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Blind pride drove coach's denial and bodies piled up

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Full statement: Hird attacks AFL 'trial by media'

AFL release of details of charges is an "announcement by ambush" and "confirms the AFL is running an agenda", says James Hird as he restates he will contest charges.

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James Hird's coaching career could have been salvaged in February on the day he said with straight and solemn face that he was ''shocked'' to be sitting in the uncomfortable position that he was.

The Essendon coach will say now that Andrew Demetriou and his team are hell-bent on destroying him. But he has brought this on himself. 

In April, too, when the depth of Hird's involvement in the perilous drugs program he pushed, embraced and involved himself in was first revealed, he could have stood aside and worked to salvage his reputation and help his club.

Essendon coach James Hird.

Essendon coach James Hird. Photo: Pat Scala

Last month before he declared his phoney war on the AFL, that option remained open to Hird.

Instead, in choosing to place himself and his precious reputation above that of the game he once made more beautiful but has now helped make so ugly, Hird looks finished.

The Essendon coach will say now that Andrew Demetriou and his team are hell-bent on destroying him. But he has brought this on himself.

As badly as he behaved behind the scenes in 2011 and 2012 it has been the manner in which he has conducted himself in 2013 that has brought Hird undone.

He has been revealed in all his selfishness, his refusal to listen to reason, to heed warnings that seemed obstacles to his naked ambition.

A scandal that could have been resolved by now drags on - and drags the game down with it. Even in speaking to the charges against Essendon on Wednesday Hird spoke only of himself and being ''ambushed''. No mention of his players.

The Hird story will surely become a cautionary tale for all football clubs. The tale of a football hero who was handed the keys to the entire operation and was allowed to believe he could do no wrong. Even if Hird had been more responsible, even if he hadn't wanted to cut corners and allowed his players to be treated like guinea pigs, such a scenario was unhealthy from the start.

Inside and outside the club, Hird was surrounded by yes men. He is seen by the Bombers as inexorably tied to their brand. At some point, if the club is to resolve this war with the AFL, it must cut Hird loose.

Against the better judgment of at least two former presidents, Danny Corcoran was welcomed back to the club despite the messy manner in which he departed in the 1990s. What James wanted James was given. Corcoran's job description included protecting Hird from people he didn't want to deal with. And to get rid of people Hird no longer wanted.

Between them, with the powerful support of Mark Thompson, they ran the football club, casting aside those who stepped in their path. The joint AFL-ASADA investigation was told that Hird, at the end of 2011, wanted chief executive Ian Robson and football boss Paul Hamilton out of the club. If that was his wish, then he got his way in the end.

Hird, Corcoran and Thompson worked together with the support of Dr Bruce Reid. Even Reid's blind faith in Hird was put to one side when he wrote that heartfelt letter listing his concerns about the drugs program back in January 2012. ''… one wonders,'' wrote Reid, ''… whether you would want your children being injected with a derivative hormone that is not free to the community.''

That letter was addressed to Hird, and all the coach would say when he put on his latest defiant front late on Wednesday was that he was being denied natural justice and the release of the letter was designed to damage his reputation.

All year, Hamilton has carried the burden of being thought the lone recipient of the letter.

But if that was indeed the AFL's aim then it was effective. Hird said he denied the charges but all his supportive comments covered process and timing but nothing else. He has known of these charges for 10 days but all he clung to was a discredited allegation that the AFL had ''known'' since February that AOD-9604 was legal. They haven't and it isn't.

Those supporters praying James would ''say it ain't so'' heard nothing from the coach on Wednesday to allay their fears. Hypocritically, he stated he was a victim of a ''trial by media'', which was a bit rich given the spinning he has orchestrated in recent months.

Twice he said he had been ambushed, but he has known for close to a week that this was coming. Demetriou said as much. His blindness to the severity of his position is shown by the legal nonsense his people continue to peddle.

Hird's supporters, including Thompson and Reid and some media, keep saying that the AFL has been playing with their lives. If only Hird had not experimented with the lives of his players.

Reid circulated his letter but nothing was done. Then, in May 2012, Thompson told Stephen Dank to stop the injections. Still they continued.

So many of the major players who helped Hird on his path to power have proved to be collateral damage as he resolutely refuses to take the blame for overseeing and embracing the most irresponsible and potentially dangerous drug program in the history of the game.

Chairman David Evans was cast aside because Hird became paranoid he was no longer supporting the coach as he should.

Hird leaked a story about Demetriou and ludicrously allowed his yes men to allege the AFL chief could end up in prison for tipping off Essendon about the Australian Crime Commission report. At that moment he put himself above the game and diametrically at odds with Evans, who was too close to the coach to have a healthy working relationship. Evans continues to have his heart broken by Hird.

The charges also allege that Hird believed Dr Reid was becoming outdated. Perhaps he, too, would have become collateral damage.

How much more collateral damage will Hird inflict before he finally understands once and for all that the buck must stop with him?


  • Someone call the whambulance, Hird has had his feelings hurt.

    He needs to stop playing the victim now and own up to what he has done. The more that is revealed the deeper he digs his head into the sand.

    He needs to be fired, Essendon needs to be fined and points taken away and the boys will need a lot of help to get over the betrayal of trust that has happened here. The sooner the better.

    Date and time
    August 22, 2013, 9:58AM
    • The doctor cares about the players health, Hird only cares about winning and his pay check. These charges will be decided on evidence and facts not Hird's self entitled ego or whether you are a Bombers supporter or not or you win matches. Hird is not Essendon. . Open the other eye and see the damage he is doing to a great football club.

      G Sacramento
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:21AM
    • AussieA, just like Caroline Wilson when are you going to learn that there is a system that "one is presumed innocent until proven guilty"...What is wrong with people like you that judge so prematurely and ask for blood "all of the time". Let Hird & the EFC have the right to go to court to defend themselves if "they believe" they are innocent and the "Supreme Court" will make the "final decision" not you or anyone else that is outside this investigation. Please stop "the crap, the alligations, the hear says, the misinformation which is then somewhat corrected & then reversed" to suit the media and anyone that wants blood. Talk about biblical "injustice" prosecution....just shut up and wait for "the facts & evidence" to surface when court procedures commence....If Hird & the EFC are proven innocent, start calling for media and AFL heads to roll and then we will see what happens.....which is "very little" as the AFL will state they acted in the best interest which to protect themselves at any cost regardless if "they brought the game into desrepute"...The AFL have failed in many areas, including the way they have conducted themselves to the clubs & the public...what a joke the media (Caroline Wilson), the CEO (Andrew Demitroiu) & the AFL are.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:34AM
    • @Ajax, Matthew Lloyd, on 3AW this very morning said that "Essendon should be fined and lose draft picks" for what has been done during Hird's watch.....please continue....

      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:45AM
    • Ajax and the ASADA report will prove what? Does it need to stand up in court? More powerful sporting bodies and athletes have tried and failed at trying to fight bans.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:47AM
    • Seems no-one at the club was prepared to cross The Don and his capo henchmen. Evans, Robson and Hamilton realised things were out of control but felt unable to do anything about it and resigned instead. Even the poor Doc was conflicted - he must have known that his resignation would have precipitated this crisis and didn't want responsibility for that, putting love of club before what would have been the right course of action.
      Hird has thrown all those who doubted him to the wolves - those that are left are going to go down with him, including the victims-in-waiting - the players.
      Little should resign with him - his actions in recent days illustrate a lack of the good judgement required for the position.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:49AM
    • Im over people confusing criminal law with The AFL's administration of its own policies - the AFL can administer its own documented policies however it likes ... It isn't criminal law .. And Hird is not in front of a judge facing jail time ...

      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:58AM
    • @Ajax. Any true Essendon supporter will want this matter resolved very soon. If it goes to the courts it will drag on well into the 2014 season and perhaps beyond. The Bombers have lost their last 4 games due to the sideshow, have fallen outside the top 4 as a result and will be a walk over in this year's finals. Sooner or later sanity will prevail and Hird will be sacked by the club.

      Bio Logical
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 11:18AM
    • Well written article. The only one who can't see it is Hird.

      I'm wondering if his ambition is just too blind. He's totally off the beaten track. Maybe AFL is just still in the untrained limbo between sport and corporate business and hasn't fully found its professional footing and he's a symptom of that.

      Maybe he just couldn't see it, and never will.

      I would have thought a 12 month ban was a mere slap on the wrist. I suspect the High Court will consider far more severe consequences for his actions.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 11:25AM
    • Interesting spin, shemp. But you somehow neglected to mention that Lloyd prefaced his comments with "If the charges are proven". A slight but rather telling omission! Continue ...

      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 11:26AM

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Related Coverage

Statement in full: Hird attacks AFL 'trial by media' (Thumbnail) Full statement: Hird attacks AFL 'trial by media'

AFL release of details of charges is an "announcement by ambush" and "confirms the AFL is running an agenda", says James Hird as he restates he will contest charges.

AFL has 'open mind' on Essendon charges (Thumbnail) AFL has 'open mind' on Essendon charges

"There has been no predetermination of this matter," says AFL chief Andrew Demetriou as he releases details of charges against the club.

Dons rejected penalties

The AFL wanted Essendon to accept a series of penalties which included exclusion from the 2013 finals, the loss of draft picks for two years, a fine of more than $2.5 million and a suspension of 12 months for coach James Hird.

James Hird to sue over AFL 'ambush'

James Hird is suing the AFL, lodging a claim with the Victorian Supreme Court that he has been denied natural justice.

Verbal pushing and shoving most unbecoming

Everyone needs to step back and ask: Why was Essendon anywhere near that line in the first place?

Tim Watson's conflicted role in Essendon saga

"Sarah", the emotional talkback radio caller and Essendon player parent who described the invidious position in which some of that club's footballers still find themselves, has painted an alternative picture to the one portrayed all season by the Bombers' most high-profile parent, Tim Watson.

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MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
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STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
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HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
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RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
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GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
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COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
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CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
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HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
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WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
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RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
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STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
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BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
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CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
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RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
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MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
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ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
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COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
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NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
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CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
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Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
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ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
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WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
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GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
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STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
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ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
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HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
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BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
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FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
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CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
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GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
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MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
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PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
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GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
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COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
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ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
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RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
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GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
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FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
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SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
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HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
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CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
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SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
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COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
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RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
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ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
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PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
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RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
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ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
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GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
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Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
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GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
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MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
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Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
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Round 24
Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
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Round 25
Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
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Round 26
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 80vs NTH 55 Report Stats
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Round 27
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
HAW 107vs WCE 61 Report Stats
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AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 22 17 5 0 118.73 68
West Coast Eagles 22 16 5 1 148.22 66
Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
Sydney Swans 22 16 6 0 127.12 64
Richmond 22 15 7 0 123.09 60
Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
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