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The Roar


Mistaken identity? Docker at centre of dissent controversy claims he abused HIMSELF as AFL ticks off drama

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7th April, 2024
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Fremantle defender Jordan Clark has told the Dockers the abusive words that saw him penalised for umpire dissent in the dying minutes of their loss to Carlton were aimed at himself.

After Blue Matthew Cottrell goalled to put the Blues in front in the final minute, the Dockers, adamant Cottrell’s mark had been touched by James Aish, debated the point with the umpires, eventually conceding a free kick for dissent.

Matthew Kennedy put through the goal from the subsequent free kick to seal Carlton’s win.

According to the Herald Sun, Clark claims he said ‘you f–king idiot, Jordan’ in relation to allowing Cottrell to mark, with umpire Alex Whetton interpreting it as directed at him and awarding the Blues a free.

The Herald Sun also reports Clark had engaged in verbals with the umpires all day, perhaps explaining Whetton’s belief that his expletive was intended for him.

Debate has since raged on social media over the late controversy, with many accusing the umpires of costing Fremantle the win.

However, the AFL has ticked off the free kick being paid, though league CEO Andrew Dillon acknowledged Cottrell’s mark was incorrectly awarded.


“I can’t repeat what was said,” Dillon said on Nine’s The Sunday Footy Show of Clark’s act of dissent.

“It [the mark] wasn’t there in the first place – we’ve acknowledged the mistake there. But the dissent decision was correct.”

Ex-umpire Michael Pell, who was arrested in late 2022 and interviewed by detectives over allegations he engaged in conduct that corrupted that year’s Brownlow Medal, revealed on X he’d given Clark a stern warning during a scratch match in 2020 to speak more respectfully to umpires – some two years before the league introduced the controversial ‘rule’ to penalise players far more harshly for incidents of dissent.

“The irony in all this is that I warned Jordan Clark in a Covid 14v14 nothing game when he was a spoilt brat and carrying on that he needed to stop abusing umpires,” Pell wrote.

“Guess he still hasn’t learnt. Stinky attitude and any wonder Geelong were happy to see the back of him.”

Clark was among the Dockers’ best in their heartbreaking loss, finishing with 30 disposals and a game second-high 627 metres gained.


Naturally, Pell’s harsh words received brutal blowback on social media, with some mentioning the allegations of Brownlow Medal fixing, though no charges were ever laid.

Speaking after the match, Dockers coach Justin Longmuir lamented the loss, but said his team ‘should have just got on with it’.

“I’ll have to dig a little bit deeper, but we should have just got on with it, even if they weren’t happy with the call before,” Longmuir said.

“There’s not much you can do. Our players clearly thought they had touched the footy, and they’ll still say that now.

“But that’s a really hard call for the umpire to make without going to a replay and we don’t want to do that for every decision.

 “The umpires are never going to backtrack, are they? So we just needed to move on and control what we can control.”