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Carlton must act on Scotland

Burnt Blue: Heath Scotland received a suspended sentence for assault in NSW.

Burnt Blue: Heath Scotland received a suspended sentence for assault in NSW. Photo: Paul Rovere

OPINION

THE inevitable collision course being confronted by the AFL and the Carlton Football Club is as disappointing as it is predictable.

Disappointing because the AFL, despite the power it has to overrule clubs that fail to adequately sanction players, should not have to intervene in the case of Heath Scotland. Surely by now the Blues should know better.

Predictable because the indications yesterday were that Carlton - a club with a poor track record in suspending players with off-field behavioural issues - has learnt little from the past. It hasn't helped the club before and in the long term it won't now.

Under AFL rules, revised back in 2006, Scotland potentially faces a heavy fine and lengthy suspension after another drunken and violent off-field incident. The court that did not convict him did so because he was an AFL footballer who faced a three-match suspension, according to his defence. But the Blues yesterday suggested their club champion could miss NAB Cup games only.

Surely the AFL will challenge that. Incredibly the Blues believe that less than 30 hours serving the community - the penalty Scotland was handed for being out late and drunk and placing himself in danger - was enough of a punishment at the time and should be taken into account now.

It is not Carlton's fault that a magistrate in New South Wales gave Scotland special treatment by placing him on a two-year good-behaviour bond after he was found guilty of assault. But it is true the Blues supplied the player with a legal team not available to the three other men involved - all of whom were convicted.

The community has every right to feel aggrieved by the leniency received by Scotland. Offenders escape lightly in the legal system every day but how galling for the public and embarrassing for the AFL that Scotland was treated like a protected tenant because he is a footballer who would lose money and miss training in Arizona.

Carlton has indicated it is in no hurry to reach a conclusion regarding further punishment to Scotland, who in 2006 slapped a woman at Crown and was charged and fined. He used the same lame fireman ambition defence back then. Scotland is a very talented and popular footballer but he has a problem when he drinks and these two incidents are by no means isolated.

In truth the AFL has told the club to wait. League investigator Brett Clothier has already stepped in and demanded all police evidence and court documents related to the incident. There is every indication that the AFL believes that if a player defends himself by saying his club will sanction him, then sanction him it should. In matches that count.

Given that the AFL wanted Brock McLean suspended for his insulting AIDS tweet during the season it seems hard to believe Scotland will not get weeks.

To date Scotland's punishment - in club terms - has been 28 hours of community service under the watch of Les Twentyman. If Carlton truly thinks that is enough then it has learnt nothing from the Brendan Fevola saga and leadership will again become an issue at Visy Park.

In the wider context of the game, the personal conduct rule every player signs onto when he joins the AFL might as well be torn up.

92 comments

  • Caroline they are footballers.... good to see johnny west coast go 'stuff the afl i wanna be a doctor'... garuntee if malpratice insues it will be a 'footy' story, but I digress... every tom dick and harry walks out with the same sentence, as you state... they aren't making laws they aren't passing judgment in high office they hurt people and kick leather... if my brother cops a whack you bet your arse any brother will be in arms with him... to paint scot and fev with the same brush is just cheap... ironically fev is what the game is about if commercilism didn't take hold he would be laying bricks kicking bags and probably be on the cusp of hall of fame status had he debuted in the 80s...

    Commenter
    thejudgethejurythe...
    Location
    theage
    Date and time
    October 12, 2012, 12:29AM
    • Well said. Caroline spends too much time on the high moral ground so easy to climb. I too would defend my brother. Drunk or sober. I also understand his brother is disabled and was upset due to the attention he was receiving. Sometimes bullies like the blokes disturbing his brother need to be stood up to. I think Heath has copped his fair whack. A good behaviour bond, community service, another cross against his name with the MFB and a damaged reputation for stepping in to defend his brother.

      Commenter
      JohnnyC
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 7:07AM
    • The last I read, Scotland didn't have a machete in hand. Different rules for different fools hey Caroline?

      Commenter
      Gilly
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 7:28AM
    • I find it amazing that you can defend a man found guilty of assaulting another person, regardless of the circumstances. You're saying that it's ok to result in violence? the very thing Wilson is saying is not ok.
      And she was saying that the club hadn't learnt how to deal with players with off field issues and sighted Fev as someone the could have done better with. He may still be playing AFL if it wasn't for poor management.

      Commenter
      Mark
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 8:34AM
    • where is your Jurrah article? Or is that too tricky for you

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 8:49AM
    • Normally I would disagree with Caroline, but I have insight into Heath's background (first & second hand). His past is chequered when it comes to drinking and violence. There is a clear problem here. He is a repeat offender and court and Carlton talk about NAB Cup games!
      Will Minson was club sanctioned for making a rude comment, on the field about someone mother.
      Carlton or the AFL must impose something more on Heath. Obviously the court system hasn't helped him to learn, maybe feeling some pain in the back pocket, and not doing what he obviously loves to will teach him. He'll be better for it.

      Commenter
      Aussie Jim
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 9:06AM
    • Not well said at all, I've played footy for the last 20 years of my life... I see these types all the time.. he needs to sit out a few games and realize whatever happens he cannot belt members of the public... even if his "standing up for his brother" (don't sure where the standing up becomes belting the bloke)

      Commenter
      Johnson
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 9:38AM
    • These guys are footballers - Nothing more, nothing less.

      Just because they play football, we shouldn't pay any attention to what they do off the field, good OR bad.

      Whether they are kissing sick kids in hospitals on Good Friday, trying to sell me solar panels, or getting in fights, I don't care.

      Off-field saints or sinners, to pretend that they are some sort of social lens that we need to moralise about is a joke. This is Caroline's biggest blunder in the stuff she writes.

      Watch the game, cheer, then IGNORE THEM!!

      Commenter
      JTHooker
      Location
      Melbs
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 9:48AM
    • Aussie Jim October 12, 2012, 9:06AM. " Normally you disagree with Caroline". Actually think about this comment champ. Do you disagree with Caroline's articles and opinions? or with Caroline the person (read: female who must be disagreed with and put in her place). I know you have 'backed her' on this one due to your convenient first hand knowledge, but have an honest and considered think about your 'normal' approach to her mate. I guarantee she is far more knowledgable and intelligent than you and most of your like minded buddies posting shots at her on here.

      Commenter
      Terry
      Location
      Mooroopna
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 10:22AM
    • @Terry - his name is Aussie Jim not Straw Man. Way to launch into a guy for something they didn't say. Incidentally, if you read what Aussie Jim said, the statement was 'Normally I would disagree with Caroline' - i.e., on the particular opinion she has in this particular article. In other words, simmer down.

      Back to the article, Scotland's defence that he was helping his brother is laughable. If you go back to the original report of the incident, Scotland's brother punched a guy, and got tossed out of the pub. Scotland then came back in and king-hit the guy. Hardly sounds like his brother (who was outside) was in such immediate danger that he needed his brother to bravely swan in and hit someone from behind (top bloke that).

      Commenter
      Aaron
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 11:17AM

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