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Judgement day for Judd
Sports reporter Jon Pierik looks at the key factors working against Carlton champion Chris Judd ahead of his tribunal hearing.
WHATEVER the result of the tribunal case tonight, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there are not one but two Chris Judds.
Chris Judd (I) is a scrupulous ball player, one of the best players of all time, a player who suffers the close attention and sometimes illegal tactics of opponents set for the task of containing him with good grace. One who sucks in some deep breath at the stoppages, keeps following the Sherrin and winning.
Chris Judd (II) is seen less frequently. At least five times in his career, this second Judd has lashed out at opponents who may or may not have annoyed him. In at least three of these cases, he appears to have a streak that is mystifying to those who know the other Chris Judd. This Judd has malicious intent, and desire to hurt.
It started with an elbow to the noggin of St Kilda's Steven Baker in 2005. Judd was playing for West Coast back then, and Baker had him in a straitjacket all game, daring the umpires to free kick him. Judd grew tired of it, and he smashed Baker, copping a week's suspension and having just seven disposals for the match, a famine by his standards.
This was the Greg Williams approach. In Williams' day, taggers were dealt with, kept in their place. Tony Shaw used to play on Williams every time for Collingwood, and when he was coaching the Pies, Leigh Matthews was once asked if his team had any injuries. ''Tony's got a broken nose. It's funny how he always breaks his nose when we play Carlton.''
Nobody needed to ask him for any elaboration.
Shaw long ago forgave Williams, but he did not like what he saw of Judd from the commentary box last Friday night. ''In a long career, just about every player has one or two incidents where you look back and say 'you idiot, you've lost the plot there','' said Shaw. ''I've been there and done that. You have no idea why it happened. It's a brain blockage. But Juddy's gone and done it again.''
Of course the Diesel Williams option is not available any more. No player would last playing like that.
Chris Judd has to find other ways to deal with his frustration. For instance, Chris Judd (I) is good with words. When he crossed to Carlton, he was famously challenged on a sore shoulder in a game against his former club. ''That's from carrying you blokes,'' was the foundation of his reply.
But words only go so far, which is where Chris Judd (II) comes to the fore, for he has no compunction about a wee bit of violence. The right forearm he threw back and struck Matthew Pavlich with against Fremantle two years ago split Pavlich's cheek. It was born of pure frustration, and the fact Ryan Crowley had been wrestling him all day. Pavlich did nothing to upset Judd; he merely laid a fair tackle, and Judd mistook his identity.
The match review panel did Judd no favours by its farcical finding that there was ''insufficient contact'' to lay a charge; half of the public angst with Chris Judd (II) comes from him getting off scot-free on that occasion, as well as escaping an eye-gouging charge in 2007 when Campbell Brown lied for him at the tribunal. Judd's flippant press conference after he eye-gouged Michael Rischitelli in 2009 did not help his cause either.
This case tonight is a little different, though connected. In this instance, Leigh ''Patch'' Adams was lying under a pack, face down, with an arm sticking in the air. He was defenceless. Hence, this is not about frustration with a tagger.
Judd grabbed his right arm, ostensibly as a way to stop the North player from handballing. But it's the twisting of the arm that causes offence. Garry Lyon, not prone to hyperbole, called it ''a real, real ugly incident''. Mostly, the reaction has been one of revulsion. ''He's got to go,'' said Shaw. ''It's an unprotected player, and there are two actions [by Judd]. It has to be stamped out.''
Carlton's captain will cop his penalty tonight, surely several weeks of suspension. Moreover, Chris Judd (I) needs to come out again and explain himself, for the image of a great player and ambassador is being tarnished by his alter ego and damaging his legacy.