Ed Curnow – but not his brother Charlie – has been banned from Sunday’s clash with Melbourne by the AFL Appeal Board after an extraordinary fortnight of umpire touching.
The board upgraded the AFL tribunal’s finding of careless contact with an umpire to intentional contact, handing the midfielder a one-week suspension.
It is just the second occasion that the AFL has appealed a tribunal verdict, and the first, in the case of Charlie, that it has lost.
The players did not appear at Thursday’s appeal, where Carlton’s head of football Andrew McKay took a swipe at the outcome and process – while accepting the decisions.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” he said.
“We had a very reasonable jury on Tuesday that found (Charlie) guilty of careless contact with the umpire and yet pretty frustrating that same jury was found to be unreasonable (with Ed Curnow’s charge).
“It’s a little bit confusing. We’ll cop it on the chin and move on.”
Charlie (left) and Ed (right) leave the AFL tribunal. Pic: Getty
The first AFL appeal of a tribunal decision came last year, when Richmond defender Bachar Houli had an initial two-week ban for striking Carlton’s Jed Lamb – coincidentally a key figure in this week’s drama – doubled to four weeks.
Charlie pushed a field umpire in Saturday’s win over Essendon as he moved to support Lamb in a clash with Mark Baguley after the pair had shared ugly sledges.
On Thursday, Appeal Board chair Murray Kellam said Charlie saw, spoke and touched the umpire while focusing on “endeavouring to break up a potential melee”.
Kellam said as there was room to interpret that incident differently, the tribunal’s finding of inadvertent contact was reasonable – upholding Tuesday’s decision.
But in the case of Ed, the former Supreme Court justice said no tribunal should have reasonably found his contact to have been merely careless.
The hearing leaves AFL players no more clear on punishment for interacting with the officials.
Four incidents have been brought directly to the AFL tribunal and all four found guilty.
But there’s been a sliding scale of punishments, with two fined and allowed to play, and two banned.
In round seven, Geelong forward Tom Hawkins was issued a week’s suspension for touching an umpire while remonstrating over a decision.
Gold Coast captain Steven May touched an umpire last weekend while he was demonstrating an action in which he gave away a free kick.
He was found guilty of careless conduct, fined, and allowed to play in the Suns’ marquee fixture against Port Adelaide in Shanghai on Saturday.
It’s unclear why the AFL did not appeal that decision in line with the Carlton pair.
AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield attacked the decisions on Wednesday night, calling them “farcical” on Melbourne radio station SEN.
McKay suggested the Geelong champion was out of line to get involved with an appeal still to be held.
“I don’t think I should comment on that except to say I don’t think Patrick should be either,” he said.