A GREATER Western Sydney superstar's costly bump, which saw him front the Tribunal in a high-stakes case, features in the next instalment of AFL.com.au's 50 biggest stories from 2021.

A Hawthorn champion's promotion to a rare club is also on the list from 10-6, while a former skipper experiences a dramatic rise and fall. 

PART ONE 50-41 Biggest stories of 2021
PART TWO 40-31 Biggest stories of 2021

PART THREE 30-21 Biggest stories of 2021
PART FOUR 20-11 Biggest stories of 2021

10. Lions win first AFLW flag 

It was third time lucky for Brisbane, winning its first AFLW premiership after three Grand Final appearances in five years. A dominant 7-2 season was capped at Adelaide Oval, beating the Crows by 18 points in front of an opposition crowd of 22,934. Led by their outstanding backline, the Lions held up against a barrage of inside 50s (44-24), with defender Kate Lutkins crowned best on ground after playing through a painful torn plantar fascia for several weeks. Coach Craig Starcevich's achievement to steer his team to glory was magnificent after losing 16 players to rival teams during the League's formative and expansion years. 

Sound The Alarm: Inside the AFLW Grand Final


9. Champion Hawk joins the 400 club

Shaun Burgoyne became just the fifth player in VFL/AFL history to reach 400 games, reaching the incredible milestone in round 16 against his former club Port Adelaide. The three-time premiership Hawk, who crossed to Waverley at the end of 2009, spoke in the build-up to the game with fellow 400-gamers Brent Harvey, Michael Tuck, Kevin Bartlett and Dustin Fletcher and said that being surrounded by good people and great medical advice had helped him achieve the incredible feat. The 38-year-old, who also won a premiership with Port Adelaide in 2004, called time on his illustrious career at the end of the season, bowing out a champion of the game whose finals appearances (35) ranked second only to Tuck (39).

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Silk 400: The best of Burgoyne's superb career

Shaun Burgoyne becomes the fifth player in VFL/AFL history to notch the 400-game milestone

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8. Fine Wines equals Dusty's record

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley warned pre-season that midfield bull Ollie Wines was ready to take the competition by storm, and with a series of injuries behind him and a narrowed focus on playing to his strengths, Wines delivered. The 27-year-old produced a complete season that saw him average career-high disposals (32.4) and contested possessions (14.75), pipping Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli to win the Power's first Brownlow Medal. The star onballer polled an equal-record 36 votes, matching Dustin Martin's 2017 record and polling in a record 16 games, including 11 of the last 12 rounds. A thrilling count came down to the final round and a head-to-head clash between the Power and Bulldogs, with Wines sealing the win with two votes to Bontempelli's nil. 

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The hugs, the kisses, the speech: Wines takes 'Charlie' home

Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines is crowned the 2021 Brownlow medallist

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7. Disgraced Walker banned for racial slur

Racism reared its ugly head in August when it emerged the AFL was investigating former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker over a racial slur at a SANFL match. Walker was later banned for six matches and fined $20,000 for making a racist comment about North Adelaide player Robbie Young to one of his teammates, which was overheard by a Crows official and reported. "Deeply ashamed" by his actions, Walker pledged to educate himself and become an active participant in addressing racism. Past and present Indigenous players, like Gilbert McAdam, spoke about the old wounds Walker's actions had opened. The key forward, whose brilliant start to the 2021 season was long forgotten, took time away from the game, returning to training in early December and admitting his mistake would never leave him.

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Taylor Walker sits with Robbie Young in video apology

Adelaide veteran Taylor Walker says sorry for his racist comment to Robbie Young

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6. AFL intervenes after Greene bumps ump

GWS superstar Toby Greene was walking towards the three-quarter time huddle in the elimination final against Sydney and protesting a decision umpire Matt Stevic had earlier made when he effectively bumped the whistleblower. It prompted the biggest Tribunal case of the year, with Greene pleading not guilty to intentional umpire contact, while admitting his actions were "not a great look for the game". The 28-year-old was handed a three-match ban before the AFL challenged the verdict and advocated for a six-game penalty. Representing the AFL, Jeff Gleeson QC described the case as a "serious moment in the governance of the game" that could change the way umpires are treated if Greene's actions were tolerated. They weren't, with a six-match ban handed down by the AFL Appeals Board that will rule Greene out for the first five rounds of 2022. 

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Toby in trouble? Superstar Giant makes contact with ump

Toby Greene makes contact with umpire Matt Stevic during the three-quarter time break

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