EMERGING East Warrnambool forward Phillip Chatfield has been handed suspensions by an independent tribunal and his club.
The tribunal hit Chatfield with a two-match ban after finding him guilty of behaving in an abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene manner towards or in relation to 17-year-old central umpire Harry Rooke.
East Warrnambool has imposed its own penalty on Chatfield, 19, setting him the task of 12 hours volunteer work for the club when it hosts finals this year. He will also be required to umpire all of the club's under 12 games next year.
The incident happened during the second quarter of the Bombers 72-point loss to Russells Creek at the Mack Oval on Saturday. Chatfield pleaded guilty.
In his evidence to the tribunal, made up of Terry O’Keefe (chairman), Robert Wade and David Gladman, Rooke said Chatfield had started a melee in the second quarter after a Russells Creek goal and as a result, issued him a yellow card.
Heading off the ground, Chatfield raised his middle finger to Rooke, leading the umpire to then instruct the East Warrnambool player he was giving him a red card. Chatfield then hit the cards out of Rooke's hands before leaving the ground.
Chatfield said his actions were not driven by any malice towards Rooke but were out of frustration at his own form and the fact he had let his team down by giving away a free kick that resulted in a goal. Chatfield said he was embarrassed by his actions, particularly after learning Rooke was only 17.
The loss of Chatfield will be a big blow to the Bombers, with the talented teenager to miss the final round of the home-and-away season on Saturday, with his team up against Allansford.
He will also have a delayed start to the 2019 Warrnambool and district league season, missing the first game.
The suspension continues a tough second half of the season for the Bombers, who had started brightly with three wins from the first nine rounds.
They have lost their last seven games by an average of 81 points.
Chatfield has played 44 senior games for East Warrnambool.