KOLORA-Noorat veteran Brad Hillman was handed a three-match ban after pleading guilty to unbecoming conduct at an independent tribunal last night.
Hillman will miss matches against South Rovers, East Warrnambool and Dennington as the seventh-placed Power attempts to bridge a two-game gap on fifth-placed Old Collegians in the run to the Warrnambool and District league finals.
The Power defender was suspended for striking Dennington’s Ben Morris in the second quarter of their May 31 clash.
The incident was referred to the tribunal after an investigation headed by Roy Baker.
Morris was left with a broken nose which had to be reset and a fractured eye socket, which didn’t require surgery, after Hillman admitted striking him high, unintentionally, with his right elbow during the round nine contest at Dennington.
The strike didn’t force Morris to ground but he left the field under the blood rule.
Morris was surprised with the extent of his injuries given he didn’t believe the force to be that hard.
He spent time on the bench before going to Warrnambool Base Hospital to have his injuries examined, was referred to a specialist in Geelong and had time off work.
Morris returned to Dennington’s line-up last weekend but only played a quarter, as the injury was still troubling him.
Hillman said he was “shocked” to hear of Morris’ injuries and had looked for his name in the team lists each week in The Standard since the incident.
“You don’t want to see anyone miss that amount of time,” he said.
The tribunal panel, headed by chairman Terry O’Keefe, took Hillman’s remorse and good playing record into account when handing down a penalty.
Hillman said he attempted to fend Morris after the Dogs forward came towards him celebrating a teammate’s goal.
He said his intention was to contact Morris in the chest in an act of self-defence as he was unsure of Morris’ intentions, but admitted he contacted him high.
“I thought I made contact high and he probably should have got a free kick,” Hillman said.
No players from either team came towards the pair to remonstrate.
Kolora-Noorat advocate Matt Clark said Hillman’s action was “reckless but in no way with intent”.
“I think he was generally surprised and remorseful at the extent of the injuries that were due to the contact,” Clark said.