Jack Ginnivan tackles high no-kick against Mason Redman, Leigh Matthews live on 3AW radio, felt sick

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AFL legend Leigh Matthews said he felt so “sick” and “disturbed” after watching Jack Ginnivan not receive a free kick on Sunday night that he couldn’t sleep, saying “the fabric of the game is under attack”.

Matthews launched a rare, extraordinary and impassioned tirade at the AFL on 3AW on Tuesday night sports day program just days after Essendon defender Mason Redman was not penalized for a high tackle on Collingwood’s Ginnivan.

Many commentators and football fans on Sunday were flabbergasted when the referee called ‘play’ after Redman’s tackle on Ginnivan early in Collingwood’s thrilling post-Siren victory over Essendon.

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The AFL issued a statement on Monday evening confirming that a free kick should have been paid to Ginnivan – but for Redman’s second action. The league said Ginnivan was “responsible for the initial high contact” as he dropped his body when Redman made contact, but added that a free kick should have been awarded to Magpie because Redman “continues the tackle in a manner unreasonable”.

Less than a week earlier, the AFL had sent a memo to clubs re-emphasizing guidelines for referees not to reward players for playing for free-kicks, saying the game would be called when a player ducks, drops or shrugs into a tackle to shoot high. Contact. It came amid external speculation that Ginnivan was officiated differently to other AFL players when it came to high contact instances with opponents.

speaking on sports dayMatthews, a four-time Premiership player with Hawthorn and a four-time Premiership coach with Collingwood and Brisbane, said the ‘support the tackle’ lobby had ‘won an important battle but hopefully they haven’t won the war “.

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“It’s just a free kick, but it’s a symbolic free kick that shows that’s where the game is at,” Matthews said on 3AW.

“I think the people running the AFL and the refereeing, they said ‘oh yeah, that was probably a free kick’ – of course it was a free kick!” It’s been a free kick for 100 years – and I hope it will be a free kick for the next 100.

“The fabric of the game is under attack, in my opinion, so I’m disturbed. I’ve calmed down a bit – couldn’t sleep on Sunday night thinking about it. It’s the symbolism of it that bothers me .

Matthews said “every other player in the competition would have gotten that free kick” on Sunday afternoon.

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When asked how he felt when he first saw the incident, the Australian Rules Football Hall of Fame legend said: “I felt sick.

“I felt sick because of (the) fabric of our game. One of the fabrics of the game is that the referees treat every player the same…it was pretty much not just a high contact headlock, it was borderline unduly rough play by Mason Redman – and the best referee in the game, Matt Stevic, didn’t blow the whistle. Now, I didn’t blame Stevic, I thought to myself: ‘What are they doing to our game?’

“And when I say ‘they’, I mean Richard Goyder and the Commission (AFL), who are the only body that can actually change the rules, and Gillon McLachlan and his cohort of advisers who make the game easier for the tackler and harder for the guy with the ball.

“Jack Ginnivan, he was victimized, I’d like to talk to Matt Stevic – I’m not saying consciously victimized – but when he (Stevic) saw Jack Ginnivan take possession and when he saw him get tackled, his first thought was to look at Jack Ginnivan. ‘What did he do? Did he lower his body height? And even if you lower your body height slightly when you feel the tackler coming, it’s is a bit automatic. But he seemed to be looking at Ginnivan – not what the tackle did and that’s the fabric of our game.

Mason Redman of the Bombers tackles Jack Ginnivan of the Magpies. Photo: Darrian TraynorSource: Getty Images

“I was (everything) from disillusioned to disappointed to angry to shocked. It made my blood boil and frankly two days later it (still) does.

“We had an exceptional round of football. I sort of swore when I quit coaching about 13 or 14 years ago, “I’m not going to let football get to me, don’t let the emotion get too much.” But I love the game. I’ve been involved with three clubs now and I’m still involved with the Lions – hope the Lions win – (but) I love the game more than any club these days -this.

“What is done to the game and its very fabric of dealing with the player with the ball is seen as a lower priority in preventing players from playing for free-kicks.”

Matthews said he didn’t blame Stevic for Sunday’s non-call because ‘refs only do what they’re told’, adding: ‘That’s what the game says, we want the referees referee – that’s what bothered me the most.”

The 70-year-old, however, said he can understand why some high free-kicks go unpaid in certain circumstances.

“If you tilt your head in contact, it’s a different move,” he said.

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“But when a tackler comes up to you and you virtually hunched your shoulders and pulled your head – I mean we all do that as players – and when you feel a tackler coming you bend your knees a bit so that you have some balance because you never know if you’re going to go left, right… you don’t stand up.

“Can we have a look at that damned tackle once in a while?”

Medalist Brownlow and sports day Co-host Gerard Healy said he could not recall Matthews being so emotional over an issue in two decades of working with the AFL great.

But Healy said he shared Matthews’ view, calling last week’s AFL statement ‘absurd’ and ‘comical’ because ‘at no point does it impose a charge on tacklers’ .

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