AN East Warrnambool teenager will miss the next month of football after copping a four-match suspension at the independent tribunal last night.
The under 17½ player pleaded guilty to three charges stemming from the Bombers’ WDFNL match against Dennington at Dennington Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
The charges — abusing an umpire, engaging in a melee and failing to leave the playing surface when directed — were heard together during the 90-minute hearing.
Tribunal chairman Terry O’Keefe and panel members Robert Wade and Ian Yewers suspended the teen for three matches on the abuse charge.
They also issued separate one-match bans — to be served concurrently — for the other two charges. The teen is unavailable to play until round six, on May 3.
The tribunal heard the drama began when an East Warrnambool and a Dennington player were scuffling off the ball late in the match.
The reported teen was not involved with the scuffle but, wanting to defend his teammate, intervened and jumped on the Dennington player.
Umpire Greg Moon witnessed the act and showed the teen a yellow card.
The teen then swore at Moon, which prompted Moon to report him for abuse.
Upon being informed of the report, the player swore at Moon a second time.
The teen walked off the field and had reached the Bombers’ change rooms when he turned around to see the scuffle had grown to include “seven or eight” players.
He raced back on the field to one “spotfire” involving three Dennington players up against one East Warrnambool player and intervened again.
The siren had by then sounded and players and officials had also left the bench to get involved, inflaming the situation further.
Moon told the hearing the teen appeared to be one of the main reasons the melee grew to the size it did.
“I believe the matter would’ve been over in seconds if (he) hadn’t gone in to escalate the situation once and definitely twice,” he said.
The teen, who was playing a competitive match for the first time and did not fully understand the rules, said he returned to the field because he could see his teammates were outnumbered in the melee.
“I was worried for our players. Every scuffle that happened there was one East player (and) three or four Dennington players,” he said.
The teen acknowledged his actions were wrong, but O’Keefe said the panel needed to send a message, particularly with regards to the umpire abuse.