STEVE Johnson hit Josh Kennedy so hard that the Sydney midfielder woke up wondering who he was and why he didn’t kick with a stutter step anymore.
The match review panel’s decision? One week, and ol’ Stevie J’s right to play in the Grand Final.
While we at The Hickey Stand will be happy to see our favourite mercurial buffoon run out on to the MCG if the Giants can knock off the Dogs, the tribunal hasn’t got a history of going lenient on players just because they might miss out on the big dance.
About 30 players have taken a dose of the silly pills before a grand final, for reasons ranging from striking and unduly rough play, to bribery and “jostling, pushing and tripping” – the charge that cost Melbourne’s Wally Lock a place in the 1939 decider.
Just two players have missed the big one in the new millennium, so let us refresh your memory of the past 5 players to be suspended before a grand final
2003: ANTHONY ROCCA (Collingwood) for striking Brendon Lade (Port Adelaide)
WHEN Power ruckman Brendon Lade had the audacity to headbutt the elbow of Collingwood’s favourite son Anthony Rocca, the Carringbush faithful lost their shit.
So imagine their dismay when big Ant was rubbed out for two weeks, including the Grand Final against the all-conquering Lions.
Heading into the tribunal, Pies president Eddie McGuire said “We’re confident of putting a very good case before the tribunal on Tuesday night. We’ll go in and get as many people as required who will help our case, it’s as simple as that.”
Obviously Eddie forgot that people generally detest Collingwood, and those required to help their cause didn’t bother turning up.
2002: JASON CLOKE (Collingwood) for striking Tyson Edwards (Adelaide)
WE’VE all wanted to hit a South Australian at least once in our lives, and Jason Cloke lived the dream in 2002.
Unfortunately for him, it cost him his other dream of playing in a grand final.
The tribunal rubbed him out for two games, even after Cloke received a glowing character reference from his manager/father David, who said “I’m very proud of what he has achieved.”
Obviously David wasn’t a fan of South Australians either.
Cloke would go on to play in the 2003 grand final, but stunk it up with just four touches and no impact on the scoreboard.
1999: JASON MCCARTNEY (North Melbourne) for striking Clark Keating (Brisbane)
MCCARTNEY described the night of his suspension “as the worst of his life”.
While it’s a fair bet the Bali bombings managed to put his life in perspective, it’s difficult to fathom how unlucky McCartney was on the field throughout his career.
Arriving at Collingwood in 1991 – a year after their drought-breaking flag – he headed to Adelaide in 1995, missing out on selection in their debut premiership in 1997.
Traded to North Melbourne in 1998, he played in his first grand final for the Kangaroos – losing to the team that had just traded him as the Crows went back-to-back.
Finishing second on the ladder in 1999, the Shinboners moved through the finals with two 40-point plus wins, but lost McCartney to suspension after his clumsy hit on Lions ruckman Keating.
Of course, McCartney would end up being a victim of the 2002 Bali bombings, fighting back bravely from severe burns to play one more game before retiring without a premiership medal.
1989: PETER SCHWAB (Hawthorn) for striking Andrew Manning (Essendon)
SCHWAB had already played in three premierships before his 1989 suspension, so this one is a bit ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
See, I’m up with the kids. Or is it down? Ah who cares ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Schwab’s strike on Andrew Manning, the less talented Australian cousin of Peyton and Eli (probably), cost him a spot in one of the greatest grand finals of the modern era, as the Hawks just held on to defeat a Gary Ablett-inspired Cats team by a goal.
1988: STEVEN O’DWYER (Melbourne) for striking Steven Da Rui (Carlton)
O’DWYER was suspended three separate times in his first season.
A year later, and having helped the Demons make the finals as one half of the dominant ruck pairing with Jim Stynes, O’Dwyer gave Carlton’s Steven Da Rui a clip around the ears in the preliminary final and was rubbed out for three games.
The big redhead still managed to win a best and fairest for the Demons that year, making a mockery of the word fairest in the meantime.