I was stunned during the week. Words I never thought I would hear emanated from the mouth of a Melbourne larrikin.
Had the AFL anti-football set finally realised the error of their ways and reflected sensibly on their own backyard and the ever popular game of football?
It appeared to be the case, as former player and media jester Danny Frawley commented on the recent violence that has plagued the post script of AFL matches at Etihad Stadium and Adelaide Oval.
For the uninformed, there have been horrific and violent scenes at both stadiums in recent times with Collingwood fans involved on three separate occasions. The footage is grotesque, with drunken fools punching, kicking and taunting opposition supporters and the security response appearing understated in each case.
They are not isolated incidents.
Whilst generally a pleasant experience for my family and I to attend over the years, AFL matches have grown increasingly tense as the competition has continued to grow closer and closer.
Often, little separates teams on the field, despite polar opposite ladder positions and some fans seem less than capable of handling the intensity and closeness of the contest.
Frawley is a St Kilda legend, a term loosely applied considering it’s rather appalling history and singular flag in 1966. However, his comments indicated that perhaps he was one of the few in the AFL fraternity with the courage or intelligence to call the proverbial spade a spade.
Frawley was vehement in his comments about the behaviour and the fans in question, who he felt were “pretty quick to throw the book at the soccer people and talk them down immeasurably”.
He added “this one should go straight to Gill McLachlan (CEO of the AFL): they should be banned for life.”
The man who in 2016 chuckled along live on radio as sexist and threatening comments were made about respected Melbourne journalist Caroline Wilson, appeared to have seen the light and awoken to the bully boy tactics of the Mafioso Melbourne media; those wedded to the powerhouse that is the AFL.
His apologies and immediate backtrack after the disgraceful suggestions of drowning Wilson in a pool of icy liquid at the bottom of a water slide were insincere. The slide was in operation to support the wonderful and inspirational charity run by Neale Daniher as he continues to fight MND. The slide operates at the MCG for the “Big Freeze”, a day symbolising unity and humanity with a common goal of ridding the planet of such threatening diseases.
How surprising it was to hear a normally cheer leading buffoon, whose moral compass appears well off course at times, express a serious and logical point in regards to the recent violence at AFL matches.
How sad have been the racial slurs directed towards indigenous players and the bananas thrown onto the field of play to apparently symbolise the unworthiness of them as participants.
The multiple ejections of fans incapable of leaving their uneducated brains and prejudices at the door have been well publicised yet for once, a blindsided Victorian finally saw the light and had the courage to express the absolute and fundamental truth about hypocrisy and anti-football sentiment in this country.
And what better time to raise it than as the world game launches into its ultimate festival and the nations of the earth come together to celebrate the true international language; bred of a simple sphere and a human foot.
Initially, I had no intention of writing about the issue. It is a product of the inherent bias against football and something that appears well entrenched.
Then I received a message from Aaron Swan, a friend, loyal reader and someone well aware of the state of play when it comes to the sporting landscape in this country.
He got me thinking and triggered a column, then during my weekly viewing of the Sunday night Fox Sports program Bounce, the anti-football message again came across loud and clear.
Frawley appears on that program on what could only loosely be described as a panel.
Rather than being consistent and encouraging a process of self assessment; a fair response considering the violence and vitriol occurring in their own back yard, the Bounce team chose to take another pot shot at ‘soccer players’. How Frawley sat there and allowed it to happen is astonishing.
It appears the show trawl media outlets looking for examples of football violence, ‘simulation’ or a footballer appearing to be somewhat less than courageous. Of course, any context is ignored and Zlatan Ibrahimović was the butt of the joke on this occasion. The hosts pissed themselves laughing.
It is part of a pattern where Bounce have used stereotypical images in an attempt to keep football well and truly in its place.
It is interesting to note that Australian Basketball legend Andrew Gaze was the specific vehicle chosen to present the gag, rather than Frawley or one of the other AFL types.
It makes me sick to the stomach for one simple reason. For every episode of Sunday Shootout, The A-League Hour or Just for Kicks, all excellent Fox programs that promote the game and the A-League, I cannot ever recall a cheap shot at the AFL. Or footage to support it.
And trust me there is plenty of potential material. It is exactly what Simon Hill has been consistent about in his criticism; the manner in which the game is covered in Australia.
In short, Football leaves other codes alone; in the knowledge that it is growing at an exponential rate and the future of the game is limitless.
The AFL community however, seems to live in a world of paranoia. Insisting on deferring to clichéd images of hooliganism, violence and simulation that, in fact, appear more appropriate to their own code right now, rather than the beautiful game of football.