In greasy conditions or otherwise, players should not be allowed to use any item to alter the state of the ball.
It is the equivalent of ball tampering in cricket and should be dealt with harshly.
While lining up for his 500th career goal against the Demons on Saturday night, St. Kilda’s Stephen Milne used a towel supplied by a nearby club trainer to dry the ball. The umpire only asked the trainer to vacate the vicinity after the deed had been done.
Considered a part of the game open to umpire interpretation, this moment highlights the need for a law to either be written or clarified.
The game will suffer if such behaviour is not addressed immediately and we risk setting a dangerous precedent if it is allowed to continue. At no level of football should ball tampering become an accepted practice.
I am not suggesting Milne and St. Kilda be deducted a goal over the incident, nor am I calling the diminutive number 44 a cheat. On the contrary, Milne should be congratulated for becoming only the 50th man in VFL/AFL history to kick 500 goals. What I am suggesting is that this instance be looked at very closely by the game’s lawmakers and for a legitimate conclusion be drawn.
If law or interpretation deems tampering with the ball in such a way acceptable I would be surprised and saddened.
Football is a game sometimes played in wet weather. Keep it that way.