Violence emerging in SAAFL

Sport — By on June 3, 2013 12:54 PM



The issue of crowd behaviour at suburban football matches has come into the spotlight, following outbreaks during a Smithfield vs Ingle Farm game, and another incident at Mofflin Reserve.

A man was arrested on Saturday May 25, following a match between Smithfield and Ingle Farm, where a fight broke out in the car park involving up to 20 people.

In another incident at nearby Mofflin Reserve at Elizabeth, a player for Westminster Old Scholars was allegedly attacked with a glass bottle by a member of the crowd during their match on the same day.

Westminster player Andrew Gormlie has expressed his shock towards the incident, which he described as the worst thing he has ever seen.

“A bit of a scrap between players isn’t uncommon, but for someone to be attacked with a bottle from someone from the crowd, it’s pretty shocking,” Mr Gormlie said.

“As soon as he did it he just got into a car then sped off.”

Mr Gormlie said that the player who was attacked did not suffer any serious injury, and although the police were called to the ground, no arrests were made.

Such cases of crowd violence add another  dimension to the already prevalent issue of on-field conflict in suburban football.

Earlier this year, SAAFL CEO Grant Goodall announced tougher penalties for acts of violence by players during the 2013 football season.

“We will be introducing heavier fines and docking premiership points, if we have to, which is going to hurt clubs on and off the field,” Mr Goodall said.

“If you can’t put a fair group of players on the turf, you have to have a good look at yourselves.”

Last year there were 107 incidents where players were reported by umpires for unacceptable conduct, with Gepps Cross, Salisbury West and Seaton being the worst offending clubs.

For every incident that gets reported, however, there are many that go unseen by the umpires.

“In 4 years of playing amateur footy, I’ve certainly seen my fair share of cheap shots,” Mr Gormlie said.

“Most of the time it’s not too serious and gets broken up pretty much straight away, but every once in a while it gets a bit out of control.”

Suspensions, and in extreme cases life-bans, are the typical consequences of on-field violence, however it  seems lenient when off the field, as many of these incidents would be considered assault.

“It sometimes seems like players, particularly in lower divisions, don’t really care about the game at all and just want to go out there and belt blokes,” Mr Gormlie said.

“If you don’t care about getting suspended or banned or whatever,then it becomes pretty much consequence-free to punch somebody.”

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