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Business

Sydney-based Fortis swoops on Richmond development site


Fortis director Charles Mellick said plans for a fresh 7000-square-metre, 10-storey project will be submitted to planning next year with construction anticipated for 2022.

Fortis, the development arm of boutique fund manager Pallas Capital, has $800 million worth of projects underway in Melbourne, including a new South Melbourne headquarters and a redevelopment of the industrial corner of Smith Street and Alexander Parade in Clifton Hill.

Auction action

The first post-lockdowncommercial auction took place on Wednesday at Perini Tiles showroom, at the west end of Bridge Road.

The auction, managed by Gorman Commercial agents Stephen Gorman and Tom Maule, attracted about 100 people who were spread out, using witches hats as a distance guide.

The first post-COVID commercial auction took place on Wednesday at Perini Tiles showroom.

The first post-COVID commercial auction took place on Wednesday at Perini Tiles showroom.Credit:

Seven bidders competed for the 613-617 Bridge Road property, which sold for $5.575 million – reflecting a yield of 2.8 per cent.

Shortly after, Teska Carson’s Matthew Feld and Michael Ludski held an auction at 466-468 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick. Four bidders competed for the property, which sold for $2.33 million – $830,000 more than the reserve. A local investor/developer bought the 198-square-metre corner site.

Foti in Flockhart

The Foti family is selling a development site down by the Yarra River at 42-50 Flockhart Street, Abbotsford.

42-50 Flockhart Street in Abbotsford is being sold by the Foti family.

42-50 Flockhart Street in Abbotsford is being sold by the Foti family. Credit:Artist’s impression

The 404-square-metre site has 140 metres of river and park frontage and comes with a permit for a five-level office building.

Records show the Foti family, through investment vehicle Stock Corporation, paid $6.2 million for the car park in early 2018 and obtained a permit late in 2019.

JLL agents Josh Rutman, James Thorpe, Steve Kelly and Mingxuan Li are handling expressions of interest and are expecting around $7 million.

Across the street, Forza Capital has applied to build an 11-storey office tower above the 470-bay car park it bought two years ago.

Owner occupiers

There is plenty of change afoot in Richmond with several owner-occupiers calling time on offices they’ve held for many years.

Psychiatrist Andrew Stocky is selling his former office building at 266-272 Church Street near the Bridge Road intersection.

The 623-square-metre office is on a 535-square-metre piece of land on the corner of Berry Street. It is zoned Commercial 1 and is expected to fetch around $5-5.5 million.

Teska Carson agent Matthew Feld and Morley Commercial agent Josh McMullin are handling expressions of interest, which close on December 9.

Also recently listed, on the west Richmond border with East Melbourne, is architect Gregory Burgess’ warehouse office at 10 York Street. The 580-square-metre twin-peaked roof warehouse was built in the 1920s on a 893-square-metre lot. It’s divided into three spaces, including studios, meeting rooms, open plan work spaces and an apartment.

Nelson Alexander Commercial agents Arch Staver and Damien Theisz are handling expressions of interest, which close on December 14. It’s expected to fetch around $4-$4.4 million.

It is currently only partly leased but could earn up to $150,000 if fully occupied.

Gallery HQ

The Alcaston Gallery will be establishing a new headquarters in a strata office at 50 Market Street.

50 Market Street, Melbourne: the site of Alcaston Gallery's new HQ.

50 Market Street, Melbourne: the site of Alcaston Gallery’s new HQ.Credit:

The gallery’s owner, Beverley Knight, told Capital Gain finding “beautiful new office space” for her staff was a priority this year.

Alcaston Gallery must move from 11 Brunswick Street by February next year. Ms Knight said a new gallery will open in April but she’s not yet ready to reveal the location of her new space.

Colliers International agent George Davies, who sold the property with Chris Ling and Anthony Kirwan, said there were 80 enquiries and three unconditional offers made for the office, which sold for $850,000.

Mr Davies said it set a new $9444-a-square-metre record for the building on the corner of Flinders Lane opposite Cbus Property’s new Collins Arch towers.

Since inspections reopened last month, several strata offices have sold, many to owner-occupiers keen to get ready for 2021.

In Docklands, several suites have sold in 838 Collins Street next to Myer’s head office.

Tiga Commercial sold six adjoining offices – 1.16-1.21 – to a Brisbane-based business keen to establish a Melbourne outpost.

Tiga Commercial agent Martin Leong, who struck the new agency’s first deal with David Sia and Evolve’s Gary Cakir, said the vendor was a Chinese investor who returned home to China and sold at a loss.

Records show the Changsha-based Fei Chen bought the six offices, covering 380 square metres, in 2014 for $2.94 million and sold this year for $2.6 million.

Colliers have also sold four suites in the building. Three offers were made for 2.24-2.26, which sold for $1.128 million to a local investor.

Separately, another 80-square-metre suite on level 2 – 2.16 – sold for $610,000 to an architect moving from South Yarra.

Three shops

A development site in Hampton that collapsed property developer Steller couldn’t make work in 2018 is now back on the market.

Six shops at 466-472 Hampton Street in the Hampton Hill precinct are expected to fetch more than $8 million.

The 1358-square-metre site has rear access from both Mills and Willis streets. It’s zoned Commercial 1 and could be developed up to four storeys, which would provide bay views.

The first three shops at No.466-470 were sold by Steller in early 2019 for $3.93 million. The new owners have since joined forces with the neighbours to sell an altogether bigger and more attractive development site that will transform the low-rise village.

Steller, run by Nicholas Smedley and Simon Pitard, had already developed other projects along Hampton Street. The company collapsed in June 2019, leaving more than a dozen development sites to repay $285 million owed to funders.

Fitzroys agents Mark Talbot and Shawn Luo are handling expressions of interest, which close next Thursday.

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The 2020 AFL trade period shows some teams are chasing Richmond, others play the long game and Collingwood takes step back


How do you catch the frontrunners?

In the second of the Greek philosopher Zeno’s paradoxes, a tortoise and Achilles are in a footrace. In the race, Achilles gives the tortoise a head start, because he runs at a faster rate and will presumably catch up sooner or later.

It’s a bit like the chase for the teams at the top of the ladder, being squeezed by the salary cap and the draft picks earned by lesser clubs.

The tortoise may be premiers, but there’s a bunch of Achilles chasing — with the jet pack of equalisation strapped to their respective backs.

Zeno thought that Achilles never actually caught the tortoise. In modern footy the elite always get caught sooner or later. Hawthorn, who won three straight flags from 2013-15 will be picking fourth this year.

Instead of all clubs meeting at Docklands to bash the deals out in person, clubs had to resort to Zoom to get players and picks across to new clubs.

As the 2020 trade period wound up, the dust has only barely settled on what went down.

What we know so far: seven free agents moved to new clubs, and 28 trades were made involving 26 players.

That’s one fewer player traded than last year — not a flurry, but not this dead.

It appears that some teams are sprinting to chase down back-to-back premiers Richmond, while other clubs are playing the long game.

Cheating Father Time

Another old saying in sporting parlance is that Father Time is undefeated. No player can keep doing what they do forever — Shaun Burgoyne aside — and eventually a star team will fall back to Earth.

By the end of the 2020 season, Geelong were naming some of the oldest teams in the history of the game.

In theory, the Cats are reaching the end of their window.

Their best two players, Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins, turn 31 and 32 years old respectively.

Their captain will also turn 32 during the season. They have a host of over 30s in their best 22.

Despite losing club (and league) legends Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor after the grand final, Geelong shapes to be even older in 2021. And perhaps even better.

The Cats have added former All Australians Shaun Higgins and Jeremy Cameron, and three-time Hawthorn premiership player Isaac Smith.

Cameron is the spring chicken at 28; Higgins and Smith are both older than 32 next year.

Each had concerns over their form in 2020, representing down years in otherwise stellar careers.

The arrival of Smith should free up Mark Blicavs to return to defence to cover the loss of Taylor.

Higgins will likely slot into the midfield-forward role of Ablett, with a bit more grunt and a tiny bit less polish.

Cameron next to Hawkins in a forward line is a fever dream for defences, with the dominant leading forwards dragging the gravity of zones and spare men away from the other, creating easy potential targets inside 50.

The goal for Geelong is to maximise the potential for this crop of Cats. No other team is as committed to the here and now, and the future doesn’t really matter at this stage.

The rebuild may get ugly, but if they win a flag (or two) in the meantime it will be worth it.

Flipping the switch to ‘win now’

After a long, slow rebuild and a change of coaches in 2019, Carlton appears to be following the lead of St Kilda last year and going all in.

The Saints were rewarded with their first finals birth since 2011; Carlton will be looking to break a seven-year drought — or nine if you exclude their year as a late September call up due to ASADA related-reasons.

The acquisition of Zac Williams and Adam Saad, and abandonment of this draft, means that the finals focus of the club has shifted firmly to next year.

Even after a big 2019 trade period, St Kilda decided that they weren’t quite done yet.

The Saints, with the acquisitions of Jack Higgins and Brad Crouch, have worked to address some of their remaining questions at a low cost — and improve further.

The Saints gave up very little for Higgins and Crouch, and both project as players providing both immediate and long term impact.

Cap shedding at Collingwood

Meanwhile, no club took a larger step backwards than Collingwood.

Fresh off a finals berth and only two years removed from losing a grand final by a mere kick, numerous Collingwood players were shopped to any club that could take in their contracts.

The AFL trade period is notoriously cruel, with players sometimes finding out they are being shopped via the media first.

Jaidyn Stephenson was lucky enough to find out via his manager, but was surprised nonetheless.

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All in all, Collingwood lost Adam Treloar, Stephenson, Tom Phillips and promising youngster Atu Bosenavulagi with no ready-made replacements in their wake.

The question for Collingwood is whether they have enough depth to cover their losses — especially up forward, where they have struggled in recent years.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn has shaped themselves as a welcome dumping ground for players that other clubs need to get out the door, after recently acquiring Jonathon Patton, Tom Scully and Jack Scrimshaw before adding Phillips this year.

It’s a potentially smart move for clubs moving forward, and one that the Bulldogs and Kangaroos were able to exploit with their cheap acquisitions of Treloar and Stephenson respectively.

Betting on the draft

Some sides have been scared off the 2020 draft due to the lack of in-person scouting for most games, and the lack of any games for much of the Victorian talent pool.

Coming into the year, the 2020 draft crop was generally considered to be a deep class — perhaps not of the 2018 level but stronger than last year across the board.

Complicating matters is the sheer number of players already tied to clubs through various forms of draft concessions — from various academies to the father-son rule.

As many as five of the best 25 talents have their homes largely determined before a single name is read out on draft night.

Despite this, GWS, Essendon and Melbourne have bucked the trend by accumulating a number of extra draft picks for this year.

Given the uncertainty of the draft, the loose order of the draft may be even harder to unravel than normal.

Clubs with multiple selections in the middle parts of the draft may have a better chance than normal at snagging a top talent who slips through the net.

By the same token, doubt around the process may produce a couple of high-profile busts.

The three clubs got their draft value in different ways.

For the Giants, much of their value came after matching the offer sheet on restricted free agent Jeremy Cameron — a first in the nine-year history of modern AFL Free Agency. Instead of accepting pick 11, the Giants ended up with picks 13, 15 and 20.

Essendon used free agency compensation for Joe Daniher and the trade of Adam Saad to acquire three consecutive picks inside the top 10 — an extremely attractive position for any club.

Finally, Melbourne traded away their future first round pick for the second year in a row for more shots in this year’s draft.

More significantly, the Demons do not have any of their own first four draft picks next year, instead three picks tied to other clubs.

Draft picks can still be traded until the players are selected, so these teams may change their holdings before any players are tabbed by list managers.

It’s really a draft for the gamblers, and these teams are more than willing to take a chance.



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Richmond Tigers, Melbourne Vixens and New Zealand Warriors CEOs reflect coronavirus-hit season


Catastrophic, a wipe-out, and no time to debrief.

That is how three club CEOs from three different sports have described the winter they’ve just experienced.

“We’re not going to get back to pre-COVID settings until 2023,” Brendon Gale, chief executive of the AFL champions Richmond Tigers, said.

“God forbid that we ever have to do this again,” Rosie King, chief executive of the Super Netball champions the Melbourne Vixens, said.

“Financially it’s just been a wipe-out,” Cameron George, the chief executive of NRL side New Zealand Warriors, said.

All of them looked worn out, none of them wanted 2020 to be repeated, and yet each of them sounded like proud parents when they spoke about their team’s resilience on The Ticket’s annual CEOs panel.

The Tigers and Vixens both spent time in Queensland-based COVID bubbles while the Warriors spent the most time away from home — in lockdown from mid-March to October after travelling to Australia for round one of the NRL, then finding out New Zealand had shut its borders.

‘They just had to work it out’

Jack Riewoldt celebrates with Richmond teammates after kicking a goal in the AFL grand final against Geelong
The Tigers put a tough year off the field behind them to claim a third Premiership in four years.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

The Tigers boss said the season “was really quite affirming in that it just highlighted the importance of the environment of the football club”.

Some off-field incidents potentially threatened to impact Richmond’s title defence, although Gale said the club took responsibility, highlighting the growing importance of “self-understanding and self-worth” in all elite sport.

“Having a sense of who we are and what we stand for and what makes us ‘us’ [is important] … we tell our own stories,” Gale said.

“We’re not defined by others, so I think as the media becomes more fragmented, and social media — there seems to be a lot of anger — … we’re in a world of perpetual judgments and scrutiny.

Vixens boss King pointed to club-wide welfare as one of the major issues to emerge.

“I think we had a really good set-up for the wellbeing for the athletes,” King said.

Two Melbourne Vixens Super Netball players smile as they celebrate beating the Giants.
The Melbourne Vixens put player welfare at the forefront of their season.(AAP: Albert Perez)

“They had independent support, as well as within the hub itself, but maybe not quite as much access for the staff and coaches.

“I think in hindsight … we would make sure that our staff knew that they were part of that wellbeing experience as opposed to it being categorised as ‘athlete wellbeing’.

“There were definitely swings and roundabouts of emotion because you put people together for that period of time and there’s going to be a niggle every now and then.

“At the end of the day, they just had to work it out.”

‘Mentally that’s going to wear on you’

New Zealand Warriors NRL players collect their bags after getting off their bus in Terrigal on the NSW central coast.
The NZ Warriors relocated to Terrigal in May to ensure the NRL season could be completed.(AAP: James Gourley)

The New Zealand Warriors are still dealing with the mental impact of being away from home for seven months.

While some families joined players in the COVID bubble in Australia, there were others who were not given visas by the Australian Government and had to remain behind.

When the season ended, players flew back to Auckland to enter another 14 days of self-isolation before being able to return home.

“From mid-March right through till mid-October our guys lived a restricted lifestyle, so mentally that’s going to wear on you and it’s quite challenging,” George said.

Losing a coach mid-season added further strain.

A rugby league coach and his team's chief executive sit at a desk during a press conference.
Stephen Kearney (left) was relieved of his duties by Cameron George after a shaky run of results.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

“We’re putting a lot of things in place now to make sure we’re coming out of it really well. That’s the most important thing,” George said.

“We’ve put a lot of investment and time and resources into it.”

The Vixens have gone straight into contract negotiations with their players for next season, which King describes as “a really cruel end of the season”.

“What you have is this clash now of having to go into player contracting and player negotiations, so it’s almost like you don’t have a full stop,” she said.

“I was reflecting with our coach and contracting manager … and you could really see the exhaustion that they’ve come out of this experience in Queensland and they really haven’t had the chance to have a proper debrief.”

Financial hit ‘huge’

Simone McKinnis speaks while standing in the middle of four Vixens players
The Melbourne Vixens made sure procedures were in place to ensure players could concentrate on winning on the court.(AAP: Albert Perez)

One of the biggest hits has been to budgets — every team in every competition will be coming to terms with a new reality.

King says the staff at the Vixens all took pay cuts and “threw whatever we needed to” so the team could focus on the competition in Queensland without having to worry about controlling purse strings from a distance.

The rebalancing of the budget and the long-term impact of the season that’s been start now.

Gale said Richmond “can’t sugar coat it”.

For them, the financial hit “has been huge”.

“We’re in the business of mass gathering,” he said.

“So that has a catastrophic impact on our business.

“We’ve had to make really hard decisions about standing down staff and redundancies.

“The next two years are going to be really tough.”

Meanwhile, George said without financial help provided by the NRL and the New Zealand Government, he was fearful the club might fold.

“Financially it’s just been a wipe-out,” he said.

“We haven’t had a home game all year.

“Our members and our corporates thankfully stuck with us.

“There was a percentage that asked for a refund, we get that.

“Thankfully the NRL has really helped the clubs … without that help, honestly, I don’t know whether we’d be here. It’s been really tough.

With a slight pause, a dash of trepidation and a lot of hope, he added: “We’re looking forward to what lies ahead”.



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The Mellbourne Storm, Melbourne Vixens and Richmond Tigers all winning premierships gave Victorians something to cheer


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Victorian minister for tourism, sport and major events, Martin Pakula said the trio of premiership wins were a source of pride for the state in times of duress.

“Kick a Vic has been a bit of a national sport over the last few months,” he said. “But the stunning effort of the Vixens, the Tigers and the Storm to win premierships on the road shows we’re still the sporting capital of the nation, even in the most difficult of times.”

A recognition and respect for what Victoria was enduring was present for those three sides, most recently articulated by the Storm after their NRL grand final win over Penrith.

“This big ‘V’ on our jersey, this is who we are playing for – everyone back home in Victoria,” Storm captain Cameron Smith said on Sunday

“This one is for you, you beauty!”

His coach, Craig Bellamy added: “This group … playing for the people of Victoria.

“I know that sounds a bit [corny], but it’s true.

“We got some real strength out of that.”

Richmond’s triple-premiership captain Trent Cotchin spoke in similar tones on Saturday after the Tigers beat Geelong at the Gabba.

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“I can imagine it has been a real challenge for them [people in Melbourne],” he said. “I implore them to stick [with it]. It will be OK. As long as we take the lessons that we have learnt through this time, and take it forward, we are going to be better for what has happened this year and their support has been amazing.”

While Richmond can divide opinion and plenty of NSW and Queensland expats in the southern state don’t support the Storm, the Melbourne Vixens’ Super Netball triumph felt like a win for the whole state.

Despite months in their Queensland hub and a compressed fixture they dominated the competition from start to finish, securing the minor premiership with weeks in the season remaining and dominating their first final, going on to win a thrilling grand final over West Coast Fever.

Retiring legend Caitlin Thwaites – one of the brightest netball stars Victoria has produced – hoped their efforts had been well received.

“We really hope that you guys back home, [that] we have brought some light to you guys,” she said. “We know that it has been really, really hard for you and we can’t wait to get home and just give you all a huge big hug.”

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AFL grand final celebrations in Richmond and Geelong more subdued than usual amid Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions


After the 2017 and 2019 Richmond premierships, Swan Street was heaving with yellow-and-black supporters.

But last night was more red and blue, with police outnumbering fans at times.

Tigers fans did eventually hit the streets, but were often stopped by police officers for questioning.

Plenty of supporters did laps of the street with horns blaring, but the vast majority of fans obeyed the rules, making for a timid street party.

A young man pumps his fist in the air while a woman in a black and yellow scarf grins and holds a small dog.
Every Richmond fan and their dog were in full cheer on Saturday night, with some hitting the streets to celebrate their team’s win over Geelong.(ABC News: Peter Lusted)

“Compared to the last few years it’s a bit quieter than usual, but people are making an effort — there’s still spirit out here in Victoria,” one Richmond fan said.

Swan Street has been a ghost town for months and not even a Richmond AFL premiership could wake it from its slumber.

Dozens of Tigers fans did turn out to celebrate but the strong police presence outnumbered them at times.

Eight armed police officers wearing blue surgical masks and plastic gloves on a street corner in Richmond.
Victoria Police often outnumbered AFL fans in Melbourne’s Swan Street last night as they enforced COVID rules.(ABC News: Peter Lusted)

Fans were moved on quickly by officers, making most supporters’ trips to Swan Street short ones, a sharp contrast to previous premiership parties.

But one Tigers fan on Swan Street said while the turn-out was smaller than usual, getting out to celebrate the game was a “good feeling”.

“I think it’s a bit extra special, given the year we’ve had,” he said.

“I think it’s a good way to cap off 2020 which has been a bit of a lousy one — something to celebrate.”

Yellow and black signs reading #GoTiges and Strong and Bold decorate the windows of a Melbourne pub.
Despite Swan Street being quieter than previous Richmond grand final triumphs, pubs made sure there was plenty of yellow and black.(ABC News: Peter Lusted)

Despite more relaxed restrictions in Geelong, which sits under regional Victorian rules, celebrations were also smaller than usual.

But that didn’t stop groups of Geelong supporters meeting in pubs and bars to cheer and sing to support their teams.

Geelong Cats fans smiling as they watch the AFL Grand Final at a pub.
For many Geelong fans their first night out at a pub was not a joyful occasion as their team went down in the decider.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)

Some people also stayed back to drink together after the loss.

“I can’t believe we got let out of lockdown for this,” said a sad Geelong fan in one pub.

“This is probably first time I’ve been out since March. Not happy,” said another.

Kardinia Park was empty and pubs closed shortly after the game ended due to COVID restrictions.



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Jubilant fan arrested in Richmond


A man was arrested in Richmond on Saturday night after the Tigers’ win the AFL grand final.

The 2020 grand final may have been played in Brisbane but that didn’t stop jubilant Tigers’ fans from celebrating along Richmond’s iconic Swan Street.

But police said aside from one arrest, fans celebrated while following COVID-19 restrictions.

“Police were happy with the behaviour of about 200 people who attended Swan Street after the grand final last night,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

“They were in smaller groups and compliant with the CHO directions.

“One person was arrested for being drunk and also fined for failing to wear a face covering.”

A house party in the neighbouring suburb of Cremorne was broken up with 12 people fined and the owner of the property slapped with an almost $5000 infringement.

In Geelong, where Cats fans had less reason to celebrate after the game, looser restrictions in regional Victoria meant some locals were able to watch the footy at pubs and venues.

In total in the 24 hours to Sunday morning, police issued 42 fines to people breaching lockdown restrictions.



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Gary Ablett returns to AFL grand final field after arm injury scare as Geelong’s fairytale hopes wither against Richmond


Perhaps it was no surprise after nearly 20 years’ worth of Gary Ablett providing memorable moments in the AFL, there was always going to be more than one more to add to the collection.

The Cats’ led at half-time in the AFL grand final, and the fairytale was well and truly on.

In the end, Richmond came out and showed why the Tigers have been the best team in football for the last few years, in the process stopping Geelong’s number four from having a perfect finish to his career. But while he may not have come away with a third premiership, Ablett ensured that no one would forget his final game of football.

Ablett had to fight through the pain at the Gabba after a game-changing moment in the opening five minutes of play.

The retiring champion hurt his shoulder in a tackle from Richmond captain Trent Cotchin in a chaotic opening on a slick Gabba surface.

Gary Ablett hobbles off nursing his arm during the AFL grand final between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba
Gary Ablett hobbled off the pitch clutching his arm just a few minutes into the opening quarter.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

It was the same left shoulder that he had dislocated in a tackle by Collingwood’s Brent Macaffer in 2014 that changed the course of Gold Coast’s season and ended Ablett’s relatively injury-free run in the AFL.

The 36-year-old grimaced as he was helped off the ground by trainers, clutching his left arm, and exited the field to receive assessment from the club doctors.

A huge cheer went around the ground when he re-emerged on the sidelines after 19 minutes, coming back on just before quarter-time in his 357th and final AFL match.

There was more visible anguish for the Cats legend in the third quarter, with his arm again causing him agony, which he managed to shrug off with a wry smile.

But it came as the Tigers surged in the third quarter, having trailed Geelong for much of the match, before Richmond dominated proceedings in the final quarter to clinch a third premiership in four seasons.

At his best this October, Ablett, had reminded all of many of the keys to his game — his body strength and sense of balance, his insane reflexes and ability to hit targets and kick goals when needed.

He didn’t kick any goals for the Cats at the Gabba, but two moments of brilliance stood out.

One, a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it handball to Joel Selwood at a stoppage that set up a goal in the second quarter, and later — when Geelong badly needed a goal, Ablett broke free in the middle of the ground and handballed to Luke Dahlhaus, who set up Grian Miers for a vital score.

Ablett’s final season filled with drama

Even with the dramatic, unprecedented nature of this season, Ablett’s 2020 had been more intense than most.

The Geelong star chose to play on after the pain of losing last year’s preliminary final to Richmond.

Then the new season was stalled after just one round, and by the team play resumed in June.

Ablett travelled around with the Cats, and then went with them to Queensland to begin hub life.

But in mid-July, things changed again when Ablett left the hub to head home to Victoria to be with his family, following the announcement that his son Levi had been diagnosed with an unnamed degenerative condition.

While his stated intent was to rejoin his team in Queensland, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that he was unable to return to the state until September 1, and only able to get back in the hub on September 14 after a quarantine period.

Ablett had a quiet start to the finals in Geelong’s loss to Port Adelaide, then showed familiar skills in helping the Cats semi-final thrashing of Collingwood, before being close to best on ground in the Cats’ preliminary final win over Brisbane.

But it was not to be at the Gabba.

Guard of honour a fitting send-off

When the siren sounded, Ablett was in the Geelong forward line. He took his time to walk through the ground, greeting Cats teammates and Richmond opponents before making his way to the centre square for the presentations.

After all the speeches, cups and medals were handed out, the Cats began to walk off the Gabba, as Ablett headed over to the far wing to speak to some people.

In his absence, both teams lined up for a guard of honour.

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And when Ablett did come over, the crowd — with no dissent from the winning fans — cheered him to the rafters for the final time.

A shattered Geelong coach Chris Scott could only marvel after the game on the effort Ablett had put in.

“Likely he had a crack or fracture of that shoulder,” Scott said although he could not confirm the diagnosis.

“It’s a remarkable effort from him to come back and have the influence on the game that he did.”

As Richmond players could be seen on the big screen celebrating their premiership win, Ablett’s teammates paid tribute to Ablett.

Dangerfield said he wasn’t surprised that Ablett made it back on the field.

“He’s incredibly strong-willed, mentally tough, whatever adjectives you want to use for someone who is incredibly resilient — he is all that,” he said.

“It’s emotional for all of us to see the back of his playing days.

“In my time in the game I haven’t seen anyone dominate for a genuine decade.

“He’s a pleasure to play with, awful to play against, and I count myself lucky as we all do to have experienced him [in AFL]”.

The game confirmed the end of an era.

Adding in the exploits of his famous father, Gary Ablett Sr, the duo combined for 605 VFL/AFL games and 1,476 goals.

Isolating just the pair’s time at Geelong, their totals were 460 games and 1352 goals.

Ablett’s skipper at the Cats summed it up best.



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Richmond defeats Geelong in AFL grand final at the Gabba to cement status as one of greatest-ever teams



Richmond has beaten Geelong by 31 points in the AFL grand final in Brisbane to clinch a third premiership in four years.

Three weeks after being defeated in the qualifying final by the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, Richmond cemented its claims as one of the greatest teams of all time with a 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) victory over the Cats at the same venue.

The victory brings a 13th premiership for Richmond.

More to come.



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AFL grand final Richmond v Geelong live blog: Gabba hosts Tigers and Cats with premiership on the line


An unpredictable AFL season reaches its climax as Richmond and Geelong prepare to face off in a night grand final at the Gabba.

Follow all the action in our live blog.

Live updates

By Dean Bilton

How’s the weather looking?

 

It’s absolutely hammering it down with rain in Brisbane right now. Here’s a quick look at the Brisbane Eye (yes, there is a Brisbane Eye).

 

 

And here’s the radar from the BOM.

 

 

There’s four hours until the game actually starts though, so there’s no need to panic yet. But yeah, she might be a bit moist.

By Dean Bilton

Everything you need to know about the grand final 

AAP

 

Unless you’ve been closely following every development and update from this season, you’ve probably got a few questions about how tonight is going to work.

 

By Dean Bilton

Grand final day (and night) is here! 

AAP

 

Hello, and welcome to the 2020 AFL grand final. It has been a long and confusing road to get us here, and the destination sure doesn’t look like we expected it to. In Brisbane! At the Gabba! In late October! At night!

 

The setting may be weird, but at least we have pretty normal grand final to look forward to — two of the AFL’s biggest and best clubs, with superstars on every line and with captivating storylines up the wazoo.

 

For Richmond and Geelong, the weirdness of it all certainly isn’t going to make this mean any less. A premiership is on the line, and in what shapes as an intriguing and potentially thrilling grand final, nothing will be left on the table.

 

We’ll have everything you need in this here blog, from the pre-game entertainment to the on-field action to the post-game wash up. So stick around, get involved and enjoy this historic grand final, the likes of which we will never see again.



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Australian News

Richmond and Geelong prepare for very different AFL grand final events as ring of steel separates Cats from Tigers


When Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a further loosening of restrictions in regional Victoria last Sunday, Brock McFarlane’s Geelong pub, The Sporting Globe, put an additional 40 AFL grand final party tickets on sale.

They sold out in 10 minutes.

“It was crazy. I can’t explain how hectic it has been,” Mr McFarlane said.

“We were sold out as soon as the tickets came out, pretty much.”

The regional Victorian pub can welcome 140 customers to watch the city’s only AFL club, the Geelong Cats, take on the Richmond Tigers at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Four indoor rooms will be filled with a maximum of 10 people each, and 70 people are allowed in the outdoor beer garden.

Mr McFarlane said they were thankful to be allowed to welcome so many people to watch the match, albeit a fraction of the crowd they would usually see for such a big event.

“It’s super exciting to get the new restrictions eased as well so we had some more spots open up,” he said.

“It’s one of the best things that could have happened.

Cats fans tip a comfortable Geelong victory

A man in heavily Cats-themed blue and white make-up and costume.
Geelong fan Troy “Catman” West predicts the Cats will win easily, by 30 points or more.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)

Troy “Catman” West has been leading supporters at Kardinia Park.

“We’re here to cheer on the boys, and we feel like the closest to the pulse of the Geelong Football Club is at the ground,” he said.

“It’s just joy, drop, joy, drop, it’s like up and down see-saws, but we’re not here to be miserable, we’re here to cheer them on. The game’s still on and we’re going all the way,” he said.

Eileen Sims of Feast Geelong café has been selling Cats cupcakes, and a tiny number of Tigers cupcakes.

“I’d say probably about 500 to one, in terms of cakes,” she said.

A smiling woman holds a large tray of cupcakes with the Cats AFL team logo on them.
Eileen Sims says Cats cupcakes are selling like hotcakes.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)

Tigers fans join virtual crowd due to coronavirus restrictions

Meanwhile, in inner-city Melbourne, at the doorstep to the MCG in Richmond heartland, COVID-19 restrictions are making for a very different day.

But despite the lockdown, the Tigers’ traditions are living on.

Normally the AFL grand final would bring fans thronging to Richmond, regardless of who was vying for the flag.

In a normal year, there would be a hive of activity outside the stadium one day before the big decider, but yesterday two Richmond supporters had settled in for their annual grand final public holiday picnic.

Two women sit in the grass wearing Richmond face masks with the MCG in the background.
Many Melburnians, like these two Tigers fans, can scarcely believe the MGC will lie empty during the AFL grand final.(ABC News: Simon Tucci)

They weren’t the only Richmond fans trying to hold onto their finals traditions and come to terms with the fact the big match is being played in Brisbane and not at the MCG.

Jane Dalli and her son Lee have still managed to be swept up in the excitement of seeing their team vying for the premiership and have been visiting their favourite Tigers landmarks ahead of the game.

“We’re on our way to see the Dusty wall,” Ms Dalli said.

“What we went through last year was so exciting and to share it with [Lee], being at the final together was just brilliant.”

A women seated in a room festooned with Richmond paraphernalia.
Jane Dalli’s home is festooned in yellow and black.(Supplied)

This year, those types of celebrations are banned.

Parties are restricted to groups of 10 from two households outdoors.

Despite the forecast rain and the coronavirus restrictions, Ms Dalli is upbeat.

She’s been sewing sequins onto an outfit for the home viewing party she has planned, even getting earrings hand-made to achieve the perfect yellow colour.

Ms Dalli’s loungeroom is also dressed in the team colours.

“We’re pretty pumped about it.”

The family will be watching the game on television, but their cheering will be broadcast across the country as part of a virtual crowd.

A football supporter in a quiet street looks into a hotel window.
In a normal year, Richmond would be full of eager Tigers fans, but it’s not the case in 2020.(ABC News: Simon Tucci)

When the Tigers took home the flag last September, pubs overflowed, and the streets were crammed with yellow and black fans.

Swan Street Traders Association president Leanne Quinn expects the familiar sight of fans in the street will return if Richmond takes home the flag.

“People will still come down and celebrate in some which way — as long as they social distance,” she said.

“I’m hoping fans will still come down and celebrate, but celebrate in a social distancing manner and a lawful manner.

“I’m sure they will because the police will be out.”

Back in Geelong, Mr McFarlane said seeing the Cats make the grand final at a time when coronavirus restrictions are easing in regional Victoria had given the city a morale boost.

“It gives people a sense of hope again and a sense of enthusiasm after being locked down for such a long time and not being able to really do much,” he said.

“Everyone seems happier … we’re just crossing our fingers that the Cats win … fingers and toes!”



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