I'm Toby Greene's Biggest Fan But Even I Can't Excuse Him This Time
TOBY, I’m not angry. I’m disappointed.
No, you haven’t stumbled upon me tut-tutting my naughty son who’s been acting up. Rather, I’m cursing my favourite AFL footballer Toby Greene, who’s got himself into a footy finals pickle which has overshadowed his side Greater Western Sydney’s emphatic weekend victory over the Western Bulldogs.
The x-factor forward has been referred directly to the AFL tribunal tonight for serious misconduct towards Marcus Bontempelli during Saturday’s Elimination Final. Game footage shows Greene making contact with the face and around the eye of the Bulldogs superstar. The friendly folk on Twitter call it 'eye gouging'.
It has been reported that “The Bont” was sporting visible scratch marks around his neck and a bruise near his eye.
I’m disappointed an alleged act, deemed as serious misconduct by the AFL’s match review officer Michael Christian, has the potential to end his 2019 campaign and more importantly rail road the premiership chances of his team.
Let’s be clear, this isn’t Green’s first rodeo.
Since debuting in 2011, he’s been found guilty of a string of footy offences on 16 occasions tallying almost $20,000 in fines and serving six suspensions.
You’re wondering out of all the footy players in the land why this bloke is my pick of the bunch, aren’t you? Answer: Because he is the definition of an x-factor footballer who can turn it on at any given time, who with his sublime skills and knack for a brilliant goal can turn a game on its head and put the opposition to the sword.
And finals, finals are a different ball game. On the September stage, the biggest of them all, it’s tantalising to ponder what Greene could produce, magic and heroics that could become footy folklore.
This morning, legends of the game, including St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt, have questioned why the incident was directly referred to the footy’s court. Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel believes a financial sanction is more likely.
Tribunal is traditionally held on Tuesday night but this case has been bought forward 24 hours. And that’s a good thing.
Greene is also flying to Melbourne to attend the hearing. A smart move. Having covered AFL tribunal and sat in hundreds of hours of footy court over the past decade, I know that a player travelling from interstate to front the jury in person is a good look and Greene will receive a few brownie points for it. They all count when there’s a fair chance a suspension will end your year and the chance for premiership glory.
How you conduct yourself during the hearing counts for everything. A guilty plea, an apology, honest, co-operative and detailed evidence are all seriously important factors. I’ve seen many a player take the stand and plead not guilty when they are clearly in the wrong, argue gradings and charges, butcher their evidence and as a result copped their right whack.
My favourite? A former St Kilda defender, charged with striking an Adelaide Crows player, who told the tribunal his opponent ran into his fist. Good God!
The thing with Toby Greene is you never know what he’s going to do next. After a quiet first half will he boot three sensational goals to win the game in the third quarter? Or will he have a serious brain fade and find himself in hot water on a serious misconduct charge, his season over prematurely?
And that’s the thing about x-factor, you have no idea what’s ahead and that’s half the fun of it. In Toby Greene style, I don’t really know what the jury will decide tonight.
Hopefully it’s not the last we see of Greene this September. But should he be rubbed out, I won’t be angry, I’ll be disappointed.