A TERANG Mortlake junior footballer has been suspended for eight weeks after pleading guilty to an unbecoming conduct charge at the Hampden league independent tribunal in Warrnambool last night.
The hearing was a result of an investigation following an incident in an under 16 football match between Emmanuel Hawks and Terang Mortlake at Deakin University on May 13, in which a Hawks player suffered a broken jaw and teeth damage. Tribunal chairman Terry O’Keefe and panel members Robert Wade and Robert Anderson heard the case at the Archie Graham Centre, with 13 observers and 11 witnesses prepared to give evidence.
After the accused junior pleaded guilty to recklessly striking his opponent, Terang Mortlake advocate Colleen O’Connor unsuccessfully requested the long list of witnesses be excluded from the case.
The Emmanuel Hawks camp argued the facial injuries were a result of a clenched-fist punch to the jaw, while Terang Mortlake argued the damage was done in a head-high tackle just prior to a short push-and-shove scuffle which involved a jumper punch. The Hawks junior recalled a passage of play early in the last term.
He was tackled high from behind and went to ground, losing his mouthguard, and was subsequently awarded a free kick.
He tucked his mouthguard into his shorts, handballed off before shepherding the Terang Mortlake player involved in the tackle. The young Hawk then pushed the junior Blood to the chest in retaliation for the tackle.
“I pushed him to get him back,” the Hawk said.
“Then he turned around and punched me in the face.
“It wasn’t a jumper punch. His knuckles hit my top teeth.”
Field umpire Paul McLaren, who is affiliated with the Hawks, described the initial tackle as “crude” but the punch as intentional.
The Terang Mortlake junior said he tackled the Hawk “fairly hard”, as he was running towards him as quick as he could, during which his wrist made contact with the Hawk’s face.
“It took him a while to get up,” the Bloods junior said.