A 14-year-old boy was among three people banned for life from football following an investigation into the aftermath of a junior grand final last month.
The Western Region Football League under-15 division 2 grand final between Albion and Point Cook on August 13 was marred by violence following the game, with an umpire chased from the field and scuffles breaking out involving players and spectators.
Following an investigation and hearings, the WRFL this month handed down three life bans for contact with an umpire – one of those to a 14-year-old player from Albion Football Club.
The other two bans were handed to spectators who also made contact with the umpire.
The incident happened after the umpire gave consecutive 50 metre penalties against Albion late in the game, which allowed Point Cook to kick the winning goal just before the final siren.
Albion president Gavan Taylor said the player was devastated.
“I’ve only spoken to the kid, but he was broken-hearted, as you can imagine,” Mr Taylor said.
“To be told at 14 that you can’t play footy any more is a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t think the contact with the umpire was extreme, but you simply can’t make any contact, I think everyone who plays understands that.
“The other two men, one has a very slim association with the club, and the other one is not involved with us at all. The whole scene was over in 10 seconds, so the whole assertion of a wild brawl simply wasn’t true.”
The three individuals will not be able to have any official role on or off field in football but can attend games as spectators.
The tribunal also handed down 10-game suspensions to five others, three involved in the match, one spectator and a waterboy who grabbed one of the Point Cook players.
Albion was also slapped with a $25,000 fine as part of a non-posted three-year bond and the league handed out a further $1800 in fines for other incidents on the day. The WRFL refused to comment on the specifics of the investigation.
A statement from AFL Victoria said it “does not condone any acts of violence at football matches across the state and will continue to support the large majority of spectators, players and officials who behave in an appropriate manner”.
Mr Taylor said he didn’t feel like his club had a behaviour problem, but had engaged the Les Twentyman Foundation for support during and following the investigation.
“I genuinely believe this is an isolated incident,” he said. “I’d stand by our track record before that day, but things like this drag us back in a hurry.”