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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More Footy Player Convictions

Nothing really scandalous, just everyday exceptionalism and contempt for society from Collingwood's Brodie Holland (hoon) and former player Peter Hall (con artist).

In the first incident, feted dancer (and eye candy man) Brodie Holland got a rap over the knuckles by a beak for driving his BMW coupe onto tram tracks in Swanston Street. Hardly the biggest crime in the world, but still one that smacks of arrogance: road rules are for other people. People who don't play footy. People who aren't on the telly. People who don't have, err, niche appeal:

Brodie Holland - Product of a Well-Oiled Publicity Machine

But what really belies this man's attitude to driving is that he doesn't think he should be licensed. His outlandish claim that he believed his Western Australian licence was sufficient to drive in Victoria is seriously undermined by the fact that he had allowed this to lapse. After all, he was traded to Collingwood in 2000 - yet he was only picked up for unlicensed driving in 2005! Seems the cops who picked him up must have been new, otherwise they'd know to leave alone yet another footy hero swanning past in a sports car. (Cops and footy players enjoy a special relationship in this town.)

Of course, our criminal justice system ensured Brodie wasn't too inconvenienced:
[Magistrate] Sargent said Holland was beginning to "accumulate somewhat of a driving record" and urged him to be more careful. He fined Holland $500 and ordered him to pay costs of $60. (The Sydney Morning Herald, 13/1/06)

At first blush, one might think he should have his licence taken off him - but of course he (ingeniously) doesn't have one. A period of not being allowed a licence might seem like a good idea too - except that the police's detection powers seem a bit weak in this particular case. Also, Brodie (allegedly) has a propensity for violence at taxi ranks - allegedly striking a woman at one late last year. Perhaps we're all safer with him behind the wheel, despite his dubious "driving record". No doubt Victoria Police are relieved: it's one thing ferrying Sav Rocca around on a part-time basis, but another thing to chauffeur Brodie Holland between photo shoots for three months. (Hmmm, perhaps that explains why Brodie was driving around undetected all those years?)

The second incident - involving a jail term - is far more serious. Former Collingwood player Peter Grahame Hall (from the VFL days) conned friends out of almost $600,000, and will go to jail for at least three years for his crimes.

Judge Peter Gebhardt said Hall had repaid more than $267,000 but had not accounted for about $300,000.

"You dudded your friends and I have not been able to detect much remorse for this," the judge told him.

"You wanted to be a high flyer but didn't have the wings."

He said Hall had brought "painful havoc" on trusting friends. He was the godfather of a daughter of one of his victims. (Herald-Sun, 17/1/06)

The obvious - but difficult - lesson here is to not lend money to football players. There is a number of reasons why footballers make for bad debtors:

  1. Reduced Future Earnings. A lack of education hampers their ability to earn money after their career is over.

  2. Easy Money. People who have buckets of free cash just fall into their lap often don't appreciate its value, or how hard it is to earn money outside of footy. This makes them insensitive to the losses experienced by others, and over-confident in their ability to repay.

  3. Bad Attitude. Don't take my word for it, respected university research psychologists warn of AFL footballers' "development of an exaggerated sense of entitlement and a diminished sense of responsibility and empathy." Sound like a good prospect for a loan?

  4. Exposure to Risk. With AFL footballers, there's always the risk of something going wrong and the cops finding out. Drugs, rapes, gambling, bashings, underworld connections - a fawning public and institutional corruption can't protect them from their murky pasts indefinitely. If you've lent a footballer money the day before the rape squad knocks on his door or a drug dealer rolls over, you can bet your cash will be tied up with his lawyers for years to come. And, somewhat ironically, your cash injection will most likely have contributed to the trouble in the first place!

So, please, if you know what's good for you, do not get involved in (current or former) AFL players and business. It will only end in tears.

*** UPDATE ***

Brodie Holland's court hearing for the taxi rank assault case was scheduled back in March to occur - conveniently for him, I might add - for the first Monday after the Grand Final. (NB: Does this make the magistrate an optimistic Collingwood fan?) However, the October 2nd start date has been pushed back again:
BRODIE Holland and fiancee Sarita Stella will have to wait until March to find out if they will be convicted of assault charges.
The case between the two and a mystery woman over a late-night scuffle over a taxi was supposed to be finalised on October 2, but was adjourned to at least March after a problem with a witness.

Holland and Stella were charged with various assault-related counts after an incident on December 4 last year.

Holland and Stella have protested their innocence. (The Herald-Sun, 29/10/2006)

I guess the old saw that "justice delayed is justice denied" doesn't apply to footballers and their girlfriends. Or - and here's a disturbing thought - perhaps Sarita Stella has used her legal status as an ambassador to invoke diplomatic immunity? Does the Moonee Valley Racing Club ambassador have that kind of power? I thought I'd drop a note to the PR flacks:
I'm writing for The AFL Player Spectator, and we're doing a follow-up on the Brodie Holland and Sarita Stella assault case.

We note that News Corp are reporting that the case has been pushed back to March for reasons unknown. One line we're chasing up is that Sarita, as an ambassador for the Moonee Valley Racing Club, might have diplomatic immunity. As her fiancee, would that extend to Brodie too? Is the immunity only valid until the end of the Spring Racing Carnival?

We'd really appreciate it if you could please provide a quote on that.

Within ten minutes, The Speccy was visited by someone from Twenty minutes later, we got this response:
Thanks for you enquiry. This matter has neither relevance to, nor impact on, Sarita Stella’s role as an ambassador for the Moonee Valley Racing Club.

As for a quote on the court case or diplomatic immunity, the most relevant source would be Sarita’s legal representatives.

If the VRC - as the legally-constituted granting authority - is not able to confirm her diplomatic immunity then it seems unlikely to me that her lawyers would claim it in her defence. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the assault hearing has been pushed back - yet again - so as not to interfere with the important commercial engagements of one the defendants.

Citations: The Sydney Morning Herald, 13/1/06; Herald-Sun, 17/1/06; The Herald-Sun, 29/10/2006

Word Count: 1243

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Footy Players Spread Goodwill

It seems our overpaid sporting heroes have celebrated Christmas and kicked off the New Year in predictable form with a series of drunken bashings and assaults across the country. No word on any rapes yet, as sadly the clubs would still be negotiating hard behind closed doors. Below, we cover the two most serious miscreants: Simon Goodwin and Heath Black.

The first incident, just prior to Christmas, saw a murder of Adelaide Crows launch an extended drinking bout at pub Raglan's (co-owned by Speccy favourite Wayne Carey). Players still drinking in the mid-morning included Mark Ricciuto, Rhett Biglands, Ben Hudson and Nathan Bock. And, of course, Simon Goodwin. Witnesses reported misbehaviour ranging from "play-fighting" in the streets to throwing beverages on a parking inspector. Things turned ugly when a photographer from the Tiser, Tait Schmaal, showed up:

When [Simon Goodwin] noticed Schmaal, Goodwin approached and shoved the photographer before attempting to snatch his camera out of his hands.

"If you run any photos, I'll kill you," Goodwin said to Schmaal, who asked: "Is that a threat?"

Goodwin replied that it was.

The current Crows club champion then pushed Schmaal against a wall and pressed his forearm against Schmaal's throat.

"You're f...ed if you run this," Goodwin said to Schmaal.

Raglan's co-owner Rob Kent had to pull Goodwin's arms away from Schmaal.

Mark Ricciuto also told Advertiser reporter Rebekah Devlin that no Crows players would deal with The Advertiser if the incident was publicised.

Biglands and Scott Welsh tried to defuse the situation - Welsh physically restrained an agitated Ricciuto and Biglands attempted to convince Devlin not to publish the pictures. (The Advertiser, 23/12/05)

In my book, that's at least assault and making threats to kill. Very serious matters. Not to mention the dubious blackmail attempt. While statements were made, police are not taking this any further. Oh, and by the way: does anyone know if it's even possible to drink continuously until 11am the following morning without taking drugs? If you've ever managed this, I'd love to hear from you.

Simon Goodwin Spreading Christmas Cheer
Source: Adelaide Advertiser

So, in light of this team-wide tanty and bout of drunken violence I propose the team is renamed the Adealaide Crowes. After our Rusty. Yep, they sure are 30-Odd Football Grunts, without an Ordinary Fear of the Law.

On a high note, it seems the legal system is actually catching up with an AFL player in the New Year! Even more bizarre: the police service that managed this feat was the notoriously corrupt Western Australian force. Of course, it makes more sense when we note that it was one of their own on the receiving end of footy player biff, and not just a humble citizen.

Fremantle Docker Heath Black has been bailed and will face the Magistrates Court this Friday after his Day at the Races, in which a police officer was allegedly assaulted.

Black was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily harm, obstructing police officers and assaulting a public officer. (The Age, 3/1/06)

Nice work, Heath; maybe you should avoid beating cops and restrict yourself to smaller fry. The cops will turn a blind eye to most things, but not assaults on their own members.

*** UPDATE ***

Just in case anyone was in doubt that bad off-field behaviour could have career implications, Simon Goodwin has been named Adelaide Crowes captain.

That's right, "drinking" until 11am and then making threats to kill is not an impediment to taking the most senior player leadership position at his club. Goodwin's appointment highlights just how much of a joke these positions really are. After all, if threats of murder aren't enough to cast a pall, what about a recent footy gambling scandal? Might that place a question mark over your judgement and leadership potential?

Nah, it's just a footy club and the captain is entirely divorced from decision-making in the modern game. Do you think Ronald McDonald sets corporate strategy at Maccas? It's the same with these bozos. No one takes it seriously. (Unlike the role of "spiritual leader", which actually does have an influence on the players, as we've seen further west.)

Citations: The Advertiser, 23/12/05; The Age, 3/1/06

Word Count: 556

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