Mitchell Pearce: the uncomfortable truth is he doesn't deserve to have his contract torn up

I hold no brief for Mitchell Pearce and he is clearly a young man who has a serious problem with alcohol. Once he is on it, instead of a brake he has only an accelerator. Instead of a tipple he goes till he tips over. Whatever penalties are handed out, he needs to get help. His behaviour was outrageous, unacceptable, disgraceful and all the rest.

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Mitchell Pearce fronts the media

Mitchell Pearce makes a brief statement apologising for his drunken behaviour caught on camera on Australia Day.

Most of it, however – with the possible exception of the attempted kiss – you would find in that thumping volume, the Book of League Sins under Totally Pissed Idiot, rather than Crimes and Misdemeanours.

Just like I wish that Todd Carney wouldn't try and drink his own urine, I wish that Pearce would not simulate sex with a dog, urinate on a couch as well as on himself, and make a drunken play for the young woman.

Mitchell Pearce arrives to speak at a press conference in Surry Hills on Friday with his mother Terri, left, and sister ...
Mitchell Pearce arrives to speak at a press conference in Surry Hills on Friday with his mother Terri, left, and sister Tatum, right. Photo: Getty Images

Ultimately, however, none of those things are any of my business and we know the police don't think it theirs. No legal complaints have been made that we know of. He was an invited guest, the dog thing was not a serious attempt at congress, and, at least knocked back for a kiss, he stopped. Asked to leave, he ultimately left.

I repeat, I hold no brief for him. And I am deeply uncomfortable at finding myself, I gather, on roughly the same side of the argument as Alan Jones.


My point is that while everyone is right to wring their hands at what Pearce has done, all talk of "tearing up his contract," is too extreme, just as the law might come down on the side of Todd Carney in his case against Cronulla for wrongful dismissal – and I do not pre-judge their decision.

A further troubling issue for me is how the footage emerged. In a private home, Pearce, on his day off, was filmed without his consent, and his own right to privacy was clearly breached in return for commercial gain. In the US, you will recall, and as reader Matthew Donnelland points out, "when the LA Clippers' shockingly racist owner, Donald Sterling, was illegally recorded the NBA eventually allowed a sale for more than $1 billion to end the litigation risk, because it was illegally sourced".

Mitchell Pearce.
Mitchell Pearce.  Photo: Fairfax via

I suspect this one was too, and don't think either Channel Nine, News Corp or Fairfax Media should have paid for it.

What were they thinking?

Illustration: John Shakespeare
Illustration: John Shakespeare 

Finally, what the hell is doing with the Roosters? Yes, the prime culprit in the piece is Pearce. But when you have a bloke like that in your side, with a track record of trouble like he has with grog in him, wouldn't you figure that at the end of Australia Day when he is pissed as a newt, "shits is trumps on the blind', for a bloke like him getting blind? Where were his mates, saying that's enough now, Mitchell . . . I said, MITCHELL, THAT'S ENOUGH!"

Gotta love this city

Meantime? Meantime, also over the summer, the 372 bus from Central to Coogee was chokkas when Harry Pendlebury, a student from UNE, noted a couple of advanced years, getting on, at which point he immediately offered them his seat.

"Very kind of you young fella," says the grateful gentleman, "off to the races are you?"

"As a matter of fact I am," says Harry and a conversation starts around them coming down as part owners from Muswellbrook to see their horse start in the city.

"Race 4, No 19," the old bloke advises with a knowing nod as they get off at Randwick.

Liking the old bloke, and for the hell of it, Harry puts a tenner each way at the 31 to 1 odds on offer for the roughie Star Shaft and – are you way ahead of me? – of course the nag romped home for young Harry to trouser a very handy $370!

I know, I know, a rare gamble story with a happy ending. I still prefer the late, great Bart Cumming's most famous tip, which he handed out liberally: "DON'T GAMBLE!"

Speed thrills

Great holiday, thanks for asking. It including spending time in New York where among other things, I went to a New York Knicks vs Boston Celtics game at Madison Square Garden, where I was stunned to see the Knicks had TWENTY blokes with clipboards and the like, hanging around the team at every break. But I was also fascinated to read in the New York Times, the story of Bill Johnson, the first American to win Olympic gold in downhill skiing, who died while we were there.

It's an extraordinary story ... Before the '84 Olympics, Johnson bragged that he was going to win, and then said everybody else "could fight for second."

When he did indeed, win, he was asked what it meant, and then famously replied: "Millions ... We're talking millions."

And that's where the trouble started...

Ill-equipped to cope with his sudden world renown, and those millions, the 23-year-old soon lost his way. Much of the money went on wine, women and song while, as they say, "the rest of it he wasted," and his troubles were too frequently compounded by compound fractures from accidents. He retired in 1989 to take up, yes, professional golf, where he failed miserably, burned through a marriage, and then the truly hard times began.

"Still," the NYT reported, "he lived dangerously, driving his Harley very fast, surfing at midnight, racing snowmobiles in Alaska, shooting his guns and drinking heavily."

Anything for speed, which was always his major drug, though other drugs ran it close.

At 40, he got a tattoo on his shoulder SKI TO DIE, and made a bid to make the 2002 Olympics team for Salt Lake City, in the hope his wife would come back to him. He didn't, and she didn't, but he nearly did die from skiing. A shocking accident put him in a coma for three weeks, and he emerged brain-damaged, losing everything, bar his gold-medal which he once shook in the face of a police officer who was trying to arrest him. He remained proud of it, to the end.

After suffering a series of strokes in 2010, he ended his days in an assisted care facility where he was frequently in trouble with management, for driving his electric wheelchair too fast.

His eptitaph?

Probably this quote from 1985: "I made the top, and I was the first to do it," he said in 1985. "No one can take that away - ever."

No they can't. Vale, Bill Johnson.

What They Said

The quote of the summer by Chris Gayle who, perhaps had to, as unfortunately he didn't let his bat do the talking often enough: "Don't blush baby ..."

Chris Gayle on Chris Gayle: "Apart from India, Australia is the next place where Chris Gayle can really be that forefront, up-front person wherever you go." Thank you friends, and sporting year for TFF has officially started! Meantime, is this bloke so far up himself he is nudging his own tonsils? Discuss.

Mitchell Pearce, pissed as a newt, to a young woman on the night of Australia Day: "I want to f--- your dog and I don't even care . . ." He does now.

The woman, to Pearce: "I care, you have peed on my couch, you have peed on yourself, get the f--- out." That's the last straw."

The Courier-Mail sub-editors outdo themselves with their front-page headline: "Roosters Australia Day shame a cock a poodle do."

ATP chairman Chris Kermode, in the wake of the growing tennis betting scandal, rightly gives our Lleyton a clean bill of health: "Lleyton Hewitt, as we all know, is one of the greatest competitors of all time. I'm not sure he'd give his mother one point when he was playing." And so say all of us.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, 39, on taking the Broncos to Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers: "Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure."

Former NFL player Antwaan Randle El, 36, on the results of playing for so long: "I have to come down stairs sideways sometimes, depending on the day. If I could go back, I wouldn't [play]."

El, again, on his mental limitations. "I ask my wife things over and over again, and she's like, 'I just told you that. I'll ask her three times the night before and get up in the morning and forget. Stuff like that. I try to chalk it up as I'm busy, I'm doing a lot, but I have to be on my knees praying about it, asking God to allow me to not have these issues and live a long life."

Oh, how the times have changed. Australian cricket captain, Steve Smith on Virat Kohli's send off. "I don't think you need to do that kind of thing when someone gets out," Smith told Fox Sports: "It's fine to have a little bit of banter when you're out in the field, but when someone's out I don't really think that's on."

Robert Allenby on going back to Hawaii: "I think I just need to get back there and do my thing in a very positive way." Sounds like a plan! And you be careful, hear? We hear there are robbers there, everywhere!

Things have to be grim when your defender is Pat Cash: "You want characters in the sport. You want Chris Gayles in the sport – oh no, we don't want Chris Gayles in the sport, do we? No, not having people like that. What a joke that is. What's wrong with Australians? Really? What's wrong with us?"

Cash again. "... Look, once [Kyrgios] is winning matches and starts winning Davis Cup, people will love him. It was the same with me ..." I know. Me neither.

Like all gymnasts who have invented a move, gymnast Marisa Dick's will be called "The Dick". "It's super cool to know that my name will kind of live on in the world of gymnastics. It's really exciting. It was one of my biggest goals going into worlds, to get this move named after myself." Sigh. I have a hospital pass named after me.

Bob Dylan, reportedly, to boxing trainer Ray 'Boom Boom' Manicini, in the private boxing gym Dylan has set up at his place in Santa Monica, where Boom Boom does practice rounds with him: "Hey Ray. Could you take it a little easy on the head? I have a few songs left in there."

Team of the Week (catch-up edition)

Matthew Dellavedova. In one of those secret polls labelled the dirtiest player in the NBA. That's our man, following the greatest Australian sporting dictum of the lot: "If in doubt, take 'em out!"

Toby Price. Became the first Australian to win the Dakar Rally in any category.

Big Bash. While I was out, seems to have revolutionised the summer landscape.

Lleyton Hewitt. Grew up in front of our eyes and now will be the elder statesman of Australian tennis for generations to come, a worthy heir to the likes of Rosewall, Newcombe, Laver and Rafter.

Paul Robinson. The only touch footballer to have played every NSW State Cup since the birth of the annual tournament in 1977, "Robbo" finally won his first title as a player in Port Macquarie over the summer.

RIP. Dan Cullen. Aged 101, the legendary Australian golfer who received the DFC for flying 35 Lancaster missions over Europe in WWII, was a past president of the PGA, and the oldest qualifier at 64 for the British Open, died on Australia Day. He will be farewelled at St Mary's Cathedral this Tuesday at 11am. Vale, Mr Cullen.

Maasai Warriors XI. Cricket-playing warriors from this colourful tribe, from deepest Kenya, are visiting Australia for the first time to play at the SCG. Their matches are on the afternoon of February 3 and 4 as part of the Primary Club's Marathon Cricket fundraising event. Among others they'll be playing AFL and Wallaby legends. All welcome! While here, the Maasai will be staying at the mighty Wesley College, Sydney Uni, who will also have a cricket team in the comp. Go Wesley!

Gordon Cricket Club. Their annual fundraising dinner, held on 18th February, at Killara Golf Club, will feature Ian and Trevor Chappell being interviewed by my man, Tim Sheridan. Bookings at

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz


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