRY HOCKING and TIM McGRATH were booked on striking charges.

At Footy Park on Saturday night, Sydney well aware their season was slipping by, stunned Port in a tear-away first half, with a fierce and physical performance. It was scrappy and far from pretty, but effective as the Coathangers bottled up the Power. PAUL ROOS played a roaming role for the Swans as they constantly frustrated Port, shattering their home ground myth of superiority. Beyond the long break the Harboursiders put the cork in the bottle, and just played out time to win by 35pts for 35,669 fans, SYDNEY 10.16-76 (Mooney 3) best, Roos, Cook, Cresswell, PORT ADELAIDE 4.17-41 (Cummings 3) best, Wanganeen, Brown, Kingsley.

Most things were against the Saints on their trip to Subiaco where they had never beaten the Eagles. On Sunday, without NICKY WINMAR, dropped again on disciplinary reasons and threatening skies spurred St Kilda to use the first advantage—their 7.2 to 3.0 opening proved a match-winner. Torrential rain fell across most of the second quarter with the Saints adding the single goal kicked. Beyond half-time, sunshine broke through as West Coast zipped through six goals to be right back in the contest. The Saints however regrouped and though West were down on personnel through injury, the Saints thoroughly deserved their comfortable 16pt win. ROBERT HARVEY sparkled for the visitors, gaining 35 possessions in a b-o-g- outing, ST KILDA 13.11-89 (Heatley 4) best, Harvey, Hartley, Everitt, WEST COAST 11.7-73 (Heady 3) best, Kemp, Heady, Morrison — crowd 29,390.

Adelaide won their third on-the-road and posted their 5th successive win in the MCG contest. The Crows, set it up with a strong opening quarter and maintained control of the Demons for the rest of the game. A notable inclusion for Melbourne was DAVID SCHWARZ, returning for his first senior game in two years, after his third knee reconstruction. — he gained only two kicks, but both were goals. TONY MODRA (Ade) kicked three to become the first player to reach 50 goals for the season, ADELAIDE 14.13-97 (Modra 3) best, Tregenza, Liptak, Jameson, MELBOURNE 5.15-45, best, Stynes, Yze, S.Febey — crowd 27,463.

Only a late burst saved the Kangas from bowing to the persistent Dockers at the MCG (20,585) on Monday. Though lacking many obvious skills, Fremantle applied pressure most of the day. On many occasions the Dockers let themselves down with poor disposal, yet they led on eight occasions, and drew level the same number of times. The Roos early showed a marked lack of passion for the contest, but found their desire and hit the front 21 minutes into the last term, kicking away to take the game by 26pts, to hold their place in the Eight, NORTH 15.15-105 (Sholl 4, Harvey 3) best, McKernan, Pike, Sholl, FREMANTLE 12.7-79 (Allan 3, Callaghan 3) best, Black, Dhurrkay, McGovern. — PETER MANN (Fre) was reported by for charging David King (NM).

At Optus Oval for 27,904, the Blues gained the first term break and held the Lions at arms length to win comfortably – making them 6+5. It was a disappointing display as many Lions struggled after Carlton gained early control and from then were never seriously threatened — in truth is was a poor game but highlighted by CRAIG BRADLEY’s 39 possessions and JUSTIN MURPHY who was always dangerous for the Blues, CARLTON 12.12-84 – best, Bradley, Sexton, Ratten, BRISBANE 9.9-63 – best, McRae, Lappin. Hart.

<||> GERARD NEESHAM, the Freo coach was fined $2000 for comments made against umpiring in the NM v Fre game at the MCG …

<||> star forward GARY ABLETT (Gee) who is 36 in October may have played his last match. Pre-season recovery from an arthroscope has been unsuccessful and he faces surgery …

<||> Melbourne captain GARRY LYON will undergo back surgery—he has been restricted to only two games this season …

<||> NICKY WINMAR and St Kilda determine he will return via the Reserves next weekend …

TRIBUNAL—TIM McGRATH (Gee) was found not guilty on Tuesday of striking Tony Liberatore (WB); facial injuries to ‘Libba’ were suffered when he fell on the back of the boot of McGrath … on Wednesday, BRAD WIRA (WB) became the first man charged with squeezing (with the left hand) the testicles of Garry Hocking (Gee)—found guilty Wira was suspended two matches … HOCKING was outed one game for striking Wira … PETER MANN (Fre) was suspended one game for charging David King (NM).


Port's first win in Melbourne
Sydney kick 14 successive goals
Dockers crush Essendon by 97pts

ROUND 12 – Fri-Sat-Sun, June 13-14-15.

MILESTONES—100 games for SHANE WATSON (Col), ANDREW WILLS (Gee 59, now Fre 41), and game 50 for NICK HOLLAND (Haw) and STEPHEN PATTERSON (Col) … the 1000th loss was suffered by MELBOURNE … game 100 was played at Subiaco in which Freo scored their biggest AFL victory … Collingwood suffered its first defeat at Victoria Park since 1993 … Sydney became only the third club to kick 14-goals straight …

Efficient disposal and accuracy were the hallmarks of Sydney’s thorough 54pt victory over Richmond at the SCG in Friday night. MATTHEW RICHARDSON was again at his brilliant best, but the Tigers fell away in the midfield controlled by the Swans’ LEWIS, COOK, CHAPMAN, MAXFIELD and GRANT. The Harboursiders booted 14 successive goals, joining Fitzroy who did it in 1982 v Haw, and Carton v Scray in 1984—Geelong still hold their 1979 record of 15-straight against St Kilda.

The match was marred when two players DAVID BOURKE (Rch) in the first term, and MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN (Syd) in the 3rd, failed to exit through the required inter-change gate—neither took further part in the match, SYDNEY 26.8-164 (Lewis 5, Grant 4) best, Lewis, Cook, Seymour, RICHMOND 16.14-110 (Richardson 5) best, Richardson, Powell, Campbell—crowd 35,033.

Port Adelaide at quarter-time on Saturday were dead-and-buried by the Bulldogs opener of 8.2 to 1.4. Thereafter, the pride of Port burst thru in a remarkable turnaround. Kicking 13 goals to four for the balance, the Power shut out all the prime-movers which had taken the Tricolours to the top—WYND, LIBERATORE, and MINTON-CONNELL who was held goalless. Port took the lead in the last and gave back anything the Dogs could raise—it was Port’s first win in Melbourne—PORT ADELAIDE 14.10-94 (Cummings 5, Fiegert 3) best, Fiegert, Lade, Lyle, BULLDOGS 12.10-82 (Cook 3) best, Dimattina, West, Romero—at Optus Oval, 14,025.

In a now-rare game at Victoria Park, West Coast handed Collingwood their first defeat (after 13 wins) there since 1993. In a hard and physical contest, the Eagles overcame their long injury list and from quarter-time controlled proceedings, with accuracy and a top midfield attacking game from PETER MATERA—the Eagles were back in business, the Pies in trouble, going down for the fourth successive week, WEST COAST 11.5-71 (Gehrig 4) best, Peter Matera, Worsfold, Evans, COLLINGWOOD 7.13-55 (Russell 3) best, Buckley, Williams, Brown—crowd, 25,323.+

Best game of the round came when Hawthorn maintained their Kardinia Park hold over the Cats with another close contest. Both sides had periods where each looked the winner, but the Hawks were always the most likely—they did so, by a goal, HAWTHORN 13.10-88 (Gibson 4, Holland 3) best, Holland, Taylor, Salmon, GEELONG 12.10-82, best, Stoneham, Pickering, Colbert—crowd, 22,871.

On Sunday, Essendon at 15th place, made seven compulsory changes for their game against the Dockers at Subiaco—36 of their list of 42 have played this year. Freo broke away in the 2nd term, and continued to run from the deficient Bombers to record their biggest AFL victory of their 56 matches, FREMANTLE 24.13-157 (Hunter 5, Callaghan 4) best, O’Reilly, Hunter, O’Callaghan, ESSENDON 9.6-60 (Caracella 3) best, Caracella, Denham, Cransberg —crowd, 21,956.

St Kilda at Waverley (44,883) for three quarters dominated their meeting with Carlton—the speed and great disposal of the Saints found the Blues wanting, who trailed 57pts at the last change-over. The last quarter however saw Carlton with 8.1 surge

back and get to win three goals but the Saints rode out the rough weather to win by 31pts, ST KILDA 16.20-116 (Loewe 4) best, Burke, Everitt, Thompson, CARLTON 12.13-85 (Kernahan 3, Silvagni 3) best, McKay, Bradley, Ratten.

North at Football Park to 43,345 fans showed why they are the premiers as they exposed several weaknesses of the Crows. The Kangas led for most of the contest, steadily following a sound game-plan, without Carey who was held back for another round. COREY McKERNAN failed to return after half-time, but JOHN LONGMIRE stepped-up to strongly fill the breach. MODRA was a shining light for the Crows, producing what may have been ‘mark of the season’, NORTH MELB 16.9-105 (Sholl 3, Allison 3) best, Rock, Schwass, King, ADELAIDE 12.11-83 (Modra 6) best, Modra, Vardy, McLeod.

After 19 MCG failures since 1988, Brisbane finally broke through for a win at headquarters with a thorough 85pt win over a hapless Melbourne. As the game got longer, the Lions margin and valuable percentage became greater with former Fitzroy player JARROD MOLLOY kicking six goals to half-time, ending with seven, BRISBANE 21.9-135 (Molloy 7.1) best, T.Lynch, Lambert, Hart, MELBOURNE 7.8-50 (Schwarz 3) best, Obst, Viney, Leoncelli, crowd, 13,392.

<||> TRIBUNAL—DARREN MEAD (PA) was cleared of tripping Nigel Kellett (WB) … ALASTAIR CLARKSON (Mel) and CRAIG LAMBERT (Bri) were fined 1/52nd base plus one match payment for wrestling—Clarkson escape a charge of gouging the face of Lambert … SHANE WATSON (Col) pleaded guilty to striking PETER MATERA (WCE) in the back with a fist and was suspended one match … MARK HARVEY (Ess) was cleared of a charge of striking DALE KICKETT (Fre).

<||> AFL Umpires Director BILL DELLER announced he would quit the at the end of the season—saying “I haven’t got any new ideas left and I’ve run out of excuses” … he started umpiring in 1958, joining the VFL in 1963.

<||> The AFL readying a Tribunal appeals process, bearing a $5000 fee, to be refunded if an appeal is upheld—no new evidence would be presented …

<||> the first 140 drug tests conducted this season have been negative—288 tests will be taken …

<||> a bulging disc at the base of his spine has hospitalised ANG CHRISTOU, one of Carlton’s best defenders of 105 games—he now has pain when walking—tests will determine his future …

<||> Melbourne captain GARRY LYON had surgery to his repair damage to a disc in lower back …

<||> mid-season radio ratings in Melbourne showed 3AW lifting on Saturday match calls to 18.5%, with 3LO on 13.6, newcomers 3MMM-FM 9.5, and Magic 693 sliding to 5.2.

<||> The Queensland Government will proceed with a further $20 million redevelopment of the Gabba to Stage 4, increasing capacity to 31,000.

The AFL plans to play a 1998 Ansett Cup fixture in either Auckland or Wellington … also on the overseas slate is a Collingwood v West Coast exhibition at The Oval in London on October 12.

London & Capetown may open 1998
Providing grounds can be obtained the opening round of 1998 is likely to have two internationals. One scenario is for Richmond-Essendon to play at The Oval, and the day after, Collingwood and Fremantle at Capetown in South Africa.

The AFL Appeal to the judgement in the Greg Williams case was heard before Justices Clive Tadgell, Ken Hayne and David Ashley in the Court of Appeal for three days of June 16-17-18. Mr Ray Finkelstein, QC appeared for the AFL, Mr Neil Young, QC, for the Carlton FC.


Two eight-point results
Reprieve for State games?

STATE OF ORIGIN – Fri-Sat, June 20-21.
MILESTONES—Collingwood provided the captains of the two winning sides in the State of Origin contests conducted in Perth and Adelaide. GAVIN BROWN gained the honour of leading Victoria, while NATHAN BUCKLEY added a further gemstone to his career, captaining the Allies to their second victory over Western Australia from their two matches played in 1995 and 1997.

Both matches were crowd-pleasing delights for the purists, with each providing exciting last quarters, and only eight-points separating the final scores in each city. Television ratings in Melbourne were pleasing to the sponsors, the AFL and Seven.

The attendance in Perth on Friday night was below expectations. The fans however were waylaid from the direction of Subiaco Oval by heavy late afternoon rain which minimised the crowd to just 16,795. It was however another indication where the West continue to show apathy toward interstate contests.

The Saturday night at Football Park however reinforced the passion South Australians still hold for their State contests. The 40,595 who rolled up were treated to a very close game, and provided the AFL Commission with sufficient reason to maintain the State of Origin concept.

Whether the present scenario will be retained or the effect will be to direct attention and competition to those states where Australian Football is still gaining recognition, brings the likelihood that either Sydney or Brisbane will get their chance to see the Allies in action in 1998. Whether it will be against South Australia or the Vics, remains the question, as WA seems certain to be relegated against either the VFL, or maybe even NSW.

NATHAN BUCKLEY played a superb game with the slippery Subiaco ball and was awarded the Alex Jesaulenko Medal as best player afield for the Allies in their eight-point victory over Western Australia.

WA were particularly well-served by St Kilda’s Nicky Winmar, but the Graham Moss Medal as best player for the Sandgropers went to Port Adelaide full-forward Scott Cummings who booted 8.1 from nine kicks — ALLIES 18.8-116 (Nathan Buckley 5, Paul Williams 4, Mark Richardson  3) best, Buckley, Williams, Daryn Cresswell, WA 16.12-108 (Cummings 8.1) best, Winmar, Cummings, Troy Cook — Umpires: Sawers, Rich, Coates — at Subiaco Oval, 16,795.

PAUL SALMON rucked tirelessly for Victoria and gave his mid-field of Robert Harvey, Anthony Stevens, Nathan Burke and Daniel Harford ample opportunities. The ebb-and-flow of the contest, swayed one way, then the other, but all night the Vics held a margin of respect.

The Croweaters kept at it, with Tony Modra always dangerous at full-forward — VICTORIA 13.15-93 (Stewart Loewe 4, Matthew Lloyd 3) best, Paul Salmon, Robert Harvey, Gavin Brown, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 12.13-85 (Tony Modra 4, Nick Holland 3) best, Mark Ricciuto, Brayden Lyle, Nick Holland — E.J Whitten Medal (Victoria) Gavin Brown, Fos Williams Medal (SA) Brayden Lyle — Umpires: Nash, Goldspink, Scroop — crowd at Football Park, 40,595.

<||> Geelong’s PAUL COUCH announced his retirement on Tuesday (24th) after 203 goals and 259 games played between 1985 and 1997. Couch at 32 fell to a long-standing knee injury on which he had six operations, saying he had “run out of surgeons” — Couch was winner of the 1989 Brownlow Medal.

<||> DANNY CORCORAN, Essendon’s most senior football administrator quit Friday (27th), to become the football operations manager at MELBOURNE.


Bulldogs stay on top
Blues & Swans notch good wins
Brisbane's game record equalled

ROUND 13 – Fri-Sat-Sun, June 27-28-29.

MILESTONES — 150 games for PAUL KELLY (Syd), WAYNE CAREY (NM) and ANTHONY ROCK (NM) … DALE KICKETT achieved his 100 senior games, one of only three players in League history to play with five clubs—Fit, WCE, StK, Ess, now Fre … SIMON MINTON-CONNELL with his century of games did so, at four clubs—Car, Syd, Haw, now WB … MARCUS ASHCROFT became the second player to reach 164 matches with the Brisbane club, equalling the record set by ROGER MERRETT.

Subiaco with 37,854 fans was close to capacity on Friday night for a ripper of a contest between the Eagles and Carlton. The Blues pulled a surprise switch opening with STEPHEN SILVAGNI at full-forward and his four first term goals helped set up a victory. It was a tense struggle throughout, with the Eagles within three points near the end, with the margin just seven, CARLTON 12.14-86 (Silvagni 6.4) best, Bradley, Silvagni, Hickmott, WEST COAST 11.13-79–best, Kemp, Jakovich, Peter Matera.

The Bombers without a win since May 3rd, devastated a woeful Richmond by 93pts at the MCG. Essendon and its coach Kevin Sheedy appeared to answer their recent critics in the most positive a manner. The Tigers were so ordinary for 58,812, it was surprising the final margin wasn’t greater, ESSENDON 19.13-127 (Cransberg 3, Caracella 3) best, O’Donnell, Denham, Misiti, RICHMOND 4.10-34–best, M.Gale, Gaspar, Knights.

Crucial lapses by St Kilda during the first and third quarters, cost them the chance of downing the Bulldogs, who maintained their leadership status. The contest for 32,370 at Waverley saw the Dogs respond to all challenges from the Saints — striving to find the critical answer, the Bulldogs used the ball to much greater effect than the Saints, WESTERN BULLDOGS 15.11-101 (Hudson 4, Smith 3) best, Grant, R.Smith, West, ST KILDA 11.18-84–best, Winmar, Burke, Sziller.

Malcolm Blight returned to familiar territory at Kardinia Park with fans numbering 20,236. This time however, Blight was in charge of the Crows who allowed Geelong to climb out to an eight goal lead, then recover and be within two kicks in the third term. The catch-up phase proved too demanding and the Cats showed little mercy as they ran in a 56pt victory — it was the Crows biggest defeat for the year, GEELONG 17.8-110 (Lynch 3) best, Kilpatrick, Hocking, King, ADELAIDE 7.12-54–best, Smart, Ricciuto, Bickley.

Port at home on Saturday night proved persistent with the greasy ball, and found themselves assisted greatly by many suicidal errors by Fremantle. It was a close-checking contest, but Port always held the advantage and went to third place, with an 8+5 record, PORT ADELAIDE 10.9-69 (Cummings 3) best, Lyle, Primus, Brown, FREMANTLE 7.12-54 (Hunter 3) best, O’Reilly, Callaghan, Wills — crowd, 30,827.

Collingwood were scoreless in the opening term of their Saturday night clash with Brisbane at the Gabba. The Lions seem determined to prove the doom-seers wrong, as they withstood a good fight-back from the Pies, but held on to win by 15pts, with an eye set firmly ahead on a climb to the finals, BRISBANE 11.22-88 (Molloy 6.4) best, Molloy, Lambert, Dickfos, COLLINGWOOD 11.7-73 – best, Buckley, Williams, Crosisca – crowd, 19,560.

With Melbourne regaining from injury both Neitz and Smith, their side took on a more familiar look, but they were still deficient as the quality from Hawthorn clearly won the day at Waverley (31,517) on Sunday. It was a cakewalk after quarter-time, as CHRIS LANGFORD stepped straight-back into senior footy with 20 possessions, HAWTHORN 17.16-118 (Platten 4) best, Taylor, Platten, Krummel, MELBOURNE 7.13-55 – best, Ingerson, McDonald, Woewodin.

One quarter doesn’t seem enough but the second term effort by Sydney on Sunday proved the difference which gave them a 10pt win over North. The SCG was heavy after days of rain, and an old-fashioned slog resulted — kicks off the ground, ankle-deep in mud — only a tinge of desperation maintained the Swans record of 17 games without loss as the SCG — WAYNE CAREY after injury was back for the Roos, as SIMON ARNOTT emerged for the Swans with four goals, SYDNEY 8.17-65 (Arnott 4) best, Arnott, Chapman, Seymour, NORTH MELB 7.13-55 – best, Blakey, King, Rock – crowd 30,160.

<||> TRIBUNAL—At Monday’s hearings, STEVE KOLYNUIK (WB) pleaded guilty to striking Justin Peckett (StK) with a fist to the stomach and was suspended for one match … Melbourne defender MARCUS SEECAMP was found guilty of striking Aaron Lord (Haw) and outed for one match … MICHAEL PRIOR (Ess) was cleared of a charge of striking Ashley Prescott (Rch) … GARY MOORCROFT (Ess) had his charge of striking withdrawn by the umpire … while FRASER GEHRIG (WCE) was found guilty of charging Matthew Hogg (Car) and suspended for one match …


Important wins lift Lions, Saints and Hawks
400th match for Rowan Sawers

ROUND 14 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 4-5-6.

MILESTONES — Umpire ROWAN SAWERS officiated in his 400th senior AFL game at the Geelong–Collingwood match … Hawthorn’s JOHN PLATTEN achieved his 250th … DARRYL WHITE (Bri) his 100th.

The Essendon club decided not to proceed with legal action against former football manager DANNY CORCORAN. Though contracted to the Bombers until February 1998, Corcoran on June 27th announced on only one hours notice, he was joining the Melbourne club in a similar role. The Essendon club extracted an apology from Corcoran, and the commitment he would not begin his Friday night proved a welcome return home for the Adelaide side to Footy Park (39,221), where they devastated the wounded Eagles by 75pts. The Crows had many winners compared to the passengers they carried the week before at Geelong. In defeat,  Coasters coach MICK MALTHOUSE with a large swag of injuries was philosophical, ADELAIDE 16.10-106 (Modra 4) best, Jarman, Ricciuto, Connell, WEST COAST 4.7-31–best, Heady, Kemp, Morrison.

Geelong on Saturday for 65,228 at the MCG, never looked like booting an impressive tally, even though they were up against an impotent Magpie attack; their 9.26 was another element to a game where an eight point defeat flattered Collingwood. Neither side had a range of forwards capable of kicking away, and the failure of the Pies, who slid away to their sixth straight failure has become one of the great footy conundrums, GEELONG 9.26-80 (Lynch 3) best, Lynch, Pickering, Hall, COLLINGWOOD 10.12-72 (Buckley 3) best, Buckley, Williams, Michael.

Carlton at home were able to contain the Western Bulldogs for only a half, before the spirit broke away. The Dogs put the issue beyond doubt with a rattling seven goal third term, as the careful match-ups nullified the Blues’ usual power-makers. CHRIS GRANT was a hot item for the Dogs, with 27 possessions while SCOTT WYND was the master at centre clearances. An important and positive victory for the Dogs, WESTERN BULLDOGS 16.14-110 (Cook 4, Grant 4) best, Grant, Johnson, Darcy, CARLTON 11.8-74 (Murphy 3) best, McKay, Ratten, Manton — at Optus, 32,183.

The Saints at Waverley were simply too slick, too accomplished for a leg-weary North. The back-breaker came from JASON HEATLEY who kicked 9.1, and a powerful brand of commitment from the Waverley specialists, ST KILDA 20.13-133 (Heatley 9.1) best, Everitt, Heatley, D.Wakelin, NORTH 11.13-79 – best, King, Rock, Blakey — crowd, 32,635.

The Saturday night contest at the WACA was played in constant rain, and only 1.5 in the last half by the Dockers was sufficient to hold the Swans at bay. Error-filled disposal, highlighted a forgettable outing for 19,290 fans, FREMANTLE 6.12-48 – best, Kickett, Toia, Leach, SYDNEY 3.15-33 – best, Cresswell, Kelly, Carey.

Sunday fans at the MCG were treated to a marked difference in class as Essendon were day-long masters over the Demons. JOE MISITI, MATT LLOYD and MICHAEL SYMONS regained hope that the finals desire still burned bright for the Bombers, ESSENDON 18.12-120 (Matthew Lloyd 8.1) best, Lloyd, Mercuri, Symons, MELBOURNE 8.9-57 best, G.Lovett, S.Febey, Stynes, crowd 44,803.

The Waverley match proved the Hawks worthy victors in the 250th game for JOHN PLATTEN. The win however was gained only after Port Adelaide displayed a fighting ability which continues to gather respect. Trailing by 62pts, Port kicked eight unanswered goals and drew within 17 points. It was unlikely they would’ve won but it confirmed their great qualities. The win came at a cost to the Hawks losing NICK HOLLAND with a right knee injury which may keep him out up to six weeks, HAWTHORN 18.16-124 (Aaron Lord 6, Platten 3) best, Lord, Platten, Kappler, PORT ADELAIDE 13.14-92 (Cummings 4, Rombotis 3) best, Wanganeen, Lyle, Francou, crowd 29,886.

Brisbane found the Tigers a far more committed outfit than the one who had been flattened by the Dons, the previous week. Contesting at every opportunity, the Lions almost kicked themselves out of the game with surprising inaccuracy – the Tigers had a real go, while the win lifted the Lions up to 7th place, BRISBANE 7.26-68 – best, Lappin, Lambert, Dickfos, RICHMOND 7.8-50 (Richardson 4) best, Gaspar, B.Gale, Knights – at the Gabba, 19,155.

With 14 rounds played, the Bulldogs led the table 10+4, then Geelong 9+5. Four clubs followed on 8+6 – Adelaide, Saints, Hawks and Port. Six more clubs marginally tailed the leaders on 7+7, Brisbane, West Coast, Sydney, North Melb, Fremantle and Carlton. Only one game outside the Eight, but at 13th and 14th were the Pies and Dons on 6+8, with the Tigers at 15th on 5+9, and on the bottom, Melbourne with 2+12.

<||> TRIBUNAL—At Monday’s hearing, CHRIS JOHNSON (Bri) on pleading guilty, was found to have interfered with umpire TIM SHEARER at the Gabba on Sunday. Johnson was suspended for three matches … GLEN ARCHER (NM) was found guilty of attempting to strike Jason Heatley (StK) and suspended one match … CHRIS BOND (Rch) was cleared of dropping a knee into Jason Akermanis (Bri) … striking charges against MATTHEW CROFT (WB) and TIM McGRATH were withdrawn—on Wednesday, following an AFL investigation, St Kilda Reserves forward BARRY HALL was suspended for five matches following an incident which resulted in young North wingman SAM McFARLANE having his jaw broken in two places—Hall apologised to the club and the player … BRAD SCOTT (Haw) was cleared of a misconduct charge against Nathan Eagleton (PA).

<||> Hawthorn coach KEN JUDGE had his contract extended until the year 2000 …

<||> the Norwich Rising Star nominee from Round 14 was MICHAEL BRAUN (WCE).

Failure by Geelong’s GARY ABLETT to appear at a Wednesday promotion for Foxtel in Sydney arranged by his management group FLYING START caused deep divisions. The reluctant but fading superstar yielded and went under long-delayed surgery to his right knee, on Friday (11th).


Brisbane blitz the Bulldogs
Three tight battles highlight the round

ROUND 15 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 11-12-13.
MILESTONES — 100 games came for NATHAN BUCKLEY (Bri, now Col), TONY MODRA (Ade), JOE MISITI (Ess) and ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES (Car) … TONY MODRA (Ade) kicked his 400th AFL goal.

North and the Cats staged a terrific Friday night MCG battle for 45,120. The Roos were in front by six goals in the second term but Geelong in a great third term fightback scored one of their most important wins of the season. The game was highlighted by a top performance by PAUL LYNCH for the Cats. COREY McKERNAN suffered a heavy mid-game knock and did not complete the contest. It was the third straight defeat for the Kangas, GEELONG 15.12-102 – best, Lynch, Hocking, Graham, NORTH 14.8-92 (Carey 3, Roberts 3) best, Schwass, Allison, King.

The Demons on Saturday caused one of the major upsets of the year when they were positive 19pt victors over Carlton at the MCG for 27,992 fans. After the lead changed six times in the second term, the major play-makers of the Blues were shut down after half-time as the Redlegs cruised in for only their third win of the season, MELBOURNE 18.11-119 (Charles 3, Schwarz 3) best, G.Lovett, Hopgood, B.Lovett, CARLTON 15.10-100 (Silvagni 5), best, Silvagni, Sexton, Hickmott.

Brisbane continued their resurgence by posting their sixth win from the past seven outings with a thorough defeat of the League leaders at Optus to 16,430. The Lions with CLARK KEATING taking control over the Dogs’ SCOTT WYND in the ruck, opened the midfield floodgates with a second quarter of 7.2 and the Lions were never headed. It brought the Bulldogs fourth failure at Optus against an interstate side—Freo, the Crows, Port and now the Lions, BRISBANE 21.11-137 (McRae 5, Leppitsch 3) best, Fletcher, Clarke, Keating, WESTERN BULLDOGS 11.7-73 (Smith 3), best, West, Romero, Dent—the Lions climbed to 4th.

The 876th League game was mooted as one of the last to be played at Victoria Park following an AFL report which roundly criticised the facilities. The day brought the Magpies 16th century-plus victory at the famous venue as they flattened Fremantle in a great return to form, following six successive failures. SAVERIO ROCCA, a late inclusion responded, while NATHAN BUCKLEY in his 100th game turned on a Brownlow-blinder with 44 disposals, COLLINGWOOD 25.10-160 (S.Rocca 9.3, A.Rocca 4) best, Buckley, Wright, S.Rocca), FREMANTLE 9.6-60 (Hunter 7.0) best, Hunter, Wills, McGovern.

The Crows and Saints staged a close-checking contest on a slippery Footy Park surface on Saturday night for 39,921. Never more than a couple of kicks in it, the 10pt home-town margin for the Crows was a fitting result, ADELAIDE 10.16-76 (Bickley 2), best, Jarman, Vardy, Recite), ST KILDA 9.12-66 (Heatley 2, Harvey 2) best, Harvey, Burke, Peckett.

In ordinary SCG conditions, 36,077 of the faithful on Sunday watched the Dons whip out to a 20pt lead early in the last term—the winning-home-streak of the Swans looked over. MARK BAYES rose to the occasion in two crucial movements and a penalty against Bomber captain GARY O’DONNELL yielded a goal-square major to PAUL KELLY, playing his 100th game as Sydney captain. The Swans turned it around for a one-point victory, and their 18th without loss at the SCG. The game brought the return of TONY LOCKETT after groin surgery, SYDNEY 11.13-79 (Lockett 3) best, Lewis, Roos, Cresswell, ESSENDON 11.12-78 (Lloyd 4) best, Mercuri, Lloyd, Wallis.

After five-straight wins, the Hawks at the MCG were hammered by the Tigers, who kicked 10.5 in the last—one of their best half-dozen finishes of the past 25 years, to be comprehensive victors by 76pts. Richmond though 15th on the ladder are still a chance for the finals—for the Hawks, another blip. The much criticised Richmond coach ROBERT WALLS gave a worthy quote to the day—”History says shut your mouth, wait and see” … RICHMOND 22.13-145 (Powell 4, Harrison 4) best, Gaspar, Powell, Bulluss, HAWTHORN 10.9-69 (Chick 3) best, Taylor, Platten, Lawrence.

In Perth after heavy early rain, a critical error and three quick Eagles goals late in the third term proved the difference in a tight tussle. Port were always close, but failed to gain control. GLEN JAKOVICH (WCE) suffered a left knee injury, not the right one reconstructed in 1996, WEST COAST 12.13-85 (Sumich 3, Gardiner 3) best, Kemp, Heady. Morrison, PORT ADELAIDE 9.13-67 (Cummings 3, Wanganeen 3) best, Primus, Wanganeen, Francou—at Subiaco, 29,723.

<||> TRIBUNAL—on Monday, from video, AARON HAMILL (Car) was reported for charging David Neitz (Mel). Hamill pleading guilty, was cleared of the charge … a second Carlton player MATTHEW ALLEN also from video was booked for charging Leigh Newton (Mel). From a guilty plea, Allen was suspended for one match … a half-time confrontation between Richmond and Hawthorn player at the MCG on Sunday had threatened to erupt — on viewing video, the AFL determined restraint had been evident, and ruled no further action was necessary.

JUSTIN MADDEN at 36 announced his retirement from League footy on the 16th. The giant ruckman had served for 332 games (including 45 with Essendon) across 17 seasons from 1980 to the end of 1996. He played in the Carlton premiership sides of 1987 and 1995, winning their best & fairest in 1985 and 1991. Madden the president of the AFLPA is expected to enter the Victorian State Parliament, when a safe Labor seat is found for him.

<||> The Australian Tax Office confirmed that 700 current and recently retired AFL players were the subject of review …

<||> idle since round 10 with a stress fracture of his right foot, doctors confirmed JAMES HIRD (Ess) would not play again this year …

<||> FRASER BROWN a key play-maker for Carlton has his season ended, with an hamstring operation …

<||> Sydney signed coach RODNEY EADE on an extended contract to the end of the year 2000 …


Dons & Hawks suffer big defeats
5-straight wins for Brisbane
West Coast slide from top eight

ROUND 16 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 18-19-20.

MILESTONES — 250 games for GREG WILLIAMS (Gee, Syd, now Car) … 200 for GARRY HOCKING (Gee), 100 to LIAM PICKERING (NM, now Gee) … PETER SUMICH (WCE) kicked his 500th AFL goal.

Home at the Gabba on Friday night, it was clear the Lions had well-survived their early season-injury traumas and their settled line-up proved too strong for the Crows. Adelaide fought back gamely, kicking the first three goals of the second half, drawing within one point, but the Lions withstood the challenge and went away to be comfortable 31pt victors, to a big BCG crowd of 21,348, BRISBANE 17.16-118 (Leppitsch 3) best, Voss, White, Lappin, ADELAIDE 13.9-87 (Modra 6) best, Pittman, Jarman, McLeod — the Lions had now won five-straight.

The Blues snuffed out the flickering hopes of the Bombers when on Saturday to a big 58,512 at the MCG, CARLTON after half-time were superior in every department, hammering the Dons by 78pts, with a score only 10pts short of their 1975 best — 25.15-165 (Silvagni 6, Whitehead 4, Bradley 3) best, Ratten, Porter, Williams, ESSENDON 13.9-87 – best, Mercuri, Denham, Misiti.

At Waverley, another 43,181 flocked to see the Saints deliver a shattering 79pt thrashing to the Hawks, which followed their 76pt drubbing by the Tigers. ROBERT HARVEY gave another stunning performance for the Saints with 40 possessions, and if anything, the scoreboard flattered the Hawks, ST KILDA 20.21-141 (Everitt 4, Heatley 4, Loewe 4) best, Harvey, Everitt, Loewe, HAWTHORN 9.8-62 (Graham 3) best, Crawford, Scott, Treleven.

The Tigers looked certain to post one of their rare wins at Kardinia Park leading by 23pts at the first break. Beyond there, it was 13 goals to three, as the Cats kicked eight goals straight and nine of the last 11. Key figures in the fightback were (in his 200th) GARRY HOCKING, LIAM PICKERING (his 100th) and GLENN KILPATRICK as Geelong smashed the Tigers hopes, GEELONG 16.14-110 (Hall 5.0) best, Kilpatrick, Hall, McGrath, RICHMOND 12.6-78 (Daffy 3, Richardson 3) best, Broderick, Kellaway, Bond – crowd, 24,099.

On Saturday night, 39,318 packed the SCG. An injury-struck West Coast without most of the top 10 players were comprehensively downed by 37pts. The 19th game without loss by the Swans in Sydney had its downside as coach RODNEY EADE described the performance of both goal-squares (Lockett and Dunkley) as “terrible”. The Coathangers were again inaccurate, following their 8.17 versus North and 3.15 in Perth against the Dockers, SYDNEY 15.22-112 (Carey 5) best, Cresswell, Carey, Orchard, WEST COAST 11.9-75 (Sumich 4) best, Gehrig, Banfield, Symmons.

At Football Park on Saturday night, most of the 37,790 cheered the Port Magpies to a ‘pay-back’ victory over the original Pies. Port were powerful winners, kicking their first 10 goals straight, creating constant pressure on the Woods, with SHAYNE BREUER holding down Collingwood’s major playmaker NATHAN BUCKLEY – it was the Pies seventh loss from eight, PORT ADELAIDE 17.9-111 (Cummings 4) best, Breuer, Primus, Lyle, COLLINGWOOD 8.10-58 – best, Watson, Russell, Wright.

Sunday in 22-degree sunshine, only a small 18,392 at Subiaco saw Fremantle post one of their best AFL wins. Using in contrast a longer-kicking game, the Dockers gained an early grip over the Bulldogs, with the game of captain PETER MANN the highlight after a long form slump—he took 13 marks plus four goals. It came down to a terrific last term as the Dogs just failed, FREMANTLE 15.7-97 (Hunter 4, Mann 4) best, Mann, Burton, Waterhouse, WESTERN B’DOGS 13.13-91 (Hudson 3, Croft 3) best, Romero, Smith, Grant.

Following three successive defeats, the Kangas powered back as 56pt winners over the Demons at the MCG for 23,309 fans. The Dees handed the game to the Roos on a platter with wasteful shooting – still, North would have been happy with any victory, as Carey from centre half-back moved back into form in his first winning game since the Grand Final last September, NORTH MELB 17.12-114 (Bell 3) best, Bell, King, Roberts, MELBOURNE 7.16-58 – best, Yze, Viney, G.Lovett.

In the first re-matches, round one winners were reversed with one exception—the Dockers became the first club to be dual winners over an opponent … the ladder — Gee 44, WB 40, Ade 36, StK 36, Bri 36, Syd 36, PA 36, NM 32, WCE 32, Car 32, Haw 32, Fre 32, Col 28, Ess 24, Rch 24, Mel 12.

<||> TRIBUNAL—on Monday, Carlton’s RON DE IULIO on video evidence was found guilty of the charge of kicking Darren Bewick (Ess) in the 2nd quarter of Saturday’s MCG game. Recently recalled, De Iulio was playing only his sixth game of the season—found guilty, De Iulio was suspended for four matches.

Six players, three from Sydney, three from West Coast were all found guilty of wrestling charges—each were fined one week’s pay and one match payment. They were, Sydney’s TONY LOCKETT, JASON MOONEY and SHANNON GRANT, with FRASER GEHRIG, JASON BALL and ASHLEY BLURTON of the Eagles … a charge against FRASER GEHRIG (WCE) of striking Shannon Grant (Syd) was dismissed on a technicality.

TRIBUNAL #2—on Wednesday, MATTHEW DENT (WB) was outed two matches for striking LUKE TOIA (Fre)—TOIA was cleared of a charge of tripping Matthew Croft (WB) … a video striking charge against QUENTON LEACH (Fre) was withdrawn.

Docklands brings new TV game
Murdoch v Packer

The battle for AFL rights beyond the year 2001 and the control of the new DOCKLANDS stadium reached an interesting stage as bids were closed on the 24th.

One of the three original bidders, HUDSON CONWAY withdrew from the LEND LEASE bid, as LACHLAN MURDOCH announced News Corp had joined with the Seven Network and BAULDERSTONE-HORNIBROOK.

The Murdoch decision placed the BH bid for Docklands in direct competition with the recent marriage with the JAMES PACKER-led TRANSFIELD-GROCON (Grollo Brothers) consortium.

Free-to-air rights and pay TV to AFL games from the 2002 season are believed to part of the prize to the winner of the Docklands bidding—expected within a month.

<||> Hawthorn prez IAN DICKER gained the support of 10 councils for the AFL to retain WAVERLEY PARK. The League are destined to sell Waverley to fund its takeover of Docklands. The AFL’s WAYNE JACKSON will meet with the Hawthorn club and the 10 councils on August 6 … PAUL PRYMKE suffering a degenerative back complaint and unlikely to play again was delisted by Melbourne—Prymke who last appeared May 4 last season, played 49 games from 1994.

Appeal overturns Supreme Court decision
Williams must serve nine-game suspension

The Victorian Court of Appeal (25th) in a split verdict, overturned a Supreme Court decision by Justice Hedigan of May 29th and the three-man bench ordered GREG WILLIAMS (Car) must serve his nine-match suspension for interfering with an umpire.

The decision was applauded by the AFL as a “terrific result for sport” and “the principle that the court should not generally intervene in a tribunal decision.”

Carlton with costs of some $220,000 did not rule out a further appeal to the High Court.

Justices CLIVE TADGELL, KEN HAYNE (who supported the AFL appeal) and Justice DAVID ASHLEY (who found in Carlton’s favour) later rejected an application for a stay of the order, and Williams was withdrawn from the team to play North Melbourne on Saturday.


Dons, Dogs & Tigers are thrashed
Stynes–10 years of unbroken footy
A 'first' for Nicky Winmar

ROUND 17 – Fri-Sat-Sun, July 25-26-27.
MILESTONES — St Kilda’s NICKY WINMAR became the first Aboriginal player to pass 200 games … 150 for PAUL HUDSON (Haw, now WB), 100 to DAVID NEITZ (Mel) and MARK RICCIUTO (Ade) … 50 for MATTHEW ALLEN (Car) and DANIEL HARFORD (Haw).

Melbourne ruckman JIM STYNES gained a remarkable record when he played his 235th consecutive match on Sunday, completing 10 years of unbroken senior football since July 25th 1987. Overall, Stynes has played 238 games.

No matches were played at the MCG on Saturday, enabling the Rugby Union contest between Australia and New Zealand for the Bledisloe Cup to take place that night. Australia lost 33-18 to a crowd of 90,119.

The MCG drew 33,076 on Friday night to see Port Adelaide record their first victory at headquarters with a three-quarter-long domination of Essendon. Chief destroyers were two ex-Bombers, SCOTT CUMMINGS who kicked 7.6 and a Brownlow effort by GAVIN WANGANEEN—he however was reported for a 2nd term charge against BEN DOOLAN. The final margin of 50pts boosted the percentage of the Power, however they relaxed in the final term, PORT ADELAIDE 18.14-122 (Cummings 7.6, Wanganeen 4) best, Wanganeen, Cummings, Primus, ESSENDON 10.12-72—best, Lucas, Symons, Fletcher.

27,689 at Optus Oval on Saturday saw an arm-wrestle for three-quarters between the Blues and Roos. Suddenly the Kangas cut away with three goals in 90 seconds early in the last, then extended it to a 38pt victory. The match proved North still have the capability of defending their flag, with the steady improvement of WAYNE CAREY another bonus—NORTH 14.12-96 (Allison 5) best, King, Scott, Allison, CARLTON 7.16-58—best, McKay, Pearce, Whitehead. North are well-placed with their last five games of the season at the MCG.

It was wild and windy at Waverley as the Hawks at half-time were in full control by 29pts, 9.4 to 4.5. In a remarkable comeback, the Hawks were held goalless for the balance of the match as the Dockers swept to a surprising win by nine-points, extending Hawthorn’s horror stretch to three games, FREMANTLE 10.11-71 (Mann 3) best, Kickett, Bandy, Parker, HAWTHORN 9.8-62 (Rawlings 5) best, Scott, Robran, Platten—crowd, 15,939.

Sydney met the Bulldogs in a 4.40pm SCG start. The Harboursiders surged back to contention when they annihilated the Dogs by 97pts. Western were goalless for 50 minutes between their first and second majors as the Swans dominated every position. TONY LOCKETT responded to criticism with his best return in goal since last August, SYDNEY 22.17-149 (Lockett 8.3) best, Cook, Roos, Cresswell, WESTERN BULLDOGS 7.10-52—best, Wynd, Smith, Ellis—to 32,534. The Sydney win was 12pts short of the 108pts versus Scray, 87-R2-SCG.

The 8.40pm night game at Football Park drew 36,297. In a game-long procession, the Tigers were humiliated by a dominant Crows outfit, with DARREN JARMAN in sparkling form. It was a complete team-effort with 14 goalkickers, and in AFL game 150, their biggest score, topping their 28.12-180 v NM, 91-R24-FP, ADELAIDE 29.11-195 (Jarman 7.0, Modra 4, Robran 4) best, Jarman, James, Bickley, RICHMOND 7.6-48–best, Campbell. B.Gale, Daffy.

KEN ARTHURSON, former chairman of the Australian Rugby League offered a warning on the AFL’s dealings with the Packer and Murdoch media empires — “They (television networks) don’t give a stuff whether it’s Australian rules, rugby league or rugby union. All they care about is ratings …”  – Sunday Age, July 27.

The Eagles and Cats staged a mini-final for 34,565 fans at Subiaco on Sunday in good conditions. Geelong, who had won the previous four contests had the measure of the Sandgropers who trailed by 28pts in the second term, but came back to make it only a point at the long break. Three early goals from the Cats in the second half saw them regain the lead, then West Coast became the dominant figure, kicking 12 of the last 13 goals to scamper away with a thorough 47pt victory from the visitors who displayed many undisciplined errors. West were steeled by the returning CHRIS LEWIS (after 7 weeks of suspension) and good outings from both BRETT HEADY and DREW BANFIELD—it was the Eagles first win over the Cats since the 1984 Grand Final—WEST COAST 20.9-129 (Sumich 4, Lewis 3) best, Lewis, Gardiner, Heady, GEELONG 12.10-82 (Burns 4, Hocking 3) best, Hocking, Pickering Sholl.

Brisbane never made an impact at Waverley despite the importance of the clash as the Saints held the Lions to the lowest tally of their 17 meetings. The match confirmed the improving Saints have much greater depth than previously considered. Crucial injuries were suffered by the Lions to, Brownlow medalist MICHAEL VOSS (right knee), CRAIG LAMBERT (calf) and ANDREW BEWS (ankle)—the Saints however were not unscathed with full-back JAMIE SHANAHAN booked for striking, ST KILDA 12.20-92 (Winmar 3, Heatley 3) best, Everitt, Jones, Sziller, BRISBANE 5.14-44 (Bradshaw 3) best, Hart, Fletcher, Bradshaw—crowd, 34,859.

The Demons at the MCG (37,779) had the Pies down for the count, leading by five goals at half-time. Collingwood retired to the break after a flare-up, which drew two reports–MATTHEW FRANCIS (Col), ADAM YZE (Mel) and the prospect of others to follow. The second half saw a hard and angry Magpie outfit kick nine unanswered goals and all-up 16 goals to three, to score a resounding win by 52pts, COLLINGWOOD 20.14-134 (S.Rocca 6, T.Francis 4, A.Rocca 4) best, Russell, T.Francis, Shauble, MELBOURNE 12.10-82 (Charles 3, Smith 3) best, B.Lovett, G.Lovett, Stynes.

The round brought — the Bulldogs third straight defeat …Geelong suffered their third loss interstate, with Freo at Subi and the Swans at the SCG still to come … right knee injury to Brisbane’s MICHAEL VOSS may end his year … CHRIS LEWIS returned to the Eagles after seven weeks suspension and turned in a top game … Collingwood’s 9.4-58 was the best third term versus Melbourne of 209 contests …

Tigers sack Robert Walls
ROBERT WALLS, the Richmond coach was sacked by his club on Monday (28th). JEFF GIESCHEN, coach of Richmond Reserves was named in the caretaker role at Punt Road. Gieschen played 24 games as a defender with Footscray (1974-78) and more recently coached West Perth in the WAFL and was assistant to GARY AYRES at Geelong in 1995-96 … wide speculation surfaced on several senior coaching positions, with NEIL BALME, recently dumped from the Melbourne job, being spoken of at Richmond, while DAVID PARKIN who comes to the end of his present contract with Carlton this year, was rumoured to be in serious talks for a long-term deal with the Demons.

<||> TRIBUNAL—10 players were reported and an investigation begun on two MCG incidents of the Col v Mel game on Sunday. Monday’s hearing—GAVIN WANGANEEN (PA) guilty of charging Ben Doolan (Ess) one week … SCOTT CHISHOLM (Fre) cleared of charging Shane Crawford (Haw) … MICHAEL BROWN (Fre) guilty of striking Shane Crawford (Haw) two weeks … TONY WOODS (Haw) guilty under provocation to wrestling Michael Brown (Fre) fined one week’s pay and one match payment … KINGSLEY HUNTER (Fre) cleared of striking Mark Graham (Haw) … the AFL Ops Manager IAN COLLINS conducted a mediation meeting on Tuesday between ADAM YZE (Mel) and SCOTT CROW (Col) when a matter was resolved … at Wednesday’s Tribunal, SCOTT CAMPOREALE (Car) guilty of striking David King (NM), suspended two weeks … DAVID KING (NM) guilty of tripping Stephen Silvagni (Car), suspended two weeks … JAMIE SHANAHAN (StK) was cleared of striking Jarrod Molloy (Bri) … on pleading guilty, ADAM YZE (Mel) for wrestling Scott Crow (Col) was fined one week’s pay and one match payment … MATTHEW FRANCIS (Col) guilty of striking Jim Stynes (Mel), suspended one week …

Legal battle costs Carlton more than $400,000
Carlton on Friday (August 1) failed in their four-month bid to reverse the decision in the GREG WILLIAMS suspension — the Court of Appeal rejected an application for a stay of the July 25 ruling reinstating the nine-week sentence … the AFL Tribunal rejected an application for the case to be re-opened on the basis on ‘new evidence’ … and, JUSTICE DARYL DAWSON of the High Court rejected Carlton’s bid for a stay of the ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Legal costs understood to be in excess of $400,000 were awarded against Carlton.


Bulldogs slide out of the eight
Huge wins for Swans, Cats and Lions
Kernahan's new record as captain

ROUND 18 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 1-2-3.
MILESTONES — Carlton’s STEPHEN KERNAHAN played his 250th League game and became the longest-serving captain of a League side with his 225th appearance. This eclipsed the 224 matches in which DICK REYNOLDS led Essendon from the 1930’s to his retirement in 1951 … 200 games by GAVIN BROWN (Col) … 50 by TONY BROWN (StK), AARON LORD (32 with Gee, now Haw), QUENTON LEACH (Fre) and JASON AKERMANIS (Bri) …

The 14th placed Essendon burst away with three early goals all by SCOTT LUCAS before North hit their stride in the Friday MCG game for 38,614. As Carey moved back to centre half-forward, McKernan and Schwass went up a gear, and the Roos were back with three late first quarter goals from Sholl — they were never headed from there to lead by 26pts in the third, then the Dons mounted a determined challenge but a wayward 2.5. In a lack-lustre outing, the Kangas form was at least starting to improve, NORTH 11.17-83 (Sholl 3), best Schwass, Martyn, Pike, ESSENDON 8.16-54 (Lucas 3) best, Misiti, Caracella, Fletcher.

In perfect conditions, Sydney in their first appearance at the MCG since the grand final last September had seven goals on the Saturday scoreboard before the Demons first. The Swans (for 26,901) kicked a record 10.5 in the first and the Dees were never in the hunt, as the red-and-white gave them a fierce belting by 116pts, SYDNEY 25.19-169 (Bayes 6, Lockett 6, Grant 3, O’Loughlin 3, Barry 3) best, Bayes, Carey, Roos, MELBOURNE 7.11-53 (Schwarz 3) best, Neitz, Hopgood, B.Lovett — Dale Lewis (Syd) was booked for charging Glenn Lovett (Mel) — while an early 3rd term mark by Shaun Smith (Mel) when he was met solidly by Tony Lockett (Syd) drew later scrutiny …

The Tigers responded in kind to the sacking of Robert Walls, as they atoned for their dreadful display of the previous weekend and inflicted the Bulldogs fourth-straight loss in the clash at Carlton for 18,373 fans. Richmond had pace and the prolific WAYNE CAMPBELL who raked up 40 touches, with captain MATTHEW KNIGHTS equally as prominent. “If only the players could have been as ferocious as a ruthless Punt Road hierarchy that has turned that has turned over 19 coaches in 17 years” — JUSTIN BRASIER, The Australian … RICHMOND 17.13-115 (Harrison 4, Bowden 3) best, Campbell, Knights, Bowden, WESTERN BULLDOGS 15.10-100 (Grant 4, Brown 3) best, Johnson, Smith, S.West … the loss tumbled the Dogs down to 9th place.

Geelong gave positive proof of their quality when they destroyed the ‘new kids’ Port Adelaide at Kardinia Park (21,867) — the Cats were already in firm control by half-time, and finished the Power off with 10.0 unanswered goals and an 85pt margin, GEELONG 25.9-159 (Snell 5, Lynch 4, Burns 4, Riccardi 3, Hocking 3) best, Hocking, Riccardi, Sholl, PORT ADELAIDE 11.9-74 (Burgoyne 3) best, Heuskes, Eagleton, Paxman.

Saturday night in Brisbane brought 19,635 to the Gabba, who saw forward JARROD MOLLOY, another of the Lion pride carried off in the opening minutes. A serious knee injury to him will require a reconstruction and follows recent surgery to Brownlow winner MICHAEL VOSS. The Hawks found Brisbane too full of run in the last half, together with an on-target effort by replacement forward DANNY BRADSHAW. Only the Lions inaccuracy of the first half kept the scores close, but again the Hawks faded badly with Brisbane adding 12.5 to 3.3 in the run home, BRISBANE 21.15-141 (Bradshaw 7.1, Leppitsch 4, Lawrence 4) best, Bradshaw, M.Clarke, Fletcher, HAWTHORN 11.5-71 (Chick 3, Dixon 3) best, Taylor, B.Scott, S.Crawford.

Despite frequent skill errors, the Crows at Football Park (42,548) only gained the upper-hand from the Blues in the closing stages. Carlton were always close enough, but lacked the fire-and-manpower to punch it home. The final margin blew out to 41pts, dampening the 250th game of STEPHEN KERNAHAN, who left the game in the 2nd with a leg injury, ADELAIDE 18.19-127 (Modra 5, Vardy 4) best, Koster, Caven, McLeod, CARLTON 13.8-86 (Pearce 3) best, Bradley, Hulme, Ratten … a first term clash put Blues ruckman MICHAEL SEXTON off with a dislocated left shoulder, which may end his season.

In 13 degree Sunday sunshine, the MCG tingled with the air of a final and 68,063 were delivered the goods, as the Pies and Saints turned on another ripper. The Saints though spraying many opportunities deserved their 22pt win, but the Magpies made certain they were buried with honour. The Woods with 4.8 struck back in the third, but it was as equally wasteful as the Saints 2nd quarter of 4.9. The Saints stood taller (particularly ROBERT HARVEY with 35 possessions) when it counted and defeated the Pies for the fourth successive time, ST KILDA 15.21-111 (S.Wakelin 4, Everitt 3, Heatley 3) best, Harvey, Peckett, Everitt, COLLINGWOOD 12.17-89 (Buckley 3) best, Buckley, Crosisca, Williams.

The Eagles and Dockers met a sixth time in the local ‘Westside Derby’ and the result was repeated for the 39,711 at Subiaco. Freo with better recent showings and still with a chance to make the Eight, were equal to the Eagles, particularly in the 2nd term, when the lead changed frequently. Beyond half-time however when pelting rain descended, the tide changed and West took a stranglehold with four goals in the last six-minutes of the 3rd. It was played out with the Coasters gaining a 33pt victory, to regain a place in the Eight, at 7th, WEST COAST 13.4-82 (Lewis 3) best, Peter Matera, Kemp, McIntosh, FREMANTLE 7.7-49 (Hunter 3) best, Harding, Callaghan, Kickett.

<||> FROM THE ROUND—North and the Saints posted their third-straight wins … the Bulldogs, Bombers and Hawks all lost their 4th successive games … JASON SNELL (Gee) kicked 5 goals from 5 kicks in the last quarter … Sydney’s 10.5-65 first term was their best opening of 177 contests against Melbourne … the Saints kicked six successive behinds between their 6th and 7th goals … Stephen Kernahan in his 250th, limped off 15 minutes into the 2nd … the thrilling 3rd quarter in the Col–StK clash at the MCG went almost 35 minutes … Brisbane beat the Hawks, kicking the highest score of their 18 games, winning by the widest margin, with Danny Bradshaw kicking 7.1, the best of all meetings … taking one of the MCG marks of the round, STEWART LOEWE went back only 15 metres out and missed – indeed, after 0.4 he failed to goal until providing the last quarter sealer … major knee injuries were suffered by JARROD MOLLOY (Bri) DAVID HART (WCE) and JOEL SMITH (StK) destined to sideline them from the game for 12 months — at 33, the career of Hart after 183 games may be finished.

<||> TRIBUNAL—In another heavy schedule of hearings on Monday, the following findings were handed down –— DALE LEWIS (Syd) guilty of charging Glenn Lovett (Mel) one match … TONY LOCKETT (Syd) guilty of charging Shaun Smith (Mel) two matches — it was Lockett’s 13th appearance (most papers got it wrong and reported it as the 14th time), to which he has been found guilty eight times for a total of 23 matches, and one fine … JUSTIN CHARLES (Rch) was cleared of striking Jose Romero (WB) … WAYNE CAMPBELL (Rch) guilty of tripping Matthew Croft (WB) one match … DARRYL WHITE (Bri) cleared of charging Daniel Chick (Haw) … on Wednesday LUKE TOIA (Fre) guilty of striking Paul Symmons (WCE) was outed two matches … on Thursday, following an investigation initiated by the Adelaide club, LUKE O’SULLIVAN (Car) was suspended four weeks for striking Trent Ormond-Allen (Ade) with an elbow, resulting in Ormond-Allen suffering a broken jaw in two places — the hearing was notable by its evidence. Ormond-Allen departed from the age-old adage of ‘not dobbing in an opponent’ clearly describing the incident. Each gave conflicting versions, and as no video of the clash was available it rested with the decision of the Tribunal.

Seating at Docklands may be 60,000
Battlelines for the Docklands Stadium which is now expected will seat some 60,000, were clearly drawn when final bids were announced in Melbourne on Tuesday (5th).

With AFL television rights beyond the year 2001 destined to be the jewel in the crown, the two media camps of Murdoch and Packer were in opposing corners, each backing one of the two final bidders, as Lend Lease withdrew.

<||> Triple M broadcasts in Melbourne have drawn big audiences in their first season of calling. Ratings published still have REX HUNT and his team at 3AW leading the pack with 20.8 in the important Saturday call. The ABC 3LO team of PETER BOOTH and TIM LANE drew a Saturday rating of 13.2, with MMM headed by EDDIE McGUIRE following closely on 12.9. Magic 693 also enjoyed a shift of listeners and improved from their previous survey of 5.5 to 6.7.

<||> WAYNE JACKSON, the AFL’s Chief Executive on Wednesday (6th) met with the Hawthorn club and representatives of 10 Councils. A clearer picture on the future of Waverley will emerge when the League meets with clubs on Friday to discuss Docklands.

<||> PAUL WILLIAMS, the Collingwood dynamo re-signed for 1998-99 with the Pies on a deal reported at $375,000, making him one of the 10 top-earners.

In Sydney, talks progressed between the two waring factions of Rugby League. The ARL and SuperLeague (backed by News Ltd) moved closer to a combined competition for 1998, with the merging of several clubs and the naming of the comp, the remaining obstacles.


Saints and Dons produce boilovers
Swans' 20-game SCG streak ends
Adelaide to top position

ROUND 19 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 8-9-10.
MILESTONES — CHRIS LANG-FORD became the fifth Hawthorn player to reach 300 League matches. He joins MICHAEL TUCK, LEIGH MATTHEWS, DON SCOTT and KELVIN MOORE as the longest-serving Hawks … 200 games were achieved by ROBERT SCOTT (132 Gee, now NM) and SCOTT McIVOR (55 Fit, now Bri), 150 for CHRIS WATERMAN (WCE), DEAN RICE (116 StK, now Car), ANTHONY STEVENS (NM) … 100 to TONY EVANS (WCE) … 50 games to DEREK HALL (2 WCE, now Gee), STEVEN SZILLER (StK), DARRYL WAKELIN (StK), RICHARD TAYLOR (Haw), BRAD PEARCE (2 Bri, now Car) … JOHN NORTHEY coached his 300th League game, with service at Sydney 22, Melbourne 167, Richmond 67, now Brisbane 44.

On Friday night, Brisbane found the MCG a hoodoo venue again as North proved comfortable 57pt winners. The Roos held sway all night  … the low-point came in the third term when the key Kanga ruckman COREY McKERNAN was carried off with a suspected broken right leg—he was cleared of this serious damage, how-ever will miss at least a month from injury. As injuries continue to dog the Lions, the Roos continued their climb up to 5th place, NORTH 17.14-116 (Sholl 3) best, Pike, Longmire, Roberts, BRISBANE 9.5-59 – best, Gowers, White, Dickfos — 27,021.

Old rivalries drew 61,650 to the G on Saturday for the Blues and the Pies. Of the nine MCG crowds over 60,000 this season, seven games have featured Collingwood. The Pies bowed out of the finals race as the Blues in a surprise moved Kouta forward and it worked. He kicked six for the day, and provided the edge which took Carlton to a 16pt in an otherwise down-on-skill contest. The result was still to be had by either deep into the last, the Blues just happened to make the most of their mistakes, CARLTON 14.23-107 (Koutoufides 6) best, Ratten, Bradley, Koutoufides, COLLINGWOOD 13.13-91 (S.Rocca 4) best, Crosisca, S.Rocca, Williams.

At Optus, Melbourne in the early stages looked world beaters as the Bulldogs, coming off four losses struggled hard to contain the Demons who late in the third term with three successive goals from JEFF FARMER brought the Dees within striking distance. Only 9pts up, the Dogs gained control in the last going away to a 38pt win, but it was a far from convincing victory, WESTERN BULLDOGS 14.18-102 –best, S.West, Darcy, Johnson, MELBOURNE 9.10-64 (Farmer 4), best, Viney, Yze, Schwarz — crowd, 13,058.

Hawthorn had NICK HOLLAND as a late withdrawal and his absence for a fifth straight week, contributed to their 5th successive loss. The Eagles opened well with Lewis and Heady showing out in the midfield, with PAUL SALMON in the ruck and SHANE CRAWFORD prominent off the back flank. West broke away with their four goals in seven minutes before half-time, and it was in that passage where they won the game. Though Hawthorn on two occasions got to within 10pts, the Eagles experienced players responded, however, breakdowns in attack were a worry, despite a stand-out effort by FRASER GEHRIG and who was a huge factor in the win for WEST COAST 13.9-87 (Gehrig 5, Sumich 3) best, Gehrig, Gardiner, McKenna, HAWTHORN 10.6-66 – best, Salmon, Harford, Lord — crowd, 20,517.

Fremantle on Saturday night (15,757) ran Richmond ragged from midway in the first term. The Tigers opened well and looked like world beaters yet got only four behinds for their efforts. The Dockers thereafter even in driving WACA rain set a cracking pace, for which the Tigers had little answer. Even though they were winners, Freo had several casualties and were not enthused by many umpiring decisions, FREMANTLE 12.13-85 (Waterhouse 4, Abraham 3) best, Kickett, S.Parker, Harding, RICHMOND 5.12-42 – best, B.Gale, Kellaway, Bulluss.

St Kilda’s sustained pressure to the Swans defence brought unlikely skill errors as the Saints drove home a quality victory, ending Sydney’s 20-game without loss SCG record to an end for 39,287 on a warmish Sunday. Sydney with a 38pt lead mid-way in the 2nd term appeared as though they had won control. In a fast-moving contest, the Saints on-baller ROBERT HARVEY oozed clash and skill, while STEWART LOEWE was a tower of strength and AUSTINN JONES capped off his great display with the goal put the Saints in the lead. The tireless PAUL KELLY gave leader-ship but the Saints were too good on the day and recorded their 6th successive win at the SCG, ST KILDA 18.20-128 (Loewe 3, Everitt 3) best, Harvey, Loewe, Burke, SYDNEY 17.17-119 (Barry 4, Cresswell 3, O’Loughlin 3) best, Kelly, Cresswell, Maxfield.

At the MCG, by quarter-time the Dons seemed set for a huge hiding by Geelong. In a match from which the Cats may suffer far-reaching consequences, the younger Bombers started to fire, with 5.1 to 1.5 and only one point down at the long break. The third term saw BLAKE CARACELLA in his 16th game emerge as the prime mover for Essendon which resulted in their 5pt victory. The Cats though leading deep into time-on of the final stanza paid dearly for their shocking off-target efforts, as a final surge snatched a morale-booster for the Dons, ESSENDON 11.7-73 (Caracella 3, Fletcher 3), best Caracella, Denham, Daniher, GEELONG 9.14-68 – best, Sholl, Lynch, Riccardi — at the MCG, 53,901 — the loss displaced Geelong from top spot, as they slid to third place.

<||> FROM THE ROUND—the Hawks have lost the past five, doing so with NICK HOLLAND absent in all … Carlton posted their seventh consecutive win over Collingwood — their best run over the Pies for 90 years—Carlton won nine games against Collingwood from 1905 to 1909, when the Navy Blues enjoyed their triple premiership run … North had their fourth-straight win—the past four losing scores against the Kangas have been, R16, 7.16 (Mel), R17, 7.16 (Car), R18, 8.16 (Ess) and R19, 9.5 (Bri) … though one of their best players on the day, two costly late-game errors by PAUL ROOS was the turning point for the Swans loss to the Saints … two of the five Hawks to play 300 League games are KELVIN MOORE and CHRIS LANGFORD, both super full-backs …

Five added to Hall of Fame
IAN STEWART (StK & Rch), WAYNE SCHIMMELBUSCH (NM), BARRY DAVIS (Ess & NM), HERB MATTHEWS (SM), NEIL KERLEY (SANFL) and the legendary CHARLES BROWNLOW were added to the AFL’s Hall of Fame at a dinner held in the Plaza Ballroom of the Regent Theatre on Saturday (9th).

<||> TRIBUNAL—Monday’s verdicts—WAYNE CAREY (NM) from video was found not guilty of tripping Craig McRAE (Bri)—it was Carey’s 8th appearance before the Tribunal … MARCUS SEECAMP (Mel) guilty of dropping his knees into James Cook, two weeks … TONY EVANS (WCE) charged from video, guilty of striking BRENDAN KRUMMEL (Haw) and suspended for two weeks — it was the first occasion Evans had been reported during his football career with both the WAFL and the AFL – on Saturday against Hawthorn, he was playing his 100th League match.

From video, at Wednesday’s hearing Geelong captain BARRY STONE-HAM on pleading guilty was suspended three matches for striking Michael Symons (Ess) with an elbow to the face–which resulted in a broken jaw … BRENDAN GALE (Rch) guilty of charging James Merillio (Fre) was suspended one game–Merillio suffered a collapsed lung during the game … a tripping charge against DEAN WALLIS (Ess) was withdrawn.

<||> Two Cats had surgery— a reconstruction to the knee of GRANT TANNER, meaning 12 months absence while BILLY BROWNLESS, Geelong’s 198 match veteran had an ankle operation putting his future in doubt.

All criminal charges against TONY LOCKETT were dropped following a short hearing at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (14th). The charges were shelved when the Office of Public Prosecutions decided there was “no reasonable prospect of a conviction”.


Richmond pip North Melbourne
Lions and Port in 124th draw
Bulldogs strip the Crows

ROUND 20 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 15-16-17.
MILESTONES — Collingwood’s GAVIN CROSISCA played his 200th … MATTHEW HOGG (59 Fsc, now Car) reached 150 matches.

Kicking the first seven goals, the Eagles stamped their authority over Melbourne early in the Friday night meeting at the WACA. The wayward Dees were set for a belting, however West Coast fell away badly and did not reap an expected percentage booster, WEST COAST 15.7-97 (Gehrig 5, Gardiner 3) best, McKenna, Kemp, Gehrig, MELBOURNE 7.17-59 (Neitz 4) best, Yze, Viney, Lovett — crowd, 21,164.

The 50,944 MCG Saturday turnout reflected the falling away in form by both the Pies and the Dons. The scrappy game was played in a swirling wind and never reached great heights. Sav Rocca was back on target and the Magpies led by 40pts at the last change. A sustained last term rally brought the Bombers back to within 8pts during which several dust-ups brought reports, including that of Brownlow favourite NATHAN BUCKLEY. Though held to just three behinds in the last, the Woods early work saw them last the distance, COLLINGWOOD 13.13-91 (Sav Rocca 5) best, Crosisca, Brown, S.Rocca, ESSENDON 12.9-81 (Lloyd 4) best, Lloyd, Moorcroft, O’Donnell.

The high-ranked Saints received a fright from a depleted Fremantle unit in the big winds at Waverley for 26,201 fans. Leading by as much as 27pts in the last, the Saints faced a determined challenge from the never-say-die Dockers who went down by 13pts in a game they could well have taken, ST KILDA 12.5-77 (Everitt 3) best, Burke, Harvey, Peckett, FREMANTLE 9.10-64 (Hunter 3) best, Kickett, Callaghan, Leach.

Gale force winds in excess of 90kmh at Kardinia Park in part compensated for the absence of several Cats with injury and suspension. The locals adapted to the conditions more easily than Carlton and it was always going to be tough after Geelong kicked the first four goals. The Corio Bay crew sealed it in the second quarter, adding three goals against the breeze, while the Blues booted a wasteful 2.6. The young and hungry Cats even though wasting many chances, finished off their efforts better, GEELONG 13.17-95 (Barnes 3) best, Sholl, Barnes, Mansfield, CARLTON 9.13-67 (Silvagni 3) best, Ratten, McKay, Bradley — crowd 23,007.

Port Adelaide opened impressively on Saturday night at the Gabba (20,835) and their 29pt half-time lead placed them in line to pitch the Lions from the top eight. However, beyond the long break, the Lions forwards who had been blanketed broke away as adding 8.3 and were down only a point, with a quarter to go. Each side gave their all in the desperate last term and Port was thwarted from victory. The Lions came from seven points behind with only two minutes left, as a goal then a soccer kick from Bradshaw tied the contest for the 124th time in League ranks, BRISBANE 13.15-93 (Leppitsch 4, Bradshaw 3) best, Champion, Gowers, Leppitsch, PORT ADELAIDE 13.15-93 (Cummings 4) best, Wanganeen, Lade, Cummings.

Hawthorn, coming off five defeats were on track to cause a big upset as they led the Swans by 22pts early in the 2nd quarter at the SCG. Sydney then produced a huge turnaround and romped home by 58pts. Played in warm Sunday 25 degree conditions, the Swans finished with only 15 fit men. Kelly gave another outstanding performance with 36 possessions and enhanced his Brownlow prospects, SYDNEY 20.15-135 (Kelly 4, Lewis 4, Cresswell 3, Barry 3) best, Kelly, Lewis, Mooney, HAWTHORN 11.11-77 (Holland 4, S.Crawford 3) best, S.Crawford, Scott, Kappler — crowd 34,111.

The Tigers at the MCG (29,620) sprung a major surprise on North who lost two valued performers in Rock and Longmire during the game. It was a highpoint for Richmond in an other-wise forgettable season. Only in the intense closing stages did the Kangas respond to the urgency of the situation and may well rue the narrow defeat in defending their premiership, RICHMOND 14.13-97 (Rogers 3) best, Powell, Merenda, Rogers, NORTH MELBOURNE 14.12-96 (Allison 3, Bell 3) best, Stevens, Bell, Schwass.

The Western Bulldogs rose against a flat opposition at Football Park in the late game on Sunday. SCOTT WYND in the ruck gave a dominating opening display which set the Dogs toward their target with a first term of six-straight. Racing to 10.2 at half-time, the contest by then was strangled. The Crows lacked intensity and the 43pt margin flattered them, so thorough was their defeat WESTERN BULLDOGS 16.7-103 - best, Romero, Wynd, Grant, ADELAIDE 7.18-60 - best, McLeod, James, Rehn — crowd 39,632.

FROM THE ROUND—not until the 29 minute mark of the last term on Sunday did the 20th round gain its second century score … Sydney to that stage with 20.15-135 were out in front, but Jose Romero’s goal brought up the Doggies 16th, for them to finish with 16.7-103 against the Crows … St Kilda won its fifth-straight—the Saints haven’t won 5 in-a-row for 30 seasons—last time was in 1968 in a string of seven victories across rounds 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 … Hawthorn suffered their 6th successive loss – the Hawks worst run of outs since they lost the last seven of 1995, which then was their poorest effort for 25 years … the Eagles victory over Melbourne was their 8th-straight versus the Dee’s who have had only one success (in 1993) against West Coast  in the past 14 outings … Carlton’s STEPHEN SILVAGNI at Kardinia Park played all of the game at one end—full-back for the 1st and 3rd quarters, then full-forward in the second and fourth … the 58pt win by Sydney at the SCG was the biggest win by the Swans over Hawthorn since 1980 … the Eagles young ruckman MICHAEL GARDINER booted eight goals from his first eight scoring shots of his career across rounds 15-16-17-18-19-20 … the 124th draw between Brisbane and Port was the first at the Gabba … the Tigers Sunday result was their first one-point win over North since 1926 Round 7 at Arden Street …

<||> The AFL announced 1998 State of Origin matches will be played at the Gabba (Vic v The Allies) and at Football Park (SA v WA) on dates to be finalised.

<||> TRIBUNAL—on Monday, DAMIAN MONKHORST (Col) was found guilty of striking Gary Moorcroft (Ess) and suspended three matches … Monk-horst was also found guilty of wrestling Ryan O’Connor (Ess) and duly fined 1/52nd base and one match payment … RYAN O’CONNOR on a like charge of wrestling Monkhorst was cleared … NATHAN BUCKLEY (Col) was charged with kneeing Barry Young (Ess) in the groin—following deliberation, Buckley was found not guilty of the charge … ANDREW OBST (Mel) from his 149th career game since 1990 was found guilty of striking Peter Sumich (WCE)–Obst on the eve of retirement was suspended for the two remaining matches the Demons will play this season … on Wednesday, SHANE CRAWFORD (Haw) was found not guilty of tripping Shannon Grant (Syd) … BRENTON SANDERSON (Gee) from video, though pleading not guilty was suspended for two weeks for striking Brett Ratten (Car) … MARK WEST (WB) was found guilty of striking Ben Hart (Ade) and suspended two weeks.


Saints look to minor premiership
Finals hopes dim for Swans and Lions
Blues, Freo and Port still alive

ROUND 21 – Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, August 22-23-24-25.
MILESTONES — DEAN LAIDLEY (52 WCE, now NM) and ADRIAN FLETCHER (23 Gee, 22 StK, now Bri) both achieved 150 matches … SHANE WAKELIN (StK) and MATT CONNELL (3 WCE, now Ade) reached 50 games … the Saints in taking leadership became the seventh club for the season to do so — a new League record, greater than the six, Fsc, Car, NM, Gee, Haw and Col who all were leaders in the 1969 season.

St Kilda took over top place with a thumping 52pt win over Melbourne on Friday night at the MCG for 32,935. The Saints put the result beyond question with a 7.1 opening including five goals from JASON HEATLEY, and it was never a contest. The Demons were further reduced with a mounting toll of injuries, during the match losing Smith (knee), Lamprill (shoulder), G.Lovett (collarbone) together with others who constituted the walking wounded, ST KILDA 17.12-114 (Heatley 7.3) best, Burke, Heatley, Hall, MELBOURNE 8.14-62 – best, Hopgood, Stynes, Robertson.

In a wet slog on Saturday at the MCG (26,393) the Roos recovered from their loss the previous week against the Tigers. Overall whilst they were too powerful for a battling Hawthorn, the first half was fairly even as North sprayed many opportunities. The Roos had WAYNE CAREY doing well at CHB having the best over Robran then Holland, and when their midfield took over the Hawks had few answers, in spite of the ruck dominance by PAUL SALMON. The 38pt margin was complimentary, considering the Roos had 31 to 13 shots, NORTH 10.21-81 (Allison 4) best, Pike, Carey, A.Stevens, HAWTHORN 6.7-43 – best, Salmon, Graham, Lord.

In driving rain of the first half, Carlton destroyed Sydney’s top four aspirations when they dominated 85% of Saturday’s encounter at Optus Oval to 27,375. The Swans failed to goal until the 17th minute of the third term and though only a goal was the difference at the last change, Carlton erupted in the final term with 6.2 and a surge of commitment which floored the Harboursiders. Silvagni won every point against a lethargic Lockett and the Blues defence gave a medal-winning performance, CARLTON 11.10-76 (Pearce 5) best, Silvagni, Ratten, Bradley, SYDNEY 5.11-41 – best, Kelly, Maxfield, Cresswell.

For the final game to be played at the Whitten (Western) Oval, a larger-than-life statue of the Bulldogs’ most famous son TED WHITTEN was unveiled. In characteristic kicking style from a famous photograph, the $80,000 work by PETER CORLETT, famous for his sculptures of ‘Weary’ Dunlop and Phar Lap was paid for by public subscription.

Emotions erupted before the first bounce at Footscray as seven or eight players jostled and Eagle JASON BALL was booked for striking. Seizing the initiative, the Dogs zipped away in the bitter cold and frequent showers and their early 20pt lead was eventually a winner. The match-ups of Liberatore-Cousins, Romero-Kemp, Grant-Jakovich and Smith-Morrison proved decisive for the Tricolours. West Coast crept back in the last half but the Dogs were always able to kick an answer, WESTERN BULLDOGS 12.14-86 (Smith 3, Grant 3) best, Romero, Dent, Liberatore, WEST COAST 10.8-68–best, Schofield, Peter Matera, Phillip Matera — it was the first time the Bulldogs had defeated West Coast twice in one season.

The Gabba had been sold-out weeks in advance for the Saturday night clash of the Lions and Bombers—21,065 attended. Brisbane’s finals hopes took a nosedive when they succumbed to a huge Essendon finish. The new wave of young Bombers headed by Lloyd, Caracella, Moorcroft and Lucas hung in, even though they were well behind the Lions most of the night. Down 34pts at the last break the Dons took the lead for the first time close to the final siren when Lloyd from 45 metres coolly guided through his 5th goal and gathered a great four point win. The hopes of the Lions were shattered as further injuries place them decidedly on the back foot, needing a win over West Coast next Friday night in Perth, ESSENDON 16.10-106 (Lloyd 5) best, Lloyd, Caracella, Cockatoo-Collins, BRISBANE 15.12-102 (Leppitsch 3, Johnson 3) best, White, Bamford, Johnson.

Geelong with their midfielders dominant, were 32pt winners over Fremantle in the warm Sunday sunshine at Subiaco to one of the better home crowds for the Dockers – 28,751. Both sides had winners in defence but Freo suffered key losses as first full-back STEPHEN O’REILLY (knee) departed then later ANDREW McGOVERN with a broken leg. The Cat quartet of Pickering, Hocking, Kilpatrick and Riccardi collected 114 possessions between them and were too good for the physically smaller Freo outfit, GEELONG 14.16-100 – best, Riccardi, Kilpatrick, Pickering, FREMANTLE 9.14-68 (Abraham 3) best, Toia, Jones, Parker.

In wintry conditions, Richmond at the MCG (22,516) regained their verve and passion to demolish final eight contenders Port Adelaide by 85pts. The Tiger aggression was emphasised with a big 9.4 for the third term and with three wins from four games, JEFF GIESCHEN the caretaker coach at Punt Road moved closer to cementing the top job for 1998, RICHMOND 22.14-146 (Richardson 5.0, Merenda 4, Powell 3) best, Broderick, Campbell, Knights, PORT 8.13-61 (Cummings 3) best, Eagleton, Brown, Bond.

Icy conditions on Monday night at Football Park still drew 37,661 as Adelaide and Collingwood delivered a tense, tight contest, befitting the importance of the match. Skills were apparent in spite of the slippery ball. To -time where the Pies had led all night, only six goals had been kicked. The Crows nudged to a narrow 2pt lead at the last change, but not until the closing stages did the pendulum swing at the 23 minute mark when MATTHEW CONNELL playing his 50th after a good chest mark was hammered into the ground. His goal put Adelaide up by 3pts. Then four minutes later it was defender-cum-forward ROD JAMESON who kicked his first for the year (and 87th career goal) which sealed the game for the Crows and consigned the Pies to early mothballs, ADELAIDE 6.12-48 – best, Jarman, Rehn, Pittman, COLLINGWOOD 5.9-39 (S.Rocca 3) best, Brown, Buckley, Williams.

<||> FROM THE ROUND—St Kilda posted their sixth-straight win, the biggest run for the season … Sydney at Optus were scoreless in the first term and remained goalless until Lockett kicked his one for the day at the 16m 35s mark of the third … it was the second time of the season the Swans had no goals at half-time—the same happened in round 14 versus Fremantle at the WACA … Duncan Kellaway kicked his first goal for Richmond – it was his 98th game … North extended their winning sequence against the Hawks to nine—a remarkable result in light of the 14-straight Hawthorn had over the Kangas from 1984 to 1993 … the Swans 5.11-41 was their worst versus the Blues since 80-R14-PP when they kicked 5.9-39 … the weekend brought Hawthorn’s 7th successive defeat … it was League game 666 since 1925 at the Whitten (Western) Oval — the Bulldogs had 643 home games there. Saturday was their 348th win, with losses at 286, and nine draws … one of Geelong’s big possession winners against Freo was Peter Riccardi – however he sprayed many to finish with 2.5 on the day …

<||> TRIBUNAL—JASON BALL (WCE) on Monday was found guilty of striking Paul Dimattina (WB) before the first bounce. Ball was suspended two matches. It was the single senior report of the 21st round.

LAURIE MORGAN passed away at 82 on August 15th. He was a dual gold medalist at the 1960 Rome Olympics in equestrian events. A remarkable sportsman, he played 34 games in the ruck for Fitzroy (1937-39) where the legendary HAYDN BUNTON nick-named him ‘Tige’—Morgan also bred winners of the 1947 AJC Derby, 1968 Golden Slipper, was amateur heavy-weight champion of Victoria and even rode in the famous Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree.

<||> MICHAEL McLEAN announced his retirement—he played 95 games with Footscray (1983-89) and a further 88 with Brisbane (1990-97) but injury restricted him to only six matches in the past two years. With Brisbane, he was best and fairest in 1991 and 1993.

<||> TRIBUNAL 2—The first result from an investigation into Saturday incidents at Whitten Oval came at Wednesday’s Tribunal. STEVEN KOLYNUIK (WB) was found guilty of a charge laid by AFL Investigations Officer ROGER BERRYMAN. Kolynuik was suspended two matches for striking PETER MATERA in the last quarter.

Late Tuesday the AFL asked DANNY SOUTHERN, STEVE KRETIUK and CRAIG ELLIS to show reasons to explain their actions at the Dogs-Eagles game … in one other case, ALEX McDONALD (Col) from video was found guilty of striking Shaun Rehn (Ade) and suspended two games. It was McDonald first suspension in his nine seasons with the Hawks and Collingwood.

Monorail plan may save Waverley Park?
Waverley Park may yet get a reprieve following the Thursday (28th) report in The Age, that the Breakaway Group with financial backing of a major Asian developer, the King Chou Group has offered the AFL an initial $33 million for the site.

It was part of a $230 million package to divide the Waverley ground into three separate areas – the stadium itself, one-third for a variety of sports, and erection of a sports hotel. Plans before next season would include modernising the 25 year-old video scoreboard and roofing uncovered seating.

The group require the AFL to guarantee 11 home matches for Hawthorn each season. A monorail system linking existing rail stations are also part of plans by the Breakaway Group.

<||> TRIBUNAL 3—on Thursday, three players from the Western Bulldogs–DANNY SOUTHERN, STEVEN KRETIUK and CRAIG ELLIS were found guilty of threatening and aggressive behaviour for a “gang tackle” on West Coast’s rookie ruck MICHAEL GARDINER before the bounce to start the Dogs-Eagles game at the Whitten Oval. Each player was fined 2/52nd of the players’ base salary and two match payments.

<||> After 1500 tests by the Australian Sports Drug Agency extending back to 1990, the first two AFL players to test positive were revealed. The first was JUSTIN CHARLES (Rch) whose test showed the use of the veterinary steroid boldenone. His admission came at a press conference on Friday (29th). Charles will face the Tribunal and a suspension of up to 26 weeks. Within 24 hours, it was circulated another (unnamed) player had tested positive.


Saints finish in top position
Brisbane hold 8th place, by default
Sheedy's 400th game as coach

ROUND 22 – Fri-Sat-Sun, August 29-30-31.

MILESTONES — SCOTT WEST (WB) played his 100th … 50 games came for RYAN O’CONNOR (Ess), BRETT CHALMERS (Ade) … KEVIN SHEEDY coached Essendon in his 400th League game since 1981 … the final AFL games were played by Hawthorn’s CHRIS LANGFORD and DARREN PRITCHARD, and Essendon’s MARK HARVEY and DEAN WALLIS.

Not since round 22 of 1987 had the League experienced a range of games on which every place for the finals hung on the balance of last round results. The permutations were endless as, Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Carlton and Fremantle were all placed to take eighth position.

A thrilling climax to the season was confirmed when West Coast easily accounted for Brisbane in the Friday night opener at the WACA for a sold-out 29,505. The Lions had a great opening but had failed on the scoreboard and the Eagles were always dangerous. The Coasters recovered from a sluggish first half, hitting their straps in the third with Peter Matera, Dean Kemp and Jarrad Schofield taking control of the midfield as West rattled on six unanswered goals. It was a battle-weary Lions outfit who left Perth with a 39pt loss, and their 8th position in the balance, WEST COAST 18.12-120 (Sumich 3, Heady 3) best, McKenna, Peter Matera, Kemp, BRISBANE 11.15-81 – best, Ashcroft, A.Lynch, Fletcher.

All of the Saturday matches proved of high interest, not the least of which was the demolition and dispatch the Demons handed to the Dockers … the strong run home yielding the Tigers their first Princes Park win over Carlton since 1977 … the Hawks 8th-straight loss which secured the Dogs a place in the top four … and Geelong’s confident SCG win in contrast to an error-filled display by Sydney …

With 18 on the official injury list, a depleted Fremantle were overwhelm-ed by Melbourne giving the certain wooden-spooners their fourth win for the year. The sparse 15,036 at the MCG saw the Demons go hard at the ball, but the contest lacked style and excitement, and just possibly the Dockers were delivered a blessing in not making the final eight, MELBOURNE 18.11-119 (Farmer 6, Smith 3), best, Farmer, Viney, Hopgood), FREMANTLE 11.13-79 (Koops 4), best, Leach, Koops, Callaghan.

With a seven goal opening, a victory for the Blues at Princes Park seemed certain for the lock-out 34,922 fans at Optus Oval. Trailing by as much as 42pts in the second term, Richmond kept griding away as an injury list (Kernahan, Hamill, De Iulio, Pearce, Bradley plus head wounds to Hogg and Hulme)) took toll of Carlton and the Blues started to run out of legs. Crucial goals before half time for the Tigers had kept them within striking

distance. Finishing full of purpose, the Tigers kicked seven of the last eight goals to clip the aspiring Blues at the death-knell by two points, RICHMOND 13.13-91 (Rogers 3) best, B.Gale, M.Gale, Kellaway, CARLTON 13.11-89 (Koutoufides 4) best, Ratten, Camporeale, Koutoufides.

The Bulldogs and Hawks staged a fierce opening to their Waverley Park encounter for 35,706, some of which may considered worthy of further video scrutiny come Monday. An early flurry by the Hawks gave the anticipation it would be a good contest, however the wider skills of the Dogs emerged for them to put their stamp on the game. JAMES COOK the valuable Carlton discard booted seven for the Dogs who were only marginally challenged. WESTERN BULLDOGS 15.15-105 (Cook 7.3) best, Romero, Cook, Grant, HAWTHORN 13.9-87 (Lord 4, Graham 3) best, Robran, Lekkas, Salmon.

Sydney suffered their third loss in four matches as Geelong landed a killer punch in front of a new SCG record crowd of 46,168 on Saturday night. Led by one of the old guard GARY HOCKING and bright new star STEVEN KING, the Swans were let down by repeated skill errors which caused coach Rodney Eade to rate the effort – “It’s the worst I’ve seen – since I’ve been here.” The arm wrestle continued throughout the night, yet the Cats used space more intelligently and had the required edge, GEELONG 15.10-100 (Snell 3, Hall 3) best, Hocking, King, Snell, SYDNEY 13.12-90 (Lockett 5, O’Loughlin 3), best, Roos, O’Loughlin, Barry.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales was announced as the first two of three Sunday matches commenced in Melbourne.

Collingwood at the MCG against North produced form good enough to give rise to thoughts of “what might have been”— both had the advantage as two very evenly matched sides battled hard for the 43,660 fans. The Roos failed to break the Pies as Wayne Carey moved back to CHF and Corey McKernan to CHB. North though again off-target still led into time-on but a wonderful goal from the classy Paul Williams sealed it for the Woods, COLLINGWOOD 18.14-122 (S.Rocca 4, Williams 3) best, Williams, Osborne, Crosisca, NORTH MELB 15.21-111 (Archer 3) best, Carey, Stevens, Scott.

The Crows zipped away with the first five goals at Optus Oval and led confidently well into the second term. Essendon then curbed both Modra and Jarman who had began as real dangers. Adelaide went right off the boil as the enthusiasm of Essendon controlled proceedings, reminiscent of the 1993 Preliminary.  The margin was only four points, but the Bombers finished on a high, as Malcolm Blight was left with worries to ponder, ESSENDON 16.6-102 (Cockatoo-Collins 5, Lloyd 5, Moorcroft 3) best, Denham, Cockatoo-Collins, Lloyd, ADELAIDE 14.14-98 (Jameson 6) best, Jameson, McLeod, Bond—crowd, 25,636.

The best was saved until last, when 38,589 at Football Park (and a huge TV audience) were treated to a quality contest between two committed teams. Scores fluctuated regularly as both the Saints then Port gave goal-for-goal. Down to the 25th minute of the last quarter, only two goals separated the two, St Kilda then applied the pressure to the tiring Port and in the final minutes went away to win by 33pts, ST KILDA 17.15-117 (Heatley 5) best, Harvey Burke, Thompson, PORT ADELAIDE 12.12-84 – best, Mead, Bond, Francou.

FROM ROUND 22—to accommodate the TV broadcast from Adelaide, half-time at Footy Park was extended by five to 25 minutes–for the news … Carlton missed the finals for the first time since 1992 … St Kilda last won seven on-the-trot in 1968, across R2-3-4-5-6-7-8. The best run in the history of the club is eight, recorded in 1939 when they finished third (losing the preliminary to Collingwood and in their only premiership year in 1966.

<||> TRIBUNAL—from the spiteful game at Waverley—PAUL DIMATTINA (WB) found guilty of striking Rayden Tallis (Haw) and suspended two weeks … DANNY SOUTHERN (WB) for wrestling Richard Taylor (Haw) guilty and suspended one match … SCOTT WEST (WB) guilty of wrestling both Richard Taylor (Haw) and Daniel Harford (Haw) fined 1/52nd of his base salary and match payment … RAYDEN TALLIS (Haw) guilty of striking JAMES COOK (WB) suspended one match … RICHARD TAYLOR (Haw) guilty of wrestling Scott West (WB) fined 1/52nd base salary and one match payment … in the remaining case heard on Monday, GARY MOORCROFT (Ess) booked for charging Peter Vardy (Ade) had his case dismissed.

The suspension of DANNY SOUTHERN (WB) for ‘wrestling’ prompted a search of records. They showed that RICHARD OSBORNE playing for Fitzroy, 92-R15-MCG, was booked under a charge of misconduct and duly suspended one match (for wrestling) … ALLEN JAKOVICH (Mel) in a 1993 pre-season match versus Collingwood at Princes Park (Feb 17) was booked for wrestling Michael Gayfer (Col) and outed one game.

Docklands decision to Baulderstone Hornibrook
On Monday (1st) Victorian Premier JEFF KENNETT announced the winning bid for the $435 million stadium project, accepting the bid by the Baulderstone Hornibrook consortium which includes the Channel Seven Network and News Limited.

Focus of the wide-ranging development on the western edge of Melbourne’s CBD is the 52,000-seat football and entertainment venue, due for completion in time for the AFL’s season in 2000.

Channel Seven also gained last bid rights for the League’s television rights from 2002 until 2011. The last right bid and sponsorship package will cost Seven an additional $20 million. The Seven Network will build its new Melbourne headquarters called Studio City next to the Docklands Stadium at a cost of $70 million.

<||> TRIBUNAL 2—STEWART LOEWE (StK) on Wednesday was cleared of the attempting to trip charge on Shane Bond (PA).

<||> JEFF GIESCHEN on Tuesday (2nd) was named coach of RICHMOND for 1998 and 1999. The former Footscray player (now 40), more recently the assistant to Gary Ayres at Geelong (1995-96) and reserves coach at Punt Road, took over the Tigers after the late-season sacking of ROBERT WALLS. The Tigers won four of their last five contests under Gieschen.

<||> It was revealed West Coast ruckman ILJA GRGIC had been the latest to test positive under the drug code. On being interviewed, the substance Grgic had taken was part of a cough medicine to combat influenza. No further action upon the player was taken by the AFL.

Justin Charles suspended until late 1998
In an historic hearing, on Thursday (4th) the AFL Tribunal suspended Richmond’s JUSTIN CHARLES.

The 27 year-old Charles had testing positive to the anabolic steroid boldenone. To the AFL’s medical commissioner Professor Ken Hardy, Charles admitted receiving 12 injections of the stimulant from mid-February to mid-March this year.

He had been randomly tested in June as part of the Australian Sports Drug Agency program. A urine sample was analysed on July 4 and a second sample taken July 30. The second test had proven positive and Charles was informed on August 22nd.

Charles was suspended 16 premiership matches. He will not be available to play during 1998 including pre-season contests until round 17 of next year.


Ladder after Round 22
W L D F A % Total
1 ST KILDA 15 7 2294 1918 119.6 60
2 GEELONG 15 7 2111 1791 117.9 60
3 WEST.B'DOGS 14 8 2100 2062 101.8 56
4 ADELAIDE 13 9 2151 1769 121.6 52
5 WEST COAST 13 9 1969 1770 111.2 52
6 SYDNEY 12 10 2093 1801 116.2 48
7 NORTH MELB 12 10 2051 1835 111.8 48
8 BRISBANE 10 11 1 2076 1973 105.2 42
9 Port Adelaide 10 11 1 1852 2017 91.8 42
10 Collingwood 10 12 2138 1919 111.4 40
11 Carlton 10 12 1978 2045 96.7 40
12 Fremantle 10 12 1748 1902 91.9 40
13 Richmond 10 12 1883 2253 83.6 40
14 Essendon 9 13 2004 2170 92.4 36
15 Hawthorn 8 14 1873 2144 87.4 32
16 Melbourne 4 18 1477 2429 60.8 16


Bulldogs massacre Sydney
Saints win their 8th-straight
Wayne Carey has a finals blinder

Out of respect for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, the AFL rescheduled the First Qualifying Final from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. The funeral from Westminster Abbey was telecast throughout Australia on Saturday evening and was estimated to have been viewed by 2.5 billion people in 180 countries.

QUALIFYING FINALS – Saturday-Sunday, September 6-7.
MILESTONES—PETER SUMICH (WCE) played his 150th … DAVID SIERAKOWSKI (StK) his 50th … WAYNE CAREY captained North Melbourne for the 100th time.

The Western Bulldogs put an end to the Second Qualifying in just the first 15 minutes of play. An explosive first quarter of 9.2 to 0.5 effectively ended the contest on Saturday at the MCG. The 62,432 failed to get their money’s worth, beyond watching the efficient Dogs do everything right. Sydney struggled and fell into the trap of often making the man, rather than the ball their target. The final 35pt margin gave the shell-shocked Swans undeserved praise for a Bulldog victory which was more complete.

The Westerners who twice led by 59pts used the basics brilliantly and were well served by – SCOTT WYND in the ruck, JOSE ROMERO, SCOTT WEST, ROHAN SMITH, BRETT MONTGOMERY, BRAD JOHNSON and JAMES COOK.

RODNEY EADE, Sydney coach expressed – “our skills were just deplorable … we made a lot of mistakes. We should have lost by 15 goals.” — 2QF – WESTERN BULLDOGS 18.11-119 (Cook 4, Hudson 3, Grant 3) best, Cameron, Grant, West, SYDNEY 12.12-84 (Lockett 3) best, Lewis, Kelly, Roos — the Dogs lost JOSE ROMERO for the rest of the finals with a dislocated shoulder, while the Swans DARYN CRESSWELL suffered a broken collarbone. It was the Dogs 5th-straight victory.

Adelaide (who finished 4th) on Sunday hosted their first AFL final. The wild and windy conditions was soon joined by rain at Football Park (43,761). West Coast lost GARDINER and McINTOSH from their starting line-up, then before half-time BRETT HEADY and GUY McKENNA were sidelined for the rest of the match.

The Crows showing a decided lift of the skill level displayed in recent weeks became the hunter, rather than the hunted. With Adelaide defenders CAVEN and JAMESON cutting off the supply from the Eagles key-forwards of GEHRIG and SUMICH, it was left to PETER MATERA and LEWIS to provide inspiration, but though good, theirs was not enough.

Only in the third term of the 1QF did the Crows look shaky as the injury-depleted yet gutsy Eagles came back to within eight points and threatened to take over. Adelaide reacted strongly to re-establish their control, and went out to win thoroughly, ADELAIDE 14.15-99 (Modra 3) best, Hart, Bickley, Caven, WEST COAST 9.12-66 – best, Peter Matera, Jakovich, Morrison.

Minor premiers St Kilda were in bother at half-time of the Waverley contest to 50,035 fans—Brisbane had a five point lead, and the Saints had lost forward JASON HEATLEY (kick in the left ankle) and the potentially explosive PETER EVERITT (broken collarbone) while Brownlow favourite ROBERT HARVEY had landed awkwardly and was suffering back spasms.

STEWART LOEWE took over in the ruck and did a powerful job for the Saints, HARVEY recovered to be an effective cog, while erstwhile reserve grader ROD KEOGH came from the bench and rose to the occasion with three third term goals. Overall it was the team effort which broke the Lions’ spirit. Their depleted manpower didn’t last the distance to the spirit against them, 4QF–ST KILDA 20.15-135 (Loewe 3, Keogh 3) best, Loewe, Harvey, Burke, BRISBANE 13.11-89 (Akermanis 4, Lawrence 3, Bradshaw 3) best, Akermanis, A.Lynch, Dickfos.

In often pelting rain after half-time, the Third Qualifying on Sunday night drew 55,561 to the 7pm MCG start. WAYNE CAREY was universally voted by the media for one of the great performances in a final, made all the more remarkable in the conditions. The Roos skipper (for the 100th time) kicked 7.0 of the 20 goals scored for the night–he had 20 kicks, 10 marks and three handballs.

Though finishing the year at second place, Geelong again in a final failed to translate their form favouritism into a winnable formula. Their lack of forwards proved a limitation as the Kangas effective defence were too strong. The energy-sapping contest, may rebound when both North and the Cats face the challenges of next weekend, NORTH 11.13-79 (Carey 7.0, Allison 3) best, Carey, Martin, Stevens, GEELONG 9.7-61 – best, Pickering, Hocking, Colbert.

From the finals
the Saints won their 8th-straight equalling their best of a single season in 1939 and 1966 … the Dogs record opening quarter of 9.2-56 topped their 8.3-51 v Sydney, 83-R11-SCG … only Geelong’s 10.2-62 v Fsc, 95-3QF-MCG had produced a greater first term in a Qualifying … the 62,432 was the highest attendance to watch a Bulldogs-Swans game – previous best was 32,534 in the 17th round this year at the SCG … the Saints and Brisbane contest at Waverley also drew best crowd to see the two in a game – the 50,035 topped the 34,859 at Waverley in R17, only seven weeks ago … Geelong’s 9.7-61 was their lowest against North for 20 seasons – since the Cats’ 6.15-51 at Kardinia Park, 77-R18 … Wayne Carey’s seven goals for the Roos kicked against Geelong is second only to the eight kicked by SYD DYER in 1946 at KP …

TRIBUNAL #1—on Monday night, GUY McKENNA (WCE) pleaded guilty to striking Troy Bond (Ade) – McKenna with a spotless 213-game record was suspended one match … FRASER GEHRIG (WCE) pleaded guilty to striking Kane Johnson (Ade) – he was outed for two matches … GLEN ARCHER (NM) pleaded not guilty to tripping Garry Hocking (Gee). Following deliberation, Archer was suspended for two matches … GAVIN MITCHELL (Fre) from R22 was found guilty of striking Todd Viney (Mel) and suspended, one match.

TRIBUNAL #2—at Wednesday’s hearing, WAYNE SCHWASS (NM) from a video charge was found guilty of ‘stomping’ “in the groin area of CARL STEINFORT, Geelong, at approximately the 28 minute mark of the second quarter” … of the 3QF. The NM vice-captain was suspended for four matches … ANDREW DUNKLEY (Syd) pleading guilty was suspended two matches for striking James Cook (WB) … JAMES MOONEY (Syd) was cleared of striking Jose Romero (WB) …

The AFL Reserves Gardiner Medal was won by BRAD LLOYD (Haw) with 18 votes, from CLINTON KING and ADRIAN GLEESON (Car) equal second with 17 votes.

The NORWICH RISING STAR award was won by Port Adelaide’s MICHAEL WILSON. the 20-year old on-baller, a product of the SANFL Magpies at Alberton gained the prize of a $10,000 Norwich investment portfolio and a handsome hand-crafted trophy.

On Monday (8th) PETER EVERITT (StK) underwent surgery to repair his broken left collarbone … DAVID WHEADON, assistant coach to Kevin Sheedy at Essendon resigned on Tuesday (9th) – by Thursday, it was announced Wheadon will join Colling-wood in October, becoming its football manager and chairman of selectors. He played 19 games with the Pies, 1968-70.

NEALE DANIHER was appointed coach of Melbourne for two years. Daniher was assistant to Sheedy at Windy Hill, 1993-94 and has been in the support role to Gerard Neesham at Fremantle, 1995-97.


All-Australian team of 1997

The Hilton Hotel in Melbourne was the scene on Monday September 15th when during a live presentation of Channel Seven's Talking Footy program, the All-Australian Team for the season was announced. It was dual feat for St Kilda as STAN ALVES was named Coach of the Year and ROBERT HARVEY as the Most Valuable Player. Sydney's PAUL KELLY was selected as captain for second successive season, while Swans defender PAUL ROOS gained his seventh All-Australian jumper.

The team:

B: David King
(North Melb)
Stephen Silvagni
Paul Roos
HB: Peter Matera
(West Coast)
Michael Sexton
Adam Heuskes
(Port Adelaide)
C: Austinn Jones
(St Kilda)
Craig Bradley
Nathan Buckley
HF: Rohan Smith
Chris Grant
Michael O'Loughlin
F: Fraser Gehrig
(West Coast)
Tony Modra
Paul Kelly
Foll: Paul Salmon
Robert Harvey
(St Kilda)
Nathan Burke
(St Kilda)
IC: Peter Everitt
(St Kilda)
Daryn Cresswell
Mark Ricciuto
  Coach of the Year
Stan Alves
(St Kilda)
Umpire of the Year
Hayden Kennedy


Fans treated to great semi-finals
Kanga recovery dumps West Coast
Crows end Geelong's hopes

SEMI FINALS – Saturday, September 13.

MILESTONES—Game 200 for MICK MARTYN (NM) … and the 150th for DARREN JARMAN (109 with Haw, now Ade).

Melbourne was treated to a glorious Saturday yet the fans numbered just 55,781 for the Roos-Eagles First Semi.

It was 21 degrees as the ball was bounced at 2.30pm and against the pundits, West Coast took the early initiative in spite of two late changes to their starting line-up—key ruck ILJA GRGIC (back) and ANDREW DONNELLY (flu) were replaced by BRENDON FEWSTER and ANDY LOVELL.

The Roos lacked intensity and in one of the key match-ups, West’s GLEN JAKOVICH was a clear winner over the Kangas’ WAYNE CAREY following his stellar performance against Geelong. Carey was soon moved from CHF to CHB in an effort to get him into the game, when things started to slip away from North.

West Coast up by 20pts at half-time, soon extended their lead to 32pts mid-way in the third when a twist became a turning point to the match—JARRAD SCHOFIELD (WC) on the boundary line badly wrenched his left knee and was stretchered. During the lull, North coach DENIS PAGAN switched Carey back to CHF and alternating with COREY McKERNAN, they together with the previously unsighted CRAIG SHOLL and BRETT ALLISON turned the contest around. McKernan kicked two splendidly athletic goals and North slammed on five goals in 12 minutes to narrow the margin to just eight points by three-quarter time.

The Eagles may well have surged ahead again had the effective PHILLIP MATERA been accurate with two crucial shots in the first two minutes of the last term. His misses gave hope for North, and in the first 10 minutes (after the Eagles lost the prolific PETER MATERA with a calf injury) did MARTIN PIKE with a long run from defence find STUART ANDERSON whose goal returned the lead to the Roos for the first time since the early minutes of the game. With the run of play, goals followed for North to PETER BELL then GLEN FREEBORN with West’s only one major for quarter coming via TONY EVANS at 20 minutes before WAYNE CAREY running into an open goal bagged the sealer and a thrilling 13pt win—NORTH MELB 15.8-98 (McKernan 4, Sholl 3) best, McKernan, Pike, Bell, WEST COAST 12.13-85 (Phillip Matera 3) best, Kemp, Peter Matera, Jakovich.

Rain earlier in the day made Football Park slippery for the 7.40pm start. Geelong had all the early running and three quick goals softened the roar of the 46,101 strong Crow fans. Nine minutes had gone before SHAUN REHN gained Adelaide’s first and only goal for the opening stanza, and the Cats were looking strong.

The Crows roared to life in the second as DARREN JARMAN took control, assisted by an in-form REHN and MATTHEW ROBRAN who kicked a booming 60 metre team-lifting goal. Jarman in the 2ndQ was outstanding with 10 kicks, and though Adelaide enjoyed a big term of 6.4 to 2.1, Geelong were well in touch, trailing by only 7pts at the long break.

The intensity went up another cog in the second half as rain started, becoming heavier as the third term grew longer. The Cats lifted their work-rate and the momentum swung their way as defenders maintained their hold on the Crows limiting them to just two behinds, with an 8pt lead returning to Geelong at -time.

In the first minute of the last term, a goal shot for the Cats from GARRY HOCKING was ruled as touched. Soon after, the lift the Crows sought was provided by PETER VARDY who dived but missed the mark, recovered to swoop on the loose ball and banged it home to draw the Crows within a point, 8.10 to 8.9 –the pendulum swung to the Crows. An earlier movement in the term by Vardy proved costly as in a clash he damaged his left collarbone and soon retired from the match.

Another breakthrough came as CLAY SAMPSON accepted a long handpass and punted the goal giving Adelaide a 4pt lead, 9.10 to 8.12. Both sides played desperation footy, scrambly but terrific stuff as point to DAVID MENSCH (Gee) then a goal from out-of-the-blues TROY BOND put the Crows 9pts up. Footy Park erupted and went into raptures as Bond again (though almost previously unsighted) goaled for his third. The Cats got one back through RONNIE BURNS and though they were again in attack, the siren beat them, ADELAIDE 11.10-76 (Bond 3) best, Rehn, Jarman, McLeod,  GEELONG 9.14-68 (Pickering 3) best, Pickering, Colbert, Barnes — Geelong out in two; Adelaide to their second Preliminary Final …

Stab kicks ...
Geelong’s 9.14-68 was their lowest score of 11 contests against Adelaide … suspension of GLEN ARCHER and WAYNE SCHWASS during the week robbed North of a combined experience of 301 matches—their replacements were STUART ANDERSON and BRENT HARVEY who combined had played 75 … semi defeats to West Coast and Geelong maintained the losing streak of interstate travellers—not since 1994 when West Coast won the Grand Final has an out-of-state team won a final—indeed, HAWTHORN are the only Victorian side to have won an interstate final since changes to finals were implemented in 1991—the Hawks won the first final played outside of Melbourne defeating West Coast in the 1991 Qualifying Final at Subiaco Oval … PETER SUMICH the out-of-favour West Coast forward (514 goals, 1989-97) dropped for the First Semi said to be looking toward Fremantle for his AFL future … the PETER VARDY (Ade) last quarter collarbone injury is certain to sideline him for the rest of the finals series …

The Sunday Age revealed Essendon had spent a staggering $700,000 on injury payments this year, ballooning the club's player payments beyond the salary cap limit of $2.9 million to about $3.6 million. The Bombers used 41 of their 42 players. Next year, the salary cap will be increased to $3.2m.

<||> TRIBUNAL #1–DAVID PITTMAN (Ade) was charged from video on Monday. He flew to Melbourne facing the AFL Tribunal within hours. Pleading guilty to striking Peter Riccardi (Gee), Pittman was suspended for one match.

<||> TRIBUNAL #2–PHILLIP MATERA (WCE) on Wednesday was cleared of a trip charge on Peter Bell (NM).

The AFL on Tuesday confirmed the 2000 grand final will be played on Saturday September 9 to avoid a clash with the Sydney Olympic Games.

<||> The SANFL Tuesday count for the 1997 Magarey Medal was a tie for the second time in three years–ANDREW JARMAN (Norwood) and BRODIE ATKINSON (Sturt) were equal first with 23 votes, ahead of SIMON FEAST (Sturt) on 15.

<||> HAYDEN KENNEDY named Umpire of the Year on Monday was dropped for failing to charge West Coast’s CHRIS LEWIS—the Eagle was booked for ‘pinching’ DAVID KING (NM) during the Saturday game. The hearing date is still to be set.

Movers & stayers?
STEPHEN SILVAGNI the Carlton champion (as his father before) of 230 games is haggling over a three-year contract extension—at 30, he’s asking the Blues for upwards of $800,000 for his last three years—waiting in the wings are RICHMOND … Carlton are red-hot for SHANNON GRANT who will leave Sydney … Berwick boy JUSTIN LEPPITSCH signed a new three-year deal with BRISBANE … the Pies’ SCOTT RUSSELL and TONY FRANCIS said to be heading home to Adelaide … Freo’s JEFF WHITE on target to become a Demon under Neale Daniher, with the Lions’ ADRIAN FLETCHER one of the carrots in the trading  deals …

<||> COLLINGWOOD seem set to play nine games at the MCG in 1998, with sentiment retaining Victoria Park for maybe two games next season, against interstate clubs …

<||> The AFL Media Association voted the Herald Sun top honour for “overall excellence” … #1 nod for radio went to the ABC’s TIM LANE and best TV presenter for BRUCE McAVANEY … 3AW were gonged for their daily Sports Today show … ROBERT HARVEY (StK) added the MVP award to his collection.

<||> The count for the SANDOVER MEDAL in Perth on Monday (15th) resulted in a controversial win for BRADY ANDERSON the East Perth wingman. A late invitee to the function at Burswood Casino, a betting plunge on the unexpected winner brought calls for an inquiry. In the 5-4-3-2-1 system, Anderson polled 30 votes, followed by STEPHEN PEARS (SF) and HAYDEN KILMARTIN (EF) with 27, and BRETT SPINKS (P) 24.


Stan Alves: "savour the moment"
St Kilda continue their march
Adelaide stun the Bulldogs

PRELIMINARY FINALS – Friday-Saturday, September 19-20.

MILESTONES—Game 150 for JOSE ROMERO (89 NM, now WB) and the 50th for PETER BELL (2 Fre, now NM) … St Kilda recorded their 9th successive win, their best of 1,890 games since 1897 … their Saturday defeat brought the 800th loss in VFL-AFL ranks for the Western Bulldogs (Footscray) club.

The Preliminary Final deciders produced two stunning victories. On Friday night, St Kilda, long the Cindefella of League footy with just one premiership (25 wooden spoons) in their trophy cabinet won their way to their first Grand Final since 1971 with a thorough success over last year’s premiers North Melbourne.

Saturday afternoon in perfect weather produced one of the biggest surprises of a final. Adelaide gained the greatest victory of their short seven-season 158-AFL game history, when inside the final two minutes of play they headed the Western Bulldogs to snatch a thrilling two-point win and enter their first AFL Grand Final.

Rain for most of Friday afternoon had eased as the night final started. The Saints who had enjoyed a week’s break faced North who were playing their third finals game in 13 days. St Kilda fired up to the contest played exhilarating footy setting the early pace, with ROBERT HARVEY leading the charge—the Saints kicked the first goal and would prove to be all night leaders.

The confidence and aggression of the Saints set the tone, and they dealt a forceful blow to North’s chances as BRETT COOK and NATHAN BURKE applied a gang-tackle on the dangerous Roo ruckman COREY McKERNAN at 11-minutes. Crashed to the turf, McKernan was out of the game, dislocating his right shoulder, forcing a critical restructure of the North line-up.

Confidence grew as JASON HEATLEY kicked three goals in four minutes and though WAYNE CAREY got one back with an inspirational goal before the siren, the Saints were in control with a 15pt quarter-time lead.

North with great heart raised the stakes in the second term and though DARRYL WAKELIN effectively shut down Carey, BRETT ALLISON burst through for three trademark goals to reduce St Kilda’s half-time break to ten points.

The Saints dominated the third term. Regular Roo players were hard to find as a tiring North were held to two points. With a 38pt lead at -time early goals to NICKY WINMAR (his 3rd) then Heatley (7th) had the Saints out to 50pts. Late goals reduced the margin but it was a clear-cut victory, ST KILDA 15.14-104 (Heatley 7.0, Loewe 3, Winmar 3) best, Harvey, Burke, Heatley, NORTH MELB 11.7-73 (Crocker 4, Allison 3) best, Bell, Allison, Carey — crowd–77,531.

The First Preliminary will go down as —terrible start, outstanding finish. Saturday was a great MCG day with a crowd of 70,088 including a big contingent of SA fans. The Bulldogs JOSE ROMERO was included in the line-up, enjoying a reportedly rapid recovery from a shoulder dislocated a fortnight before against Sydney.

Had the result gone the other way, the painful effort of so many Adelaide sorties at the goal-face in the first term would have been pointed to as the reason for their defeat. Whereas the Bulldogs started in an efficient manner, with JAMES COOK gaining their first goal six minutes after the start and another to MATTHEW DENT some 10 minutes later, all the Crows had on the board at the first break was 0.7. The opening standard failed to excite and by the injury to star full-forward TONY MODRA after only 20 minutes, things looked black for Adelaide. Modra on flying for a mark, landing awkwardly on his left (good) knee. He was stretchered and took no further part.

Modra’s absence caused the Crows to shuffle their line-up, with DARREN JARMAN briefly going forward but it was ROD JAMESON often used as a forward, then CHAD RINTOUL with two goals which brought the lead to Adelaide in the first eight minutes of the second. Both the Dogs and Crows were proving more effective, but scores to the SA side were elusive. A clash with JAMES COOK left a now-roaming Jarman groggy, then the suspect Romero went down clutching his shoulder. MARK WEST came on and his lift to the midfield was apparent with his two goals and more to Cook (four to half-time) saw the Doggies move away, racing to an eight-goal quarter and a solid 31pt lead at the long break.

After half-time, the changes the Crow coach MALCOLM BLIGHT made had a marginal effect, with SMART and REHN now forward leaving the ruck to the novice KEATING. Some of the Dog stars started to fade. Adelaide, hard at the ball made slight inroads but the Westerners still were 22pts to the good at the final change.

Early misses in the last to Cook and Montgomery failed to nail the Crows. The game developed into an arm-wrestle across the first 14 minutes with the Dogs heading for a win, but a glimmer came for the Crows as Jarman now forward again rose in a pack and his goal from 20m brought them within 17pts. Another three minutes passed (with only one goal kicked), then Smart with a glorious snap from 10 metres had Adelaide only 9 points down. Jarman was now dangerous and his short chip to SIMON GOODWIN on the boundary was cleverly converted with his left boot—four points 13.11 to 11.19. Behinds were added by both, and as the clock reached 25.35, KANE JOHNSON found Jarman only 30m out with a great pass. His shot was straight as the Dogs choked on the realisation they had let a five goal lead slip—Adelaide into their first Grand Final, and the Bulldogs faltering from their objective.

ADELAIDE 12.21-93 (Jarman 3) best, Rehn, Connell, Hart, WESTERN BULLDOGS 13.12-90 (Cook 6) best, S.West, Cook, M.West.

STAB KICKS—the only umpire’s report was JAMES COOK (WB) for striking DARREN JARMAN (Ade) in the second term … COREY McKERNAN (NM) within days will go under surgery to both his right shoulder and left ankle … the Dog’s 8.4-52 was only a point short of the season’s best second quarter—but it wasn’t enough … TONY MODRA after surgery seems unlikely to return until mid-1998 at the earliest—first reports said a torn cruciate …

Brownlow to St Kilda's Robert Harvey
St Kilda’s ROBERT HARVEY was declared the 70th winner of the Chas Brownlow Medal for fairest & best in a glittering ceremony conducted at Melbourne’s Crown Entertainment complex on Monday (22nd).

The award however for the first time since its inception failed to go to the highest vote-catcher.

CHRIS GRANT (WB) polled 27 votes but was ineligible due to an earlier one week suspension handed down in May under controversial circumstances.

Harvey polled 26 votes (seven best on ground, two seconds and one third). Sydney’s PAUL KELLY, the 1995 winner was again prominent finishing equal second with a pre-post favourite PETER MATERA (WCE) on 21. Two were equal third—MARK RICCIUTO (Ade) and NATHAN BURKE (StK) on 18 votes.

<||> TRIBUNAL—JAMES COOK (WB) pleaded guilty to striking Darren Jarman (Ade) and was outed two games … ROHAN SMITH (WB) was cleared of a video charge of attempting to kick Andrew McLeod (Ade) … MARK WEST (WB) also from video had his charge withdrawn of striking Peter Vardy (Ade).

Across three days, recent greats announced their retirements. GREG WILLIAMS (Car), GARY ABLETT (Gee) and STEPHEN KERNAHAN (Car) — 849 games of memories.


This was "something special"
Adelaide capture their first flag
Saints fail under pressure

THE GRAND FINAL – Saturday, September 27.
There were many suggestions that we should “savour the moment” and “enjoy the journey” — the 101st League Grand Final turned out to be “something special” as Adelaide were sound winners of their historic first AFL Premiership in their 159th game.

The MCG gathered their biggest crowd of seven seasons for the playoff. Early in May 2000/1 was on hand for a Crows-Saints meeting this day.

98,828, the biggest haul since the 1990 GF and the best since the Great Southern Grandstand had been opened in 1992—a colourful crowd.

A springlike day of 16 degrees with occasional sunlight bursting through threatening clouds covered the teams as they stood for the national anthem. St Kilda with arms entwined in a brotherly union and the unfavoured Adelaide faced each other. The Saints with a nine-match winning streak were universally expected to be the victors.

Of the 42 players who started, only one—DARREN JARMAN had GF experience as a member of the Hawks 1991 premiership side.

St Kilda found themselves soon under siege as the Crows start paralleled the previous week. From the first three minutes they had scored four times—0.4. Both sides were guilty of early mistakes in a game which had the earmark of being a physical one, and the free-kicks flowed. 20 scoring shots went through in the first, 3.8 for the Crows (including three posters), the Saints 3.6.

By the start of the second term, the Crows were down to 19 men having lost Rod Jameson (hamstring) and Clay Sampson (thigh).

McLeod across half-back was doing exceptionally well while Pittman at CHB had restricted Loewe. As the nerves settled the Saints built their most concerted attack for the game with Barry Hall kicking three goals in four minutes. Yet beyond seven minutes, the Saints then by 17pts raised only one major through Harvey until halftime, with Adelaide’s two majors coming ten minutes apart from Goodwin and Bond. St Kilda at the long break led, 7.11-53 to 5.10-40.

Playing their fourth successive final in as many weeks, the Crows showed no limitations as the break arrived mid-way into the third when Jarman goaled for Adelaide to hit the lead. Cracks began to show in the Saints normally solid defence, as the pressure mounted with both throwing in everything. When Ellen kicked his 4th, followed two minutes after by Caven, the Crows had gone out to a 17pt lead. It was a wonderfully fluctuating affair, as the Saints dragged one back with Winmar adding a little bit of magic — at three-quarter time, Crows 11.11 Saints 9.13.

Often criticised for his failure on big occasions, DARREN JARMAN (A) buried his ghosts with a brilliant last quarter display, kicking five goals in 18 minutes. With fitness and plenty of spirit to call on, the Crows stamped home their dominance in a great last half team performance which reaped 14.1. Their historic first premiership came from a convincing 31pt margin.

The Adelaide team created an envious run through four demanding finals, while St Kilda after their great season, failed to maintain their trade-mark spirit and stability under pressure.

GRAND FINAL STAB KICKS—only one of the 42 players had prior GF experience—DARREN JARMAN was a member of the 1991 Hawthorn side. His five memorable last quarter goals for the Crows ensures his placement into Grand Final folklore … the greatest Bulldog TED WHITTEN in 1961 had been the only player from the 1954 side with GF experience in the Hawk-Scray play-off … total AFL game experience of five Adelaide players amounted to just 72 games—CHAD RINTOUL, KANE JOHNSON, CLAY SAMPSON, AARON KEATING and SIMON GOODWIN … three times the bridesmaid with Geelong in 1989-1992-1994, a first premiership as Adelaide coach came to MALCOLM BLIGHT with wins in 12 out of 19 finals and seven victories of his past eight finals—his record is further unique as in his first seasons with a “new” club he took both Geelong in 1989 and Adelaide in 1997 to Grand Finals … SHANE ELLEN was playing just his 38th game (he’d kicked 3 goals) since 1993 (11 Fsc, 27 Ade) as he took up the unlikely post at full-forward for Adelaide, replacing TONY MODRA the injured Coleman Medalist. Ellen had a day he will never forget—5.2 and a premiership … NICKY WINMAR (StK) who earlier in the year was the first Aboriginal to attain 200 senior games was grieving on the passing of his father on Grand Final eve … the first term produced the goal of the day—AUSTINN JONES (StK) gathered in on the half-back line, weaved down the flank with five bounces, hand-balled to Thompson, then received a return handpass and drilled it through from 50 metres … Adelaide’s advancement from 12th in 1996 to Premiers was the greatest recorded …

Adelaide’s ANDREW McLEOD was the worthy recipient of the NORM SMITH MEDAL for his thorough 31-possession game. His presentation was made by former Fitzroy champion KEVIN MURRAY. At the presentation ceremony, the Premiership Cup and medals were given out by Carlton legend JOHN NICHOLLS.

ADELAIDE 19.11-125 (Jarman 6, Ellen 5, Bond 4) best, McLeod, Jarman, Koster, Rehn, Goodwin, ST KILDA 13.16-94 (Hall 3, Heatley 3, Hall 3, Loewe 2) best, Jones, Burke, Harvey, Keogh, Sziller.


Footystats Diary
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