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Unhappy Hawks under new ownership
Unhappy Hawks under new ownership

There is talk of televising the AFL Tribunal next season. I presume live.

Is there any mystique left? Why would you bother?

Apparently the Fox Footy channel sought permission to cover the Chris Judd hearing but were knocked back. Still, it seems that approach has fuelled further discussions.

Admittedly the hysteria surrounding Judd's appearance may have pulled an audience but the two hours spent debating whether his actions were 'reckless' or 'intentional' would have surely tested their resolve.

I've only been to a footy tribunal twice. The first time as an observer, the second time as the accused.

Needless to say that second time was a complete misunderstanding.

But back to the first time!

As a media man in the early eighties I asked to go along to watch a night of hearings. It turned out to be a very funny night. And anything after my very first case would have been a waste of time.

In the case, a colts player was accused of using abusive language towards a field umpire.

I guess that could be a problem for any televising of the tribunal right there!

Turns out the language outlined in the report was very offensive. It was the sort of language most guys resort to when all else fails them, like when they're swooped on by a rogue magpie or realise they've just sped past a speed camera for the second time in four days.

On the footy field it's an expression usually directed at opponents (adjective - six letters, followed by a four-letter noun), in commentator speak it's almost always followed by "tempers becoming frayed".

But in this case it was the umpire who copped a spray. It seemed almost too personal and bitter to direct at an umpire.

Cheat was generally where the line was drawn. Whether it was my presence I'm not sure but the players advocate seemed inspired.

And to my surprise he chose to think outside the square.

Without hesitation he acknowledged the words cited were said and that yes, they had been directed at the umpire.

Smart move I thought, he's throwing his man (boy) to the mercy of the tribunal.

Clearly the tribunal chairman, sensing an early night, thought so to.

But just before he could congratulate the advocate on his disarming candor more was to come. It came by way of a suggestion that the term used was "a term of endearment".

Eyes rolled, not least the defendant's.

The advocate then proceeded to inflect the same two words in a variety of tones in the hope of turning them into some form of back-slapping good humour or something a neighbour might call over the fence while out getting the morning paper.

I could see the weeks mounting.

Two became three, three became four, the accused continued to fidget, four became five.
I had to leave. I left before it was over, knowing it was over.

The following day I heard the guy got six. I've seen the best hearing ever. I won't be watching any more.