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Monday, June 18, 2007

Freo in Top-End Ugliness

In a devastating return to form, Chris Tarrant led the Dockers into pub brawl victory at a popular Darwin nightspot. The Tarrant "scuffle" reportedly has left at least one staffer unconscious, a politician bashed, locals shocked and a poor woman with the horrible image of Tarrant's pimply white arse burned into her retinas.

[With this blog taking heat for a lack of AFL criminal behaviour, it couldn't have come at a better time too. God bless beer. And you too, Chris Tarrant, you angry dumb thug.]

The details are sketchy and still emerging, but here's the story as it currently stands. The Dockers lost to the Western Bulldogs in Darwin on Saturday. By the wee hours, they were drinking in Darwin's The Lost Arc bar. At about 2am, Tarrant allegedly bared his arse to an unnamed woman (a strength and conditioning coach) in the company of Damian Hale, AFL coach at the Australia Institute of Sport and Federal Labor candidate. Perhaps for emphasis, Taz slapped his bare arse.

At this point, Mr Hale demonstrated a distinct lack of understanding of what it means to be an AFL superstar. I almost can't believe anyone with AFL experience could be foolhardy enough to confront a drunken footballer with these words, even with the brute's pants around his ankles:

"It was just offensive, I thought, in the way he basically brought down his trousers and bared his backside to her," [Damian Hale] claimed. "It was just bizarre, I was stunned.

"I said to him, 'Mate, just because you're an AFL footballer doesn't mean you can treat her like this'. His behaviour was insulting and unacceptable to a lady." (Fox Sports, 19/6/2007)

Hello? (Tap, tap.) Yes, it bloody well does! Don't you get it? He's a footballer. He can shout at her, punch her, imprison and terrorise her, betray and abandon her - hell, he can urinate on her. And it will all be forgiven. Hell, by AFL standards, baring and slapping one's arse to a woman is the equivalent to a formal offer of marriage on bended knee with a solitary red rose in the teeth.

At this point in the exchange, Hale alleges, Chris Tarrant punched him in the face.

"He's just punched me, gave me one and then he took off, so I didn't retaliate or anything and then we left almost straight after that," Hale told the Nine Network. (Herald-Sun, 18/6/2007)

Ah yes, punch and run. Classic cowardly bully. No doubt if Tarrant's brawlmate Ben Johnson was backing him up, he might have stayed around a bit longer to sink the slipper. But by himself? Zip - he's gone, disappeared into the crowd.

Needless to say, the Darwin locals turned hostile. The footballers and their camp left, with some bottles being thrown at them as they departed. Apparently, Freo's assistant coach Mark Harvey went to intervene in an altercation involving Heath Black's partner and was king-hit by someone who disappeared back into the crowd. Harvey may have hit his head, but briefly lost consciousness. On the telly news, Freo officials were very keen to point out that it wasn't anyone from their team who punched him out and everything is really super-fine and not to believe local reports of a prior confrontation involving Tarrant and Jason McCartney. Hmmm.

I should mention that, 12 months ago, Chris Tarrant admitted involvement in a vicious Port Melbourne car park kicking that resulted in serious head injuries and a man in intensive care for some weeks. Here at The Speccy, we can't help but wonder if the lenient special treatment he received at that time by his employer, the media, the legal system and the wider public might not have contributed to this incident.

Chris Tarrant is a violent young man and even committed football fans are quick to dismiss him as a thug. (He lacks the serious talent of an Ablett, Carey or even Cousins that buttresses these men with excuse after excuse by their loyal apologists.)

Tarrant also has an extremely litigious manager, who made all sorts of nasty media threats regarding the reportage of Taz at a Jet concert smoking a cigarette. I image he's on retainer, so he'll be earning his money this week.

As the spotlight turns once more on Tarrant, his team-mate Jeff Farmer is due to return to the field after his club-imposed six-week ban for an ugly nightclub assault. Here's hoping that Freo does the right thing this time, too, though it's looking doubtful.

While Mr Hale declares he does not wish to proceed with the matter, it is still possible the legal system will be involved. In particular, it would be fascinating to see how Darwin's famed magistrates would deal with this case.

Students of both jurisprudence and history could witness how 19th century legal precepts can be applied in the modern world. On the one hand, a footballer has allegedly been hitting people in a Darwin pub (a cause for celebration, apparently). On the other hand, a woman's honour was besmirched (really not on). What to do? Perhaps the beak could reach across the bench and bitch slap Tarrant - that might make everyone happy.

*** UPDATE ***

It's starting to sound a lot like the entire Fremantle cohort is so unlovable and boorish that they are shunned by even Darwin's drinkers and forced to retreat under a hail of bottles.

The latest word is that Freo is handballing responsibility for investigating this incident (and presumably punishing Chris Tarrant) over to the AFL. It all just got a bit too hard, especially with comparisons to Jeff Farmer's six-week suspension making an uncomfortable (and expensive) prospect for the club.

Further tidbits include: allegations that Tarrant was jumping on cars in Mitchell St after the Dockers left the bar; up to 20 Freo players and officials were involved in the confrontation before things kicked off; police won't be making any inquiries unless Mr Hale or his female colleague make a complaint; Mr Hale's position has shifted from being "dead-set over it", to wanting an apology from Tarrant to his female colleague.

We can expect the results of the AFL's investigation by Thursday. Given the ease with which a truly shocking drugs scandal was recently whitewashed, I'm confident we'll be seeing Mr Tarrant on the field very soon ... and in these pages.

*** UPDATE ***

The word is in on Chris Tarrant's penalty. My earlier prediction was a little off - a one week suspension and a half-week ($5,000) fine.

Allen Roberts (AFL investigator) completed his inquiries yesterday, along with his recommendations. This decision by Fremantle is a step in the right direction and re-inforces the "new code" that's been in operation this season: off-field misbehaviour will be countered with on-field sanctions. Perhaps this is a result of handing responsibility to the League, rather than leaving it entirely up to clubs? If so, this model should be explored further.

It's worth noting that Tarrant's suspension was nominally three weeks, but the last two have been "suspended" pending good behaviour. A "suspended suspension"? The AFL has picked this up from the Melbourne Magistrates Court (AFL Division), where footballers are routinely (ahem) "punished" by being forced to promise they'll obey the law in future (eg Colin Sylvia). Along with the newly-discovered concept of "provocation", this is an unwelcome import from the legal system into the AFL.

*** UPDATE ***

More evidence of a sick culture at Fremantle, with news that six players have been suspended for disciplinary problems stemming from alcohol abuse:

A DISCIPLINARY crackdown has seen six Dockers sidelined for this weekend's AFL match against Port Adelaide - four of them for a mid-week drinking session.


[Antoni] Grover, [Des] Headland, [Steven] Dodd and [Brett] Peake were all censured for drinking mid-week, while [Paul] Hasleby was dropped for missing last Sunday's recovery session after the win over Melbourne and [Dean] Solomon was late for the same session. (PerthNow, 30/8/2007)

Credit where it's due, it looks the Fremantle leadership team is prepared to take a hit on-field - odds shortened from $1.33 to $1.22 on news of the suspensions - to drive off-field behaviour. I hope they think of it as an investment in the club.

Citations: Fox Sports, 19/6/2007; Herald-Sun, 18/6/2007

Word Count: 1294

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  • You are a real tosser, why don't you get a life - wanker.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:29 pm, June 19, 2007  

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  • baring his a*rse ... that's top shelf quality fit for a top end audience. one has to feel for taz though, being victimised by members of the public and all ... seeking to drag him down aussie tall poppy style. and how's the work of the punter who allegedly king him harvs? get him a job managing a club on king st i say

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:30 pm, June 19, 2007  

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  • Taz doesn't need anyone to cut him down tall poppy style, he's lower than a cut snake already. If he wasn't playing in the Australian Felons League he'd be baring his arse in prison, for entirley different reasons.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:26 pm, June 20, 2007  

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  • This whole thing seems a little strange? Taz might be an idiot and do completely stupid things, but surely something caused him to down the strides. Isn't anyone else think its funny that the reason hasn't been mentioned? I did hear that Taz claims he only showed one butt cheek (not saying this better, just further information).

    Also, if this guy is so disgusted, why doesn't he press charges? Is there something else that isn't being said? And has anyone actually come out and said they saw the punch thrown? Hale said he never saw it. Just strange allround.

    To be fair to Freo, I think it is fair enough for them to ask the AFL to investigate because at the moment (from what I have seen/heard reported), its their players word against that of a want-a-be pollie so its a bit unfair to them to expect them to believe the pollie over their player when Hale doesn't want it investigated by police!

    Taz is an idiot and should probably ban himself from drinking ever.

    PS. Have heard a lot of why are the footy plays at the night club so late but not much why are is this Pollie out so late?

    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 4:49 pm, June 20, 2007  

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  • C'mon, Molly, stop trying to muddy the waters and dilute the blame.

    Tazza claims to have bared part of one cheek as some sort of "prank" involving Dean Solomon.

    It does sound odd ... until you consider that Chris Tarrant is an idiot. This behaviour is typical of footballers in general, and Tarrant in particular. Why feel the need to look for any other explanations? He's a dick. Surely that's enough.

    You ask why Hale doesn't make a formal complaint. Because it's not going to achieve anything (legally) other than to make him look bad to bogans who vote.

    "No-one saw the punch" - are you serious? Hale directly alleges it. I saw him on the telly with a black eye consistent with being thumped. I've not heard anyone deny it, including Tarrant, his mates or his employer. That dude was punched and the most likely candidate was Tarrant.

    As for credibility of footballers ... the credibility of a coach at the AIS (and political candidate) is orders of magnitude higher than Chris Tarrant. Add in the evidence (black eye), witnesses and lack of denial and you are way out on your own with that line, Molly.

    Trying to dress it up as just a "his word vs another's" scenario is just blatantly misleading. I think you know that, so you tried another line about pollies being out at 2am ... this guy is a footy coach. He's probably a reasonably senior part of Darwin's footy scene and as such is expected to schmooze when Big Time AFL players and officials grace his town with their presence.

    I regularly find myself in bars at 2am (and, yes, drunk), as I'm sure you do too. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as there's no sexual harassment, intimidation, violence or general ruining of other people's night out.

    Got anything else to add to excuse this disgusting behaviour? Go on - why don't you tell us all about Tarrant's goal-kicking record and how that entitles him to do what he likes.

    By Blogger Greg, at 5:41 pm, June 20, 2007  

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  • His Goal kicking record is terrible! But I wasn't defending him, was saying that it all seemed strange to me. Never said he shouldn't be punished just that I think his club doesn't feel right that they are the best to investigate, which on your past record (i.e. The Drug leak story) you would have to agree that the more independent the investigation the better.

    Also on the matter, the Freo coach has come out and said that Taz will have the book thrown at him as he should:

    Also I never said that being at a night club at 2am is bad, just saying why is it that all footy players get that thrown at them when there is plenty of other people in the community that get into trouble at that hour! Although the fact they are famous (rightly or Wrongly) does mean that they are targeted which isn't really their fault!


    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 6:18 pm, June 20, 2007  

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  • Think its time for another update Greg:
    I hate to say that I told you so (as far as there being more to this then what was reported) so I won't say that I told you so even though I did tell you so and would be totally in the right to say I told you so. ;-)


    By Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone, at 10:58 am, June 21, 2007  

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  • Nah, this changes nothing. Hale never denied "having a red-hot go" at Tarrant. Unless Hale actually threw the first punch, it's just words, which cannot excuse punching someone else in the face. (It's sad I even have to write sentences like that; people should have had this explained to them in primary school.)

    You are not witnessing a Nancy Drew-type breakthrough in the case. You are witnessing a carefully orchestrated piece of public opinion manipulation by people who are very good at their job.

    This is the "softening the ground" phase. Later today or tomorrow will come a one-week fine and more use of language such as "unacceptable", "disappointed" and "embarassing".

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:27 pm, June 21, 2007  

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  • Fremantle coach Chris Connolly is clearly unhappy with the Tarrant incident.

    "It is an embarrassing situation, and it is a situation that no one around the club is happy with," Connolly said yesterday.

    "The whole event is totally unacceptable, and we are very disappointed.

    "It is a big body blow to the club in many ways.,8659,21941855-23211,00.html

    They're already there, what odds for him getting off without any penalty?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 pm, June 21, 2007  

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  • My guess: no suspension and a one-week (ie $5-$10K) fine.

    We keep hearing coaches and others use the word "unacceptable" ... yet they clearly do accept it because they take no action and it keeps on happening.

    With apologies to Inigo_Montoya: they keep using that word, but I do not think it means what they think it means.

    I'm guessing Connolly will find out the true meaning of "unacceptable" (along with "disappointed" and "embarassing") when Freo misses the finals ...

    By Blogger Greg, at 3:28 pm, June 21, 2007  

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  • There's a chant building, and it goes a bit like this...


    C'mon, Greg. Where'e the post?

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 12:07 am, July 04, 2007  

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  • Apparently there is nothing in the Didak incident, or so I'm led to believe. The AFL don't see anything wrong, neither does his club.

    The police didn't see anything wrong with his terrifying tale, hell they even quietly gave him a couple of days notice to put a good story together according to at least one article on the incident.

    Be reasonable, I mean haven't we all been in that situation before, passing out drunk while your driver (allegedly) shoots at police and subsequently (allegedly) murders someone in cold blood. How dare that mans mother insinuate that her sons life could have been saved if just one piss weak little turd of a player had shown some of that oft used word in AFL - COURAGE, she's crazy!!!!!!

    He's not a bad man, honest, he just gets a little bit silly when he drinks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 pm, July 04, 2007  

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  • Sorry for the delay, folks. Technical and personal circumstances forced me to sit out what is arguably one of the biggest AFL off-field stories of the year.

    At last, here is the belated Alan Didak/Chris Hudson post.

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:42 am, July 18, 2007  

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