The AFL Player Spectator Current AFL Threat Level

Millionaires with a Year Ten Education
<     >

Monday, February 26, 2007

Kerr Unleashed On Fearful Public

More jaw-dropping misbehaviour from serial offender Daniel Kerr throws a spotlight on the troubled West Coast Eagles. What the hell are they putting in the water over there? Alcohol, presumably. Perth is not taking the news well. Reports are trickling out of mass absenteeism, empty streets, closed shops and deserted shopping malls as citizens stay home. Apparently, there's been a run on tinned food and bottled water as households hoard essentials. It's unlikely the siege mentality will lift while Kerr is free to walk the streets.

Daniel Kerr was scheduled to appear in Perth's Magistrate Courts tomorrow (Tuesday) over an earlier matter in which he was alleged to have been involved with a teenager copping a broken nose and missing teeth. Apparently, the prospect of an imminent court appearance wasn't enough to check his behaviour over the weekend:

It is understood Kerr had gone to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital with a friend who fell ill at a Subiaco restaurant on Saturday night. But hospital staff had to ask him to leave because of his poor behaviour. Once outside, Kerr began arguing with a taxi driver, allegedly jumped on the boot of a taxi and broke off its rear aerial. Police are investigating claims Kerr struck the taxi driver with the aerial. He was arrested in a nearby suburb [Nedlands] and taken to the Perth watch-house. (The Age, 26/2/2007)

Today (Monday), Kerr took his medicine in court:

West Coast Eagles midfielder Daniel Kerr has pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to assaulting a taxi driver in Perth on Saturday night.


Kerr has been fined $1,500 for the assault, and $300 for the damage to the taxi.

The West Coast Eagles have fined Kerr the maximum penalty of $10,000.

The original charge of disorderly conduct was upgraded to assault causing bodily harm and damage after details of the incident with the taxi driver became apparent. (ABC Online, 26/2/2007)

Of course, the mollified and subdued Kerr that presented in court was a shadow of the fired-up and aggressive thug in the watch-house:

A West Coast supporter, who shared a cell with the footballer after being arrested for allegedly urinating in public, said he did not recognise Kerr at first glance.

"To be honest, when he first walked in, I didn't realise it was him and that's because he was that pissed, hey," Josh Scott, 18, said. "The cops said, 'How's Kerr going?'

"I said, 'Is that Daniel Kerr?' I didn't realise because he was so pissed.

"I said, 'What are you doing, mate, you're meant to be playing in the NAB Cup game against Freo. Let's keep the tally rolling against Freo'," Scott said. "His response to that was, 'Do you want to have a punch-up?'. I reminded him about what happened with (Ben) Cousins and (Michael) Gardiner and he didn't really say too much." (SMH, 26/2/2007)

This man is a dangerous trouble-maker whose propensity for violence is well-established. What steps are being taken to protect the public (including hospital and transport workers)? No wonder the good citizens of Perth are cowering in their homes, afraid to leave lest they find a deranged footballer on a yet another drunken rampage.

Kerr is no stranger to the police and the courts, having been fined in 2004 for passing a fake prescription for Valium to a pharmacist. He was also involved in a brawl with Ben Cousins in 2002, in which Cousins' arm was broken.

What's the reaction from his club for this prize stooge casting a pall of terror over the Western Australia's largest city? Sadly predictable:

But after voicing his disappointment, [Eagles coach and chief apologist John] Worsfold said he would recommend Kerr receive a $10,000 fine - not lose his place in the team.

"Our match committee is pretty adamant he should cop a fine so we will be recommending that to our board," Worsfold said.

"I am not going to predict the future but he hasn't got to that level (of getting put back to the WAFL).

"He wasn't out that late, but he has had an indiscretion where he wasn't in control of himself, and that has hurt us as a club.

"He has to learn what he can and what he can't do. And if he can't have a few drinks and control his emotions then he shouldn't drink.

"There is no doubt he gets targeted more than anyone when he is out and about, so he now has to make a decision: 'Do I keep putting myself in those positions - what's my priorities?'"


"I think it was midnight when he got picked up and he was on his way home, as far as I know - in that regard he hasn't really affected how he can perform next week," Worsfold said. (AAP, 26/2/2007)

Yeah, right. Poor old Daniel Kerr was being targeted and picked on by the dastardly nurses and doctors at the hospital who sought to provoke him into a fight. Obviously, working Accident and Emergency in a major hospital at midnight on Saturday is very boring and the staff there have nothing better to to do than single out footballers for harassment. Ditto for taxi drivers working that shift. They get heaps of status for picking on footballers and egging them into fights.

You have to admire the chutzpah of AFL coaches these days. When they just come out and say "yes, he's a prick but what can we do? He's just too damn good at footy and I'm powerless to sanction him because we want to win real bad", they get hounded for it (like Mick Malthouse). On the other hand, if they try to mount a defence (like Denis Pagan), they just end up trashing their own reputations by spewing the most implausible rubbish like this.

Perhaps the best spin on it might be that the club is awaiting the outcome of Kerr's other court appearance this week (also on violence charges) before deciding to bench him. I wouldn't hold your breath. Until clubs like West Coast are prepared to say "we don't want dickheads like that representing us on the field", the citizens of Perth will have to hunker down and pray they don't fall victim to their out-of-control footballers.

*** UPDATE ***

Daniel Kerr pleaded guilty to assault at a party in Perth. He was fined $2,000 for striking a teenager in a brawl. (To put that amount in perspective, he will have "earned" this before quarter time on Saturday. Port Adelaide was fined significantly more than this for wearing a slightly-wrong uniform last weekend.)

His club said "[The West Coast Eagles] will impose no additional sanction and will make no further comment."

Privately, many fans and officials are delighted to see the Eagles rally in the face of strong competition from Freo for "worst club in the league". With both Jeff Farmer and Chris Tarrant in their corner, Freo have the upper hand. Kerr has been carrying the club for some time now, but many observers are confident a Ben Cousins supernova is imminent.

*** UPDATE ***

Reports are emerging about a weekend punch-on in a Perth nightclub car park, involving high-profile West Coasters Daniel Kerr and Andrew Embley. In light of the ongoing Ben Cousins fiasco, WCE needs this like a hole in the head. But it seems Special K's propensity for violence knows no bounds:

WA Police confirmed they had been called to an incident outside the Niche bar, but by the time officers had arrived any trouble had dissipated.

No charges have been laid, or look likely to be, unless an official complaint is made.

And after local radio stations began reporting today vice-captain Embley was one of those involved, the Eagles vigorously denied any wrongdoing by their players.

"As far as we are concerned the players have done nothing wrong. They are on leave, and they were out at the pub," an Eagles' spokesman told AAP.

"It was light hearted by-play ... a bit of push and shove ... and suddenly it has become a big thing."

Both Kerr and Embley are no strangers to controversy, with Embley having been caught up in the furore surrounding Cousins' suspension on the eve of the 2007 season.

Embley and teammate Daniel Chick were involved in a brawl over Cousins around the time of his suspension from the club in March. (Adelaide Now, 29/10/2007)

Hmmm. Is anyone else detecting a pattern here? These guys are bad news and it's a testament to the blind ambition of the West Coast Eagle's leadership that the four knobs are still on their books. Oh wait, make that three. How long before Chick and Kerr get the arse too?

*** UPDATE ***

More chilling evidence of the mentality that pervades the West Coast Eagles. This time, it was a sworn statement from an alleged victim of Daniel Kerr. The Age reports today that Drew Hodgekiss, 18, alleged he had his shirt pulled over his head and was bashed by Kerr at a party. Apparently, he then told police that Kerr said "I am too good for the Eagles. They wouldn't delist me."

This sort of attitude is not surprising. Mick Malthouse's remarks during the Tarrant/Johnson bashing incident pretty much confirm the view that standout players are above rebuke.

How disgusting. This widespread mindset in AFL means that no club wins or loses any more games overall (hey, it's a zero-sum game!), yet hoodlums know they can get away with whatever they like. Being told they're special only increases their proclivity for violence. Seen in this light, allegations that Andrew Lovett told an ex-girlfriend he could "get away with murder" take on a much more sinister tone.

Citations: ABC Online, 26/2/2007; SMH, 26/2/2007; AAP, 26/2/2007; Adelaide Now, 29/10/2007

Word Count: 1513

Labels: , , ,


<     >

Friday, February 23, 2007

Footy Mum Speaks Out

The competency of AFL clubs in nurturing players has been put under scrutiny by one player's mother. Faced with accusations of putting their interests ahead of the young men plucked from obscurity, club and union officials have hit back. But is the debate denying the players' own culpability, and what responsibility should the wider community shoulder?

In light of the recent player betting scandal unfolding across the AFL, Yvonne Hale (mother of noted punter David Hale) has spoken out to The Age. Respected footy journalist Caroline Wilson has kicked off a debate about the "malaise" affecting many AFL players with too much "down-time". While such a spirited defence of her son is to be expected, we shouldn't be under any illusions that clubs - as self-interested businesses - are poorly placed to act in locus parentis.

Yvonnne Hale's specific complaints about the clubs' behaviour are no doubt well-founded:

She said her son was not a problem gambler but had been "hung out to dry", the victim of a gambling and game-boy culture, despite being assured by the Kangaroos five years ago that the club would develop her son's off-field education and skills.

She said no one from the club had told her when Hale dropped out of his university course after one semester because second semester exams clashed with the Kangaroos' end-of-season trip.

"I am distraught that my beautiful, loyal, loving and trustworthy son has been portrayed as a criminal," Yvonne said.

" . . . The president of his football club has stated that they are 'disappointed' with my son. Well, let me tell you that I am very disappointed in a club that promised me so much when they 'kidnapped' my son at the tender age of 17-and-a-half, just out of year 12."

Yvonne said that many mothers of young footballers agreed with her but would not publicly expose the social problems associated with the AFL system for fear of retribution.


"Most mothers feel if they speak up or speak out about the system, they're jeopardising their sons' careers," she said.

"It was said by the club's recruiting officer that the young boys would be either working or furthering their education. This is so, so far from the actual truth. The boys instead spend endless hours doing nothing productive at all.

"They obviously soon learn the fun of betting on the horses and anything else that will give them a bit of a rush and help fill in the endless down time hours that an AFL recruit is exposed to." (Realfooty, 21/2/2007)

Here at The Speccy, we've written extensively about the psychological dangers of "Playstation Syndrome", the appalling state of AFL player education and development and the broader issue of just paying them too damn much for doing too damn little. These pages chronicle several dozen incidents in the past couple of years involving some scandal, criminality or both arising from these systemic problems.

With AFL players in court every other week, it can hardly be a shock to AFL mothers that AFL culture is corrosive. What, then, is to be made of parents who sign over their teenaged boys (under 18) to the clubs? Surely, it must be apparent that the promises and razzle-dazzle offered by the clubs is pure lip-service? Like that from former Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide coach, Peter Rohde (supposedly one of the best in the business in terms of looking after his players' wider interests):

During his tenure as coach of the Bulldogs, from mid-season 2002 to 2004 inclusive, he ordered his entire senior list to find jobs or enrol in courses, and any player failing to do so faced the match committee for disciplinary action.

He said it was a policy at Port Adelaide, and almost certainly at every other club, that players do their best to be employed or enrolled in a course of some kind.

"It's about thinking about something other than football in their spare time," Rohde said. "It is too easy for players to become addicted to PlayStations, and in some cases gambling.


"Some have nothing to do, and it is important for the players to be guided in the right direction.

"At Port Adelaide we try to guide the players as much as possible to help them use their idle time well, and prepare them for the workforce.

"The player also has to face the responsibility that there is life other than football.

"We believe at Port that it is not only our role to prepare young men for AFL football, but our responsibility to help give them their best chance in life.

"It is not easy for the clubs. We each take young players, some from interstate, and we consider their wellbeing outside of football is of paramount importance.

"It is important for their parents to know that. At the end of the day the responsibility rests with the players, and at Port we work hard to educate them to make the right choices." (Realfooty, 22/2/07)

So, what do we get for all these platitudes and bland motherhood statements? Where are the results? Did Dean Brogan graduate from these touchy-feely programs? This kind of rhetoric is all about fiddling at the edges while maintaining a steady stream of fresh meat into the clubs. If the clubs were serious, we'd see these expectations about off-field behaviours translate into on-field selection. Of course, that will never happen. Instead, we get more blather like this from Brendan Gale (chief shop steward for the players' union):

AFL players receive unprecedented levels of public support and they acknowledge that with public support, higher standards of behaviour are expected and a responsibility to act professionally.

There are few more accountable positions in Australia than that of AFL footballer. Pick up a newspaper and you're likely to read a story placing a footballer under intense scrutiny. Put in a bad game, whack. Make a minor error of judgement, whack. Nothing is off limits or deemed as too minor to not be worthy of comment and analysis. AFL football is a demanding, full-time, professional sport.


Last year 83 per cent of all players were either studying full or part-time at university or for professional qualifications, studying full or part-time at TAFE, or involved in a business or involved in part-time employment. All of this in addition to their full-time role as a professional footballer. (Realfooty, 22/2/2007)

Brendan, there's constantly AFL footy players in the papers getting scrutinised because many are heavily involved in criminality, including serious matters like bashings, drink-driving, rapes and drug abuse. Hell, what does it say when we see nine scandals over the Christmas period and Collingwood alone has four players in court in one month! Is this "scrutiny" really caused by them being AFL players? Or is it their (collectively) atrocious behaviour? I'd argue that the AFL instills attitudes and provides opportunities for criminality. Absent a properly functioning criminal justice system, bad press is the only (albeit weak) check on their behaviour.

At least Gale admits that around one in five players is barely "working" (ie training) for a just a couple of days a week (with several months a year off), without any outside commitments. When you couple this with the realisation that the other four players may just be enrolled in pointless, time-wasting, tailor-made short-courses (personal grooming for media 101) or artificial promotional jobs (signing footies for the kids), the extent of the problem becomes obvious. C'mon, Brendan, how many players are employed in real (non-footy but paying) jobs or undertaking serious (accredited) study? The fact the Hale's club scheduled their footy trip during uni exams speaks volumes.

Disturbingly, the AFL Players Association's own figures show the magnitude of the "chew 'em up, spit 'em out" mentality:

But football is fickle; according to the AFL players' association, the average career is only 43 games, and the chances of any one player reaching 50 games is just 29.3 per cent.

Only 14.8 per cent of players make it to 100 games and 6.8 per cent to 150, 2.7 per cent of drafted players will reach 200 games, while only one in every hundred draftees will play 250. Only 0.4 per cent of players ever reach the magical 300-game figure. (The Age, 23/2/2007)

But should we save all of our ire for the clubs that use up human beings like this? After all, parents and players must be going into it with eyes open. They must realise that for all the talk of opportunity, empowerment, development, tools etc that the bulk of footballers make lifelong sacrifices to their personal, social and economic development for the sake of a couple of seasons of professional football. A record high score on Medal of Honor and an intimate knowledge of the racing form will not prepare these young adults for a life outside footy.

I'd argue that, much like with politicians, we get the footballers we deserve. By and large, we're happy to put up with the fallout on society resulting from the toxic mix of commercial interests and tribalism that permeates the game. Parents are happy to see their sons offered up to feed the machine for a year or two. If we made our support of the clubs conditional on better behaviour, we'd get it. But until clubs stop fielding violent and lawless players (who happen to be good), we'll see the current low standards continue to spiral downwards.

Citations: Realfooty, 21/2/2007; Realfooty, 22/2/07; Realfooty, 22/2/2007; The Age, 23/2/2007

Word Count: 1610

Labels: , ,


<     >

Monday, February 19, 2007

Spread Your Bets - Footballers Caught Out

It's all so ... tawdry. A betting scandal has engulfed the ranks of the Australian Football League, with four players being named for wagering on matches. While the details are slowly emerging, a carefully choreographed piece of theatre unfolds to ensure damage is contained.

First announced five weeks ago, the AFL has been investigating the use of betting accounts in the players' own names with Betfair and Tabcorp. It's expected the inquiry - headed by AFL investigators Allan Roberts and Bill Kneebone - will expand to include other betting agencies, taking two weeks to conclude.

As pointed out by various bookies, the players can easily use the accounts of their friends and families. The fact that they overlooked this basic precaution speaks volumes of the players' stupidity, arrogance and confidence in getting away with it. Further, it suggests that a larger group of players who did have the nous to hide their dodgy wagering behind false names remain undetected.

For the record, here are the greedy idiots named so far:

Adelaide Crows midfielder Simon Goodwin, Melbourne's Daniel Ward, Swans youngster Keiren Jack and Kangaroos ruckman David Hale have been named as the four players being investigated by the AFL for betting on senior matches in the 2006 season. (ABC Online, 17/2/2007)

(Regulars might remember Simon Goodwin as the mulitple-award winning footballer who assaulted a photographer and made threats to kill after being photographed wild-eyed and out of control at 11am. Don't worry though, this won't affect his leadership potential.)

The problem with footballers punting on footy matches is obvious. Equally clear is the temptation: like bourbon and coke, jet skis and bleached blonde grid girls, gambling is one of the great bogan indulgences. Giving way too much cash to bored and listless footballers while expecting them not to wager is foolhardy in the extreme.

Hence, the AFL has a very clear policy on gambling, which it rams home with a blistering series of player seminars, online statements, monitoring of wagering activities, various kinds of "tut-tut" noises and legally-binding contracts. All of which counts for nowt. (Makes you wonder about the kind of traction other policies - like those around drug abuse, racism and misogyny - are getting with players.)

There is a Gambling Workshop at the induction camp for the newly drafted players and players are warned at annual visits to clubs by AFLPA staff.

The AFL players code of conduct states footballers are prohibited from betting "on any aspect of an AFL match".

"The AFL regulations also prohibit the passing on of information that is not publicly available concerning teams playing in any match (including the actual or likely composition of the team, players injuries, the form of players and tactics) unless given in a bona fide media interview," it states. (, 17/2/07)

Interestingly, under this policy, players are not allowed to participate in the AFL Misbehaviour Market (betting on AFL player court appearances), since this would entail informing on "the actual or likely composition of the team". Even though the criminal justice systems conspires to ensure that players are never ever inconvenienced, there's still a chance one will slip through the net and actually miss a game because of the latest bashing, rape, drink-driving, domestic violence etc incident.

This is, of course, publicity the AFL doesn't want. It has deals with the betting companies to get a slice of the wagering action. (Why? Surely the results of a footy match are public information? If you want proof-positive of the immense power wielded by footy officials in the country, just contemplate how they manage to screw hard-headed businesses into handing over money for free.) Naturally, the AFL doesn't want anything to jeopardise the flow of cash into their coffers. This is behind The Tisers speculation that "it is believed the AFL wanted the issue hushed up until they were in a position to announce the players' penalties, believed to be hefty fines." (The Adelaide Advertiser, 17/2/07).

There's also the mystery as to why the clubs came out and named their players so quickly once the story broke that "unnamed players" were punting. (Compare and contrast with the handling of drug abuser identities - which is actually a criminal matter as well as a violation of the toothless AFL Code of Conduct.) One theory is that a story about "unnamed players" at certain clubs would lead to speculation (and evidence!) flowing out in an uncontrolled fashion. You know, people phoning up the talk-back radio saying "I saw such-and-such at the TAB", nasty rumours published on footy hate-blogs. That kind of thing. No, better to put a firebreak around the issue, hang a couple of the more stupid players out to dry and let the rest slink off quietly.

More of footy's dirty secrets escape. More evidence of the lawless, arrogant and "special" nature of Aussie Rules' elite. More undermining of the League's ability to control its players. More spin, managed information release and big-money machinations from the chiefs. More reason to hold the entire AFL in contempt and disgust.

*** UPDATE ***

The players in question seem to have avoided any suspension or serious penalty at all. In fact, the only things suspended were half the value of the fines:

The league handed down fines of $55,000 to three players who bet on AFL matches, while a fourth received a reprimand.

Adelaide star Simon Goodwin received the harshest penalty, slugged $40,000, although half was suspended pending any future breach of the AFL's gambling laws.


But the AFL's bark could lack any investigative bite, with football operations manager Adrian Anderson admitting the league only has access to betting information from two companies - Tabcorp and Betfair.


Adelaide said Goodwin would remain in the club's leadership group and not be punished further.


While there were no bans this time, Anderson said any player caught from now on would be suspended, or in the most extreme case banned from playing AFL. (SMH, 1/3/2007)

So they nearly got it right: full fines plus suspensions from play plus demotion for those in "leadership" positions. The message seems to be that they'll get it right next time. Maybe. I have my doubts. Perhaps the message sent is "Guys, we don't want the grief and bad press so make sure you place bets through a friend at one of the dozens of other betting outlets." This betting is probably unstoppable: Cashed up bogans like a punt and footballers will not be told what to do.

Citations: ABC Online, 17/2/2007;, 17/2/07; The Adelaide Advertiser, 17/2/07; SMH, 1/3/2007

Word Count: 1122

Labels: , , ,


<     >

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Case of The Ballarat Blues

It seems things have gone from bad to worse over at Carlton with news of another alcohol-fuelled altercation involving a repeat offender and a "leadership candidate". Heath Scotland and Lance Whitnall have managed to turn a night out in sleepy Ballarat into the news story of the week, with allegations of more footy abuse and violence coming forwards.

After several dozen stories like this in the past couple of years, we know the drill. Right now, the slow creaking sound of the wheels of justice turning is drowned out by the ka-ching of cash registers as the football club in question and the media make rival bids for the story. Channel Nine - newly freed from its prohibitively expensive AFL deals - has an unusually large bucket of cash to spend on footy scandals. Perhaps this change in the corporate landscape explains why Nine managed the scoop:

Relaxing at home with son Dylan, Matthew Keetch and his partner, Yvette, this morning relived their harrowing run in with Carlton footballer Heath Scotland about 5am on Sunday [the 11th of February, 2007].

The couple told National Nine News they approached Blues captaincy candidate Lance Whitnall outside the Bended Elbow bar in Ballarat and chatted to him. Then they say Scotland appeared from nowhere and picked a fight.

"I don'’t know if they'd been drinking or what, but he was just mad," Mr Keetch said.

"He was crazy - like a wild animal."

After striking Yvette, it's alleged Scotland turned on one of their friends after a barrage of abuse.

"He was calling me a lesbian and I turned around and said: 'I don't appreciate that. I'm not one. I have a son'," Yvette said.

"And that's when he punched me."

Both Scotland and Whitnall were questioned at the Ballarat police station yesterday. The investigation is continuing and there is no word yet on whether charges will be laid. (NineMSN, 12/2/2007)

This shows the dangers of AFL's footy super-heroes mingling with the riff-raff in country towns. Melbourne police are well-and-truly cowed and know the procedure: if footballers have allegations made against them, wait several months and only proceed reluctantly. (No doubt Ballarat isn't as exciting as Brisbane for a detectives' day trip.)

Still, despite the alarmingly fair and efficient Ballarat police, there's still plenty of room for more experienced coppers from Melbourne to come down to help them wiggle out of this one to ensure the footballers aren't inconvenienced. Whether it's young Andrew Krakouer or beautiful Brodie Holland, it's all about making sure they get to play footy.

Of course, Carlton slapped the obligatory token "fine" (ie around one match payment) on the group for staying out so late, ensuring that that junior players Shaun Grigg, Kade Simpson, Brad Fisher and Michael Jamison learn the importance of being seen to do something. (As an aside, are all the bad ones called Heath or Kade now?) Carlton coach Denis Pagan checked his balls at the door before declaring that Lance Whitnall was still in the running for the captaincy:

Pagan said from his point of view, being fined and undergoing the "humiliation" of facing the media were punishment enough for being out late.

Whitnall hopes the incident will not hurt his captaincy chances and Pagan signalled he was still in the running.

"The easiest thing in the world - and I'm sure we're going to be criticised for whichever decision we make - would be to cut Lance's head off or Heath's head off, or the other four boys involved," Pagan said.

"We want to make sure they all learn from it - perhaps sometimes the hardest thing to do is to give a second chance." (The West, 12/2/2007)

I don't think there's any prospect that anyone's humiliated here: you have to have a sense of shame to feel humiliation and clearly AFL players have none. That massive ego, the arrogance, the knowledge that everyone worships you and everything you touch turns to gold. No, there's no shame here. Like with Whitnall's response to why they were all out at 5am - unbelievably, none of the six was wearing a watch! Only if you were up against an internationally-competitive embarrassing drunken thug like Brendan Fevola would a statement like that be accepted as evidence of "leadership material". Still, you gotta feel sorry that poor old Pagan has to scrape muck like that out of the bottom of what is a very mucky barrel indeed.

It's nice that The Blues will grant Whitnall a second chance - as hard as that must be. What's Heath Scotland up to now? Second, third? Or does he get a season ticket? Don't worry, Denis, I'm sure handing out "second chances" gets easier with time. Just ask celebrity castrato Mick Malthouse. Hell, it was only a few months ago that Scotland was in Melbourne Magistrates Court (AFL Division) defending allegations of ... hitting a woman at a nightclub. For those who don't remember, Scotland's heartfelt desire to become a fireman ensured that he got off "Scot" free with the most half-arsed apology and minimal financial grief (less than a week's wages).

I'd like to send a big shout-out to Deputy Chief Magistrate Paul Smith who presided over Heath's last court appearance and delivered the kind of footballer justice Melburnians have long come to expect. No doubt it must be a tricky business delivering justice to huge, rich, young men who get drunk and hit women. With only my simple sense of right and wrong, I wouldn't even know where to start. I certainly wouldn't understand the complexities involved in judgements about the likelihood of re-offending etc. I do wonder though - are magistrates ever given feedback in the form of how certain cases panned out? Speaking very generally, I reckon it would help them refine their judgements about predicting future behaviour if someone actually sidled up and said "You know that bloke you let off with a warning? Well, he's done it again six months later ...". Nevermind, judges hate performance benchmarks. Back to the issue at hand.

We'll wait to see if those naive country coppers slip up and accidentally gather evidence and lay charges (whoops!). We'll see if the appointment of a newly-minted billionaire president (Rich Pratt) doesn't loosen Carlton's purse strings when it comes to sorting these things outside of court. And we'll wait to see if any potential future magistrate takes into account the promises and character evidence from Heath Scotland's last court appearance for a matter like this. As Denis Pagan says "We want to make sure they all learn from it". Let's hope this applies to the criminal justice system as well as the AFL.

Citations: NineMSN, 12/2/2007; The West, 12/2/2007

Word Count: 1151

Labels: , ,


«           *           »