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Stevie J pays a high price

Date

Martin Blake

Steve Johnson (foreground) makes his ill-fated contact.

Steve Johnson (foreground) makes his ill-fated contact. Photo: Channel Seven

COMMENT

IT'S the system that nailed Steve Johnson. Once the match review panel watched the videotape of him laying a block on Dan Hannebery at Geelong last Saturday and decided it was a reportable offence, he was in trouble.

That's because Johnson's record included a tripping incident against Richmond in round four this year (adding 78 points to his base penalty), and the loading from a three-match suspension for whacking Steven Baker, of St Kilda, in 2010. We all remember that incident, when Baker goaded him and their tete-a-tete ended as it was always going to end, with Johnson snapping.

Once Johnson was assessed at a 240-point misdemeanour, Geelong had nowhere to go. Had the Cats chosen to challenge the panel's finding at the tribunal, they risked losing him for not just one but two finals (assuming Geelong goes through this week). It was a risk it was not prepared to take and it accepted the one-match ban yesterday.

Had it not been for the loading and the carry-over points, he would have been assessed at 120 demerit points, pleaded not guilty for a 25 per cent discount, and walked away with a reprimand.

That's the system and it is worth noting that the incomparable Stevie J has some recent history in the area of body-checking. He did it to Chris Newman in the Richmond game and escaped.

Johnson, in his new role as a permanent midfielder, has been pushing the boundaries with his body-checking, as the Hannebery incident shows. He went a fraction too far, and he picked on an unsuspecting player. But that's where logic gets thrown out, in my view.

But the system never needed to be used. Surely the Johnson bump on Hannebery, silly and unnecessary as it was, does not constitute a reportable offence in a rugged game like Australian football. Surely a free kick to Hannebery, who was winded but suffered no lasting injury, solves the problem and metes out the necessary sanction on Johnson.

It is such a contradiction to think that a little shoulder into the sternum of an approaching player, intended as a block for that player's opponent, can draw a suspension from a final when there is so much more overtly dangerous conduct going on around it.

I love watching Stevie J play. He is unique with his all-seeing awareness on the field, and loveable in the fact that he messes things up sometimes, too. Now he won't be there against Fremantle on Saturday, and I'm wondering if we have a Nanny state.

Here's my question. Is it actually good for footy that he's watching a final from the stands? The answer is pretty obvious.

31 comments

  • Yeah take your Martin but the fact that it misses a final I think is not the main point - the main issue is should it be reportable at all. I think not. Can't have one rule for home and away and one for finals.

    Commenter
    Mike
    Location
    Brissy
    Date and time
    September 04, 2012, 4:00PM
    • Yeah, got to admit, this was so ps weak to be charged and suspended - specially for a final.

      As a die-hard Docker fan, my heart is glad he's out (in my mind, it evens out our McPharlin loss) but my head says that was terrible decision by the AFL/Tribunal/MRP. Ridiculous even. Thought he might have got off with a challenge but glad he didn't try.

      May the best team win this Sat night! I'm hoping the hype & expectation of the Cats will be their undoing. Go Freo!

      Commenter
      Freo boy in Melbs
      Date and time
      September 04, 2012, 4:01PM
      • You got it right when you wrote "he picked on an unsuspecting player". That's where his problem lies.

        If you look at the effort Johnson is putting into the bump from the still shot, you can see it is a more than "a little shoulder into the sternum of an approaching player".

        Suspension deserved.

        Commenter
        The J Dog
        Location
        Utopia
        Date and time
        September 04, 2012, 4:03PM
        • Stevie J blocked Dan Hannebery who was tagging Joel Selwood. So a flat footed block on a tagger is now outlawed? Well watch closely MRP because the blocking is happening everywhere.

          Commenter
          David
          Location
          Hawthorn East
          Date and time
          September 04, 2012, 4:03PM
          • You cannot make contact with a player not in possession and not likely to be chasing the ball carrier, the MRP got this right, he winded the player he hit then dragged him up to his feet to try and cover his action.

            Commenter
            Brissyman
            Date and time
            September 04, 2012, 4:06PM
            • Johnson didn't pull Hanneberry to his feet to cover his actions - he did it to tell Hanneberry to harden up. Same as when Joel Selwood gave his brother a nudge a couple of weeks back. The message was 'I won that battle, now let's get on with it'.

              Commenter
              El Scotto
              Date and time
              September 04, 2012, 4:53PM
          • Have to agree...when did football become a non-contact sport!! Stevie J will be missed this week but the Cats couldn't risk losing him for 2 weeks when the second week will involve an interstate trip (either Sydney or Adelaide). The Match review panel has become a joke with its inconsistent reports and suspensions.

            Commenter
            Donna
            Location
            Sunshine
            Date and time
            September 04, 2012, 4:09PM
            • It was sneaky, weak and unnecessary

              Good to hime him cop it sweet

              Commenter
              Gezza
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              September 04, 2012, 4:10PM
              • I am in total agreeance. The AFL needs to spend the summer not fixing or changing rules, but fixing the MRP and its interpretation guidelines. Johnson's bump was at best minimal force, he bumped him off one step and then helped pull the guy back up.
                Down the other end, Grundy punched Podsiadly in the jaw with a clethced fist, in front of the umpire and didn't even get reported on the day?!
                The AFL has to stop penalising the consequence and penalise the action. Scarlett copped 3 weeks earlier this year for a similar action, the only main difference is that Ballantyne went down knowing that he would get a sure-fire free kick. The action was the same, but the consequences are very different.
                The worst this year was the Zeibell bump. He was going for the ball and in his attempt to be first to the ball and protect himself he accidentally bumped Joseph. Joseph was subbed out for the remainder but returned the following week while Zeibell cops 5 weeks. A few weeks later a very similar incident see's Lenny hayes take out Taylor Hunt. Hunt goes off with blood rule, but comes back on and plays out the game, and Hayes has no case to answer.
                The inconsistencies of the MRP are the biggest threat to our game in the next 5 years.

                Commenter
                Scott
                Location
                Port Melbourne
                Date and time
                September 04, 2012, 4:11PM
                • What a ridicuolus heading, Johnson deserved a suspension. This sport has moved forward from genuine thuggery to a genuine appreciation for the courage required to be a ball winner. We respect the man that plays the ball. Where was the ball in this instance? Did Hannebery see Stevie J? No, he didn't.

                  Commenter
                  dontodd
                  Location
                  collingwood
                  Date and time
                  September 04, 2012, 4:11PM

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