SOUTH Rovers president Sam Hyland says the club is rapt runner Darren Bradshaw escaped sanction for his role in a junior melee.
A Warrnambool and District league independent tribunal on Wednesday night dismissed a charge of unbecoming conduct against Bradshaw.
A three-member tribunal cleared the veteran clubman for his actions during the South Rovers-Timboon Demons under 17 match on July 30.
Hyland said the club was “very happy with the outcome”.
He said club officials were surprised the incident came under investigation.
“When we heard about the investigation we were always confident the right outcome would come through,” Hyland said.
Bradshaw was coach of Rovers’ under 17 team last season. Hyland said Bradshaw helped lay the foundation of the young side’s success, which made it important he be able to be a part of its finals campaign.
“He’s an important part of our team. They’re looking forward to playing finals football and we want him to be there,” he said.
The “case dismissed” verdict came a month after the WDFNL launched an investigation into the actions of Bradshaw and a Rovers spectator during the melee.
The league asked investigations officer Roy Baker to look into the match and Baker recommended Bradshaw front a tribunal.
The WDFNL has not revealed what penalty, if any, the spectator received.
The tribunal heard Bradshaw was on the field when a melee broke out in the third quarter of the match at Timboon. More than half the players on the field were involved.
Timboon Demons players testified Bradshaw attempted to punch one player and had another in a headlock during the incident.
But evidence from Timboon Demons under 14½ coach Darren Smith contradicted their statements.
Smith, a spectator, said Bradshaw grabbed players “around the shoulders” like a “bear hug” to remove them from the melee. “There was no real malice,” he said.
Bradshaw told the hearing he knew he should not have become involved in the melee, but denied any manhandling of Timboon Demons players.
Tribunal chief Terry O’Keefe and panel members Ian Yewers and Robert Wade determined there was not enough evidence to sanction Bradshaw.
Timboon Demons advocate Therese Stevens said the decision set a dangerous precedent for players co-operating with investigations.
Stevens said the decision implied the tribunal did not believe the Timboon Demons teenagers’ evidence.