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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Few Roos Loose In Top Paddock

As morale at the club plummets, a mob of Kangaroos has taken to hitting the bottle to numb the pain of their move to the Gold Coast. The resulting bad behaviour was severe enough to warrant police using capsicum spray to subdue them. (Which has to be a first for a Lionel Richie winery gig.) Like spiteful bad tenants, it seems the Kangaroos plan to leave Melbourne strewn with empties, thoroughly trashed, blood-spattered and covered in vomit.

The action kicked-off late on Saturday night, when Matthew Campbell was charged with resisting arrest and being drunk in a public place at about 1.30am. Details are still sketchy about where and why, but we'll keep you posted as they come to hand.

The second incident took place at a relaxed, fun concert "for grown-ups" at a winery just out of town. A chilled crowd grooves on the lawns to the soulful stylings of head-line act Lionel Richie. Until that mob of bloody roos shows up, frothing and kicking!

Aaron Edwards, Shannon Grant and Hamish McIntosh clashed with security after a night of drinking at a Lionel Richie concert at a Victorian winery on Saturday night.

Edwards was ejected by police from the A Day On The Green gig at Scotchmans Hill winery at Drysdale, near Geelong, on Saturday night.

Premiership player Grant intervened to try to stop police taking his teammate away, with police reportedly using capsicum spray to deter him. (Fox Sports, 3/12/2007)

Remember back in March? Aaron Edwards was caught on tape with convicted drug dealer, Shane Water, as part of the Daniel Kerr "Special K" scandal. Maybe he should put an order in for panadol instead, because the hang-over must be a killer.

Other reports gave more detail into what lead up to the outbreak of ugliness:

Witnesses said Edwards was staggering and falling over.

One onlooker told the Herald Sun the 23-year-old was skulling from bottles of white wine before he collapsed among the crowd of more than 10,000 at Scotchmans Hill winery.

"Edwards was just lying on the ground. They couldn't get him off the ground he was that far gone," one man said.

"McIntosh was trying to get him up. He was probably the most sober one out of the three of them. They were terrible. Grant was falling over everywhere as well."

Trouble started when police, alerted to Edwards' state, went to investigate.
Kangaroos football manager Donald McDonald said Grant thought Edwards was going to be arrested and tried to defuse the situation.

"Shannon said, 'No, don't worry, he's with us, he'll be all right', and then Shannon said the police capsicum-sprayed them and led Aaron away," Mr McDonald said.

"They escorted him around the back to the winery and let him and his girlfriend go. No charges were laid.

"Then the police came back and put water in Shannon's eyes, and the other party members, and off they went.

"Shannon had his whole family there. Even the dad got sprayed."

Several witnesses took photos as the incident erupted. (PerthNow, 3/12/2007)

Great to see such thorough citizen journalism when it comes to AFL footballers. Yet another witness came forwards - insisting on anonymity - to recount her harrowing story to The Age:

"I was working at ... a A Day On The Green, and saw Aaron Edwards being dragged out by police in a T-shirt and his red jocks," the woman said.

"His shorts had fallen off while police were trying to restrain him. His girlfriend grabbed his shorts and was screaming at him to get up off the ground.

"My mates and I were sitting on the grass and he was right in front of us while it all happened."

The woman said Edwards' teammates asked police not to eject him from the venue in front of concertgoers.

"He had to be hand cuffed, and his fellow footballer mates were begging the police not to take him through the crowd of people, but they did."

The woman said she spotted Edwards again outside the venue.

"I then saw them once they had been escorted out, and Aaron Edwards was rolling down the hill still in his underwear in the car park." (The Age, 3/12/2007)

It's a terrible spectacle, that of a grown man, drunk off his gourd, eyes streaming with tears, shorts down, pathetically scrabbling to pull them up while pleading with police to allow him to preserve what remained of his dignity by not cuffing his hands. Watching him and his friends beg to be spared the humiliation that comes with parading him through a crowd of tormentors in such condition must be sickening.

So it's a bit bloody cheeky for Kangaroos' general manager of football operations Donald McDonald to claim, by way of apology, that "Thankfully no member of the public was directly affected by either of these incidents."

I'd say that bearing witness to terrible drunken behaviour, clashes with security guards, police confrontation, capsicum spray and ritual humiliation is pretty distressing when you're trying to enjoy a Lionel Richie concert.

The only slight relief came when Edwards, on being given his phone call, was overhead to say "I just called, to say ... Mum, can you post bail?".

Sadly, I don't think this is the last we'll see of drunken violence and other bad behaviour from the Kangaroos. With their club all but gone from Melbourne, they'll lash out vengefully at the city who so cruelly rebuffed them. After two years of booze-fuelled agro, the Kangaroos be a perfect cultural fit for the Gold Coast as Toolie Ambassadors.

*** UPDATE ***

Sadly, it seems the Kangaroos are planning to stick it out as North Melbourne for the time being after turning down a stupendously generous deal to move to Carrara on the Gold Coast. While the AFL executive - particularly Andy Demetriou - seems to think they'll last about six months without the $100M they offered, the AFL is pressing ahead with plans for a 17th club on the Gold Coast anyway.

In terms of citizen safety, this is a worst case scenario: angry, sullen North Melbourne players roaming the streets looking for any excuse to lash out before their demise plus a whole new batch of 40-odd AFL players emerging in the Gold Coast. If the West Coast Eagles have taught us anything, it's that these isolated, artificial clubs can quickly revert, Lord of the Flies-style, into dangerous nests of immorality, vice and sleaze.

Heaven help us.

*** UPDATE ***

The Kangaroos have suspended Shannon Grant for a match for "breaking club rules" at a golf day.

No details as yet as to the nature of his offence, nor whether or not he copped another burst of capsicum spray this time. Stay tuned.

Citations: Fox Sports, 3/12/2007; PerthNow, 3/12/2007; The Age, 3/12/2007

Word Count: 955

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