2020 has thrown the kitchen sink at us, and while the AFL has still managed to battle through, one of the by-products of a season in a pandemic has been the inevitable breaking of Covid-19 restrictions. This season has seen a range of off-field Covid-19 related indiscretions from a majority of clubs, making the usual nightclub incidences seem like a distant memory – so let’s forget about social distancing for a moment and brush up on the (proven and alleged) off-field misdemeanours from players that we’ve seen over the past decade.
18. North Melbourne
Full credit to the Kangaroos, they find themselves at the bottom of the ladder with a pretty weak (or strong, depending on how you look at it) off-field presence since 2010. Matthew Campbell was the sole notable reprobate, being evicted from a casino in 2012 in a pretty run of the mill incident. Yawn.
Sydney were in danger of having a one-man offender in Lance Franklin, making Elijah Taylor’s emerging domestic violence and assault allegations an already shocking addition to an otherwise placid list for the Swans. Buddy’s indiscretions in the red and white were restricted to driving offences, arguably exercising some noticeable off-field consistency by crashing his car in 2014 before being caught speeding the following year.
16. Western Bulldogs
In one of the most unusual incidents across the league over this time, Jason Akermanis opened the Bulldogs’ off-field indiscretion account in 2010 by deciding to use nothing but his views and his internet connection to piss people off – writing an article urging gay AFL players to “stay in the closet”. Geez.
In an end of season trip that won’t be the first to feature, a couple of teammates found themselves in hot water after videos surfaced of them harassing motorists and being drunk in the street. Isn’t the point of international travel to do things you can’t do at home? Jake Stringer was also not without a strike against his name, battling gambling issues for several years before Lachie Hunter quite literally bought their issues to a halt as he crashed his car in a drunken trip at the start of the year.
15. Greater Western Sydney
Nothing too out of the ordinary for the Giants in terms of rule breaking, really. In fact, Heath Shaw calling Tom Papley a “fucking retard” seems like high school stuff when compared to some other features of this countdown. On the other hand, Toby Greene well and truly put beef on the menu when he assaulted someone in a restaurant in 2014. Others to note include Lachie Whitfield evading a drug test, and that video of Shane Mumford that surfaced in 2018.
One of the only good things about Adelaide’s famous pre-season camp was that it added a bit of flavour to their otherwise boring list of off field issues. Bernie Vince did his best though, completing a personal hattrick by going out after a game, being thrown out of a casino for being drunk and stripping in a pub. Taylor Walker had a standard indiscretion by being caught drinking in 2018, and Tyson Stengle rounds out the Crows’ list by drink driving in an unregistered car earlier this year.
The only thing more unimpressive than Melbourne’s ladder position in 2012 was arguably the allegations that Liam Jurrah attacked a family member with a machete. Thankfully, that was where it ended with the violent claims, with Clayton Oliver drink driving in 2016 and Jesse Hogan ending up at a music festival in Perth after being granted leave. Add Steven May drinking while injured and you’ve got yourself a short list that certainly could be worse.
If it weren’t for Brendan Fevola, the Lions would have bragging rights when it comes to off-field behaviour. Even though Fev was sacked after only one season, he managed to pack a lot of mishaps into that season that boost Brisbane’s spot by 6 whole spots, which isn’t that surprising given his ability to jag large scores singlehandedly. His actions included getting drunk in the streets on NYE and getting locked up, flashing someone at a non-club function, drinking whilst injured, a nude photo scandal involving Lara Bingle and being caught at the pokies. This haul makes the accusations Daniel Rich faced pale in comparison, being that he allegedly assaulted a man in a wheelchair and stole his taxi on Mad Monday.
You’d be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t immediately think of the absolute debacle that was the supplement saga when someone utters the word ‘Essendon’. From banning 34 players for a season to renouncing the 2012 Brownlow medal, the long-term incident forever tainted the club and peppered it with collateral damage. Rest assured though, there were still a couple of individuals that pushed Essendon further up the countdown. Enter: Jake Carlisle. I’m not sure if capturing your mates snorting white powder was what the inventor of Snapchat had in mind, but the 2014 incident was less than ideal for everyone involved. In 2018, Jake Stringer provided a refreshing outlook on Essendon’s off-field mishaps by being at the centre of a cheating scandal – this time not drug related.
10. St Kilda
There weren’t heaps of off-field incidents at the Saints in the last decade, but what they did do packed a punch. The infamous St Kilda schoolgirl involved all sorts of allegations, scandals and nude photos (cc: Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna), with the 2010 fiasco making headlines early in the decade. If the whole club wasn’t shook enough, Zac Dawson, Rhys Stanley, Jack Steven and Paul Cahill stepped up in 2011 to bring some fresh controversy, drinking and using prescription drugs on a NZ training camp.
Clinton Jones’ name is synonymous with one thing and one thing only – setting a dwarf entertainer on fire during a Mad Monday that got a little too loose in 2013. All the apologies in the world didn’t change the disgraceful yet comical nature of this incident, with Clint going down in Mad Monday folklore for all the wrong reasons. Finally, St Kilda have Ahmed Saad to thank for a more substantial drug related blemish during this time, as he tested positive to a banned stimulant in 2014.
Geelong kicked off the decade with a bang, with Mathew Stokes making the club less than stoked when he was caught trafficking cocaine in 2010. One way to get your name out there in the early days of your career it to face allegations of domestic violence, as Jesse Stringer found out. Another way to bring attention to yourself is to break into your teammates house in balaclavas as a joke, only to find you broke into the wrong house. Josh Caddy and Billy Smedts found out that poor judgment off-field can be just as costly as poor judgment on-field, by doing just that.
Steven Motlop added himself to the long list of players who found themselves with a drink in hand when they shouldn’t have, losing himself the right for selection in the next game. While we’re talking about losing things, Joel Selwood’s license comes to mind. Turns out the cheetah only just takes the crown for the fastest cat, with the Geelong captain on a Victorian highway a close second.
Whilst we’re not quite at the pointy end of the countdown just yet, Jack Steven got a bit too close with the pointy end of a knife earlier this year in an off-field incident that caused a bit of conjecture.
8. West Coast
A team that would almost certainly have got the top spot had this list include pre-2010 incidents, the Eagles surprisingly just fall into the top 8. Daniel Kerr managed to scrape a drunken night at an ACDC concert into 2010, after which it appeared the club cleaned up their act for a few years before Murray Newman got into a nightclub fight in 2013.
Liam Ryan found a way to put his team into the news for all the wrong reasons again, with Flyin’ Ryan’s blood alcohol concentration behind the wheel flyin’ past the legal limit in 2018. He was also alleged to have been involved in a nasty domestic violence incident that had many shaking their heads. Willie Rioli forced drug related issues in Perth to rear their head again, when he substituted his urine sample during a drug test last year, before testing positive to a cannabis metabolite in a separate incident. Ahhh, that’s the West Coast we know and (don’t) love.
The Blues’ list of off-field shenanigans isn’t quite as long as their rebuild phase, but it’s enough to push them inside the top 8 for the first time in a while. With Fev’s wild antics occurring before 2010, Carlton had a refreshing break from the off-field limelight until Mitch Robinson took a stand in 2013 and got stuck into a music festival brawl. His aggressive off-field tendencies stuck around until the following season, where he got some indiscretion bang for his buck by not only breaking his eye socket in a brawl, but lying about it to the club. Like a true teammate, Jeff Garlett was by his side, leaving both his face and his footy club stitched up.
After a solid hiatus, Alex Fasolo presented an argument that you can’t take Collingwood out of the boy by getting a little too patriotic on Australia Day, breaking both his arm and his chance at a successful pre-season. Continuing the boozy theme, Ben and Jack Silvagni proved that beer is thicker than water, and landed themselves in trouble by downing beverages on a night out while injured. Regrettably, Dale Thomas appears on the list too after drinking at a charity function.
While the hawks boasted large success throughout the decade, they weren’t without off-field drama. The decade started with Travis Tuck being suspended for drug use, and Bradley Hill making his first appearance in the countdown by being caught speeding and driving recklessly from the cops. Unfortunately, no individual hawks could match their on-field three-peat with an off-field one – with Lance Franklin and Luke Hodge each falling just short of a personal trifecta.
In Buddy’s case, he added some less than desirable accolades to his name in 2013, by abusing a woman in a bar, as well as getting noticeably drunk in a corporate box at the Grand Prix. Hodgey’s contribution on the other hand was only partly alcohol related, being caught drink driving in 2015 before he decided not to rock up to training a couple of years down the track. Finally, Ty Vickory decided to head down the less travelled path of AFL rule breakers, being investigated for extortion in 2017.
In a decade that saw a surge of on-field success for the Tigers, Nathan Broad turned accolade into acco-laid after their 2017 premiership by being involved in some NSFW premiership medal pics. Said images emerged after a largely uneventful off-field period for the club, displaying an impressive hiatus since 2013 – a year that saw Dustin Martin get drunk in a Japanese restaurant and allegedly threaten a woman with a chopstick.
Just before that was a drunken rampage outside a hotel in 2010 for Daniel Connors, a string of drinking incidents, and Martin and Connors both sleeping through training (which was ultimately the nail in Connor’s yellow and black coffin). Callum Coleman Jones and Sydney Stack took one for the team recently to make sure their team didn’t finish 9th in this list, and found themselves in a drunk brawl outside the strippers, which involved a kebab shop. Spoiler alert: this won’t be the last time a kebab joint is mentioned.
4. Port Adelaide
In a fairly concise but varied list, it looks like Port Adelaide have Powell-peppered a couple of leaked images and screenshots into their wayward behaviour tally, with Sam ‘accidentally’ sharing a nude image of himself and a girl to Instagram in 2018 – the same year he was caught excessively drinking at a nightclub. Speaking of punching, sadly Nathan Krakouer may have got away with clubbing while injured in 2016 had he not been coward punched in the head, consequently needing surgery. He was then on the other side of a punch that reportedly struck a taxi on a night out the following year.
Jack Watts couldn’t stop at one off-field issue, so he settled with two in short succession – being seen snorting white powder in an Oktoberfest video, as well as being at the centre of a leaked text message scandal that probably made him wish screenshots weren’t a thing. Ollie Wines is stiff to be in this list, but I’m including him under the ‘how dare you have a life outside footy’ category – he was injured in water skiing incident last year that side-lined him for the start of the season.
- Jarman Impey and Aidyn Johnson – involved in a drunk hit and run incident (2016)
- Darcy Byrne-Jones – missing training (2018).
Freo started off the decade well, not having any noticeable blemishes until Zac Clarke stepped up to the plate in 2014. He missed the start of season due to an injury, which is almost sad until you realise it was from mosh pit antics at a music festival. A positive drug test here (looking at you, Ryan Crowley) and a pub brawl there (thanks Shane Yarran), the boys in purple attracted the boys in blue a fair bit over the years. Michael Johnson was a solid off-field indiscretion contributor and racked up (pun not intended) a cocaine possession charge in 2010 before making a strong comeback to the bad books 6 years later in a kebab shop assault. Keep it classy, folks.
In an unfortunate stint for the club between 2017 and earlier this year, Bradley Hill, Harley Bennell, Jesse Hogan and Jason Carter between them managed to tick these accomplishments off the list in the booziest game of Guess Who: Freo Edition you’ve ever seen:
- jumping a barrier to get into the pub and giving police a false name
- drinking while injured
- getting kicked off a plane for being drunk
- getting kicked out of a pub
- flipping a car
- getting drunk and dressing up as a smoking Santa
- drink driving.
2. Gold Coast
The Suns were quick to get going, with their off-field indiscretions making a debut in the same year as the club. As their vice-captain Nathan Bock got caught on the punt in 2011, Campbell Brown and Maverick Weller found themselves in a Thai lock-up after an alleged fight with a cop – a far cry from a refurbished Metricon Stadium. The overseas issues didn’t end there for Gold Coast, with Campbell Brown putting a Steven May shaped full stop at the end of his career by punching his teammate in LA during their 2013 end of season trip.
However, the Suns mostly owe their top 5 spot in this list to one bloke. Harley Bennell (sound familiar?) made sure his antics were well known both on and off the field, with the first major stuff up involving pictures of him and white lines that certainly weren’t boundary paint. Add to the list a friendship with Karmichael Hunt, being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and failing to obey a police order while being involved in a brawl, driving an unregistered vehicle, trying to fight a journalist at the Brownlow and drinking after a game, and you’ve got yourself a multi-dimensional club member.
Others that can’t be missed:
- Trent McKenzie, Brandon Matera – drinking after a game (2015)
- Charlie Dixon, Jack Martin – drinking the night before a game (2015)
- Brayden Crossley – testing positive to cocaine (2019).
Number one spot? Lock it in Eddie. You can’t argue that the pies don’t have depth – they’ve had most off-field indiscretion categories covered over almost every year in the decade, helping them secure the coveted number one spot. From various sexual exploits, to drugs, betting and violence, the mags have made suspensions look as easy to come by as a rhetorical question in Bruce McAvaney’s commentary. Their colourful list includes a trifecta of cocaine charges in Josh Thomas, Lachie Keefe and Sam Murray, an early betting scandal involving Heath Shaw and Nick Maxwell, Dane Swan up to his old tricks and a litter of brain fades from Jordan de Goey. While some of these allegations aren’t black and white, the accused players’ jumpers certainly were.
Other notable offences:
- Dayne Beams and John McCarthy – alleged orgy incident (2011)
- Sharrod Wellingham – drinking while injured and missing a rehab session (2011), driving unregistered car (2011)
- Paul Cribbin – drunk assault (2012)
- Marley Williams – convicted of grievous bodily harm (2014)
- Dane Swan and Travis Cloke – nude photo scandal (2016)
- Jaidyn Stephenson – betting (2019)
- Brayden Sier – lying to club and playing basketball under name ‘Phill Inn’ while injured (2019)
- Jordan De Goey – broke his hand in a fight and lied about (2017), drink driving (2018), accused of sexual assault (2020)
- Sidebottom – found half naked after a night of drinking (2020).