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Would you want your son playing AFL footy?

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Organised crime may be infiltrating AFL

Organised crime may be infilterating football, according to AFL Players' Association CEO Matthew Finnis.

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COMMENT

IMAGINE yourself right now as the parent of a young Essendon footballer. Not so long ago, James Hird had looked you in the eye, shook your hand and assured you that your son was joining a great football club and that he, too, would be given every chance of greatness both on and off the field.

Clearly, your son is one of the chosen few. He is in good hands. Then, after a very strange season in which the team starts with a muscled-up bang but finishes with a sloppy, injury-depleted yelp, you learn that your boy is the subject of an investigation by ASADA and the AFL. 

Or maybe it was the recently removed football boss Paul Hamilton who made those assurances, or perhaps chief executive Ian Robson. Clearly, your son is one of the chosen few. He is in good hands.

That's AFL for you. Surely it's every parent's dream. Or is it?

That's AFL for you. Surely it's every parent's dream. Or is it? Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Then, after a very strange season in which the team starts with a muscled-up bang but finishes with a sloppy, injury-depleted yelp, you learn that your boy is the subject of an investigation by ASADA and the AFL. You hear the beloved Hird tell the public he cannot quite say that everything that took place with his team was above board.

You learn that your son was taken to a botox clinic and administered with supplements from someone who was not a registered doctor. That your son's part in all of this is minuscule and part of a much wider investigation involving Australian customs officers and the police. And that one of the experts entrusted with your son's young body was let go for undertaking highly unusual practices and another has been stood down. If your worst fears are realised, your son could be rubbed out of football.

Even if the supplements were legal, you must be wondering why your club employed these people and seemed so vague about it.

Kurt Tippett... the 25-year-old who was probably overpaid and tried to be shrewd but signed a dodgy deal as a ...

Kurt Tippett... the 25-year-old who was probably overpaid and tried to be shrewd but signed a dodgy deal as a 22-year-old after receiving some very bad advice. Photo: Getty Images

And why he was asked to sign a secrecy document regarding his medical treatment when his standard playing contract surely covered all that. In fact, you must be starting to wonder whether Essendon is such a great club after all.

Or maybe your son played for Melbourne in 2009. At first you thought it a little strange when, despite showing good form in the midfield or up forward, he was moved to the back pocket.

Perhaps he told you what the club was trying to do. That the club could not afford to win any more games because they needed to secure Tom Scully and Jack Trengove in the draft. Or perhaps you simply saw it with your own eyes and then heard the coach virtually confirm it.

In the coming days you will learn that your son's club - or former club - has been charged with attempting to manipulate the draft and perhaps even perverting match results. The coach, footy boss and maybe even the CEO could also be charged.

Then again maybe your son was lucky enough to join the great Collingwood Football Club at the same time Nathan Buckley had been appointed to the coaching position.

Once again the coach, the CEO and almost certainly the president shook your hand and spoke of the proud association you were about to enter. Of course they all meant it.

Except then, after a time, your boy started to notice a division among the senior players. Between those who did and those who didn't. Maybe he mentioned it to you although probably he didn't. Except that then you read that the chief executive had spoken out about a volcanic illegal drug problem within the competition and - it seemed - Collingwood.

Or maybe your son is called Kurt Tippett, the 25-year-old who was probably overpaid and tried to be shrewd but signed a dodgy deal as a 22-year-old after receiving some very bad advice. You probably have some regrets there.

Shocked to find himself in such a position your son stood before the AFL Commission to be judged and found himself handed the almost identical punishment to the club chief executive with 15 years of AFL experience behind him. The man who promised to do the right thing by your son. And now your son has been suspended for half an AFL season - a relative eternity for a man of his profession.

That's AFL for you. Surely it's every parent's dream. Except when your son finds himself at a football club that puts success before everything and tries to take short cuts to beat the system - or simply thumbs its nose at it. That's when it becomes a mother's - or father's - living nightmare.

96 comments

  • I'd much rather my son become a journalist. Clearly they are all respectable honest human beings...

    If the state of the game is that bad why is Andrew D still running the show?

    Commenter
    Have a crack
    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 10:06PM
    • So looks like Cousins was just the tip of the iceberg. Fev too. And all the vitriol from Demetriou et al about their being kicked for failing to be role models and their behaviour bringing the AFL into disrepute...all such sanctimonious BS now eh? This all happened under Demitreou's nose. Get a grip mate and start MANAGING our footy. Your management lot are bringing this game into disrepute. You all going to do the right think now and resign? Nah...didn't think so. You have turned our once great game into a money making machine and the vulnerable are chewed up and spat out broken all in the hopes of greater profits. Disgraceful. Royal Commission time.

      Commenter
      Disgusted
      Date and time
      February 07, 2013, 10:05AM
  • Caroline, I couldn't agree more. I am a born and bred Collingwood supporter and football person but currently feel very disenchanted with the game. I have a young son and am quite repulsed at the idea that these people are injecting young men with "supplements", even if they are legal. It's just treating them like meat. Surely the game doesn't have to be so obsessed. I also wonder if young careers were ruined at Melbourne because of tanking. I doubt very much I'll ever have to worry about my son becoming an AFL footballer, but I think I'd rather him become something less exciting, whether that be a tradesman or an accountant.

    Commenter
    Sally
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 10:16PM
    • No I'd rather they take up journalism.....laugh!

      Commenter
      OTM
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 10:24PM
      • Why does Caro conveniently never target her beloved Richmond?

        Commenter
        BRM
        Date and time
        February 07, 2013, 9:27AM
    • Caro, I used to respect you as one of the few journos who weren't on the AFL gravy train, but your articles today and yesterday are just disgraceful. You should be ashamed to have written such emotive, ill-informed, unsubstantiated garbage. Where are your facts? You're dealing in innuendo and rumour. Nothing's been proven - we don't even know what the supposed" facts" are yet! But you make ridiculous and wild allegations as if they *are* facts. If this story turns out to be baseless, a storm in a teacup, I look forward to a humble, grovelling apology to the Essendon Football Club, and if your fragile ego won't let you do that, then you should resign.

      Commenter
      Reichman
      Location
      Essendon
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 10:24PM
      • I agree. This article reeks of malice and tall poppy syndrome. Not her best work.

        Commenter
        Penster
        Location
        Bondi
        Date and time
        February 07, 2013, 8:50AM
      • What are you talking about? The article is full of facts. The Adelaide situation has been an official verdict. Former Melbourne coach admitted to playing for draft picks and players were observed playing out of position (the ruckman who found himself on Nathan Brown in the back pocket?). And the Essendon comments here are things the Club has already admitted to. Besides, if you look at the top of the page it clearly tells you it's a comment piece, so if you're not interested in this persons take on the situation then don't read it

        Commenter
        Mick
        Location
        Melb
        Date and time
        February 07, 2013, 8:50AM
      • Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

        Commenter
        StBob
        Date and time
        February 07, 2013, 9:08AM
      • @Mike, the article contains facts, but also conjecture. A fact is not a fact just because Kyle Reimers said it.

        Commenter
        Laki
        Location
        Windy Hill
        Date and time
        February 07, 2013, 9:15AM

    More comments

    Comments are now closed

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