Record sus­pen­sion

The Tatura Guardian - - Sport - By Oliver Caf­frey

A Rush­worth re­serves foot­baller has been hit with a record 15-year sus­pen­sion for push­ing an um­pire.

AFL Vic­to­ria will dereg­is­ter Martin Forde af­ter the Kyabram District Foot­ball League’s in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal handed down its de­ci­sion on Wed­nes­day.

A player can ap­ply for rereg­is­tra­tion with AFL Vic­to­ria 12 months af­ter serv­ing the sus­pen­sion pe­riod, po­ten­tially al­low­ing him to play again in 2034.

The Tigers player faced the tri­bunal as a re­sult of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an aban­doned match be­tween Rush­worth and Ard­mona on July 22.

Forde pleaded guilty to un­be­com­ing con­duct in the hear­ing that lasted about 90 min­utes.

The game in ques­tion was called off at quar­ter-time af­ter Forde force­fully pushed an um­pire with both hands in the face fol­low­ing a free kick be­ing paid to the Cats.

The um­pire was ver­bally abused be­fore be­ing knocked to the ground with the force of the push.

The con­tact came as the um­pire was in the process of red-card­ing the Rush­worth player.

Goul­burn Val­ley Foot­ball Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Dar­ren Meek ap­plauded the tri­bunal’s han­dling of the case.

‘‘I think it sends a clear mes­sage to play­ers and of­fi­cials that touch­ing or strik­ing, or any of­fence against an um­pire, and you’re go­ing to serve a very se­vere penalty,’’ Meek said.

‘‘The in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal be­haved in a very pro­fes­sional man­ner and han­dled a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion very well.

‘‘They’ve sent a mes­sage out to the foot­ball com­mu­nity that be­haviour like this will not be tol­er­ated.’’

Meek said the um­pire, who has um­pired more than 300 se­nior games, was still shaken by the in­ci­dent and had not taken to the field since.

The um­pire gave ev­i­dence at the tri­bunal via phone.

‘‘We’re not sure whether he will um­pire again,’’ Meek said.

‘‘He has re­ceived sup­port from our as­so­ci­a­tion, plus his fam­ily and friends and he’s had a lot of pri­vate stuff he’s had to go through and found it very dif­fi­cult.

‘‘In re­la­tion to the tri­bunal, I wanted to com­mend all the mem­bers for their con­cern into the well­be­ing of the um­pire; it was first­class.’’

AFL Goul­burn Mur­ray league op­er­a­tions man­ager Grant Wil­son said Rush­worth and Forde had the op­tion to ap­peal the ban, which was be­lieved to be the long­est in this re­gion’s foot­ball his­tory.

How­ever, Rush­worth pres­i­dent Peta Wil­liams said the club would not be ap­peal­ing the sen­tence.

‘‘We’re go­ing to ac­cept the de­ci­sion,’’ Wil­liams said.

‘‘The tri­bunal and how the whole process was played out was good; Marty knew he had done the wrong thing and is go­ing to ac­cept the penalty and move on.’’

Cop­ping it: Martin Forde re­alises he did the wrong thing and will ac­cept the penalty.

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