It seems those naughty footbrawlers have been making the most of the off-season. In my two months away we've seen a predictably disappointing stream of drunken violence from those knobs. Here we give a quick reprise of the major stories that broke during my two month absence: Mitchell, Farmer and Dodd, Cousins, Johnson, Krakouer and Carey. Special thanks to Paul for posting an update.
We've just added Geelong's Steve Johnson's Christmas-time blow-out to the list of Yuletide incidents. When will the drunken carnage stop?
Now included is sneaky Heath Black's sneaky piss. Urinating - or any excuse to get his cock out in public?
The Hawks' Sam Mitchell got into a blue at a Hawthorn pub on the 2nd of December. He copped a hit but there was no injury. According to the damage-control from the Hawthorn spin machine "a scuffle ensued and Mitchell and the patron wrestled to the ground before security staff quickly intervened and separated the pair." (The Age, 4/12/2006). Hasn't been any further news on this one, so I guess we'll never really know what transpired. In all fairness, drunken dickheadry isn't restricted to footballers and it's quite possible that one of the many other dickheads in that part of the world was entirely at fault.
In best silly-season fashion, Freo's Jeff Farmer and Steven Dodd brought disgrace on the Dockers with a late-night "incident" at the notorious Club Bayview in Claremont, WA. Specifics are still fuzzy, but there the word "altercation" was used - usually PR code for drunken and/or drug-fuelled violence. According to The Age, a patron made a complaint about being struck, but later withdrew the allegation and denied knowing who hit him. Cha-ching! Was that the sound of a cash register slamming shut?
Club Bayview has been the venue for incidents involving AFL players in the past, most notably when West Coast's Andrew Embley was charged with assaulting a man in 2002. In the same month, [Ben] Cousins broke his arm following a fight at the club with teammate Daniel Kerr.
It's not the first time Farmer and Dodd have had disciplinary issues. Farmer pleaded guilty in court to assaulting his long-time girlfriend two years ago, while Dodd was suspended last year after breaking club policy barring players from drinking alcohol while recovering from illness or injury. (SMH, 5/12/2006)
What a pair of charmers. What's going on? Eagles and Dockers are one eighth of the competition but about 50% of aggro and bullshit. Is there something in the water in WA? Or is it just the Small Town Hero writ large?
Which leads to the most spectacular celebrity bum - Ben Cousins from the WC Eagles. This gormless fool has once again brought disgrace upon, well, himself and everyone close to him. (Who could forget the booze-bus run?) Cousins was found drunk outside of regular footy playground Crown Casino and was subsequently arrested after a "verbal altercation" with the cops. Police sources described him "absolutely legless" and had him locked up for several hours. The Age has the requisite candid photo (care of Channel Nine, part of the Packer Empire that also owns Crown Casino and hence rights to adjacent security footage).
So, poor old Benny boy gets way too drunk, gets aggro and ends up being arrested - again. What's deeply depressing is the total lack of censure and the kid-gloves handling he gets. Here's a breakdown of the response to his latest shaming:
- The Police. Used their "discretion" to ensure he didn't cop a drunk and disorderly charge. This means he won't have to face court and will get a maximum $100 fine, rendering our justice system a joke. How thoughtful of the police to not inconvenience their sporting hero by applying the laws of the land.
- His club. They refused to sanction him at all, saying that "The club believes that Ben has already received sufficient punishment through the public scrutiny of his arrest." Why? The man clearly has no sense of shame. What punishment has he received? In the absence of a function police force, what else is there?
- His sponsors. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that "West Coast's major sponsors Hungry Jacks and SGIO stressed they sponsored the Eagles rather than Cousins individually. Channel Seven will continue to use Cousins as an ambassador and a weekly guest on Perth news bulletins." So, no commercial sanction or reprimand either. Presumably this means that the public doesn't give a rat's arse either. Nice.
- Government officials. Surely government officials would speak out on the evils of getting yourself blotto, getting aggro with the cops and landing yourself in jail? Well, normally, yes. But not if you're a footy superstar:
- Media opinion-makers. There's a sickening apologia and hagiographic novel being pushed by the Fairfax press. Ooh diddums, "unfairly targeted by police" was he? "Visiting sick children" is he? Oh, it's all so monstrously unfair and poor Benny's a victim of a vast footy-hating conspiracy!
WA's Sport and Recreation Department director Ron Alexander, a former Eagles coach, called for Cousins to be cut some slack.
Alexander didn't condone Cousins' behaviour but said there was an unfair fascination with his off-field activities
"It's become a sport to see what Ben's done next," Alexander said. "This appears to be over-magnified, a lot more so than it needs be." (SMH, 9/12/2006)
What a load of bullshit. Surely, when noted idiot Michael Gardiner is speaking out for you, you're not in a good way. Ben's a bad, bad man with some serious problems. Not least of them is being spoilt, coddled, excused and generally given a free hand to do as he pleases. When no-one - even from the government and judiciary - can step up and lay some home truths on him, this is the result. It's happened before and it will happen again. Wake up, Australia!
Next we saw the Pies horror month of court cases roll on, with bad boy brawler Ben Johnson avoiding any further legal inconvenience. Magistrate Felicity Broughton saw fit to let him off without conviction despite his role in a terrible car-park assault:
Johnson, 25, was charged with recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault over a fight involving former Magpie Chris Tarrant outside the Ocean Blue nightclub at Station Pier on July 30.
Bayswater North electrician Robert Howie, 28, was treated in hospital for head injuries after the incident.
Today Johnson appeared at Melbourne Magistrates' Court after successfully applying for a diversion hearing.
Ms Broughton ordered Johnson to continue his work at the Epworth, with a minimum requirement of 100 visits over the next 18 months.
She also offered he donate $3,000 to a charity for people with brain injuries and to write a letter of apology to his victim. (The Age, 19/12/2006)
I'm sure that the written apology, forgoing one week's pay and a few hospital visits to people with brain injuries will have more or less zero benefit and deterrence value. What the hell is going on when people can get away with bashing someone to the point of serious head injuries with a token slap on the wrist like this? You'd have to wonder if these liberties would be granted to anyone else.
Richmond Tigers have also been swept up in the pre-Christmas glad tidings, with their young player Andrew Krakouer (allegedly) involved in, yep, drunken violence:
RICHMOND AFL star Andrew Krakouer is likely to plead not guilty to a charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm, his lawyer told a Perth court today.
Krakouer today appeared in Fremantle Magistrates Court with his brother Tyrone Krakouer, 21, also charged with assault causing grievous bodily harm.
Andrew Krakouer, 23, was charged over an incident in Fremantle, on Friday night.
Justin Robin Martin, 24, sustained head injuries in the incident and is in Perth's Charles Gairdner Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Andrew Krakouer's lawyer John Prior told the court his client "was likely to enter a plea of not guilty".
His brother's lawyer indicated Tyrone Krakouer was also likely to plead not guilty.
Mr Prior asked for Andrew Krakouer's next court appearance to be on January 4 because of his footballing duties.
"My client Andrew Krakouer is a professional footballer who plays for Richmond and he's due to return to Melbourne now," Mr Prior told the court. (The Australian, 19/12/2006)
So another young man with serious head injuries, this time in intensive care. And more courts twisting and turning and bending over backwards to ensure that football "duties" are not overly put out by the demands of justice. (Krakouer can't even claim "diplomatic immunity" like Brodie Holland.) It's just sickening and will continue until the courts, media and general public say "enough is enough" and crack down on the unacceptable violence. We'll keep a close eye on this one and see if there's any justice delivered in the end.
The (admittedly disreputable) Herald-Sun is running a story about domestic violence in the Wayne Carey/Kate Neilson household. After (allegedly) cheating on his pregnant wife Sally (again), then leaving Sally for the blonde grid girl just six weeks after his wife gave birth, Kate announced she was now "officially" with Woiyne. It seems some ugliness has entered their happy lives together:
WAYNE Carey's girlfriend has told police she was assaulted by the former football champion.
It has been alleged a frightened Kate Neilson went to police after an incident at a Port Melbourne penthouse apartment.
The Herald Sun believes the model told police she was scared to leave the two-time Kangaroos premiership player.
Carey and Ms Neilson have denied the incident, but police sources claim she called 000 after being struck last Thursday, but was so distraught operators couldn't understand her complaint.
It was handed over to police and she went to South Melbourne police station to speak to officers there about 1.30am.
Police have told the Herald Sun that Ms Neilson had minor injuries when she arrived at the station, and she claimed Carey had punched her. (Herald-Sun, 28/12/2006)
Both Wayne Carey and Kate Neilson are denying all of this, with Neilson suggesting that someone made the whole thing up as a prank. I seriously hope that the notorious root-rat isn't adding domestic violence to his repertoire of criminality and that young Kate has the good sense to run a million miles if it's true. Wayne is a bad and untrustworthy man and she should be well-shod of him in any case.
Geelong Cats didn't miss out either, with a showing by Steve Johnson at Wangaratta. Any guesses what he got up to? Care for a stab? Here's a clue: he's done this kind of thing before. I'm sure you won't be blown backwards off your chair in astonishment if I tell you that he was arrested for being drunk in a public place. Details are sketchy, but when you consider the overwhelming lenience shown to footballers by police plus the backstory from the last time this happened, it's fair to say more went on than just being drunk in public.
Naturally, the club is disappointed ... that he tried to keep it a secret. But they're not prepared to sanction him - yet. Given his lack-lustre performance and injured knee, it seems his career is hanging in the balance. He could hardly claim this was his first alcohol-driven offence.
Heath Black got pinged for having a sly piss out the front of the Little Creatures breweries, in Fremanle, back on December 9th. Hey, I love that beer!
Black was fined $150 (with $105) costs arising from his guilty plea on the charge of disorderly behaviour. Hmmm, "disorderly"? Perhaps he was splashing it about. In any case, this is the Heath Black who made himself unpopular last year with his Day at the Races seeing a racegoer badly injured after being punched out. Heath's club - Fremantle Dockers - did will to keep this under wraps for a month. I doffs me hat to their PR flacks.
So, nine scandals in a month involving alcohol and/or violence. For godsakes, what is going wrong with these idiots?
Andrew Krakouer has had his charges upgraded from grievous bodily harm (14 years) to doing an act intended to cause bodily harm (20 years). Along with his co-accussed, the Tigers star is pleading not guilty.
Some 18 months after the initial assault, it seems justice has finally caught up with Richmond's Andrew Krakouer. He has been jailed for 32 months by District Court Judge Kate O'Brien for his "vicious and cowardly" unprovoked assault outside a Fremantle nightclub. Other words used to describe the attack include "mindless", "persistent" and "brutal". Yep, sounds like a typical footballer. Of course, his club, Richmond, weighed in with glowing reports of his leadership and mentoring abilities. Yep, sounds like a typical footy club too, putting the best spin on things.
While Krakouer (who will be joined in jail by his brother, Tyrone) may be out by next Christmas, let's not forget that his victim, Justin Martin, spent two weeks in intensive care with a smashed up face after being king hit, kicked in the head and suffering seizures, severe cuts and bruises and now a kidney disorder after trying to flee the unexpected and unprovoked assault.
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