Can we really manage our way to footy justice?

You shoulda seen the other bloke...

I’ve been intrigued by the breadth of emotion following the clash of the Steves, Johnson and Baker, in last Friday night’s match at the MCG, and by subsequent events. Most particularly, I’ve been considering the effect of AFL football management style on the conduct of the game.

Debate has raged over issues such as the “spirit of the game”, philosophical differences over the role of taggers, Baker’s provenance, umpiring and the game’s judicial system. Never let it be said we don’t take our footy seriously.

What’s quite apparent is that whether you think Baker is Jack the Ripper or Joan of Arc depends largely on your club allegiances; it’s not only Collingwood supporters who have the capacity to view things in black and white.

Sport encourages the partisan in us. And our opinions on the “spirit” in which a game should be played vary. We are unanimous in agreement that Bodyline was a grievous offence to all that was good and proper. But those of a certain age will also remember the joy we took in watching Lillee and Thommo attempt to maim various English batsmen in the ‘70s.

I only watched the Geelong and St Kilda game on TV, so I’ll confine my comments to its aftermath.

It must be said that some of the Geelong devoted seem a little affronted that opposition teams may be reluctant to let their boys roll along playing their particular brand of AFL joga bonito unimpeded. I can only take this as an indication of how sanitised the AFL environment has become, or at least its effects on peoples’ perspectives.

“Unsociable football” wasn’t invented by Clarko’s Hawks, nor will it end with them. As long as the game is played competitively, combatants will seek answers to the challenge of a more talented opponent. The game is a contest after all.

The irony of the Geelong reaction is that it’s likely to encourage the very thing against which it protests. If you were sitting in a rival camp, it would be hard not to form the conclusion from the past week that the Saints may be onto something.

This is not to imply nostalgia for some mythical age of violence. Both society and the game have moved past this. (At least we like to profess we have.)

But if the AFL world is as civilised as it likes to claim, then some attention needs to be given to how it is policed and adjudged.

I’m not one for umpire bashing. In all the years I’ve watched footy, the number of results the umpires have influenced has been minimal. If you’re whinging about the umps it usually means your team isn’t good enough.

But I can’t avoid thinking recent events speak loudly to how the AFL runs matters regarding (nominally) their core product- the playing of the game. Amid grand plans of expansion, television rights, merchandising and sponsorship, just how are they travelling when it comes to the game itself?

I wouldn’t be the only one thinking certain aspects of last Friday’s game got out of hand. That an early free kick or two might’ve prevented a lot of angst. This is not to completely absolve the players from responsibility for their actions. They are all big boys who should know better. But they weren’t the only ones on the ground with responsibilities that night.

As we awaited the official verdict on the conduct of that game, how many of us were really expecting much?

Surprise, surprise, everything has been declared well and good. Umpires’ boss Jeff Gieschen thinks the umpires did a “terrific” job during the game. According to the Giesch, “For people to suggest they just stood by and watched and ignored what happened is just not accurate at all”. “The basic philosophy is:  for an umpire to intervene and do something, he’s got to see it”.

Fair enough at face value. But they must seriously think we’re all blind and stupid. Or that the umpires are. From the comfort of our living rooms, we’ve all seen footage which seems to clearly indicate umpires standing in full view as events unfolded. Are we supposed to believe they were watching for seagulls?

But what of the emergency umpire? The one who’s (nominally) charged with scrutinising off-the-ball incidents. “He had successfully made the field umpires aware of scuffles between the players,” the Giesch said.

But “he can’t pay a free kick when he’s sitting on the bench. The only time he can pay a free kick is if he’s out on the ground near the players and he sees something clearly as well.”

Well then, he seems to be a lot of use.

“It wasn’t as though he was sitting there doing nothing,” Gieschen said.

Hmmm. No, Giesch, as you sat in the umpires’ box on the night, that appears to have been your role.

This whitewash will have acute resonance for Richmond fans, who’ve heard more of the same than they will care to remember.

But obviously others differ. Here I find myself in agreement with Derek Humphrey-Smith (ex umpire, hyphenate and a barrister- yikes, maybe I need to rethink?). He thinks there were “significant missed free kicks from the umpires and really, really poor game management.”

“I’ve got no idea, no idea [why the umpires didn’t act]. Steven Baker … will often engage in tactics that are very much on the fringes of the rules, so he’s very much a person you keep an eye on.”

Despite this criticism, my sympathies still lie largely with the umpires. To me, they look increasingly like a group being crushed by the dead hand of middle management. Long gone seem the days when umpires like Glenn James were trusted to run the game with good humour and common sense. Now they seem so preoccupied with meeting the demands of micro-management that the game must often seem secondary.

Would umpires have arrived at many of the current rule interpretations unless otherwise directed? Between rules committees and management missives, do the umpires’ opinions count for much?

Rarely does a week go by without the ritual cycle of controversy, followed by AFL promises that all will be attended to. They are nothing if not reactive.

The umpires are effectively given a check list of what to focus on. The likely reward for insufficient adherence to that list is a run in the country. They probably know the list doesn’t really match the list from last week. But they tick the boxes and move on, whether they like it or not.

Think about your own workplace. If you were receiving specific weekly directions on dos and don’ts, what would be preoccupying your mind as you tried to do your work?

Now we move to the Match Review Panel, who had the invidious task of dealing with the fallout.

I think it’s hard to separate their reaction to the events of this game from events the previous weekend, despite all official denials. As delighted as I was to see Chris Judd’s elbowing of Matthew Pavlich deemed insufficient contact, if I remove my Navy Blue goggles for a moment, I’d be scratching my head wondering what sized baseball bat would be required to constitute “sufficient contact”.

With this judgement already under debate, Steven Baker’s timing was exquisitely poor. Although, given his previous record, he had to know he was playing with a loaded gun.

But should one incident really have bearing on another’s judgment? And if the relative merits of various accused are going to be considered, then is justice really equal? Who could explain the reason for such inconsistent findings any other way?

This is not to suggest any explicit messages passing from the AFL to the tribunal. Such knee jerk reaction seems almost institutionalised. No message would be required.

Now I know video evidence is King in AFL eyes, but this doesn’t remove the responsibilities of the umpires to run the game, and to prevent trouble where it’s reasonably foreseeable.

If we really want more consistency in the officiating of our game, maybe it’s time to treat the umpires like adult professionals. Allow them to exercise their good judgement, and stop this pursuit of some theoretical management ideal.

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Livable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has been a Carlton member for more than 30 years.

Comments

  1. David Downer says:

    Brilliant once again JB.

    Particularly good point re the natural affect on the decision-maker’s pysche when there’s a revolving “hot topic” and the interpretations are a moving feast – with the headmasters ensuring you pay special attention to “what we talked about at this week’s meeting ..or else”.

    It’s astounding that we’ve played this sport for 100 years, yet perceptions of the rules change weekly based on things that looked “a bit off” from the last couple of rounds.

    Count Vlad and Angry mightn’t have a direct line to the umpires or the MRP, but the MRP are human (arguably!), and they themselves would perhaps subconsciously be thinking in a manner of …”Hmmm, now what would Andrew do?”

    DD

    P.S: My Moorabbin goggles decree that Bakes is more “Joan of Arc”. “Jack the Ripper” on Friday night was actually Jack Steven. Boom Boom.

  2. John Butler says:

    DD

    I know the thought of empowering umpires won’t enthuse many, but I just don’t think they could go worse than the AFL boffins.

    At least we might get some consistency lasting longer than 2 weeks.

    Stevie B as Joan? There’s a line between loyalty and derangement that probably runs through the old Animal Enclosure. Which side do you reckon you’re on? :)

  3. JB – welcome to my world. As you know I deal with our lovely and caring friends in the Tax Office on a daily basis, therefore your line: “Think about your own workplace. If you were receiving specific weekly directions on dos and don’ts, what would be preoccupying your mind as you tried to do your work?” strikes a real chord with me.

    Recently, and I won’t go into technical detail for fear of boring your readers to death, the lovely and caring and kind friends in the ATO changed their view on a particular piece of law that has turned thousand of small businesses on their heads (as far as their tax planning and structuring goes). Our gorgeous and kindly and beautiful friends at the ATO simply changed their minds! Poof! It was done! Twelve years of standard practice and agreement between taxpayers and those marvelous, wonderful people who dedicate their lives to collecting our taxes, gone in the stroke of a pen. I reckon there is a real analogy between this action by the ATO and how our umpires have to change “interpretations” on a weekly basis. Its ridiculous.

    Perhaps the AFL is being sucked into the same vortex of bureaucratic doublespeak and the umpires are the poor suckers in the middle.

  4. Phantom says:

    The problem is the way the whole bloody mess is managed as a revolving feast.

    No one knows from week to week what the rules will be. Note last night. A person only had to blink and a fifty was awarded when the week before it took an onfield assault, yes that’s what it was, for Johnson to shake off the dirty habitual bully who played under instruction. Team rules or game plan is what they call it. The umpires were either incompetent or did not want to upset the prescribed apple cart and be sent to Saint Helena next week for making the right decision.

    While you have a bureauracracy evolved into a situation where it is all about self sustainment, cushy positions, through money grabbing and power frenzy rather than really looking after the best interests of the game this will happen.

    We now have debate that is out in the open and the AFL and the main reporting vectors don’t have the power of veto or BS un challenged any more. Don’t blame me. I’m not getting then seven figure per annum wage.

    They are playing catch up football and every decision is based on stuff ups from the week before. They need to put as stake in the ground.

    The back stage interference has been going on for generations and it is hard to make the break.

    I am watching the current enquiry into Brighton Police investigations a few years ago with interest. When I was younger there were rumours that a certain high profile player was kept out of the clink to advantage his club’s premiership chances.

    I agree with the AFL for taking the tough stand. About time. But they need to take charge and show some premptive consistency no matter how many good old boy threats are made or pocket pissings are offered.

    The catch 22 is that the AFL politibureau has hard sold the game through TV broadcasts and technology shows what is going on. No where to hide. It has become a monster. Pandora’s Box.

    Get rid of the violence from footy. Now. And if anyone thinks I am a soft woosey come and spend a week with me. You don’t have to bash people to be tough.

    Yes I am a little fired up. The next time I have to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening in the casualty section of the local hospital because my son has had his face caved in at first opportunity curtesy of some team game plan because he is a potential match winner and the league is too weak to do any thing about it, some one will really get hurt.

    We Phantoms have a long history of involvement in truth and justice, but we participate in a little payback when pressured.

  5. Ian Syson says:

    Just an observation from the outside:

    Does footy need to ditch its “foundation myth”? It seems to me that the constant rule changes are in part an attempt to recapture the spirit of the game the “way it was meant to be played”. Like all foundation myths footy’s is probably equally baseless — I mean the very first game (the one in 1858) was a nil-all draw! The chimera of the foundation myth only gets in the way of rule stability because the founding image is created by contemporary rule makers in their own interests.

    Is it the case that footy needs constant change because of its unique position/location? Perhaps footy’s uniqueness was not stamped at foundation (1858/9) but formed in the process of moving away from English forms of football in the late 1870s (and not the 50s and 60s in which the game bore many similarities to English games and was usually referred to in the press as an English game). Perhaps this constant flux is footy’s lifeblood and is the cross supporters have to bear.

  6. Ian Syson says:

    Phantom, what a sentence: “You don’t have to bash people to be tough.” Says it all. It explains why I felt sick when I saw the footage of Baker hitting Johnson’s hand — reminded me of the Reiwoldt incident against St Kilda.

    Tough is Bert Trautmann playing on with a broken neck and not the bloke who broke it.

  7. Tony Robb says:

    Great article John.
    I totally agree that he umpires don’t feel they have the license to interpret the rules as written and how and the hell can players decide how to play the game if the rule interpration change on a weekly, if not quarterly, basis.
    (how often are frees that were paid in the 1st quarter paid in the last when a game is tight. Actually the umpiring in a tight gmaes is much better for mine because they let it go and look after the bloke going for the ball)

    Baker, although having form, was a sacraficial lamb. The big stick to solve a problem that, as you poijnt out, stems from lack of control by the umpires in the first place. The other culprits that fly under the radar in more of the the so called blights on the game are coaches. They send players to do job and just like the umpires if the player doesnt follow the instruction their dropped to the magoos. Ross Lyon set Baker afloat on Wednesdayy when he was the one who instigated it pre game. Flooding, tagging, zoning, Structuring u(whatever that it) Unsociable football. 130 per game interchanges. It all comes for the coaching box. Not from the players or the umpires or AFL HQ. It may be time for the coaches to take some responsiblty for the preservation of the game.

    Cheers
    TR

  8. Clearsighted says:

    “The irony of the Geelong reaction is that it is likely to encourage the very thing against which it protests”. How so, JB?
    If, as you say, “The game is a contest after all”, how is it served by players, umpires, AFL officials, and supporters alike, in circumstances where the contest is played out on the man and not the ball?
    It was a deplorable incident in 2005, when Mal M and Scott hit Nick R’s injured shoulder as he left the ground. This is not an issue that ought disturb only Geelong supporters, but anyone who enjoys the sport and a true contest of skill, courage and endeavor.

  9. John Butler says:

    Thanks for the replies gentlemen.

    Phew! They cover a bit of ground, but it’s been one of those sorts of weeks.

    #3 Dips, having had to deal with the Education Department for the last decade, I understand where you’re coming from.

    #4 Phantom, where to start?
    Yes, you seem very fired up. No doubt with a personal angle as you state. I couldn’t agree more that king hits and like rubbish are the acts of cowards, not tough guys. Fortunately, that’s pretty much disappeared from the AFL (though sadly not from lower leagues). This is why the Hall-Staker incident was so startling. It doesn’t have much modern company.

    You’re spot on about last night. I was laughing as I watched the game. The sad part was that the over-reaction was completely predictable. You’d bet big money the umps had the riot act read during the week. The problem is that the ones doing the reading are semi-literate, and have short attention spans.

    #5 Ian, I think you’re right about the game’s uniqueness evolving. But sadly, the process we currently have doesn’t appear to be working towards any particular vision or target. It’s purely reactive to short term stimuli.

    #6 Tony, how many years have we been talking about this? We all know interpretations vary wildly through the year. It’s expected now.

    One interesting feature of the week has been the reaction to Baker hitting the hand. It’s provoked a virulent response, yet when Jack Riewoldt tried it a few weeks earlier, it passed with a cursory comment. Amongst other thing, it must say something about how divisive figures like Baker are.

  10. John Butler says:

    Clearsighted

    The Cat’s reaction (on and off the field) would provide food for thought to opponents. And I’m not just talking about the argy bargy.

    Even though they sit atop the ladder, they’ve looked a little fractious. They might be in for some more cage rattling yet. It doesn’t require Baker’s tactics to achieve that.

  11. Ian Syson says:

    No one picked up my error before. The first game was a veritable scorefest — a 1-1 draw.

  12. JB, as you rightly point out, there Cats have “looked a little fractious” in recent weeks. You’d think they’ll want to make a big statement this week, but with the number of injuries, suspensions and named players “under injury clouds”, we might have to wait a bit longer, if it comes at all.

    As to other clubs taking the hint and trying to emulate St Kilda’s treatment of Geelong, the MRP’s adjudication on three players from that game should be sufficient discouragement. Are the four points really worth it if half your team is missing for the next month or two?

    RE: violence in sports, I don’t want to show my age too much, or get the more experienced fans offside by calling them “older” (apologies), but regarding the big fuss made over the Baker incident – I have no answer for the relative anonymity of the J. Riewoldt incident – keep in mind this is an age of high caution in every aspect of society. As role models to younger generations (though they shouldn’t be) AFL footballers are constantly being scrutinised for acting in a way that might be detrimental to the youth of Australia. Bullying, to loosely define what Baker did, is a massive Neddy no-no. They AFL had to appear harsh on it.

    I’m 20, and the majority of my footy memory stems from a time where player protection has been either number 1 priority, or close to it. That being said, many people my age are used to the “sanitised” footy game, and are thus appalled at the rare instances of out and out attacks. Serious punches, king-hits and targetting a player’s injury. We were taught all througout school, in the classroom and on the sports field, that this behaviour is just not on, to the point it becomes and intergral part of our values system.

    Re: Gieschen – What a load of bull. In my opinion, that man would be better suited to a role in PR than running the umpiring gig. The umpires saw many indiscretions on the night, both reportable and not reportable, and I can vouch that they looked at the incidents and chose to ignore them. I say this as I was at the ground, and kept looking to the umps to pay a free kick, or to do SOMETHING, a quiet word, maybe, but nothing ever happened. A lot of this week’s drama could have been avoided if they’d done the job they’re overpaid to do.

  13. John Butler says:

    Susie

    I don’t think the Cats really need to make many statements. Their record speaks for itself.

    And I don’t think teams will come at them with a “rough ’em up” attitude, for the reason you mentioned. Bomber has been sure to enforce that notion through his public statements this week.

    The real question is, when it matters and an opponent is refusing to go away, will they still find that extra gear they’ve generally possessed.

  14. Phantom says:

    Lucky you Susie.

    I had to wait till I was well into my sixth decade till I remembered a Cats Flag.

    And when I used to play footy in the Northern Tasmanian Amateur League reserves against mongrel teams like Mowbray and Northern Districts I used to consider being on the ground as a challenge to stay alive between twelve and two o’clock just so I could enjoy a beer with my mates after the game.

    Wouldn’t change it though.

    Keep enjoying the Cats. It aint over just yet.

    Cheers, Phantom.

  15. Clearsighted says:

    JB, your response eluded the questions posed and wandered off into a greyish, crystal ball realm.
    I would excuse any player on any team of appearing ‘fractious’ if they were copping free kicks and 50m penalties against them for blocking with an arm, or answering back to an umpire, whilst having to cop behind the play thuggery from their opposition (and which the same umpires chose to ignore).
    Getting back to your original article, you’re right, the Hawks didn’t invent ‘unsociable’ football but they have publicly prided themselves on it under Clarkson. The Hawk’s game against Essendon last season showed that when the tactics Hawthorn generally employ are turned on them, they behave like school yard bullies who howl in protest when they receive a punch on the nose.

  16. John Butler says:

    #15 Clearsighted

    I can assure you there are no crystal balls around these parts. :)

    You are obviously indignant about St Kilda’s tactics. I know other Cat supporters who saw the game live and aren’t. As I stated, I’m limited by what the TV screen revealed.

    The reason I put the photo at the top of this article was to point out it wasn’t all one way traffic when it came to the rough stuff, which has been rather lost in the subsequent clamour.

    I presume you would think Baker deserved what he got. I won’t try to dissuade you.

    The fractiousness I refer to came not just from this game, but from observing them against Carlton and West Coast as well.

    We’re all entitled to our views. That’s the point of this website.

    Cheers

  17. Clearsighted says:

    JB Thankyou for presuming what I think. Unfortunately you are incorrect in your presumption – I believe Baker was made an example of, and disproportionately so, given the term of his suspension compared to others who have managed to elude any penalty for similar tactics.
    The ‘fractious’ quality you speak of in Geeelong is evident in a number of teams, in particular those whose employ dirty tactics to win (I think I have mentioned Hawthorn).
    In all the speak, let not the point be lost that ALL sport should be played in a fair and courageous spirit, without arrogance, but with respect for all who take part.
    That this website is a forum for opinions on football is a given and requires no confirmation.

  18. Phantom,

    Though I was 17 when we won our first flag, I felt like I’d waited 44 years – Geelong fans are very good at sharing burdens :P Not to mention the three losses in the first five years of my life, when disappointments are most keenly felt as they are new and not yet “just a part of life”.

    At the moment, I’m trying just to enjoy my footy one week at a time, and not even think about the end of the season (though my desire for a Geelong/Hawthorn GF from preseason is looking more and more possible).

    Clearsighted – though the fractious quality is evident in a number of teams, I’d argue the anger and bickering between teammates in Geelong is prominent, and uncharacterstic, and therefore worth noting. Let’s see how things pan out from here.

  19. Clearsighted says:

    Suzie, it is all speculative and none of us can be certain of what any of it means (regardless of what team we are referring to), or how the season will unfold.
    By talking up perceived dissent or fractiousness we are falling into the media pattern of giving suposition an air of truth.
    It is akin to those who evangelise doom and seem to want the world to end, so that they can consider themselves enlightened.
    Just enjoy watching the boyos of your team play their beautiful game, I reckon.

  20. Hear hear, Clearsighted :p (still, a Cats fan can’t be happy until the have SOMETHING to fret about :P )

  21. Dave Nadel says:

    I have been away from computers for about three days so I have only just read your excellent piece, JB. It seems to me part of the micro-management comes from having THREE umpires. Glen James, Harry Beitzel and all the other reasonably good umpires of the 50s-70s could exercise judgement because they knew they were being consistent – they were the only man in white on the field.

    With three umpires you run the risk of three different sets of interpretations and that’s what makes both players and barrackers upset. That presumably is why the unps are sent out with detailed instructions – in the hope that they will be consistent with each other. It doesn’t always work anyway.

    Susie, #12, you are right about the changing times. A lot of great players from my youth would not have been allowed to play today – Teddy Whitten and Murray Weideman spring to mind, along with about half of the Richmond team.

  22. Danielle says:

    That Dale Thomas Goal WAS A GOAL!!
    And that field umpire that went over to deliberate is an incompetent and easily persuaded as King Louis XVI and we all know how that story ends!!

  23. John Butler says:

    Dave

    That’s a fair point. But are the directions they’re receiving helping matters, or confusing the issue? I think their directives seem too focused on what happened last week (have a look at the 50 metre penalty plague this week).

    Danni

    Why am I not surprised you squeezed Collingwood into the discussion. And the French revolution. :)

  24. John Mosig says:

    You’ve certainly stirred up a wasps’ nest here JB. All good stuff. Look, the crux of it seems to be the (non)reaction to McPhee being allowed to scrag Judd the week before and Judd’s retaliation. If the Giesch and the AFL were serious they would have come down hard the very next round after putting the intended focus on notice to the clubs and the public, via the media. in which case, what we saw this weekend would have been done and dusted – i.e. frees would have been paid at the first sign of physical tagging on Stevie J and the message would have come out from the coaches’ box to knock it off. Rossy Lyon would have made some laconic remark at the post match that would have qualified him for Tool of the Week and, who knows, Geelong may even be sitting a game clear on top of the ladder. But the Umpires’ Panel & the AFL Football Department sat on their hands and we now have the current situation.

    Now my point is this – you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work all that out. So we’re either paying the aforesaid way too much or we’re looking at a manipulated situation. Who was it who said the only thing worse than being talked about about was not being talked about. Now, while we’re not putting the Giesch and Angry Adrian in the same class as Oscar Wilde, I think we have to accept that they can read, and have quite possibly come across this bit of age old PR advice in their travels. And let’s not forget that they are competing for Back Page space against the World Game and Wimbledon during this period. Yes, I’m talking conspiracy here. Steven Baker has been hung out to dry.

    If you don’t believe me, let’s ask JB – is this one of the busiest discussion pages this season John? It certainly had the Saturday pre-match talk back fired up.

    As for Jack Riewoldt’s playful attempt to tap Tayte Pears’ recovering right forearm Suzie #12, it was done front on, not from behind, done once only, and done in response to the traditional full back pre-match intimidation of the full forward. Take that out of the Game and watch the clicks on the turnstiles slow remarkably.

    If you want examples comparable to Steven Baker’s actions from men wearing the Yellow & Black try Neil Balme’s pole axing of Geoff Southby and Laurie Fowler’s tunnelling of Big Nick back in the 1973 GF. Is that the Richmond Team you were referring to Dave #21? It’s our most cherished Flag around at Tigerland.

    BTW, Phantom #4, one of those two above mentioned Carlton players wouldn’t happen to be the certain high profile player who was kept out of the clink to advantage his club’s premiership chances would they? Not worth the effort really, he lasted all of 3 minutes. The Football Gods in action again.

    I liked your call Tony #7, that in tight games the umpires rely on instinct, forget their pre-match instruction from Maggot Central, and swallow the whistle.

    The bottom line is – good umpiring earns respect. And with respect comes control. That’s all Our Founding Fathers ever asked of the men in white.

  25. John Butler says:

    One of the things I love about this site is that the discussions are often better than the articles that prompt them.

    You’re right in your assessment JM, the various discussions about this issue have probably only been matched by discussions about aspects of our World Cup bid (and the current tournament itself).

    In a way, both those topics could easily be regarded as questions of morality in sport. How far should you go in pursuing success? A subject bound to divide opinion.

    I think of that Uruguayan player who stopped the shot with his hand. Cynical? Yes. A statement of sacrificing yourself for the team cause? Probably also yes. Where does Baker fit into that sort of discussion? This is why otherwise fair minded Saints supporters still love him, despite his methods. Because he’s sacrificing for the cause. But it doesn’t make it any more palatable to those looking on.

    But I’ve drifted off the umpire topic. I think Tony#7 makes an excellent point. I think most umpires’ instincts would be the correct ones, if they’re allowed to exercise those instincts.

    I’m not so sure about conspiracies to hog the spotlight. I think a characteristic of poor management is overestimating your knowledge/abilities, and not listening to the people you should be listening to. I think the problems lie more in this direction.

    We could go on. And probably will. :)

  26. Phantom says:

    Did I hear one of the ABC commentators say prior to yesterday’s broadcast game at Pussy Park that Stevie J had told him over a quiet nosebag last week that he had pointed our to umpires a couple of times the tactics that Baker was using? (Well yes I did; clearly)

    Instead of doing anything one umpire told him to “stop being a sooky and get on with the game”

    I bet the AFL haven’t got the guts or integrity to do anything about that even thiough it is a very disturbing matter.

    How can anyone take footy administration seriously? It’s a joke.

  27. John Mosig says:

    I haven’t taken them seriously since Ross Oakley dragged us all out to Arctic Park Phanto.

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