AFL: Drew Jones is live from Melbourne covering the controversy surrounding Brad Scott and the Kangaroos.
NORTH Melbourne admitted coach Brad Scott made a huge mistake in criticising the umpires for failing to pay free kicks to Lindsay Thomas in Friday night’s loss to Hawthorn, but he may have made an even bigger error afterwards.
The 40-year-old launched an extraordinary outburst in the post-match press conference, saying the whistleblowers told his players they wouldn’t give Thomas any frees for head-high tackles because he was a “ducker”.
This information was later proved to be false, and the club immediately issued a statement saying they were “embarrassed” and apologised unreservedly for the comments. Chairman James Brayshaw also spoke on his Triple M radio show, saying there was no excuse for the incorrect accusations being thrown around.
But in the midst of the Kangaroos’ about-face, a key ingredient was missing. Speaking on ABC’s Offsiders program on Sunday morning, Fairfax Media football writer Caroline Wilson said the lack of a personal apology from Scott himself was a disappointing aspect of the whole situation.
“We still haven’t heard from Brad Scott, which I thought was a tactical mistake by North Melbourne yesterday,” Wilson said.
“Mark Evans was as strong as I’ve heard him in the job as AFL Football Operations boss on this issue, and yet we still haven’t seen Brad … he’s such a big name in footy, he’s got such a reputation, he’s got so much responsibility — he should have called a press conference yesterday and apologised.
“He’s the one who’s said it and he’s the one who’s caused all this damage despite the fact he may have been given the wrong information by others. I’m disappointed in that.”
Ducking into tackles or even reversing into players to win free kicks for high contact has been a hot topic in the footy world this year, and Thomas has been in the thick of it. He came under fire for his tactics during a match against Sydney late last month, leading Dermott Brereton to label one decision that went in his favour as “the most disgraceful free kick I’ve seen”.
Scott was reportedly fed the incorrect information after Friday night’s game by a staffer who misinterpreted an umpire’s interaction with the players, prompting him to come out swinging at the men in charge.
“I know he is (unfairly treated), because the umpires told our players, ‘Well, he’s a ducker so we don’t pay high kicks to Lindsay,’” Scott said.
“They told our guys that, so that’s clearly a preconceived idea. I just want the umpires to umpire what they see, not preconceived ideas.
“It’s for (umpires coach) Hayden Kennedy to deal with, not for me. I’m just telling you what happened, because they won’t tell you, that’s for sure.”
The umpires are a protected species in the AFL, and Mark Evans demanded an apology as soon as Scott’s claims were shown to have no weight to them.
Wilson said despite the fact the Kangaroos were clearly trying to own their mistake as a whole club instead of pinning blame on individuals — be it Scott or the official — the head coach should still have to wear the blame.
“Brad hurt a lot of umpires yesterday and it’s bad enough what those umpires have to go through … for Scott himself (he should receive) a suspended sentence hanging over his head,” said Wilson.
“He’s a hot-head … they need their coach, they need a goose.
“There’s a fine line between fervent loyalty to your staff and your players, which Brad is an absolute champion at, and bad sportsmanship. I’m sorry, that was bad sportsmanship. Kicking the media out, blaming the umpires was just an appalling way to treat a loss.”