Brownlow traditions? So pass?? in AFLW land

Shall we call it the postmodern Brownlow? So progressive it doesn’t yet have a name.

Much will be familiar at a dinner event on the Tuesday after the first AFL women’s grand final: a black-tie dress code, a vote count and a guest list of top footy players.

But much more promises to be different: the count will be a sprint not a marathon, women will be award winners, and traditional plus-ones will have a progressive face. AFLW footballers in same-sex relationships will see to that.

Wives and girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends, come on down.

The AFL hoped the first AFLW awards night would be telecast but, as of Thursday, that appeared unlikely.

Planning, however, is under way for red carpet arrival-style coverage on the broadcasters of the first women’s season – Channel Seven and Fox Sports – with Fox looking to set up its nightly AFL 360 show at the awards night venue.

Announced on the night will be the first AFLW All-Australian team, the season’s best young player – a NAB Rising Star who wins $20,000 – the competition’s top goalkicker, which Carlton’s Darcy Vescio looks to have sealed, mark of the season, goal of the season and the main event: the best and fairest player.

“We hope it will have a different feel. Fresh and exciting. Not your traditional sit down for three hours-type situation,” AFL executive Simon Lethlean, who has taken AFLW across to his new football operations post, told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

“It’s being finalised, but I think it will be pre-dinner drinks, into a formal hour or so sitting down for the count and awards, before getting out and having some fun. It won’t be like a Brownlow marathon.”

Traditionalists, fear not. The AFL CEO will still have the honour of reading a roll call of three-, two- and one-vote-winners, round by round, as awarded by AFLW umpires through the inaugural seven-week season before the grand final on week eight.

Whether Gillon McLachlan can imprint himself on this event like his predecessor did at the AFL Brownlow, through pronunciation of player surnames and deft use of dramatic pause, remains to be seen.

“The vote count will be done in an official manner,” Lethlean said. “But it will be pretty quick given 28 games is like doing three rounds of men’s footy.”

As it is for the men’s Brownlow, the guest list for the AFLW awards night will be exclusive.

Best performers from the 27-woman lists at the eight clubs will be hand-picked and invited with a partner. The fourteen Rising Star nominees will also be invited, along with mark and goal of the season contenders, club presidents, CEOs, AFL bosses and commissioners.

Brownlow night has traditionally been a Monday night affair that kicks off AFL grand final week. A media hit and magnet for glossy magazine snappers, the occasion has featured any number of bells and whistles, ranging from multicoloured entrance carpets to revolving wheels for outfit parading and a diamante-studded G-string feature on one particularly memorable gown.

The first gathering to award the as-yet-unnamed highest individual prize in the AFLW is on a Tuesday. After the grand final is won and done. Writing a fresh script already.

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Mick Gatto claims he was approached by Bombers official

Ex-Bomber’s ‘late-night threats’ part of blackmail probe

Underworld figure Mick Gatto claims he was approached by a senior Essendon official to help “sort out” the supplements scandal in 2014, contradicting his other assertions that he reached out to the football club.

Footage has emerged of a one-on-one interview between The Footy Show presenter Sam Newman and Gatto at the Villa Romana restaurant in Lygon Street, Carlton, on Thursday.

In the exchange Gatto claimed he was approached by Essendon in an official capacity over the supplements saga, but refused to name who he spoke to, saying “it wouldn’t be professional for me to divulge that”.

“With this one I did get embroiled in it. I was approached,” Gatto said.

“They just wanted me to find out what was going on with it all and what I could find out and have a feel around.”

However, Gatto also told Newman he did approach Essendon at one point, and met with club officials, to try to negotiate a deal on behalf of biochemist Shane Charter to supply information about supplements.

Newman told The Footy Show that Charter wanted $800,000 in exchange for information he believes could prove supplements taken by Essendon players were not illegal.

“Shane came and seen [sic] me and he said ‘Mate, I have been hard done by here’,” Gatto said.

“And he said ‘I can prove without a shadow of a doubt that the supplement that they brought over here, the [Thymosin Beta 4], I can prove it wasn’t that. It was something else.

“He had compelling evidence that it was legal. He’d done a deal with some members of Essendon, or tried to do a deal.

“He wanted to be paid for it, for his hardship and what he’s been dragged through. They wouldn’t hand it over so they would pay lawyers millions of dollars instead.”

The encounter began with Newman describing Gatto as ubiquitous.

“Ubiquitous means you’re everywhere Mick. It’s extraordinary. You are omnipotent. All powerful,” he said.

“Mick you are Mr Fix It. How are you embroiled in this Essendon Saga?”

In a statement, Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner said the club did not have any dealings with Gatto.

“As previously stated, Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell has had no dealings with Mick Gatto and kept the AFL Integrity Department informed at all times,” Tanner said.

“I am advised by my predecessor Paul Little that he was approached by Mick Gatto offering his assistance and this offer was declined.”

Former Essendon team services manager John Elliott has alleged, in a signed statement as part of a WorkSafe compensation claim, that he was asked by a senior club official to set up a meeting with Gatto, who has earned a reputation as a dispute resolution specialist.

But prominent Bombers supporter Mario Salvo, who facilitated a meeting between the club and controversial biochemist Shane Charter in 2014, rebuffed the claims.

“I’ve heard that; that’s total bullshit,” Mr Salvo, a builder and property developer, said on Thursday.

“The club never tried to [meet Gatto]. I’ve had dealings with Mick Gatto because I’m in construction and I’m a property developer and Mick acts as a mediator.

“His job, his career, his profession is as a mediator, so it wouldn’t surprise me that he approaches people that may require his services.

“What I’ve been told from very reliable sources is that he did approach a very senior member from the Essendon Football Club offering his services and those services were not required.

“I’ve been approached over the years in my career as a property developer on several occasions where Mick’s services have been offered to mediate a dispute with different parties, whether it’s a builder or a contractor, and he’s done a very good job in mediating.”

Mr Salvo didn’t know which senior Essendon figure Gatto might have approached at the time.

Former assistant coach and dual premiership player Dean Wallis is also pursuing compensation from the club, alleging he was made the scapegoat during the supplement saga.

“I have been scapegoated in relation to the supplement program, while others at the club have been covering up the use of cocaine, sexual harassment and fraudulent behaviour,” he said in a statement first published by News Corp.

In the statement, Essendon said the matter was the subject of a blackmail investigation by Victoria Police.

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Busselton star netballer enroute to Canberra

South West Academy of Sport netball players Elycce Webb, Riley Culnane, Shantelle Tassone and Jessica Repacholi are preparing to play for WA in an Under-17 team at the upcoming national netball championships in Canberra. Busselton’s Riley Culnane is currently preparing to fly the flag for WA at the national netball championships held in Canberra in April.

The 15-year-old talented athlete impressed at selection trials to beat other aspiring netball players from around WA to earn a spot in the state Under-17 team.

Culnane said the process of narrowing thesquad to 12 players from a pool of 60 was long and tedious but she’s proud of her efforts.

“It’s been a huge step-up from what I’m used to playing in the Under-15 team,” she said.

“I’ll be playing against girls who I expect are going to be tough competition and I imagine it’s going to be a massive learning curve.

“The Under-17 girls are much stronger competition so we will just have to wait and see how we match up against the other state teams.”

Culnane, who also swims, plays basketball and soccer, said the love of sport runs in her family with her mum a former professional netball player and dad a former rugby player.

Playing for her local clubsince 2013, she said she quickly fell in love with the game and she’s met most of her best friends through netball.

Exhibiting passion and skill in defence, she loves playing in the position of goal keeper and trains three times a week in Perth in the lead up to the event in Canberra.

“It’s been a little bit of a balancing act juggling school with training but it’s all worth it in the end,” she said.

“On Wednesday, we have a gym session and on Friday and Saturday we’re on court for match and agility sessions.

“It’s a huge responsibility and honour to be able to play and represent at this level.

“I’d like to thank my mum who is also my personal coach and physio and my dad too who has always been there for me.”

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The Charlestown man who took down a bad guyPHOTOS, VIDEO

The Charlestown man who took down a bad guy | PHOTOS, VIDEO James Pheils tackles the alleged offender on a Charlestown road.

The alleged offender approaches a car.

James Pheils runs towards the alleged offender on a Charlestown road.

Protection: James Pheils used aikido to stop an attack in Charlestown.

TweetFacebookA video of the alleged attack at Charlestown. Footage: KOFM.He used aikido (amartial art) during the incident, which happened last week.

James attends Newcastle Aikido, which has its dojo (martial arts studio) at Hamilton.

Aikido is a martial art that teaches harmony, discipline and energy control. Participants learn to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

“I’m not just a guy coming off the street wanting to be a hero,” James, 38, of Charlestown said.

“It’s something you get trained to do.”

James, an ex-Army officer, said the decision to take out the alleged offender was a “calculated risk”.

“I had to explain this to my kids,” he said.

His kids said “I’m gonna be like you dad”.

“But you’ve got to have the training to do it,” he said.

“It’s a split-second decision. The guy could have had a weapon.”

The alleged offender was charged with common assault, assaulting police, affray, resisting arrest and using offensive language over several incidents that day.

This included alleged assaults on three people.

As for James, he learnt that doing an aikido flip onconcrete is much different than doing it on a mat.

“I’ve torn ligaments in my rib cage, bruised it and I might have cracked it,” he said.

He found aikido to be a rational form of defence.

“There’s so many other martial arts where you can destroy people, but that’s not going to help your cause,” he said.

“That gets you in more trouble than it’s worth. I wasn’t trying to kill this guy, just subdue him to stop him [allegedly] hurting other people.

“I didn’t need to run in and do a fly-kick and crack him over the head, I just needed to take him away from the problem.

“Aikido fits into that mindset really well.”

Negative Nelly Catherine Cusack sent an explosive nine-page email to the Premier.

Readers might remember that we wrote aboutCatherine Cusack in late January, after she replaced Scot MacDonaldas the Hunter’s new parliamentary secretary.

In our article, we noted that Catherine had said she wantedto end Novocastrian “negativity”.

We took issue with this. We asserted in a negative rantthat if people wanted to express themselves in a “negative” way, good luck to ‘em. After all, one person’s negativity is another person’s positivity. And who decides what’s negative?

Imagine our surprise when we read Herald journo Michael McGowan’s story on Friday about Catherine Cusackresigningas parliamentary secretary to the Hunter.

Catherine had sent an explosive emailto Premier Gladys Berejiklian, which was leaked to the media.

Michael reported that this wasa“nine-page email attack”, in which she took aim at Liberal MP Don Harwin, describing him as“dreadful”, “easily flustered” and being “wafer-thin skinned”.

Geez Catherine. That’s quite negative. Although we’re glad you got that off your chest. Better out than in, eh.

The only thing is, we were starting to like you. But now you’ve left us. Who will be ournew parliamentary secretary for the Hunter?Will Scot MacDonald make a comeback?

Jono Dean backs brother Blake on The Southpaw Project

Sport. Douglas Cup final at Kippax Oval between Weston Creek/Molonglo and Wests/UC. Weston Creek players, brothers Jono Dean, left and Blake Dean. March 22nd.The Canberra TimesPhotograph by Graham Tidy. Photo: Graham Tidy The Cricket ACT finals series is always an exciting time for Weston Creek Molonglo batsman Jono Dean, but this year there’s a bit of a hollow feeling.

His brother Blake isn’t there alongside him.

Creek are “hurting” and looking to right the wrongs of last season’s Douglas Cup grand final defeat in a three-day semi-final against Ginninderra starting on Friday.

But they are without a former Cricket ACT player of the year with Blake Dean deciding to forego a year in first grade to experiment with “The Southpaw Project”.

Right-handed Blake Dean committed to playing the entire season as a left-hander, averaging over 30 in second grade with a top score of 85* from 58 balls.

The former Sydney Thunder all-rounder even cracked Creek’s first grade side as a left-hander for two games after working on his game since winter.

All the while his progress has been documented in The Southpaw Project, which is tracking the mental and physical change a player goes through to try and “make it” in cricket.

A 44-second Facebook video of him switching between left and right-handed in the nets has been viewed over 27,000 times.

The goal is to be able to take that skill – as well as bowling spin with both arms – and get back to the highest level.

Eventually Blake Dean wants to see players doing it regularly – his early success shows “anything is possible in cricket”.

There’s no doubt his input has been missed for Creek in first grade and the ACT Comets in the Futures League, but Jono Dean can’t wait to see how far his brother goes with it.

“I’m his brother, I’ve always supported him in whatever it is he wants to achieve and whatever he wants to do,” Jono Dean said.

“Initially I was quite disappointed because I wanted to have him playing cricket next to me, being not only my brother but being the class player and exciting player he is.

“He’s been a huge loss for us at club level and especially at the Comets level as well. I’m trying to back him in as best as I can as his brother.”

Adelaide Strikers batsman Jono Dean tested himself against his brother on a baseball field as they batted left and right-handed.

Jono felt “awkward” and says he “looked horrible and felt horrible” batting left-handed, but Blake looked at ease.

“I don’t think the comparison was about that, it was more about the fact that it was opening people’s eyes to Jono is a Big Bash player, he’s the best player in Canberra,” Blake Dean said.

“Then I’m trying to show something different. It’s not something that is easy that anyone can do. You’ve actually got to train hard for it.

“There’s not many players who get to play professional cricket, and it’s not like when you’re playing first grade or for the ACT Comets you’re looked after.

“I’m training this two times a week, imagine if I could do it five times a week.”

Meanwhile, minor premiers Tuggeranong host reigning champions Wests-UC at Chisholm Oval in the other semi-final.


Semi-finals: Three-day matches beginning Friday – Weston Creek Molonglo v Ginninderra at Stirling Oval. Tuggeranong Valley v Wests-UC at Chisholm Oval. Games start at 11am.

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