By Ewen McRae and David Brehaut
Darley Football Club has suspended its president and banned three supporters in the wake of an on-field brawl that broke out after the final siren of the senior match between the Devils and North Ballarat City at Darley Park on Saturday.
A Darley executive committee emergency meeting indefinitely stood down club president Ray Newton for a “lack of judgment” in dealing with the supporters, who were deemed responsible for initiating and escalating the incident.
None of the banned supporters were club members.
Ballarat Football League is investigating the fracas in which supporters were reportedly injured.
Darley won the game 11.17 (83)-11.12 (78) to move up to third on the table, but the win was overshadowed by events following the final siren in which spectators allegedly approached the two field umpires as they were leaving the ground and hurled verbal abuse at them.
League operations manager Shane Anwyl confirmed the league would be making formal inquiries with both clubs to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the incident and also confirmed it had obtained a recording of the incident that would be used in its investigations.
Darley secretary Lorissa Edwards said in a statement on the club’s Facebook page on Saturday night the incident had not involved North Ballarat City players or supporters.
A further club statement to media on Sunday declared the club was “disturbed” by the incident as “a proud community based club which takes pride in providing a welcoming and all-inclusive environment”.
The statement said the club had found no senior players or coaching staff were involved, “other than to try and break up the gathering” and that the Darley players had moved off the field when instructed.
The incident put a dampener on an otherwise impressive day for Darley. It kept the visitors scoreless in the first term before withstanding a late fightback to grab the win.
Jacob Zeestraten kicked two goals and was a strong player across the game, while Shane Page also produced a solid display.
The result means Darley has leap-frogged North Ballarat City into third place and has a chance to draw level on points with East Point this weekend.
Elsewhere, a dominant 10-goal haul to Dylan Conway was the highlight of a huge 104-point win for Melton South over Ballarat. It was the Panthers’ first win of the season. Conway was unstoppable for the Panthers, leading strongly, marking well and finishing clinically all day as the home side shot out of the blocks and was never headed.
The Panthers kicked 10 goals in the opening quarter and piled on the goals across the day to finish 27.14 (176)-11.6 (72) victors.
– Ballarat Courier