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AFL News: Police investigate new Thomas allegations, Gawn 'embarrassed' by players' repeat homophobic slurs

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10th May, 2024
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Disgraced former North Melbourne player Tarryn Thomas is once again at the centre of a police investigation, after being accused of harassing an ex-partner.

According to the Herald Sun, Thomas has repeatedly called the woman, whom he allegedly sent a threatening message to earlier this year in an accusation that was one of the key triggers for the AFL handing down an 18-match suspension, at all times of the day and night in recent weeks.

No charges have been laid, with a Victoria Police spokesperson telling the Herald Sun the investigation is ongoing.

The latest allegations come amid heavy debate over whether the AFL should permit a club to hand Thomas a second chance, with the 24-year old eligible to play at lower levels once his ban expires on July 22 provided the league are satisfied with his progress in a behavioural change program.

An email to other club CEOs from Kangaroos CEO Jen Watt warned that the club were ‘not able to meaningfully change his behaviour’ despite entering him into a number of support programs.

Former North Melbourne and now Essendon coach Brad Scott has been one of the loudest voices in his favour, controversially describing Thomas as ‘a good person’ and that it is incumbent on the industry to ‘help him’ turn his life around.

However, speaking after the latest allegations were made, Kangaroos great David King urged the AFL to step in and prevent Thomas from being drafted.

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“The AFL needs to take a stand there, don’t they?” King said on SEN Breakfast.

“They’ve got to take him off the table from a draftable perspective.”

Tarryn Thomas

Tarryn Thomas. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Fagan lauds ‘clear direction’ on homophobic slur bans, Gawn ’embarrassed’

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has thrown his support behind the AFL’s call to suspend Gold Coast defender Wil Powell for five matches for a homophobic slur directed at a Lions player.

Powell apologised to the player during and after the Suns’ loss in Round 8, and again expressed remorse after his ban was revealed.

It comes after Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson was suspended for three matches for his own homophobic slur in April and North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was only fined for using a homophobic word in a pre-season altercation with a St Kilda player, with the league saying Powell’s greater suspension is as a result of escalating consequences for abuse.

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Speaking on Friday, Fagan applauded the messaging from the AFL that such slurs won’t be tolerated.

“It’s a clear direction from the AFL, which I agree with, that you can’t make those sort of comments out on the field,” he said.

However, Fagan stopped short of weighing in on the length of the suspension, which has caused some controversy in comparison to shorter bans for both Finlayson and for Collingwood forward Lachie Schultz, who was only suspended for one week for a punch to the back of Carlton’s Blake Acres’ head.

“That’s for the AFL to talk about,” Fagan said.

Speaking on Triple M, Melbourne captain Max Gawn was even harsher, saying he was ’embarrassed’ by repeat incidents of homophobia and that it gives AFL players in general a bad reputation.

“I’m just pretty embarrassed about the AFL cohort just slipping up time and time again,” Gawn said.

“This is three in a year… it’s embarrassing to call yourself an AFL player at the moment.

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“You’re sort of getting slapped with this brand.

“I know our group, we talk about this. Hopefully, we’ve learnt the lesson and we can go forward.

“I think all three of these people [Clarkson, Finlayson and Powell] would have run with that excuse straight up that it was the heat of battle, but that is just not an excuse.”

‘Fine the fakes’: Cornes urges crackdown after controversial ‘dangerous tackle’ free

Kane Cornes has urged the AFL to take a stand against players deliberately placing themselves in harm’s way to win dangerous tackle free kicks, after a controversial decision proved costly for Melbourne late in their Thursday night loss to Carlton.

Deep into the last quarter, Jacob van Rooyen was pinged for a dangerous tackle after dispossessing Blue Brodie Kemp, only for the umpire to contentiously deem the Demon hadn’t executed correctly.

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The moment denied the Dees a certain goal, with Bayley Fritsch taking what he believed to be the advantage and passing to Ed Langdon in the goalsquare – the incident would soon prove costly as the Demons went down by a solitary point.

Channel Seven commentator Brian Taylor claimed the incident was ‘a classic case of a player deliberately putting his head into the ground’, with the decision – and Kemp’s alleged dive – earning widespread condemnation from fans and pundits alike.

Speaking on SEN Breakfast, Cornes offered a solution ‘fine the fakes’.

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Fellow caller David King agreed, saying players milking free kicks ensures umpires have ‘no chance of getting this stuff right’.

“It’s so hard on the umpires now,” King said.

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“This is why I think we need to come up with fines system for the fakers… it was a big moment, it was late in game, a one-point result – it had all the hallmarks of being a significant call for the umpire.”

“I feel for the umpires at the moment. I reckon they’ve got not a chance of getting this stuff right.”

Gale to depart Tigers for Tassie CEO role

Brendon Gale will leave Richmond at the end of the season to become the first chief executive at the Tasmanian Devils AFL expansion club.

The announcement on Friday confirms weeks of speculation about Gale’s future and means a homecoming for the Burnie native.

The 55-year-old is a highly respected AFL club administrator who played a crucial role in the Tigers emerging from their premiership wilderness to win flags in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

“Not only have we got a highly successful and proven AFL club CEO, we have also tempted home a proud son of Tasmania,” said Devils chair Grant O’Brien.

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“This is an enormous vote of confidence in our club.”

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon also congratulated Gale on the appointment.

“His proven experience in establishing and leading high-performing environments see him as a perfect fit as the first CEO for the Tasmania Devils and will see the club set up for success from the start,” Dillon said.

Gale leaves the Tigers after 15 years as their chief executive. The centre half-forward and ruckman also played 244 games for Richmond from 1990-2001.

He had repeatedly been linked to a move back to his home state since the Devils were granted the 19th AFL licence, but previously dismissed the rumours as “speculation”.

“I have spent half my life at this club as an administrator and player. It is time for me to embark on a new challenge, and for the club to write the next chapter,” Gale said.

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“I’ll remain absolutely focused on the job at hand for the coming months. It is an exciting and challenging period for us on and off the field.

“The breadth and depth of our leadership is a real feature of our club, and we are all getting on with the job at hand, and that is where my energies will be focused.”

Along with other club figures such as president Peggy O’Neal and football boss Neil Balme, Gale was crucial in leading the club back to the top of the ladder.

Gale guided Richmond out of debt and into financial stability, and boldly predicted in 2010 that the club would claim three flags by 2020.

His words would eventually ring true when, after taking out the 2017 flag, the Tigers and coach Damien Hardwick also claimed back-to-back premierships in 2019 and 2020.

Gale was a staunch defender of Hardwick, backing the coach as the right man to lead the club to their first premiership since 1980 despite shortcomings in the early days of his tenure.

The Tigers’ administration held firm at the end of 2016 when they dropped out of the top eight, seeing off a board challenge and bringing in Balme as a key appointment.

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Richmond, now led by first-year coach Adem Yze, sit 17th on the ladder with a 1-7 record.

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