Sport

Mixed bag for Curnows after AFL appeal

Carlton has received mixed news at the AFL Appeal Board with Charlie Curnow cleared to play against Melbourne while brother Ed received a one match suspension for intentional umpire contact.

The tribunal initially ruled the pair had no case to answer and downgraded their charges from intentional to careless.

But the ruling body received widespread criticism after Geelong player Tom Hawkins was suspended for an eerily similar incident just a week earlier, with the AFL forced to intervene for just the second time in its history.

The AFL argued the tribunal could not have acted reasonably and come to those decisions with the evidence before it, and that the sanctions it imposed were manifestly inadequate.

Gold Coast captain Steven May was also reported for umpire contact but, like Charlie Curnow, escaped with a $1000 fine – a sanction that, strangely, wasn’t flagged for review.

Richmond player Bachar Houli is the only player to have previously had his tribunal decision overruled, when the two-week suspension for striking was upgraded to four weeks last year.

The farcical episode has left reporters and coaches confused by how the rule is interpreted.

Celebrated football journalist Gerard Whately said the AFL had a duty to follow up on the standards it set for Hawkins’ case.

“I don’t see how the AFL can sit idly by and let it stand,” Whately told Radio SEN 116 in Melbourne.

“They drove a suspension for the Hawkins action, that was what they believed the precedent needed to be and where the standard needed to be set.

“I think you’ll find they’re aghast by what happened. You appeal it to show how much you disapprove what happened, it doesn’t matter whether you win or not.”

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said he’d be furious in Cats’ coach Chris Scott’s position, given Hawkins’ good conduct during the hearing.

“If I was Geelong I’d be bleeding, absolutely bleeding,” Buckley told SEN.

“Because Hawkins handled himself so well, I thought the club handled it well.

“You’d be scratching your head ‘why be so gracious when it’s not actually supported or followed through?'”

Veteran AFL reporter Mark Robinson voiced his disbelief on AFL 360 – the program he co-hosts with Whately – stating the incident set a bad example for children playing at junior levels.

“I am gobsmacked by the tribunal tonight,” Robinson said.

“I think the football world should be frustrated. I think they should be confused about how players can touch umpires and not be penalised.

“I am flabbergasted. And I am not always one to say ‘what about the kids?’ but every kid at home will now be sitting home with their Dad or Mum now and saying, ‘so we can touch umpires?’

“What we have is a tribunal telling everyone that it is OK to touch an umpire; it’s just a fine, you don’t have to miss any games.

“You can’t suspend one and not two others.”

AFLPA President and Geelong player Patrick Dangerfield didn’t hold back in has assessment of the incident, while teammate Mitch Duncan summed up his thoughts in one word.