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Monday, October 02, 2006

Footbrawlers In Pub Bashing

It seems the end of season hijinx are well underway, with several high-profile players involving themselves in a pre-Grand Final pub brawl. (Please note we're still on the Red threat level.) Following a depressingly familiar pattern, allegations of assault are made, but as yet, there's no word on consequences for the players.

The events took place at the Prince of Wales Hotel (in St Kilda) and involved a mixture of Brisbane Lions and local Saints players. While accounts are still sketchy and video footage is being examined, the gist seems to be that current and former "heroes" had gathered for a session at lunchtime on Thursday (28th of September) at Sapore restaurant. The group of up to eight players allegedly included well-known figures Fraser Gehrig, Michael Voss, Simon Black and the lesser-known Steve Lawrence and Craig McCrae.

It was much later at 1am, inside the Prince of Wales Hotel, that the fracas kicked off. (I'm willing to be they weren't all sipping lemonade for the intervening 12 hours.) Jarrod Rouse, 27, of Box Hill and his girlfriend Jaclyn Cameron were also enjoying a drink in the pub:

Jarrod Rouse, 27, said his girlfriend Jacqueline [sic] was subjected to lewd comments and gestures.

"They were being sleazy. We all said we didn't want any trouble," Mr Rouse said.

He said Lawrence, who plays for Port Melbourne, made a threatening gesture with a pool cue as they sat at their table.

Mr Rouse, who admitted he was drunk, said Jacqueline then pushed the cue back at the former St Kilda player.

"It escalated from there. I was just there trying to protect my girl," he said.

Mr Rouse said fighting broke out, during which he wrestled with Gehrig and was struck by others.

Jacqueline said: "There were four or five people kicking my boyfriend."

Mr Rouse's friend Jules said he was punched and knocked out after the violence spilled outside.

Jules said he remembered little after the initial angry words.

"I remember the bloke putting the the pool cue in Jacqueline's face. I must have been king-hit pretty soon after that. I was out cold," he said.

Mr Rouse said he had spoken to police. (The Herald-Sun, 29/9/2006)

No further news has been forthcoming, but here are some choice quotes from other sources:
"I found myself on the ground being attacked, being stomped, being kicked," [Rouse] told Ten News. (The Australian, 29/9/2006)

Ms Cameron told Channel 7 News last night ... "I pushed it back onto him. They pulled down my dress at some point. They pulled the button off Jarrod's pants and tried to pull his pants down," Ms Cameron said. (The Age, 29/9/2006)

Mr Rouse and Ms Cameron have not been shy about letting people know what happened. The public is being asked to believe that a group of current and former footballers - after drinking for 12 hours - made lewd comments to a young woman in a pub. They go on to allege that when she reacted to having a pool cue waved in her face, she was attacked, while her boyfriend was given a good kicking by a group of four or five of them and his mate was king-hit and knocked unconscious.

This paints the group of footballers as arrogant, drunken thugs, used to throwing their weight around, disrespecting women, quick to resort to violence, not fighting fair and showing no qualms in hospitalising people with whom they disagree. Could this be right?

Of course, we have to hope that the wheels of justice begin to turn, but it seems to even a casual observer of our footy stars that this is at least a plausible account of what went down. The ugly drink-and-biff culture is well-established. There are plenty of instances of footballers using group violence as a bonding ritual. Throw in the nasty sexual tinge of allegedly pulling down Ms Cameron's dress plus the homoerotic humiliation of Mr Rowse in removing his pants and we've got typical AFL player misbehaviour on our hands.

We can only hope that the deafening silence in the media this weekend and lack of official police statement doesn't continue. Nor that these vociferous complaints will be drowned out by the familiar rustling sound of - yet again - fat wallets being opened.
*** UPDATE ***

Justice may yet be done in this disgraceful case, with detectives looking to charge some of those involved. Eight players will be sweating on this, including high-profile players Fraser Gehrig, Michael Voss and Simon Black:
Detectives will decide who will face court after they complete a review of evidence against the group, which includes current and former football stars.

Police have confirmed some AFL figures are likely to be charged with assault.

Brisbane criminal lawyer Michael Bosscher, representing Voss, Black, [Craig] McCrae and [Craig] Lambert, said his clients denied any wrongdoing.

Det. Sen-Sgt Phil Hubbard, of St Kilda police, said he expected decisions to be made late this week on who would be charged. (Sunday Herald Sun, 3/6/2007)

*** UPDATE ***

Yep, I'm delighted to report that members of this pack of brawlers have been charged:

Brownlow medallists Michael Voss and Simon Black and St Kilda forward Fraser Gehrig are among six men who have been charged over a brawl at a St Kilda hotel on September 29 last year.

Police charged former Brisbane skipper Voss with unlawful assault, while current Lions co-captain Black has been charged with recklessly causing injury and assault by kicking.

Gehrig faces one charge of unlawful assault.


Former Brisbane and St Kilda AFL player Steven Lawrence has also been charged with intentionally causing injury, two charges of unlawful assault and another charge of recklessly causing injury.


"Both Michael and Simon are disappointed with this decision," their lawyer Michael Bosscher said in a statement. (The Age, 6/6/2007)

I'll tell you what's disappointing: that drunken (coke-fuelled?) footballers run around this town like they own it, molesting women, king hitting people, sinking the boot and all while enjoying the full support of their employers. Here's hoping making an example of these idiots will scare the rest straight.

The court hearing is scheduled for August 7th, but given how loathe the courts are to inconvenience players mid-season, I'm expecting to turn up with my popcorn and sketch pad, oh, I dunno, early October? (Depends how Brissie does in the finals, I guess.)

If past experience is anything to go by, the courts graciously try to squeeze AFL players' court appearances into the tiny window between the Grand Final and the clubs' end-of-season drug-binge/sex-tourism trips. (To be fair, the courts should be grateful that the footballers even deign to attend at all.)

*** UPDATE ***

In a triumph of modern technology, security footage of the attack has been leaked to the media. This presents a rare opportunity to watch a group of highly-paid drunken footballers thumping, bashing, kicking and brawling their way to glory.

Note that The Speccy has rated the video as MA 15 (Marauding Arseholes, with combined IQ of 15).

*** UPDATE ***

While this is still before the criminal courts, The Hun is reporting that civil action has been launched against this pack:

THREE-time premiership captain and Brownlow medallist Michael Voss is among a group of former and current AFL footballers being sued over a pub brawl last year.

Voss, fellow Brownlow medallist Simon Black, St Kilda spearhead Fraser Gehrig and former Brisbane players Steven Lawrence, Craig McCrae and Craig Lambert, are facing civil action over the fight at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Melbourne on September 29 last year.

Pub patrons Jarrod Rouse, his girlfriend Jaclyn Cameron and friend Julius Smith are taking legal action against the players. (Herald-Sun, 30/8/2007)

Good for them! I hope they take the players' shirts.

Citations: The Herald-Sun, 29/9/2006; The Australian, 29/9/2006; The Age, 29/9/2006; Sunday Herald Sun, 3/6/2007; The Age, 6/6/2007

Word Count: 1185

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  • It's not the first time this little crew has got themselves into strife. Here's what happened to their Thailand trip last year:

    Thailand rejects unruly Lions

    Darren Cartwright

    Several Brisbane Lions and the AFL's Coleman medallist were turned away by Customs officials at Bangkok International Airport early on Tuesday morning after complaints on a flight from Sydney to Thailand.

    Lions vice-captain Justin Leppitsch, assistant coach Craig Lambert, forward Jonathan Brown, midfielder Tim Notting, St Kilda forward Fraser Gehrig and former Lion Steven Lawrence were among those refused entry at Bangkok. However, Lions skipper Michael Voss and Craig McRae were processed at Customs and permitted to enter the country, where they headed to the island resort of Koh Samui.

    It is believed several passengers aboard the players' Thai Airways flight complained about the behaviour of the touring group, who were loud and unruly, although none of them was refused alcohol on the flight. The group flew out of Sydney on Monday night and were forced to immediately return to Australia and arrived in back in Sydney yesterday morning.


    [Steven Lawrence] has a history of being a problem player, having once put his hand through a plate-glass window during an altercation at a Lions teammate's party, and his career ended on a low when he crashed his car and lost his licence while playing for St Kilda. The incidence of drunken behaviour on aircraft has dropped in recent years as a result of increased aviation security and several cases involving inebriated, troublesome travellers who found themselves before the courts. (Herald-Sun, 13/10/2005, via Thailand Guidebook)

    Hmmm, could this Lions/Saints nexus be a recipe for causing trouble?

    By Blogger Greg, at 5:04 pm, October 04, 2006  

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  • The compromised Victorian police are going through the motions on (one of) last year's AFL pub violence sprees. The Age reports today that:

    The Brisbane AFL club has confirmed that three former players including Brownlow medallist Michael Voss, as well as current Lions midfielder Simon Black, have been questioned by Victorian police over a Melbourne hotel brawl last September.

    Police travelled to Brisbane this week to interview Black, recently retired three-time premiership captain Voss and former teammate Craig McRae, as well as ex-Lion and current assistant coach Craig Lambert, regarding a fracas at St Kilda's Prince of Wales Hotel that left one man unconscious.

    No charges have been laid over the incident.

    It's a great piece of investigatory theatre (and a nice sunny trip up north for some detectives), but the fact remains that a group of footballers have (allegedly) hospitalised a young man after some very ugly behaviour - and only nearly six months later are they even being questioned!

    Honestly, for which other group could such (alleged) criminality result in zero penalty or inconvenience? Only AFL footballers.

    Do we love the game so much that we'll delay justice until the off-season (again) - or even retirement? This is a privilege usually reserved for heads of state, not professional sportsmen.

    Maybe I'm being unfair to the police. Maybe they know that no jury of twelve Victorians could ever convict an AFL player and that magistrates are extremely reluctant to do so too?

    As for this growing "wait until the off-season" trend ... perhaps we need to introduce a ban on the police and judiciary participating in any form of football wagering (including office footy tipping and sweeps). If they don't have a stake in the outcome of matches, then maybe the wheels of justice will turn more quickly.

    By Blogger Greg, at 3:34 pm, February 01, 2007  

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  • I have to say that this comes as no surprise. I am actually an ex-girlfriend of Lawrence's and lets just say his behaviour especially when drinking leaves a lot to be desired.

    He is an absolute disgrace and once he gets together with his "cronies" i.e Gehrig, Brown etc, they seem to develop a drunken mob mentality.

    I am not an AFL fan at all and the way these boys act turns me off the game even more. They are no better than thugs and here's hoping that justice is done and they are not allowed to get away with these actions.

    They are a blight on the community and just because they are footballers does this mean that they should be allowed to get away with this sort of thing?

    Think about how many young kids look up to AFL Players - are these people the sort of role models we want for our children. I know that should I ever have a son I will be trying to steer him clear of AFL unless something is done about the way Footballers behave and until they suffer the full consequences for their actions.

    Shame on the police and shame on the AFL.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:24 pm, February 02, 2007  

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  • I can honestly say i am disgusted by some Football players behaviour.

    Although i think the vast majority are not too different from the anyone else in the way they act, i do think some players are overly aggresive and treat other with disdain.

    There are a few bad players and many good players out there. James Hird, Brad Johnson (generally most Western Bulldogs, Anthony Koutoufides and Michael Long are players who are held in high esteem and act like genuine people.

    Recetly players like CHris Tarrant, Heath Scotland and Andrew Lovett have tarnished every single footballers name. I also find it strange that the media portrayed Fevola to be such a horribly lout when he didnt cause anydamage at all. Andrew Lovett held his girlfreind hostage and beat her, which is 100 times worse. Where is the media in this case.

    However we cannot lump all people into one basket, not all Billionaires are greedy (Warren Buffett) not all football players are hooligans and not all charities are good samaritans. Lets just keep the lid on our negative view on others. As we never really know. That said, no one should be above the law.

    It is a strange world.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:51 pm, February 12, 2007  

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  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:49 am, February 08, 2016  

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