That moment. The moment that potentially cost me $500. That moment in which our star onballer lost his mind, and swung his arm wildly into his mediocre opponent’s guts. It was a brain fart. A complete and utter stupid act. There is no denying this. He was caught squarely on camera getting retribution for the relentless niggles that taggers are allowed to get away with. Zach Merrett now must pay the price for his silly decision. Furthermore, we as a club must now pay the price for that absolute brain explosion.
You can probably tell by my tone, that I am not very pleased with Mr. Merrett. I had placed money on him to win the Brownlow earlier in the year. As unlikely as it may be, the odds shortened dramatically when Patrick Dangerfield was ruled out last week for a “dangerous” tackle on Carlton big man, Matthew Kreuzer. This is not the main reason I am angry, but it certainly does contribute.
I’m angry for two reasons – let me start with this; punching your opponent is frowned upon by all in the game. It is not the UFC, nor is it ice-hockey. We have a huge game this weekend and we now go in without our prime mover in the middle, and one of the best small forward’s in the competition. We need to win this week against the Crows – make no mistake. If we lose, we are staring down the barrel of #SeasonOver. For a team that was all but written off at the start of the year, to be in this position is a great thing. We have played scintillating football at times, putrid at others. Our best can trouble anyone. That is why I am mad – we need to play finals. It may be the whole Western Bulldogs fairy-tale from last year. But we could be onto something big.
Secondly, and mainly, I am frustrated by the AFL’s Match Review Panel system. I clearly don’t understand it. There are certain acts on the footy field that are far more dangerous than others. Merrett’s act was stupid, yes. Dangerous? No. it was merely a love-tap. I cast my eye back to Luke Parker’s short-arm jab to the throat of Mark Baguley earlier this season, after which he only got fined for his “careless conduct with low impact to the body”. I think about Trent Cotchin in the Saints game – a very similar act, for no report (thanks to @CharlieDons for his video editing skills, pointing that one out). This is also after Cotchin belted Lachie Neale in the Freo game in May. He got off twice. It is literally a game of Russian roulette. The loaded gun in this analogy is a seemingly inept MRP that have no regard for precedent or the rule of law. It is the most subjective system in sport. One must just look at Brodie Grundy’s tackle on Ben Brown over the weekend – any pure football fan will tell you, that was merely an execution of a perfect tackle. Brodie’s punishment for perfection? Two weeks on the sidelines.
I suppose my point is this: striking is striking. How can one act of “striking” (or two in the case of Cotchin) be permissible, when others are not? if someone can tell me, I’d honestly love to know. How can a short arm jab to the throat be classified as careless conduct, with low impact to the body? How was Merrett’s strike deemed more dangerous? The reality is, Merrett did a dumb thing. And yes, he should be punished. Punished by way of a fine just like Trent Cotchin and Luke Parker were. Or at least pay me back for the Brownlow bet. Unfortunately, the question facing Merrett now is whether to contend the MRP’s decision, or to cop it sweet. Like Dangerfield, I feel it is best to just cop this one. We can’t afford to lose him for 2 weeks if the appeal fails.