SANFL Preliminary Final Tribunal Ruling


A decision was made last night by the independent SANFL Tribunal which has upheld the result of Sunday’s SANFL Preliminary Final.


The transcript of former Supreme Court Judge the Hon. Michael David QC who acted as the Tribunal Chair ruling to uphold the result is below. What are your thoughts Almanackers?



Transcript The Hon Michael David QC

17th September 2018


‘Thank you very much. I have invited the media in because I think it is important they hear the actual words of my decision.


In this most difficult matter I make it clear from the outset that I do not have the power to order a rematch or annul the score. The range of penalties available are censure, a fine not exceeding $10,000, loss of premiership points for next year and reversal of the result.


Having heard arguments and evidence I find that the North Adelaide Football Club was grossly negligent in allowing for a period of some 3 and half minutes 19 men to be on the field during that time they scored 1 goal and 2 behinds and eventually won the match by 5 points. Their various explanations as to how this came about were unsatisfactory and confusing; however, I find that the decision that they indulged in was not deliberate. It was due to negligence. I have looked at the video of those minutes and it is almost impossible having looked at it on a number of occasions to say whether that extra man affected the scoring and therefore the results. It is impossible and I can say no more other than that it was a possibility that it could have affected the result but I can say no more than that.


I am of the view that it would be unrealistic to expect the Woodville West Torrens Football Club through their captain to ask for a count on the day and my decision should not factor in the fact that that was not done. That is a very anachronistic law that really doesn’t apply today and has been overtaken by technology, because there is no doubt that there were 19 men on the field and that a count would not be necessary. To me a rematch would seem to be the most superficially appropriate penalty, but I have no power to do so and would have of course caused potential prejudice to the Norwood Football Club who are waiting to play the grand final.


Faced with this dilemma I am of the view that as this was not deliberate a reversal of the result is too savage a penalty and the matter should be dealt with by way of fine and loss of premiership points for next year. Sadly, this is of little consolation to the Woodville West Torrens Football Club. I fine the North Adelaide Football Club the maximum amount of $10,000 because this was grossly negligent and by way of deterrence and I dock them the loss of 4 premiership points for next season.


That is my reasons.’




Transcript posted on the SANFL website.


  1. The Hon Michael David QC has no power to order the rematch? Is the SANFL Tribunal really organised well?

    If he can’t rule the rematch, then the North Adelaide Football Club should be stripped off from the finals. They should not be able to play Grand Final.

    I totally disagree with their decision.

    The penalty is too soft for me.

    [Part of this comment has been removed – as the sentiment was lost in translation – Ed]

  2. Neil Anderson says

    My initial thoughts were that the three minutes with an extra player on the ground didn’t effect the final score. Then I thought this shouldn’t be a grey area as to the possibility of one team breaking the rules or not, or to what extent those rules were broken. So because the rules of the game were broken and not reliant on a head-count at the time, North Adelaide should not be declared the winner.
    The tricky bit arises when the powers- that- be have to decide on a rematch or declare Woodville-West Torrens the winner. Michael David and co would be thinking we have a grand-final scheduled next week and all the corporates, club officials, players and fans of the two participating clubs don’t want the match delayed by a week. There would be a lot of airline tickets and holiday resorts cancelled as well.
    The judgement had a ring of ‘it’s the vibe’ and ‘it’s Mabo’ about it from the film ‘The Castle’.

  3. Can’t help but think of the what if. What if the Eagles had called for a head count before North got the player off the field? They would now be preparing for a Grand Final and would be the most reviled SANFL Grand Final team since Port played in the GF last year. As the QC points out such a silly, unworkable rule.

  4. Peter Warrington says

    seems a half-arsed outcome.

    it’s not that hard to look at your interchange bench and go “oh, shit, there are only n-1”, where n is the maximum amount.

    result should not stand IMHO.

  5. Interesting, my initial thought was that the result should be overturned, but after reading the reasons for the decision I can now see reasons why this was not done. Having said that it is still a bit of a mess.

  6. We wuz robbed! Bad omens for my other Blue and Golds this weekend. I heard that Smokie’s Seagull B&G’s lost with the last kick of the match in the VFL on the weekend. 2 down. 1 to go.
    In victory revenge. In defeat malice.

  7. There was at least one North Adelaide player in the change rooms receiving medical attention at the time, Peter W, so the steward couldn’t just count the bums on the bench. I do wonder whether interchanges, including those occurring between quarters, need to be formally registered with the steward (i.e. Joe Bloggs off, Jim Stokes on). Otherwise it’s pretty difficult to tell from the boundary line at the start of each quarter that the right numbers are on the field.

  8. Mark Duffett says

    Great line about the most reviled team, Dave, but I don’t know if it’s true. I for one wouldn’t have held it against the Eagles in the slightest had they called for a head count and the penalty stipulated by the laws (North score set to zero) applied. Certainly I’d rather they’d done that than the ghastly mess that ensued. All moot now, though. Not sure who I’ll be barracking for in the GF, it would have been North on general underdog principles, but now…

  9. Probably harder to call for a count these days because no one plays in position. 37 players on the ball doesn’t look any different to 36. Though the SANFL might not be as congested. Either way, the onus should be on the club that made the error. If the judge can’t tell whether the extra numbers had an influence he should rule in favour of the aggrieved party?

  10. george smith says

    It’s the sort of thing that would cost Collingwood a flag. The only match I remember overturned was in 2006, Fremantle v St Kilda in Tasmania. The umpires did not hear the siren, so what was a draw became a win to Fremantle. Back in 1972, the umpire awarded a free to Dandenong before the match started, a goal was kicked and Dandenong won the premiership by a goal against Preston! Preston appealed, but no dice, although it took them months to decide who was premiers…

    In these cases nobody wins. I will be barracking hard for Norwood to make this one a historical curiosity, rather than a tainted premiership.

    Peter B, up here we celebrate if our blue and gold rugby league team wins a match!

  11. Been waiting for a RuleBook comment but no, skulking under a rock in the SDA office no doubt. I cannot see how North can get into the GF when, on the admitted facts, they had 19 blokes on while they scored 1.2 and won by 5 points. In my view, and that of every single person consulted since the weekend, North should not have been given the win. Common sense seems to have flown the coop and whoever wins, there will always be an asterisk against their name, or as A. Jarman said, an asterix.
    One could also hope that it IS the sort of thing that costs Collingwood a premiership!!

  12. Manny Koufalakis says

    Its been said ad nauseum but you can only go by what the current rules allow and not by what we consider fair, honourable or coming up with alternatives like playing the last quarter again.

    If a QC has made a decision then its based on the rules as they currently stand and thats the end of it for this instance.

    What now needs to happen is for the laws regarding this be brought up to date although theoretically it should never happen again as new procedures should be developed to make sure it doesnt.

    Anyway Go you Redlegs for Sunday!!

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