Not for you is chopping of the arms free.
No, you not only have to mark the ball when contested but you also have to deal with everyone beating up on you when you elect to mark, whether in front or behind. But the forward gets awarded the mark for no other reason than he’s got better name recognition than you do.
Not for you is holding the ball. You don’t get the benefit of the doubt when someone tackles you. You’re held to the letter of the law, when your direct opponent is allowed a 720-degree turn while tackled before disposing of the ball, and you are left scrambling to cover that additional disposal.
Not for you is the deliberate out-of-bounds free kick. It doesn’t matter what a forward does, they cannot have a deliberate awarded against them. So too it doesn’t matter what pressure you’re under. If you’re being tackled or if you’re fumbling, it’s deliberate if it goes out of bounds.
Not for you is there a holding-the-man free. Not for you is there any protection from scragging, or getting bumped or pushed. Not for you is there the Coaches Player of the Year award, the Brownlow or the Players Association award. There are no accolades for you, no solace to comfort you when you get home and you’re covered in bruises. There is nothing for you in the modern game.
And now, we’re told you are not allowed to spoil the ball.
I come, at last, to Lachie Plowman.
Take a good hard look at that footage. Tell me the specific frame in which he decided instead of spoiling the ball to elect to bump.
I’ll wait. Go on, give it your best shot, telling me precisely when it occurs. Tell me how his arm at the point of impact fails to touch the ball, the very point of spoiling the thing.
Tell me how fair it is that he’s got two weeks because the tribunal refused to overrule a bid by Michael Christian to restrict the behaviour of defenders further.
At what point do we draw the line and state, unequivocally, that the AFL is failing in their commission to “frame and administer laws relating to football and to take such action as may be necessary to achieve uniformity in such laws”, as the AFL constitution law 5 section C states?
How is there uniformity in this ruling? How is there anything resembling justice for Plowman or uniformity in adjudication here, considering how often such contact has not resulted in suspension? How many times does the result need determine the sentence before the AFL are actively in breach of their own constitution?
Why would you be a defender? You cannot punch from behind without risking chopping the arms. You cannot tackle without risking a high or a tripping free kick. You cannot kick the ball without worrying about the boundary or the goal-line and deliberate out of bounds and rushed behind frees. You cannot mark the ball for fear of it being taken from you.
And now, you cannot make contact with an opposition player during a marking contest.