HAWK BOWS OUT

Townsville Bulletin - - AFL -

MELBOURNE have apol­o­gised for young mid­fielder Clay­ton Oliver’s “un­pro­fes­sional” re­ac­tion to a sledge from a Carl­ton sup­porter.

The 19- year- old was ac­cused of threat­en­ing the Blues sup­porter af­ter a brief but an­i­mated ex­change on the bound­ary fence dur­ing the sec­ond term of Sun­day’s AFL match at the MCG.

Re­ports cir­cu­lated that the sup­porter had la­belled Oliver a “weak c ...” and a “diver”.

But the Demons yes­ter­day af­ter­noon said Oliver had ac­cepted fault over the in­ci­dent and ac­knowl­edged that no pro­fan­i­ties had been used.

“Clay­ton has let his emo­tions get the bet­ter of him and should not have re­acted in the man­ner that he did,” foot­ball boss Josh Ma­honey said.

“As a club, we apol­o­gise for the of­fence caused and Clay­ton un­der­stands this should not oc­cur again.

“We have spo­ken to Clay­ton and the en­tire play­ing group re­gard­ing their in­ter­ac­tion with the crowd and that no pos­i­tives come out of any im­me­di­ate re­sponse. If the player feels that he was vil­i­fied in any way, there is a process to re­port that to the AFL and have it in­ves­ti­gated.”

Ma­honey said it was dis­ap­point­ing that the in­ci­dent had stolen the head­lines af­ter Melbourne’s win against Carl­ton.

The AFL also in­ves­ti­gated the in­ci­dent, with a spokesman yes­ter­day say­ing it was the league’s view that play­ers “should not en­gage with the crowd in such a man­ner at any time”.

Oliver was widely crit­i­cised for his re­ac­tion to high con­tact from West Coast’s Will Schofield a fort­night ago.

Schofield was of­fered a one- week ban by the match re­view panel but the Ea­gles suc­cess­fully chal­lenged the sanc­tion at the tri­bunal.

Oliver de­nied he was a “faker” in post- match com­ments, and later took to Twit­ter to bite back at for­mer Test crick­eter Damien Mar­tyn, who im­plied Oliver had taken a dive. LUKE Hodge is a coun­try bump­kin, the fat and slow one who would have been a Co­lac garbo with­out his AFL ca­reer.

Hodge had no ar­gu­ment when those un­flat­ter­ing — and highly amus­ing — as­sess­ments were raised at yes­ter­day’s re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment. Af­ter all, who cares? Hodge is also one of the great­est play­ers in AFL his­tory.

The for­mer Hawthorn cap­tain and four- time pre­mier­ship star has con­firmed this is his last sea­son.

He made the an­nounce­ment ahead of his 300th game this Satur­day against fierce ri­vals Gee­long.

It will mark the end of an era, with Hodge the last of the three pri­or­ity picks who high­lighted the 2001 su­per draft.

Hodge was No. 1 ahead of St Kilda and Colling­wood star Luke Ball, with West Coast and Carl­ton great Chris Judd next — all pre­mier­ship play­ers. Hawks coach Alastair Clark­son sat next to Hodge at yes­ter­day’s me­dia con­fer­ence and was mer­ci­less.

“I wouldn’t have thought you were go­ing to be the last one left,” Clark­son of­fered when Hodge was asked about 2001. Hodge replied: “My un­cle ac­tu­ally summed it up when Juddy re­tired — ‘ who would have guessed the fat, slow one is still go­ing?’ ”

Hodge re­mem­bered for­mer Hawks fitness coach An­drew Russell call­ing him the most un­pro­fes­sional per­son that Russell had seen.

Hodge was asked what he might have been with­out an AFL ca­reer. That was the cue for Clark­son to of­fer “Co­lac garbo”.

“That got a few more laughs than I wanted,” Hodge said.

And the Co­lac kid had to learn the hard way, with Clark­son nom­i­nat­ing Hodge’s 21st birthday as the key light bulb moment.

Hodge missed train­ing the fol­low­ing Mon­day and sus­pended for one game.

“His ( Clark­son’s) words were ‘ the pun­ish­ment doesn’t fit the crime, but we have a big­ger pic­ture here that we have to look to­wards’ and I couldn’t ar­gue with him at all,” Hodge said.

The Hawks coach said Hodge be­came a once- in- agen­er­a­tion player, renowned above all else for putting his club and team­mates first.

Clark­son, him­self from Ballarat in ru­ral Vic­to­ria, called him a coun­try bump­kin half in jest, half in ad­mi­ra­tion for Hodge’s solid val­ues.

He noted that Hodge turned a po­ten­tial 200- game ca­reer into 300 with how well he has looked af­ter him­self in the last few years.

“He’s ben­e­fited from that, but so has our footy club, enor­mously,” Clark­son said. was

FI­NAL CHAP­TER: Luke Hodge will re­tire at the end of the 2017 AFL sea­son af­ter a glit­ter­ing ca­reer with pow­er­house club Hawthorn.

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