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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

End of Season 2006 - The Wrap

With the AFL 2007 season about to kick off, it's time to wrap up 2006. By our reckoning, there was nearly one disturbing footballer incident a week in a year characterised by drugs, booze and assaults. Still, that's probably better than the awful rape frenzy of 2003/2004.

The notable absence of public rape scandals didn't mean that all was peachy for our footballers in the romance department. Instead, we saw some spectacular break-ups and court appearances over soured love. First there was the alleged knife attack by Ashley Sampi. Then there was Alan Didak publicly flaunting his anger management issues with his then-girlfriend, glamazon model Cassie Lane. Not to mention the ugly public nuptials of Colin Sylvia and Elise Whichello, which ended up in court with intervention orders and allegations of death threats against a concerned passerby. Not to be outdone, yesterday's hero Wayne Carey was accused of domestic violence against his model girlfriend Kate Neilson by The Herald-Sun. And Essendon's Andrew Lovett tried to re-capture the lost passion ... by (allegedly) taking hostage soon-to-be-ex Kimberlie Watson. Again, more court appearances and intervention orders followed. While time and space doesn't allow us to comment on all footballer infidelity, Wayne Carey's cheating on his pregnant wife - again - does deserve special mention. So who'd be a footballers wife? (Or girlfriend?) Especially with hot teenaged models (*cough* Lara Bingle *cough*) coming onto their men on telly. Certainly Alex Fevola must be regretting getting into bed with philanderer Brendan Fevola (both literally and in terms of their restaurant joint venture).

Speaking of joints, the big news of the year was the ongoing footy drug scandal. In a nutshell, the AFL players' union forced a deal on the AFL whereby players can only be named for taking drugs after they're caught the third time. The names of three players - who were caught twice - were leaked to parts of the media and published. (A larger group has been caught once but their identities remained under wraps.) An injunction stopping the public discussing this issue was taken out. Then a court case ensued, with newspapers on one side and the footy establishment on the other. Despite arguments about free speech, public interest and the fact the names were already published, the courts found in favour of the footballers. A permanent injunction is now in force and anyone who publishes the names of the players will be drawn and quartered. The contrast with other sports (and the AFL's stance on player gambling) could not be any more exquisitely hypocritical.

Still, there's no doubt that things have tightened up a bit on the drug-taking front. Of course, the Law of Unintended Consequences kicked in and - as predicted - the problems with booze have escalated as footballers try to manage their withdrawal from the harder drugs. 2006 saw a spate of alcohol-fuelled bashings and violence: death threats at 11am from Simon Goodwin and friends; Chris Tarrant and Ben Johnson in a late-night car park assault; sexual harassment and pub brawling in St. Kilda from Fraser Gehrig, Michael Voss, Simon Black and the lesser-known Steve Lawrence and Craig McCrae; international disgrace from Brendan Fevola over attacking Irish pub staff; more fighting in pubs with Sam Mitchell, then Jeff Farmer and Steven Dodd, then Andrew Krakouer hospitalised a teenager before attacking a taxi driver; Geelong's Steve Johnson was arrested for assault in Wangaratta. Heath Scotland - not shy about hitting women - allegedly punched another woman, this time in Ballarat. The other allegation of footballer-on-woman assault (yes, Brodie Holland) is slowly wending its way through the courts. It's been set back so often I wouldn't hold your breath. Sheesh, even revered Michael Long was up on pub-related assault charges! No wonder the ugly brutalism of AFL culture is seeping out and infecting the wider Australian society, as shown by last year's anti-Semitic attacks by amateur footballers.

Drunkenness doesn't have to manifest itself in direct violence - plenty of footballers have done their bit to threaten our well-being just by getting behind the wheels of their bogan wagons. Players like Michael Gardiner, Chad Morrison and Brad Ottens. Ignoring road rules (hey, they're for other people to obey, not footy stars) comes naturally to these bloody idiots. Just ask Ben Cousins, Mark Williams, Corey McKernan or Brodie Holland.

Of course, not all footballers need to be drunk to throw their weight around. Giant two-metre tall Dean Brogan shocked the nation when he punched out a teenager at Adelaide Airport while apparently stone-cold sober. Footy players also took to using their union to intimidate and threaten people with lawyers. Individual players, like Chris Tarrant, will get their managers and PR flaks to do the threatening for them. Hell, even the AFL executive isn't above dishing out a spray to media commentators, fans of other football codes or just about anything they don't like.

It's not surprising that the AFL executive, union and sponsors have kept quiet about our legal system. The way our courts are sentencing AFL players at the moment they've got nothing to complain about. Our courts were clogged with footballers last year, with the AFL Division of the Melbourne Magistrates Court barely able to keep up. In addition to the dozens mentioned above, we had Campbell Brown let off without serious penalty, tax avoidance charges for Dipper and Matthew Campbell and fraud and dishonesty charges for David Dench and Peter Grahame Hall. But most serious was the staggering kid-gloves treatment for Kade Carey, Dane Swan and Aaron Ramsay for a series of vicious assaults at Federation Square that left several hospitalised.

Despite dozens of appearances before the courts, it was all delayed justice, suspended sentences, paltry fines and minor inconvenience. Hell, Collingwood had four current and former players in court in just one month last year! The only sensible reaction to this broad swathe of lawlessness was to start up betting on which club would next see a player in court. Despite getting zero support from our politicians for the idea and no commercial backing, we persevered and were able to get a play-money version up and running. Congratulations to Mazda for a great win.

Just reading over this summary of offensive lawlessness and disgrace, we wonder how anyone associated with the AFL (or Aussie Rules in general) can defend this pack of wankers. What are we talking about here? A few hundred young men with all the fame and money in the world and they lounge about playing X-Box, gamble away their future and engage in unlawful and immoral behaviour at a rate that should sicken the rest of us. But it doesn't. Australia has collectively placed its head up its arse when it comes to a clear-eyed assessment of these dickheads who, for many, can do no wrong. The disturbing Footy Chicks documentary highlighted just how far the culture of hero worship has set in.

What can we do? Well, for starters you can arm yourself with the latest in protection at the Speccy Shop (we offer a range of equipment to protect against footballer threat). You can try to be aware of the presence of footballers when you're out on the town. But, mostly, you can try to change attitudes. The next time you hear someone excusing the latest footy scandal or criminality, challenge them on it. Why do we tolerate behaviour in these idiots - just because they have natural talent? No, we get the footballers we deserve and it's up to us to drive the standards higher.

Word Count: 1364


Tags: footy

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14 Comments:

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  • Wow, when you put it like that.
    I nilly feel of my chair when I read your write up on Sammy Mitchell, it was almost a balanced view!
    Molly

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 3:27 pm, March 09, 2007  

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  • Unfortunately, I just had to delete a comment. I hate having to do that, but it contained a specific (and nasty) allegation against a named player. In the absence of any evidence or citation, I couldn't let it stand.

    If you have specific information about a footballer's criminality, please take it to the police.

    By Blogger Greg, at 3:52 pm, March 11, 2007  

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  • Get the facts right

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 pm, March 13, 2007  

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  • It's the editorial policy of The Speccy to correct all significant errors of fact promptly, while hiding behind the finest defamation lawyers Fairfax and Murdoch can rent.

    Can you please point out which of the hundreds of facts in the article weren't right? With a limited research budget, it's inevitable that some errors will creep in. Thanks for your assistance.

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:03 am, March 14, 2007  

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  • I don't know what the big deal is with lara bingle, she looks like one of those rainbow trouts you catch in the Goulburn near Eildon, that and her breasts are way too far apart. She makes the perfect footy player/cricketer partner: vacuous, semi-literate, carted out on TV for cheap ratings and in possession of an advanced propensity for promiscuity.
    Mankind will never be able to build a perpetual motion machine without violating the first and second laws of thermodynamics, but the perpetual bullshit machine that is the AFL establishment will continue to spew forth its propoganda through its own pravda like publication (the herald sun) which will extol the virtues of these innocent lambs and all of the absolutley wonderful services they provide whilst the proletariat starves to death.

    By Anonymous Ben W aka Oz is bored today, at 12:11 am, March 15, 2007  

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  • The thing to keep in mind about footballers' choice in women is that they are young men who have spent their lives post-puberty immersed in footy culture.

    As a result, they can only see their wives, girlfriends, lovers etc in terms of what their mates think ie how their choice reflects on them.

    This focus on status means they are more concerned with what goes in a woman's mouth than what comes out of it. Hence, they are far more comfortable with women who are "sex workers" (broadly defined): prostitutes, strippers, models, starlets etc. That is, women whose income is contingent on being sexy.

    For footballers, commercialised sexuality is what they're comfortable with. Women from the front covers of the men's magazines are a low risk to their status since they are widely coveted.

    Seen in that light, Lara Bingle is a no-brainer (pun intended).

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:48 pm, March 15, 2007  

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  • Hey Greg,
    This post may be misplaced. I leave it to your wisdom.
    I would like to suggest some general
    advice for anyone on the receiving
    end of the sort of violence highlighted on your site.

    1. Have a specific dollar amount in mind when contacted by the perpatrator/s club. Always reject the first offer.

    2. Never sign any document unless advised by a lawyer/soliciter.

    3. Prepare for an avalanche of abuse from functionally illiterate
    AFL fans. You have dared to make a complaint against one of their Golden Gods, and, in their eyes,this is an unforgivable act of treachery.

    4. Contact as many media outlets as possible. Public opinion will be vital to your situation in the coming days, and sympathetic media
    coverage will magnify any compensation considerably.

    5. Do not become frustrated or angry when the club concerned DOES NOT suspend any players involved. This is standard procedure.(Particularly in the case
    of prominent players)

    6. Above all, console yourself with the knowledge that you will inhabit
    places the AFL world will never know. For most players and fans, the horizon ends with free drinks, groupies, V8 commodores, and video games. They will never know the majesty of Beethoven, Shakespeare, Picasso, Tolstoy and Puccini.

    ends with drink cards, groupies,

    By Anonymous Ash Bris., at 2:02 am, March 24, 2007  

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  • Where do you get your info from??? I find it odd that you have some in depth knowledge of incidents that only close friends of the "named" would know. Obviously someone or someones are talking...not that I mind, I do enjoy reading your blog. Please contact me for more info if you want to know more...

    By Blogger Jayess Central, at 10:38 pm, March 24, 2007  

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  • Hi Greg are you contactable for comment. I am a WA student writing a piece on football and am interested in your opinion?

    By Blogger yolanda, at 1:36 pm, August 31, 2009  

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  • "It's the editorial policy of The Speccy to correct all significant errors of fact promptly"
    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    By Blogger Matthew, at 2:19 pm, August 31, 2009  

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  • Certainly, Yolanda. I suggest we proceed via email, so if you leave your details or something I can get in touch.

    Matthew, I can assure you The Speccy's Editorial Review Board is examining your claims re: accuracy and will be taking the appropriate action once the Fact Checking Department reports in.

    By Blogger Greg, at 11:33 pm, August 31, 2009  

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  • They aren't my claims.
    I have just put facts before you to either read or listen to. It's not an opinion thing when there are facts to support my statements.
    Conservatively I would say that you have had 96 hours to do so and you have in fact done so and realising your various errors have just chosen to ignore the facts like you have ignored your blog for over 12 months.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 1:43 pm, September 01, 2009  

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  • Matthew, we've already seen your ability to take "facts" and give them your own interpretation. You put words in someone else's mouth that they did not say. Dangerous stuff, especially against a lawyer.

    So you can understand that it will take a while to properly vet these claims. (And no, I haven't done it yet - I'm a busy guy.) I don't know what the acceptable definition of "prompt" is when correcting factual errors on a blog. I'm guessing it's measured in days/weeks, not hours. I'm happy to offer you a refund on your fees in the meantime.

    The primary reason for the low post rate this past 18 months is the marked improvement in AFL behaviour. This is part of a long-running trend, which I wrote about in Crikey (and posted here).

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:24 pm, September 01, 2009  

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  • For the record, I've reviewed Matthew's claims of inaccuracy. One was upheld (the "quoted" footballer was in fact a composite based on interviews) and a second was rejected (the salary figures still stack up). I don't think we'll get anywhere on the third grievance, as Matthew accepts that Kate is telling the truth about that night and the police investigation, yet refuses to explain what he means by "muddying the waters".

    By Blogger Greg, at 6:46 pm, September 05, 2009  

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