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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Out-Of-Control Footballer Hits Skids

Perennial pest Michael Gardiner (of the troubled West Coast Eagles) has finally done what we've all been waiting for and thrown away his footy career. Again. This time, it was a breathlessly stupid and destructive car accident that - miraculously - avoided injury.

Michael Gardiner has long been featured on The Speccy, with his involvement with known underworld figures and drug-dealers, or bringing his club into disrepute with mysterious references to "off-field behaviour". While he's only mustered 18 games in the past three seasons, the Weagles are now seriously reviewing their half million dollar spend on him.

Reality Sets in for Michael Gardiner, Facing The Dole Queue Next Year
Source: The Age

But first, the gory details of what happened. As usual, The Age had the skinny:
West Coast AFL ruckman Michael Gardiner may have been speeding when his car struck a street sign and careered into two parked cars in Perth overnight, police say.

Gardiner was taken to hospital with minor injuries after the crash in the beach-side suburb of Scarborough shortly after 11:30pm (WST) on Monday.

Gardiner's black Holden Commodore and one of the parked cars, a Holden Statesman, were extensively damaged and may have been written-off, police say.

The other vehicle was also damaged substantially.

"Speed may have been a factor in the crash because of the damage to all of the vehicles," a police spokeswoman told AAP.

"That is forming part of the investigation.

"He is very lucky he wasn't more seriously injured." (The Age, 18/7/2006)

Now, it's not immediately obvious to me whether the police officer quoted here talking about "speed" is referring to velocity or methamphetamines. It's plausible that either physics or chemistry was involved in this one. The Age also reports that drug sniffer dogs were going over the car, and a Cicatrin bottle (an antiobiotic) was found. I imagine they'll be looking at the contents closely. Gardiner admitted to blowing over 0.05 BAC too, but at this point it's unclear if drug samples were taken.

You can see a nice slideshow of the damaged suburbia wrought by Gardiner's de trop black SS Commodore (what else would a cashed-up bogan drive?).

The reaction from his club was swift - a paltry $5000 fine (the maximum under the union agreement) and immediate - though not permanent - suspension:
[Eagles Chief Executive Terry] Nisbett said it was highly unlikely the club would renew his contract at the end of the year.

"Mike's let a lot of people down, more importantly himself because he was on track and things were going well for him," he said. (ABC Sport, 19/7/2006)

Other AFL clubs were also backing away, underlining Gardiner's prospects of signing on to the dole next year:
Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of AFL clubs suggested the 2003 All-Australian was unlikely to appear in their colours next season.

No club expressed even mild interest in the ruckman and what might be required to trade for his services. Most expressed reservations about his physical ability, apart from the off-field issues that have sabotaged what should have been a stellar career. (The Age, 18/7/2006)

However, we've seen this before. This is the Terry Nesbit who sent Gardiner packing to the B-Leagues earlier this year, only to let him back after a couple of months. Already club officials are preparing the ground for Gardiner's eventual reinstatement:
[Club Chairman Dalton] Gooding told 6PR's Liam Bartlett that the football club was unable to sack Gardiner, who had admitted drinking alcohol before crashing his car into two parked vehicles near his home in Scarborough on Monday night.

Mr Gooding said that under a collective bargaining agreement with the AFL Players' Association, Gardiner's contract could not be terminated.


"As a footballer, his career is not over,'' Mr Gooding said. "Whether he remains at the West Coast Eagles after the end of this season is remote, but certainly the door has not been firmly shut.


"But obviously we'd need a considerable improvement in Michael's attitude, which is disappointing in view of the fact that when he got sent back to Claremont (for two months earlier this season) he'd done everything right. (Perth Now, 19/7/2006)

So, I guess it's the standard modus operandi: they'll ride out the current storm and put him back in the side in about, oh, I dunno, a month? Let him get a few matches in during the finals and come back next year.

Really, the club needs to put their foot down and take a stand on this. If they don't, they're sending a signal that says "hey - being good at footy can make up for any number of sins." This will encourage worse and worse behaviour by the players, which - as role models - engenders deteriorating standards throughout society. We should not have to put up with feckless morons jeopardising our collective well-being so that a footy club can kick a few more goals.

West Coast Eagles, we urge you to be strong and keep this dickhead out of your team. For good.

*** UPDATE ***

Turns out Gardiner's been charged with drink-driving and will front up to the beak in Perth. Still, it's unlikely Gardiner will be out for good ... suitably cynical analysis from Murdoch's man Patrick Smith about how West Coast's ranking will over-ride all other considerations.

Is Michael Gardiner Depressed?

It's a little known fact that senior officials in AFL clubs are automatically conferred with medical qualifications, in recognition of their extraordinary capacities and responsibilities. For example, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, the West Coast Eagles were able to diagnose Gardiner via press release:
Of greatest concern is Michael's depressed mental state and the club intends to further assist him to ensure that he gets the appropriate counselling and off-field direction required to get his life in order. (Footy Goss, 18/7/2006)

This was backed up by club CEO Trevor Nisbett ("I think it is [depression] ..."), who will be guest starring in an upcoming episode of TV's House, MD, alongside Hugh Lawrie. We're all looking forward to that. Chairman Dalton Gooding had a bob each way with "Well, something is not right . Whether it's depression or a lack of discipline, or what." Wise man. Best to not rush to any conclusions.

And what of the man himself? Gardiner is quoted as saying "I'm not depressed. I wasn't depressed last night, I'm not depressed now and I'm staggered the club is going down that path." Sadly, refusal to face up to depression is a well-known, classic sign of depression. It's also a highly-reliable indicator of not being depressed. This dilemma has confounded some of the best medical brains in the business - but not Nisbett. The clarity that can only come from not being a trained psychiatrist is his diagnostic strength. Good on ya, Trev.

But Gardiner - depressed or otherwise - does raise a pertinent point. Why would the club be going down that path? What kind of new development or find could they be preparing the public for with such claims?

Apropos of nothing at all, did you know that some people into "party drugs" take (legal) anti-depressants at the same time? It's an interesting little fact. You see, drugs like methamphetamines and ecstasy work by stimulating the release of a neurotransmitter (="natural brain chemical") called serotonin. This is what gives you the high. However, the body quickly re-absorbs it, meaning your pill will wear off after about four hours.

Many anti-depressants are from a class called SSRIs (="Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors"). This class of drugs will - as you can guess from the name - stop your body from absorbing that serotonin that your pill just released. That means you have a bigger, longer-lasting high. Neat, hey? But of course, it's very dangerous and only for hard-core, drug-addled, extreme risk-takers.

Something to ponder, no?

Citations: The Age, 18/7/2006; ABC Sport, 19/7/2006; The Age, 18/7/2006; Perth Now, 19/7/2006; Footy Goss, 18/7/2006

Word Count: 1355

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  • Hey Greg,
    Thanks for the comment on the post for my Podcast about this issue. I am suprised you didn't comment about some of the issues that I raised in the show?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:33 pm, July 19, 2006  

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  • I'm sure his Commodore SS was probably on loan from a dealership looking to get some publicity. It's just common practice. What publicity though!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:52 pm, July 21, 2006  

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  • Yeah, maybe Holden could work it into their next advertising pitch:

    "Now with a vodka dispenser built into the dash and an extra large pill-bottle holder in the arm rest! This bad boy does 0 to 90 in a built-up suburban street and will throw away your career in seconds flat ..."

    They should get away from the Nazi/SS thing and just call it "The Bad Boy" ... with the tagline: "Time to get spanked."

    I'd like to see that!

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:12 pm, July 21, 2006  

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  • "Sadly, refusal to face up to depression is a well-known, classic sign of depression. It's also a highly-reliable indicator of not being depressed"

    As you know Greg, I am not a talent word Smith, like yourself, and in fact nearly flunked out of English but surely these to lines are completely contradictory? How can saying your not depressed be a "highly-reliable indicator of not being depressed" if you say that many people suffering clinical depression suffer from a "refusal to face up to depression"?

    But then again what would I know, I blow my nose during a podcast!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:23 pm, July 21, 2006  

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  • Let me walk you through it: sometimes people who claim "I'm not depressed" actually are depressed. If you are not depressed and someone says you are, then you'll (correctly) say "I'm not depressed".

    That's why I called it a dilemma. Get it? It's hard to tell whether or not people have depression or not, just on the basis of their denials. This is why psychiatrists get paid the big bucks.

    Reading the above I'm reminded why you should never try to explain your jokes ...

    By Blogger Greg, at 6:39 pm, July 21, 2006  

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  • That was a joke? Oh, I thought jokes where meant to be funny! Silly me.

    I understand the principal. You know like some people say there not jealous of people making lots of money from playing footy when they are!

    Come on, admitt it, you stuffed up. You said another stupid thing and were caught out. Its alright. No ones perfect, not even highly paid football players (as you keep telling us).


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:37 pm, July 21, 2006  

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  • Apparently the word on the street is that Ben Cousins was in the car too, it was not reported but he did miss the following game that week 'being rested' more like dropped for disciplinary reasons. he and Gardiner are close friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:12 pm, August 15, 2006  

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  • Heard this but as it was well put at the time, if Cousins was in the car he wouldn't have missed the next week for "disciplinary reasons", he would have missed the next week because he was dead!

    Did you see the car?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:58 pm, August 17, 2006  

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  • Nah, Benny wasn't in the car at the time of the accident - he got out a couple of hundred metres up the road and was running with his shirt off.

    Truth be told, he was racing Gardiner' SS Commodore, which is he why Gardiner spun out of control and pranged.

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:40 pm, August 17, 2006  

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  • Truth be known Michael Gardiner is not a nice person at all. He was disliked at Hale School by most of his teachers, most of the other students and all of the other parents.
    He is disliked by his neighbors, with people selling up and moving to get away from his inconsiderate and aggressive behaviour. I he Mummy and Daddy hadn't been rich enough to send him to that stuck up private school (football scholarship not withstanding) he would probably be driving a tow truck and giving that industry a bad name. This idiot needs to take a long hard look at himself and recognise what a thoroughly detestable human being he has become. What a shame to see all that football talent wasted on one so un-deserving.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:46 am, August 28, 2006  

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  • "Many anti-depressants are from a class called SSRIs (="Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors"). This class of drugs will - as you can guess from the name - stop your body from absorbing that serotonin that your pill just released. That means you have a bigger, longer-lasting high."

    G'day mate, enjoying reading through your blogs :) but I thought i'd let you know that this statement is wrong. Your brain normally has a bunch of seretonin stored up at any given time. When you take ecstasy, it releases all of theese stores and your brain is flooded with it, giving you the high. SSRI's do stop your brain from absorbing seretonin as you mentioned, but the effect is not a longer high - in fact, it's completely impossible to get high from ecstasy while on a SSRI. The pill does absolutely nothing.

    I can tell you this from a technical viewpoint, and from the personal experiences of many of my friends. Take it easy!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:33 pm, April 23, 2007  

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  • i really hope somebody reads this.
    but im so glad we picekd gardi up everybody thought his career was over after this and e has came back and playing great footy and no off-field stuff. absoulutely great to see

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 pm, August 19, 2009  

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  • Well, credit where it's due: Michael Gardiner seems to have kept his nose clean.

    By Blogger Greg, at 10:10 pm, August 19, 2009  

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  • He just got married - that should see him settle down.

    By Anonymous Steven, at 4:32 am, November 08, 2009  

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