Unsaintly behaviour

By Ged McMahon

The Match Review Panel copped it this week. Jack Trengove’s 3 match penalty for his tackle on Patrick Dangerfield triggered a very emotional response from many lovers of our game. A number of Demon’s players upset the AFL for critical comments they made on Twitter. I was equally upset about a different incident from Round 7.

On Monday night I tuned into the game and for the first time I actually got excited about Monday night footy. Borrowing two of my favourite footy clichés: St Kilda were intent on getting their season “back on track” and Carlton were keen to “make a statement”. It was a battle of consequence.

By quarter time my attention had been sharply taken away from the match result. Carlton’s boom recruit Ed Curnow was driven into the turf by an enveloping tackle from Nick Dal Santo. His shoulder hit the ground first. He’s done some damage. Off the ball he hunches over and looks distressed, he seems unsure of what to do. Instinct may be telling him to stay but his body is sending a different message.

Then of course, Leigh Montagna comes past and purposefully hacks at Curnow’s injured shoulder. It’s a cheap shot. We all know the “in the heat of the battle” disclaimer often used in such incidents. And maybe Montagna just thought Curnow was out of breath so decided to rile him. After all, I only saw this unfold on TV so I might have missed something out of the picture. Regardless, it was an ugly incident and provoked an emotional reaction from those who saw it. Within a minute––just as the Melbourne players would later in the week–– viewers had taken to social networks to launch their angst. Montagna was condemned, but the game continued on. The modern game allows no time for mid-quarter reflection. Although it was interesting to later hear from former Kangaroo Glenn Archer on the incident. Revered for his fierce attack on the ball and unflinching courage, Archer described Montagna’s attack as “weak”.

Curnow disappeared into the rooms and then re-appeared. His shoulder was heavily strapped. He looked ginger, but willing to give it a try. He ran back on but seemed restricted. I figured then that he was fair game. By coming back on he’d declared himself fit. He survived without incident.

The quarter time siren sounded. No doubt the Carlton doctors would confer at the break and make a decision about whether to enact the substitute. Curnow was jogging towards the Carlton huddle and minding his own business when Justin Koschitzke lumbered up behind him and struck him near the shoulder. While I can barely defend Montagna, I definitely can’t defend Koschitzke. This was a calculated attack. Not only at an injured player but also from behind the player’s back.

The Carlton players, led initially by Setanta O’Hailpin, obviously agreed with me. They came to Curnow’s defence and a sprawling melee ensued. Players pushed and shoved, knowing that their every move was being watched by the multiple cameras around the ground.

Once again, all I can go by is what I saw on TV and no doubt we weren’t shown all the footage of what started the fracas. But I find it very hard to believe that the Match Review Panel deemed Chris Judd to be the instigator of that melee. It seemed that the Carlton players were merely responding to Koschitzke’s cheap shot and wanted to stand up for their teammate.

Montagna was handed a two week ban––one week if he made an early guilty plea––for his actions and yet Koschitzke escaped punishment because it was ruled that he didn’t actually make contact with Curnow’s injured shoulder. Regardless of exactly where he struck Curnow, it was pretty clear what Koschitzke’s was trying to do. Ultimately he got off on a technicality.

The AFL loves to talk about setting an example to the kids, so how come Koschitzke gets away with a pathetic shot at an injured opponent when the ball wasn’t even in play? It was very disappointing.

About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.


  1. Greg McMahon says

    Agreed. Well said.

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