The football world released a collective sigh of relief this week when Brownlow fancy Dustin Martin was let off with a fine for improper contact with Nick Robertson. The consensus amongst football fans was that common sense had prevailed, despite the fact that two weeks earlier a similar offence drew a different response from the MRP.
It is extraordinary the gymnastics the MRP perform to manufacture the outcome it desires. A case in point is St Kilda’s Jimmy Webster who must be wondering what has changed in the fortnight since he was offered a two week ban from the same panel for the same offence.
In response to outrage over the MRP’s handling of the Trent Cotchin ‘jumper punch’ incident Panel Member Jimmy Bartel spoke on RSN. “We are handcuffed by, and I’ve explained it a number of times, by going through the table left to right,” the Brownlow Medallist said before continuing. “But when it comes out at the right you find it hard to justify.” After acknowledging the varied opinions on how the MRP should deal with such incidents, he again spoke of the constraints. “The penalty is already there laid out”.
With due respect to Bartel, the facts do not support his assertion. To review both Martin, and Cotchin’s earlier in the year, and decide that the incident was careless rather than deliberate is bewildering. The only way to explain the inexplicable findings is that they went right to left rather than left to right and started with an outcome in mind rather than decide it upon an assessment of the facts.
Time and again the Review Panel has ignored the facts and made their judgement based on the possible cost of their finding. The two most famous instances are the cases of Barry Hall in 2005 and Chris Judd in 2010. To allow Hall to play in the 2005 Grand Final, the MRP decided that he had struck Matt Maguire ‘in play’ despite being over 100 metres away from the ball. Judd owes his status as a dual Brownlow Medallist to the fact that the MRP found that the force of his strike, that saw Matthew Pavlich receive a cut that required staples to close, was below the standard required to constitute a reportable offence.
It is fair to say the only area in which the MRP has remained consistent is in its own inconsistency. That said, Jimmy Webster should probably look inwards rather than towards the Review Panel to blame for his suspension. You can’t possibly expect to avoid the MRP’s wrath if you don’t go to the trouble of putting yourself in contention for Brownlow or Premiership Medals.
You can hear Bozza rant about this in further detail, along with discussions on all things sport on The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav Podcast via the link below or via Soundcloud or I-Tunes.