Cowardly lions

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Last updated on June 10th, 2017 at 06:37 am

The Brisbane Lions attempted during the final match of 2004 to become the AFL’s most reviled team. That bid has intensified with the first match of 2005:

Anger mounted yesterday over rough-house tactics used against injured St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt.

His mother was in tears a day after the bone-jarring incident.

Fiona Riewoldt said the family had been shaken by the drama, which has rocked the AFL.

Footy fans were outraged at the attack by two Brisbane Lions defenders on the Saints captain as he clutched his shoulder in agony during the season opener at the Gabba.

The Age’s Greg Baum is prone to moralising, but he’s on the money here:

The Brisbane Lions hit and hurt a man when he was down. That is unacceptable even in boxing, which is all about hitting to hurt. In football, where the hitting and hurting supposedly is no more than a means to an end, it is an outrage. If it is not acted upon as one, then football has progressed nowhere in 15 years.

Charges against Mal Michael and Chris Scott could follow a match review meeting on Monday. Wayne Wood wants them charged with assault; there is a precedent for this, involving Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews, who is dismissive of the current controversy:

“It’s ridiculous,” Matthews said. “Players bounce off each other all the time, and it’s not as if they ran from 100 metres away to get him. They would have known he was sore, but they would not have known he had a broken collarbone.”

Matthews has an ally in Robert Walls, which won’t surprise those who saw Walls play. I’m more inclined to Tim Lane’s view, at the same link.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/25/2005 at 10:54 PM
    1. Arrant nonsense.

      Collingwood has been, and will always be, AFL’s most reviled team.

      Posted by Kaboom on 2005 03 26 at 12:08 AM • permalink


    1. I saw little Nicky blubbing like a girl in the stand afterwards on the news, and thought what a puss. They might be big, but these AFL nonces sit down to piss. John Sattler played a Sydney grand final with a jaw broken in three places. As to the other incidents, puuuleese- handbags at twenty paces.

      Posted by Habib on 2005 03 26 at 12:45 AM • permalink


    1. You hate dictators, terrorists and pedophiles.

      You don’t hate a football team!

      Posted by David Morgan on 2005 03 26 at 02:26 AM • permalink


    1. I’ve got to agree. Walls & Matthews played when the fences around the paddock were to keep the dinosaurs out, and safe from them.

      Should it surprise these clowns think it a legitimate tactic in 2005.

      Posted by Dean McAskil on 2005 03 26 at 02:32 AM • permalink


    1. There would be a thousand bumps like these every week in AFL.  Can you remember Chad Cornes punching Jonathan Brown’s knee before the first bounce of the Grand Final last year?  Brown came to the GF with a suspect knee, and it got due attention.  Part. Of. The. Game.

      Riewoldt is a champion (and he’s in my dream team), but Scott & Michael have nothing to answer for.  Riewoldt wasn’t rolling on the ground in agony.  He wasn’t in the doctor’s arms, the trainer wasn’t attending him, and he wasn’t coming off the ground.  He may be Saint Nick, but he’s not a protected species.

      If you can’t take a bump, don’t wait around for one.  Get off.  Blubbing on the bench isn’t a good look either.  Can you imagine great captains like Ted Whitten or John Nicholls doing that?  You’re a leader now Nick, that means wearing the red tunic when you need to.

      However, you’ve got to admire the guy for backing up the next day to spend time with kids at the Royal Childrens Hospital.  I’ve met the man personally, and can only say he’s a true gentleman.  I hope he’s back fit and firing just after we play the Saints.

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2005 03 26 at 03:08 AM • permalink


    1. Picture in The Australian says it all. (sorry can’t find a link) Mal Michael lining up NR’s shoulder. Not him, his shoulder.

      Posted by Dean McAskil on 2005 03 26 at 03:08 AM • permalink


    1. Part. Of. The. Game. ?

      No. Craig. It. Is. Not. What arrant nonsense.

      Posted by Dean McAskil on 2005 03 26 at 03:12 AM • permalink


    1. Tim, you need to start getting over the two grand final losses the Pies received at the hands of a far superior team. You’re like the Margo Kingston of AFL journalism (but with a spell checker).

      In other news, here is a photo of Nathan Buckely with compassionate head tilt and a promising Collingwood recruit. Well, the expression is not quite on, perhaps this one is more appropriate. He’s obviously sorry, he really did the best he could but those evil Lions conspired to take away his premiership. It’s a FAILURE OF DEMOCRACY!

      Posted by taspundit on 2005 03 26 at 04:37 AM • permalink


    1. My bet’s on Michael and Scott leaving the field on stretchers the next time they play, no matter who the opponents are. They’re now Fair Game. If they’re allowed on again.

      If I was the Lions’ coach, I’d make sure that I had their replacements ready. If the judiciary don’t do something about it, the players will.

      Personally, I hope the judiciary does their job, the game doesn’t need this type of thing.

      Posted by Zoe Brain on 2005 03 26 at 05:13 AM • permalink


    1. The Brisbane Lions hit and hurt a man when he was down. That is unacceptable even in boxing, which is all about hitting to hurt.

      First of all, he wasn’t down. Riewoldt was making his way back to his position. Secondly, if a boxer is injured and he doesnt retire or the ref doesn’t stop the fight, the opponent can be expected to target that injury in order to win.

      Would he have been expected to tread softly around Riewoldt if the Saints captain had again tried to join in play? he asked. His question was both rhetorical and ingenuous. Riewoldt didn’t try to play; he couldn’t.

      Horseshit. He was making his way back to position, therefore we can assume he had every intention of trying to play.

      Posted by Dan J. on 2005 03 26 at 05:37 AM • permalink


    1. You might be interested in Tim’s new book on footy. It’s a real eye opener – speak truth to power!

      Posted by taspundit on 2005 03 26 at 08:07 AM • permalink


    1. Knowing the AFL, Michael and Scott will walk and Hamill will get suspended for knocking out a couple of Scott’s teeth (in a total accident, of course).

      Makes me sick… and by the way the ump on the scene was our good friend Scottie McLaren…

      Posted by lewisinnyc on 2005 03 26 at 09:59 AM • permalink


    1. Honestly, it just sounds like a North American hockey game.  Or better yet, basketball, where fans, coaches, and everybody has a chance to join in.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2005 03 26 at 04:37 PM • permalink


    1. It’s also “part. of. the. game” to drop the gloves and have a go in a hockey game (Rebecca is ahead of me on this comment!) but by the same token, even during play, there’s a difference between sqauring off fairly and a sucker-punch or a cheap shot after a whistle.  And even the NHL has an award for gentlemanly play.  It has everything to do with respecting your opponents and earning their respect by your conduct – play hard, play fair, and leave it on the rink.

      Posted by Nightfly on 2005 03 26 at 05:09 PM • permalink


    1. The NHL has an award for gentlemanly play?  What does that consist of, not hitting below the belt?

      Posted by Michael Lonie on 2005 03 26 at 07:57 PM • permalink


    1. Can’t find it online But I suspect Cameron Stewart’s piece in The Oz yesterday was written before Thursday’s game. His angle is that the AFL is becoming the dominant code because unlike League they’ve banished the biff. Quote:  “It has been years since the AFL saw anything approaching the calculated brutality of the Hopoate incident and last year’s king hit by Melbourne Storm’s Danny Williams on Wests Tigers Mark O’Neill.” Michael’s charge at Riewoldt was brutal and certainly calculated and Chris Scott’s head full of loose teeth after the match didn’t come from chewing on Violet Crumbles. It’s neat posit Stewart has, but I don’t think it stands up to scrutiny, particularly Aussie Rules in some of the minor leagues.

      Posted by slatts on 2005 03 27 at 12:41 AM • permalink


    1. It’s neat posit Stewart has, but I don’t think it stands up to scrutiny, particularly Aussie Rules in some of the minor leagues.

      No shit.  Anyone who’s played suburban matches has seen plenty of knuckle.  Even in social games I’ve seen fists flash through where my head had just been.  Never mind what happened to Riewoldt, how about the Grand Final in Cairns last year?

      Now throwing fists is illegal and is thankfully well policed in the majors.  Shoulder-to-shoulder bumps are not and never should be.  If Riewoldt wasn’t up to it, he should have come off.  In fact, I’m betting that Riewoldt himself is embarrassed by the hysterical public debate, and has learnt a painful football lesson in discretion being the better part of valor.

      Staying on the ground may have worked for Brereton and DiPierdomenico in the ‘89 grand final (Dipper with a punctured lung!).  If a Geelong player had slammed into them and compounded their injuries, whose fault would it have been?  None but their own.  They made the choice that they were up to the punishment of an AFL grand final – their own bad if they weren’t.  As it was they were lucky and went down into football history, but they knew they were rolling the dice, and would never have cried foul if fate had come up craps.

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2005 03 27 at 01:14 AM • permalink


    1. Right on Craig Mc. Riewoldt’s decision to stay on was only courageous because there was a risk someone would hurt him.

      In his first game as captain, he probably felt pressure to stay on the field and lead by example. But the truth is he should have gone straight up the race.

      That said, I don’t think much of Scott and Michael for employing those tactics.

      Posted by matt on 2005 03 27 at 05:20 AM • permalink


    1. Tim,
      You pride yourself on accuracy in reporting, yet in this case you have allowed yourself to quote things that are clearly untrue.

      Riewoldt was not attacked when he was down. He evidently hurt his shoulder when attenpting to take a mark low down.

      He was holding his shoulder when he regained his feet and he was attended by a St Kilda trainer. He waved the trainer away and moved to resume his position in the forward line. He was not moving toward the bench or sideline at any stage. He was resuming his position in the game.

      It was at this point – after the trainer had moved away – that Mal Michael bumped into him. This bumping action occurs hundreds of times in a game. It happens “off the ball” all the time.

      When Michael had bumped Riewoldt, Aaron Hamill moved in to remonstrate with Michael. Michael bumped Riewoldt a second time. Chris Scott then moved in to support his teammate and in doing so bumped Riewoldt again. This is the sum total of what is now being hyped as a vicious attack on Riewoldt while he was “down”.

      Eddie Maguire went ballistic about the incident. You have to understand that Eddie has a few interests outside this particular commentary. He hosts “The Footy Show” on Thursday nights and Riewoldt is one of the panalists on his show. Creating a huge controversy is going to be good for his ratings. All the better that the “offending” side was the Lions as they delivered 2 heartbreaking losses to Collingwood. Eddie just happens to be President of the Collingwood Footbal Club and has been waging an unrelenting campaign against the Brisbane Lions since they won their first premiership in 2001.

      Riewoldt considered himself fit enough to resume the game after his fall. That makes him fair game and subject to the same attention that is meted out hundreds of times in every game of AFL football.

      Precedents have been set on many occasions. Most notably in last years Grand Final when Brown had his knee attacked by Port players and Lloyd having his hand attacked when he resumed from a serious hand injury. In those cases the “offending” players knew the extent of the injury involved but there were no recriminations.
      In this case Riewoldt did not know he had a broken collarbone so how were the Brisbane players supposed to know.

      This is a beat-up of immense proportions. If Scott and Michael are cited for such actions off the ball then every member of both sides would have to be cited as well.

      The injury to Riewoldt was unfortunate. It is sad to see any player sidelined through injury let alone good and great players. What happened in the game is commonplace. Nick probably displayed a lack of judgement in resuming the game when in fact he had a serious injury. That is not the fault of Scott or Michael or the Brisbane Lions.

      Take off your black and white blinkers, Tim 🙂

      Posted by amortiser on 2005 03 27 at 05:54 AM • permalink


    1. They should be charged with something along the lines of bringing the game into disrepute.

      There is a distinct difference between tough, hard and fair and just plain dirty.

      Posted by Razor on 2005 03 27 at 09:00 AM • permalink


    1. As I thought he might, Riewoldt has made a statement to counter all the fury on his behalf.

      “I have no problem with the treatment I received from Mal Michael or Chris Scott. I was unaware of the seriousness of my injury and I am sure the Brisbane players were the same.”

      Congratulatons Nick.  This was the moment for him to come out on the front foot (to mix my sporting metaphors) and he did.

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2005 03 27 at 09:33 AM • permalink


    1. Razor,
      So bumping players is now regarded as “plain dirty”?

      Or is there to be an exemption from such treatment for “injured” players?

      Do you see the problem you have created here?

      The actions of Scott and Michael are repeated hundreds of times a game. It’s the norm not the exception. My son practises it on me at home!!

      If players are on the ground and in position (not in the hands of trainers or medical staff) they must be assumed fit. What would have happened if Riewoldt had received a hand pass or been involved in a marking contest? Because you say he’s injured the opposition is not allowed to exert physical pressure on him?

      Nick made a bad call and he recognises it. End of story.

      Posted by amortiser on 2005 03 27 at 10:24 AM • permalink


    1. It is March 2006, and the headlines read
      “Scott Brothers Scuff Riewolt Man-bag – get 6 weeks”.

      Posted by The Chamber Maid on 2005 03 27 at 05:57 PM • permalink


    1. This is a storm in a teacup and I’m tipping the AFL won’t act on this one. I was disappointed to read Baum and Lane’s remarks. Lane drew parallels between the incident and the treatment of wounded soldiers on the battlefield and Baum called for the immediate cruxifiction of Michael and Scott. Too much, guys. Way too much. More balanced columns came from Patrick Smith in the Oz and Mike Sheahan in the Hun.

      The fact is that Scott and Michael body charged Riewoldt off the ball but contact in both cases was minor and an acceptable part of the game. The AFL could only bring the tenuous charge of bringing the game into disrepute against both players. Riewoldt had shrugged off the trainer and was heading back to compete. He was fair game.

      You seem to insinuate that Robert Walls was a thug. He was a brilliant centre half forward pitted week in, week out against some of the game’s toughest men in the 1960s and 70s. To throw or not to throw the odd elbow was not a moral dilemma; he had to do it to survive. John Nicholls was not always going to be nearby.

      In today’s game, if a player plays a match with an injury or injures himself during the course of the match and persists in playing he cannot expect an armchair ride from the opposition. Not at that level, anyway.

      I predict that Lions ruckman, Jamie Charman will face the tribunal over his contact with Riewoldt some five minutes earlier. The fact that the Saint didn’t get a free kick after that clash was an extraordinary oversight by the umpires. Hamill will also add to his tribunal appearances after his indelicate, tooth-shattering backhander to Chris Scott. But of Scott and Michael, the AFL will not nor should not do a thing.

      Posted by Peter Hoysted on 2005 03 27 at 10:04 PM • permalink


    1. Most of what has been written in defence of these two cretins is absolute garbage. This is simple.

      Incidents of this type ,off the ball, happen all the time in all grades? Yes and each and everyone of them is outside the rules and spirit of the game. That it happens in the premier competition is what aggravates the offence.

      And this was not another simple bump off the ball. It is also aggravated by the fact that these two thugs deliberaratley targeted an obvious injury to a player not directly competing in the play.

      If any intelligent person with even a passing interest in the rules of the game thinks otherwise you are either being wilfully ignorant or in the case of officials and players directly associated with the club, self-serving.

      What else could we expect. This sort of thing will kill AFL in the 21st century.

      Posted by Dean McAskil on 2005 03 28 at 07:37 AM • permalink


    1. What else could we expect. This sort of thing will kill AFL in the 21st century.

      Because it’s a matter of record that it killed AFL in the 19th and 20th centuries :-).  Geez, take a hot bath.

      Yes and each and everyone of them is outside the rules and spirit of the game.

      Outside the rules?  You must be hanging your hat on this clause:

      (vii) engaging in rough play against an opponent which in the circumstances is unreasonable.

      Seems like there’s two definitions of “reasonable” in this debate.  I wouldn’t like to watch a game that used yours.  I’ll take Riewoldt’s, Matthews, Michael’s, Scott’s, Walls’, Brereton’s, now Thomas’, and thankfully the match review panel’s opinion over Lane’s, Baum’s, and yes Dean, yours any day.

      I think we’re all agreed that if a player is being attended to by a doctor or trainer, is lying on the ground, or is coming off the ground, he’s off limits.  You think that if a player decides to stay on the ground and continue the match, he can’t be bumped.  I can’t agree with that proposition – you’d have whole teams feigning injuries to prevent body contact from an opponent.  That might be funny to see once, but hyperbole aside, it really would kill AFL.

      If any intelligent person with even a passing interest in the rules of the game thinks otherwise you are either being wilfully ignorant or in the case of officials and players directly associated with the club, self-serving.

      Oh no!  The “agree with me or you’re stupid” debating point.  Well, any intelligent person with even a passing interest in the reality of every-day AFL knows that you don’t mix it with the big boys unless you’re in a state to do so.  Sorry, players don’t get special treatment just because they’re injured.  Every player in the AFL would expect to be bumped around the shoulders, even before the first bounce.  It’s a staple, not an exception.

      BTW, explain how Reiwoldt and Thomas are self-serving by saying that there’s no case to answer?  Or are they two of us stupid ones?

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2005 03 28 at 09:13 AM • permalink


    1. I favour the wilfully ignorant or self-serving theory. This is typical of how an outright default and reportable offence is talked away by reference to some au courant code for the game. I repeat, absolute garbage.

      Rules! These seem to be optional in the modern senior competition, but take your pick of the following:

      19.2.2 SPECIFIC OFFENCES. Any of the following types of conduct is a Reportable Offence…(vi) throwing or pushing another Player after that Player has taken a Mark, disposed of the football or after the football is otherwise out of play;

      A Shepherd is using the body or arm to push, bump or block:
      (a) a Player who does not have possession of the football and who is no further than 5 metres away from the football at the time when the push, bump and block occurs;

      (a) A Charge means an act of colliding with an opposition Player where the amount of physical force used is unreasonable or unnecessary in the circumstances, irrespective of whether the Player is or is not in possession of the football or whether the Player is within 5 metres of the football.

      (b) Without limiting the general application of Law 15.4.4(a), a Charge occurs when a Player unreasonably or unnecessarily collides with an opposition Player:

      (i) who is not within 5 metres of the football;
      (ii) who, although within five metres of the football, is not in the immediate contest for the football and would not reasonably expect such contact;

      [bold is mine]

      The first bump was marginal, but the second and third were outright defaults unless you can show:

      NR was within 5 metres of the ball. NOT.
      NR was in immediate contest for the ball. NOT
      And it follows that he was not in possession of the ball.

      And yes it did not kill the game in the 20th century. This not relevant because we now live in the 21st century where there is aggressive competition from two other codes.

      Posted by Dean McAskil on 2005 03 29 at 02:56 AM • permalink


  1. I’m not an AFL fan myself, but geez… it’s not hard to spot the Lions haters amongst this thread!

    For those baying for Lions blood, ask yourself this… if the “injured” (Note that the player himself was unaware of the extent of his injuries at the time of the incident) player in question was a Lion, and those jostling with him were from your team would you still be so vehement in your demands for action against them? I think not!

    Get over it and stop being so one eyed.

    Tim… I agree with amortiser here… stick to the facts… leave the emotion and open the other eye mate!

    Posted by cal on 2005 03 29 at 07:08 PM • permalink