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Melbourne Storm deserved more from Brian Waldron's 'apology'


Melbourne Storm fans, players and officials have waited four years for some sign of contrition from Brian Waldron about the role the former chief executive played in the salary cap cheating that brought the club to its knees.

On Tuesday, Waldron penned a column for an online news site in which the "chief rat" of one of the biggest scandals in Australian sport had supposedly broken his long silence and apologised for his sins.

If that was truly the purpose of the exercise, then it was an incredibly underwhelming and inadequate public apology that stunk of a desperate, and quite frankly, pathetic, attempt by Waldron to garner publicity.

Those associated with the Storm deserved more. The Storm was regarded as the team of the modern era after it won two premierships from four grand finals from 2006 to 2009.

It was coached by the best in the business in Craig Bellamy and it spawned a generation of superstars such as Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau and Cooper Cronk as well as producing a supporting cast of cult favourites who turned it into a champion team.

However, its legacy was torn apart in April 2010 when the NRL announced that the Storm was guilty of significant cheating of the salary cap that allowed it to keep a strong squad during that period. The club was stripped of two premierships, consigned to playing out the season without points and heavily fined.

Waldron's rambling dialogue gave no explanation or mea culpa of wrongdoing, but provided just an overarching apology to "all those hurt by my actions", which he stated was offered "without reservation".

It read as a coming out – a signal that he believed enough time had elapsed that he could re-enter the public arena after an aborted attempt in 2012 when he was outed as having a connection with the Melbourne Tigers basketball team. 

He talked about the buck stopping "at the top", but rightly or wrongly - and there are still plenty of conspiracy theories out there about who knew what - history has recorded Waldron as the central figure, not as a leader who took one for the troops.  

He also referred to the consequences of "ego and emotion" on clubs but the man - who was known for his apparently boundless self-confidence and headline-grabbing quotes - did not apply this to himself as he again wrote of it in general terms.

While Storm fans as a whole have moved beyond the point of caring what Waldron has to say, many still felt galled enough by his proclaimed contrition to unleash a barrage of online bitterness. 

For those who stayed the course and read to the end of the piece, they found a handful of paragraphs that constituted the apology. Bemoaning that his good work had been overshadowed by his misdeeds, Waldron wrote:

"I have received both praise and indignation for my work in sport administration. Regretfully the good is quickly forgotten when wrongdoings are laid bare. I understand and accept this is the consequence of inappropriate actions.

"Regretfully I got ahead of myself. It’s absolutely appropriate that I apologise to all those hurt by my actions and I do so without reservation.

"In sport, people come and go and learnings are lost with them. It needn’t be that way. While failure can be a better teacher than success, I know which one I prefer. Good sporting organisations share the same philosophy."

The website plugs that Waldron will write regularly "on the business of sport" and even though one newspaper quoted the site's editor as downplaying Waldron's future involvement to having "a chance" of again writing a column, there is little likelihood that anyone associated with the Storm will afford the columns any credibility.

20 comments so far

  • There are still lots of questions in all this. What was News Limited's role? Who was pulling the strings there? Who decided at News Limited to strip 2 premierships? A manifestly excessive punishment, when compared to other salary cap breaches. Most RL fans know those 2 Storm premierships were won off the back of hard work. Storm found and developed those champion players; they were not bought from elsewhere. Finally I can’t believe Waldron thinks it is time to reenter the work force. Who would hire this guy?

    Date and time
    April 30, 2014, 5:26PM
    • SB, get your head out of the sand. The main players as just as guilty as anyone in this whole sordid scam. The only reason the Storm were able to continually remain up near the top was cause every other team had to strip back their roster each year to stay legal, take the current Glenn Stewart case as a prime example. Of course they worked hard but so did every other team, with a legal lineup of players. Storm hard done by? Definitely not!

      John B
      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 8:03AM
    • I don't purport to speak for most RL fans, but I would have thought it would be obvious to most that hard work and player development had little to do with it. They were a genius team, well coached, with a great roster. Too good. Had they paid market value for that roster, the salary cap would have prevented them from retaining that team. They should never have been able to come close to fielding that team.

      Argue about the fairness of the punishment all you like, and the merits of the salary cap, but don't stick your fingers in your ears and ignore the bleeding obvious.

      Incontinentia Buttocks
      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 9:13AM
    • SB is exactly right, and those who insist on arguing the toss to this day only serve to paint themselves as bitter and jealous. I don't read that SB is shaking or attempting to absolve the club of some wrongdoing; far from it. But he is entirely correct to observe that the Storm's superior recruitment found every single one of their star players, and at a time when other clubs are arguing that they should be allowed concessions to keep their longest serving stalwarts, it does seem particularly hypercritical that the Storm are persecuted so. Rules were broken; of that I have no doubt, and even as a Storm fan, I felt some punishment was due. But, we must not overlook the purpose of punishment, and it cannot just be just to obtain some retribution; it should also be to improve, rehabilitate, vindicate the rules and prevent breaches happening again.

      My point is that the problem is with the rules. IB, do you really believe that had two of Melbourne's four star players been squeezed out by the salary cap in 2008 that they would have come to your club instead? Of course not! The more players squeezed out, the more go to Japanese rugby union. That's not good for the game! Also, I haven't seen evidence of any other clubs audited since the Storm in 2010, yet there have been some remarkable squads. Either you audit all, or none at all. The rules are shortsighted and the punishment only affected the fans. There were no winners from this.

      John B unfortunately raises the oft used but most gormless argument against the Storm. I don't know what 24 of my work colleagues earn! Do you really think rugby players share and compare their salaries with each other?

      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 2:55PM
    • SB - the Storm's salary cap 'breaches' (read blatant, bald-faced cheating) were vastly in excessive of previous breaches by other clubs, hence, so was the punishment.

      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 3:27PM
  • At SB, who are you blaming here, Waldron, News Ltd or both. Perhaps it was the club as a whole who did the cheating.

    Date and time
    April 30, 2014, 8:11PM
    • +1

      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 6:52AM
    • At the time, I had sympathy for the Storm fans and to some extent, some of the players who obviously put a lot of heart and soul into their premiership 'wins'.
      Now? Come on. For all the Storm fans and apologists?! You got caught and you paid the price.

      Don't try and re-write history or shift the blame.

      You can't tell me that the senior management and coaching staff were all blind to what
      was happening? Did the coaching staff never ask 'How are we managing to keep all these players under the cap?' Please...

      NRL is a product. It is a big machine. I'm talking a LOT of highly paid people.
      Top to bottom. Billions in media advertising. Billions in gambling. Billions in sales.

      You don't cook the golden goose by asking all the 'right' questions.

      Let's just get on with the footy...oh and bring back the Bears!

      The Coast
      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 8:01AM
  • Now today, Waldron has penned another online article. This item is about the AFL, calling it an asylum. Well he would know! Of course he wants to re-establish his AFL credentials........but why would any AFL fan read the ramblings of a discredited NRL employee who then moved to a Union franchise defies belief.

    Date and time
    May 01, 2014, 6:59AM
    • Still waiting for the coaches apology. Not just for ruining the competition for years, but also the grapple, choker hold, kicks to head's, and not to forget, an apology to Lockyer, for denying the champion at least one premiership.

      not much of a fan
      Date and time
      May 01, 2014, 8:23AM

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