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Essendon players 'safe' from doping fallout

Essendon chairman David Evans tells 3AW's Neil Mitchell, he has full confidence his players are clear, but is less forthcoming about coach James Hird.

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Ziggy Switkowski's damning recommendations detailing the managerial failures at Essendon last season did not call to sack anyone. Nor did it miss anyone already singled out in the shambles that was the football operation of 2012.

Club chairman David Evans said he was deeply sorry about all that had occurred and not only placed himself on notice but would not guarantee the positions held by chief executive Ian Robson, coach James Hird nor football boss Danny Corcoran.

The behaviour of Essendon coach James Hird has been described as ''reckless''.

The behaviour of Essendon coach James Hird has been described as ''reckless''. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The Switkowski report

Evans and his board, to whom Switkowski also apportioned some blame, will meet in the coming days to carry out an in-depth review of the unabridged version of the investigation's findings. Structural change will be implemented within the football department and heads could still roll well before the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the AFL complete their investigation into a raft of allegations, including that players took banned substances.

The AFL and ASADA will also investigate Stephen Dank's assertion that six Essendon staffers, including Hird and two of his assistant coaches, took substances which are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Robson's future at the club remains in question. He chose not to comment on the Switkowski report on Monday, including the recommendation that "the CEO must be accountable for everything that happens within his organisation".

Just as Hird's inadequacies were explained in part by his lack of experience and the fact he was one of several "alpha males who carry the weight of supporters' expectations on their shoulders", Robson's failure to correctly oversee the dysfunctional football department was highlighted against the "commercial priorities" which consumed his time and attention.

Evans would not say whether any other senior staffer at Essendon had chosen to apologise, and certainly no one working at the club, apart from Evans, has taken any public responsibility. Hird, in fact, after stressing in February that the football operation was his responsibility, said with confidence after the Bombers defeated Fremantle in round three that the club would be in a very good position once all was revealed. That could not be said even after a heavily edited version of Switkowski's findings were made public.

Hird's own behaviour in approving medical and scientific practices which approached the line of risk and WADA compliance was indirectly described as "reckless".

Fairfax Media revealed last month that the Bombers' doctor of three decades, Bruce Reid, had been so concerned about the practices being run by sports scientist Stephen Dank with the football department's approval that he wrote to the board detailing his misgivings. It was also revealed the board never received the letter.

Evans said on Monday he could still not explain, despite the investigation, just who had failed to pass on the letter.

That Reid never mentioned his misgivings to Hird, with whom he has a longstanding friendship, remains inconceivable.

Switkowski confirmed what Reid and his fellow medico Brendan De Morton had already reported to the AFL and ASADA: That they had been frozen out, treated by the fitness team as "yesterday's men''.

The overview of the jab-happy environment at Essendon was described thus: "The rapid diversification into exotic supplements, sharp increase in frequency of injections, the shift to treatment offsite in alternative medicine clinics, emergence of unfamiliar suppliers, marginalisation of traditional medical staff etc, combine to create a disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged."

AFL Players Association chief Matt Finnis, whose barely concealed disgust at the club's treatment of its players has been one punctuation mark throughout this whole sorry saga, described the report as "scary".

Evans described it as "uncomfortable" and said his football club was on notice.

He chose to isolate the black period which bookended the report as "a finite time and not what the club was when it started and not what it is now".

And yet the impression continues to grow that Evans, who on Monday said he would face his members at the the end of the season - bringing forward his election by two years - feels deeply let down by men in whom he once had great faith. Clearly his friendship with Hird has been compromised and it remains telling that the two men have different legal representation and that Hird has hired a separate public relations adviser.

His right-hand man, Corcoran, was singled out as one of two key staffers whose responsibilities overlapped and failed to directly manage the rogue elements in the fitness team.

The other, Paul Hamilton, departed somewhat disenchanted late last year. There are also strong indications that similar "fuzzy lines of responsibility" occurred between Hird and his senior assistant Mark Thompson. Evans did not clarify which level of the club failed to report problems such as potentially inappropriate Medicare claims and concealed such problems in "holding depots".

The club continues to remain confident its players will emerge clean from the ASADA investigation. The same cannot be said of the men entrusted to take care of those players.


  • Oh dear, poor journos. This is becoming like the climate changes debate.

    Oops, world not warming quickly enough, quick lets change the definition and call it climate change, then hang all sorts of dastardly scenarios off that.

    Bottom line here is nothing to do with, all of a sudden "corporate governance". As yet no-one anywhere has been proven to have taken anything illegal and or remotely performance enhancing. Which if I’m not mistaken is what this whole investigation is all about.

    Inappropriate practices (and who defines inappropriate here) are nothing to do with cheating or drug taking. Two separate issues. Years ago Chiropractors used inappropriate practices according to the medical profession, now they are regulated, are they all of a sudden appropriate?.

    When and if anybody is found to have cheated with performance enhancing substances, fine, drum them out of the game, it’s all they deserves, but until then, please let’s stop the inappropriate hand wringing.

    Oh, and I'm not an Bombers fan, I'm rather innapropriately a Saints fan.

    Glenelg SA
    Date and time
    May 07, 2013, 8:23AM
    • Lets just wait to see how this scenario play's out. I think you will find that Essendon will not get off scott free. If there is nothing to worry about why are Essendon airing all the dirty laundry now. Basically they have all the spin doctors working their magic and they have definately hoodwinked @chris.
      I can assure you of one thing - despite everything that happens James Hoird will come out of this laughing - he can do no wrong.

      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:13AM
    • @Chris,
      I think you are being myopic here. On numerous levels the report is a lead, to what could possibly be an ugly ending.
      1. On one level this is a PR exercise arranged by Essendon to keep the PR machine moving, possibly deflecting from the real issue, but none the less maintaining control of the communications to the public. After a poor start, I think they are doing well. Many messages are now coming through along the lines that they are victims in all of this.
      2. The report, heavily redacted, concentrates on bad processes, poor governance, and lack of management control. Another way of protecting players and possibly soften the blow of any wrong doing. Lets face it, it is better for a couple of 'office' people (who are no longer are in the club) to be blamed.
      Underneath - if I received an audit report like this in my job, I would be asked to leave on the same day. I would not be allowed to put myself up for re-election in 6 months! If we separate the report from the 'cheating accusations', as you say, then this report still shows unacceptable methods, and ignorant behaviour.

      Aussie Jim
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:23AM
    • Chopper, I did say "When and if', You can't hoodwink a cynic old china

      Glenelg SA
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:30AM
    • Chris, as a Saints supporter you should be more worried about the dud of a coach appointed by the cancerous board lead by Greg "Humphrey B Bear" Westaway - the board who will in the end make the decision to relocate the Club to New Zealand.

      Don't think it will happen - just you wait.

      Ho hum....
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:39AM
    • @Ho hum,

      worry about your own club, mate. After all, your mob are the ones who lost to Gold Coast in the first round, and look like they're on a steady slide down the ladder.

      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:11AM
    • Chris, imho anyone who claims not to be a fan of the club they have bothered to defend in the comments section on is lying. You are a Bombers fan desperate to find a way out of the disaster they are now facing (in a year they could actually win the flag!). Ziggy's report is all fluff, you only have to read it (what was released anyway). No detail of what happened. No person singled out. No recommendations on who should be sacked. Nothing about the coach. Just crap about 'fuzziness' and 'distortion' and 'blurring'. The real report is ASADA's and we have to wait until August for that (just before the finals!). And, fyi, I am a Collingwood supporter. The second reason people write comments is to bag the clubs they don't like!

      Psi Cop
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:47AM
    • Just a man with a noose around his neck and the trapdoor he stands on about to open suddenly admits his guilt.... Essendon Football Club only called for an "Independant Internal investigation" (is such a thing really possible?) in a desparate attempt to salvage something from this unmitigated disaster.
      Does anyone truly believe the EFC board would have admitted anything if their hand had not been forced? Of course not!
      They deserve to be very harshly judged not just by Asada and the AFL, but by sports journalists everywhere (including Caroline Wilson) and the entire football community (including me) for their completely irresponsible behaviour and for attempting to cover-up their guilt right up until the trapdoor swung.

      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:59AM
    • Chris, global warming and climate change are real. Better roll up your sox before your ankles get wet.
      Best thing is to give football away as a corporate waste of time - gives plenty of time for the cryptic crossword and chess.
      Caroline's got to make a buck and people are completely over discussing the ladder or the draw, margins or impossible angles, sliding rules or post grazing.

      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 12:04PM
    • I agree very much with most of your comments Chris, but as a big bomber supporter I am disappointed that the club had put themselves into a vunerable situation. There were bad practices in place at Essendon, and hopefully we come out of it as a better club. But we still haven't been found guilty of doing anything sinister other than we put ourselves in a position for something to go seriously wrong. I think everyone at the club needs to take some of the blame....learn from it and move on. Are Melbourne still being looked at? what about the other clubs mentioned ......6 weren't there?

      True Bomber
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 12:16PM

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Round 1
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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
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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
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
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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Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
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
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
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Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
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
PTA 68vs WCE 78 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
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
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WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 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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Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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
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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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Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
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GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 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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CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
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GEE 89vs MEL 113 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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Round 14
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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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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
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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Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
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
View All Fixtures
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
View All Fixtures
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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