It seems the end of season hijinx are well underway, with several high-profile players involving themselves in a pre-Grand Final pub brawl. (Please note we're still on the Red threat level.) Following a depressingly familiar pattern, allegations of assault are made, but as yet, there's no word on consequences for the players.
The events took place at the Prince of Wales Hotel (in St Kilda) and involved a mixture of Brisbane Lions and local Saints players. While accounts are still sketchy and video footage is being examined, the gist seems to be that current and former "heroes" had gathered for a session at lunchtime on Thursday (28th of September) at Sapore restaurant. The group of up to eight players allegedly included well-known figures Fraser Gehrig, Michael Voss, Simon Black and the lesser-known Steve Lawrence and Craig McCrae.
It was much later at 1am, inside the Prince of Wales Hotel, that the fracas kicked off. (I'm willing to be they weren't all sipping lemonade for the intervening 12 hours.) Jarrod Rouse, 27, of Box Hill and his girlfriend Jaclyn Cameron were also enjoying a drink in the pub:
Jarrod Rouse, 27, said his girlfriend Jacqueline [sic] was subjected to lewd comments and gestures.
"They were being sleazy. We all said we didn't want any trouble," Mr Rouse said.
He said Lawrence, who plays for Port Melbourne, made a threatening gesture with a pool cue as they sat at their table.
Mr Rouse, who admitted he was drunk, said Jacqueline then pushed the cue back at the former St Kilda player.
"It escalated from there. I was just there trying to protect my girl," he said.
Mr Rouse said fighting broke out, during which he wrestled with Gehrig and was struck by others.
Jacqueline said: "There were four or five people kicking my boyfriend."
Mr Rouse's friend Jules said he was punched and knocked out after the violence spilled outside.
Jules said he remembered little after the initial angry words.
"I remember the bloke putting the the pool cue in Jacqueline's face. I must have been king-hit pretty soon after that. I was out cold," he said.
Mr Rouse said he had spoken to police. (The Herald-Sun, 29/9/2006)
No further news has been forthcoming, but here are some choice quotes from other sources:
"I found myself on the ground being attacked, being stomped, being kicked," [Rouse] told Ten News. (The Australian, 29/9/2006)
Ms Cameron told Channel 7 News last night ... "I pushed it back onto him. They pulled down my dress at some point. They pulled the button off Jarrod's pants and tried to pull his pants down," Ms Cameron said. (The Age, 29/9/2006)
Mr Rouse and Ms Cameron have not been shy about letting people know what happened. The public is being asked to believe that a group of current and former footballers - after drinking for 12 hours - made lewd comments to a young woman in a pub. They go on to allege that when she reacted to having a pool cue waved in her face, she was attacked, while her boyfriend was given a good kicking by a group of four or five of them and his mate was king-hit and knocked unconscious.
This paints the group of footballers as arrogant, drunken thugs, used to throwing their weight around, disrespecting women, quick to resort to violence, not fighting fair and showing no qualms in hospitalising people with whom they disagree. Could this be right?
Of course, we have to hope that the wheels of justice begin to turn, but it seems to even a casual observer of our footy stars that this is at least a plausible account of what went down. The ugly drink-and-biff culture is well-established. There are plenty of instances of footballers using group violence as a bonding ritual. Throw in the nasty sexual tinge of allegedly pulling down Ms Cameron's dress plus the homoerotic humiliation of Mr Rowse in removing his pants and we've got typical AFL player misbehaviour on our hands.
We can only hope that the deafening silence in the media this weekend and lack of official police statement doesn't continue. Nor that these vociferous complaints will be drowned out by the familiar rustling sound of - yet again - fat wallets being opened.
Justice may yet be done in this disgraceful case, with detectives looking to charge some of those involved. Eight players will be sweating on this, including high-profile players Fraser Gehrig, Michael Voss and Simon Black:
Detectives will decide who will face court after they complete a review of evidence against the group, which includes current and former football stars.
Police have confirmed some AFL figures are likely to be charged with assault.
Brisbane criminal lawyer Michael Bosscher, representing Voss, Black, [Craig] McCrae and [Craig] Lambert, said his clients denied any wrongdoing.
Det. Sen-Sgt Phil Hubbard, of St Kilda police, said he expected decisions to be made late this week on who would be charged. (Sunday Herald Sun, 3/6/2007)
Yep, I'm delighted to report that members of this pack of brawlers have been charged:
Brownlow medallists Michael Voss and Simon Black and St Kilda forward Fraser Gehrig are among six men who have been charged over a brawl at a St Kilda hotel on September 29 last year.
Police charged former Brisbane skipper Voss with unlawful assault, while current Lions co-captain Black has been charged with recklessly causing injury and assault by kicking.
Gehrig faces one charge of unlawful assault.
Former Brisbane and St Kilda AFL player Steven Lawrence has also been charged with intentionally causing injury, two charges of unlawful assault and another charge of recklessly causing injury.
"Both Michael and Simon are disappointed with this decision," their lawyer Michael Bosscher said in a statement. (The Age, 6/6/2007)
I'll tell you what's disappointing: that drunken (coke-fuelled?) footballers run around this town like they own it, molesting women, king hitting people, sinking the boot and all while enjoying the full support of their employers. Here's hoping making an example of these idiots will scare the rest straight.
The court hearing is scheduled for August 7th, but given how loathe the courts are to inconvenience players mid-season, I'm expecting to turn up with my popcorn and sketch pad, oh, I dunno, early October? (Depends how Brissie does in the finals, I guess.)
If past experience is anything to go by, the courts graciously try to squeeze AFL players' court appearances into the tiny window between the Grand Final and the clubs' end-of-season drug-binge/sex-tourism trips. (To be fair, the courts should be grateful that the footballers even deign to attend at all.)
In a triumph of modern technology, security footage of the attack has been leaked to the media. This presents a rare opportunity to watch a group of highly-paid drunken footballers thumping, bashing, kicking and brawling their way to glory.
Note that The Speccy has rated the video as MA 15 (Marauding Arseholes, with combined IQ of 15).
While this is still before the criminal courts, The Hun is reporting that civil action has been launched against this pack:
THREE-time premiership captain and Brownlow medallist Michael Voss is among a group of former and current AFL footballers being sued over a pub brawl last year.
Voss, fellow Brownlow medallist Simon Black, St Kilda spearhead Fraser Gehrig and former Brisbane players Steven Lawrence, Craig McCrae and Craig Lambert, are facing civil action over the fight at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Melbourne on September 29 last year.
Pub patrons Jarrod Rouse, his girlfriend Jaclyn Cameron and friend Julius Smith are taking legal action against the players. (Herald-Sun, 30/8/2007)
Good for them! I hope they take the players' shirts.
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