Perennial pest Michael Gardiner (of the troubled West Coast Eagles) has finally done what we've all been waiting for and thrown away his footy career. Again. This time, it was a breathlessly stupid and destructive car accident that - miraculously - avoided injury.
Michael Gardiner has long been featured on The Speccy, with his involvement with known underworld figures and drug-dealers, or bringing his club into disrepute with mysterious references to "off-field behaviour". While he's only mustered 18 games in the past three seasons, the Weagles are now seriously reviewing their half million dollar spend on him.
Reality Sets in for Michael Gardiner, Facing The Dole Queue Next Year
Source: The Age
But first, the gory details of what happened. As usual, The Age had the skinny:
West Coast AFL ruckman Michael Gardiner may have been speeding when his car struck a street sign and careered into two parked cars in Perth overnight, police say.
Gardiner was taken to hospital with minor injuries after the crash in the beach-side suburb of Scarborough shortly after 11:30pm (WST) on Monday.
Gardiner's black Holden Commodore and one of the parked cars, a Holden Statesman, were extensively damaged and may have been written-off, police say.
The other vehicle was also damaged substantially.
"Speed may have been a factor in the crash because of the damage to all of the vehicles," a police spokeswoman told AAP.
"That is forming part of the investigation.
"He is very lucky he wasn't more seriously injured." (The Age, 18/7/2006)
Now, it's not immediately obvious to me whether the police officer quoted here talking about "speed" is referring to velocity or methamphetamines. It's plausible that either physics or chemistry was involved in this one. The Age also reports that drug sniffer dogs were going over the car, and a Cicatrin bottle (an antiobiotic) was found. I imagine they'll be looking at the contents closely. Gardiner admitted to blowing over 0.05 BAC too, but at this point it's unclear if drug samples were taken.
You can see a nice slideshow of the damaged suburbia wrought by Gardiner's de trop black SS Commodore (what else would a cashed-up bogan drive?).
The reaction from his club was swift - a paltry $5000 fine (the maximum under the union agreement) and immediate - though not permanent - suspension:
[Eagles Chief Executive Terry] Nisbett said it was highly unlikely the club would renew his contract at the end of the year.
"Mike's let a lot of people down, more importantly himself because he was on track and things were going well for him," he said. (ABC Sport, 19/7/2006)
Other AFL clubs were also backing away, underlining Gardiner's prospects of signing on to the dole next year:
Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of AFL clubs suggested the 2003 All-Australian was unlikely to appear in their colours next season.
No club expressed even mild interest in the ruckman and what might be required to trade for his services. Most expressed reservations about his physical ability, apart from the off-field issues that have sabotaged what should have been a stellar career. (The Age, 18/7/2006)
However, we've seen this before. This is the Terry Nesbit who sent Gardiner packing to the B-Leagues earlier this year, only to let him back after a couple of months. Already club officials are preparing the ground for Gardiner's eventual reinstatement:
[Club Chairman Dalton] Gooding told 6PR's Liam Bartlett that the football club was unable to sack Gardiner, who had admitted drinking alcohol before crashing his car into two parked vehicles near his home in Scarborough on Monday night.
Mr Gooding said that under a collective bargaining agreement with the AFL Players' Association, Gardiner's contract could not be terminated.
"As a footballer, his career is not over,'' Mr Gooding said. "Whether he remains at the West Coast Eagles after the end of this season is remote, but certainly the door has not been firmly shut.
"But obviously we'd need a considerable improvement in Michael's attitude, which is disappointing in view of the fact that when he got sent back to Claremont (for two months earlier this season) he'd done everything right. (Perth Now, 19/7/2006)
So, I guess it's the standard modus operandi: they'll ride out the current storm and put him back in the side in about, oh, I dunno, a month? Let him get a few matches in during the finals and come back next year.
Really, the club needs to put their foot down and take a stand on this. If they don't, they're sending a signal that says "hey - being good at footy can make up for any number of sins." This will encourage worse and worse behaviour by the players, which - as role models - engenders deteriorating standards throughout society. We should not have to put up with feckless morons jeopardising our collective well-being so that a footy club can kick a few more goals.
West Coast Eagles, we urge you to be strong and keep this dickhead out of your team. For good.
Turns out Gardiner's been charged with drink-driving and will front up to the beak in Perth. Still, it's unlikely Gardiner will be out for good ... suitably cynical analysis from Murdoch's man Patrick Smith about how West Coast's ranking will over-ride all other considerations.
Is Michael Gardiner Depressed?
It's a little known fact that senior officials in AFL clubs are automatically conferred with medical qualifications, in recognition of their extraordinary capacities and responsibilities. For example, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, the West Coast Eagles were able to diagnose Gardiner via press release:
Of greatest concern is Michael's depressed mental state and the club intends to further assist him to ensure that he gets the appropriate counselling and off-field direction required to get his life in order. (Footy Goss, 18/7/2006)
This was backed up by club CEO Trevor Nisbett ("I think it is [depression] ..."), who will be guest starring in an upcoming episode of TV's House, MD, alongside Hugh Lawrie. We're all looking forward to that. Chairman Dalton Gooding had a bob each way with "Well, something is not right . Whether it's depression or a lack of discipline, or what." Wise man. Best to not rush to any conclusions.
And what of the man himself? Gardiner is quoted as saying "I'm not depressed. I wasn't depressed last night, I'm not depressed now and I'm staggered the club is going down that path." Sadly, refusal to face up to depression is a well-known, classic sign of depression. It's also a highly-reliable indicator of not being depressed. This dilemma has confounded some of the best medical brains in the business - but not Nisbett. The clarity that can only come from not being a trained psychiatrist is his diagnostic strength. Good on ya, Trev.
But Gardiner - depressed or otherwise - does raise a pertinent point. Why would the club be going down that path? What kind of new development or find could they be preparing the public for with such claims?
Apropos of nothing at all, did you know that some people into "party drugs" take (legal) anti-depressants at the same time? It's an interesting little fact. You see, drugs like methamphetamines and ecstasy work by stimulating the release of a neurotransmitter (="natural brain chemical") called serotonin. This is what gives you the high. However, the body quickly re-absorbs it, meaning your pill will wear off after about four hours.
Many anti-depressants are from a class called SSRIs (="Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors"). This class of drugs will - as you can guess from the name - stop your body from absorbing that serotonin that your pill just released. That means you have a bigger, longer-lasting high. Neat, hey? But of course, it's very dangerous and only for hard-core, drug-addled, extreme risk-takers.
Something to ponder, no?
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