Author Topic: Windy Hill Brawl  (Read 2654 times)

Offline mightytiges

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Windy Hill Brawl
« on: May 18, 2004, 02:17:18 AM »
The mother of all melees
Rohan Connolly
May 18, 2004

Tiger officials Neil Busse, Graeme Richmond and player David Cloke in the aftermath of the Windy Hill brawl.
There are punch-ups and stoushes on the football field, there are melees, and then there's the mother of them all, the Windy Hill brawl.

It was 30 years ago today, on May 18 1974, just after the half-time siren, that Essendon and Richmond played out one of most violent episodes league football has ever seen, the combatants not only the Bomber and Tiger players, but officials, spectators and police.

The ramifications would be far-reaching. Not only were there suspensions and fines dished out, but police charges, Supreme Court writs, and reviews of legislation regarding alcohol laws and protection for players leaving the football arena.

It involved some famous names, players like strongmen Mal Brown and Ron Andrews, legendary administrator Graeme Richmond, former AFL Tribunal chairman Neil Busse, then a Tiger director who leapt from the reserves bench in a vain attempt to restrain some hot-headed colleagues.

In the months that followed, it would involve an 18-year-old law student, now federal shadow minister on communications, Lindsay Tanner, a spectator at the game, who gave evidence at the Melbourne Magistrates Court hearing of assault charges against Richmond and young Tiger player Stephen Parsons.

And the legacy lingers still. This Sunday at Punt Road, when Richmond and Essendon's reserves teams, the Coburg Tigers and Bendigo Bombers, play each other in the VFL, a lunchtime panel including former Tigers Brian "Whale" Roberts, who had his nose broken, and Robert McGhie will recall one of football's most unsavoury incidents.

"We don't want to be seen as glorifying violence, but at the same time it just happens to be coincidence that we're playing Essendon at Punt Road pretty close to the anniversary," Coburg general manager Des Ryan said yesterday. "It was just a marketing angle as much as anything."

Tanner, a keen Essendon supporter, chuckled yesterday when recalling his belated role in the drama, via a courtroom, four months later. "I'd been in the crowd, probably only 10-15 metres away from it. I just gave my name to someone, and next thing I knew I was being called as a witness. At the time I had no idea I'd end up becoming a politician representing Richmond in Federal Parliament, and I'm very apologetic about my early football passion spilling over into the legal arena," he laughed.

The brawl began moments after the siren rang for half-time, following a brief skirmish between Richmond's Brown and Essendon's Graeme Jenkin. As the players began to head for the dressing rooms, Bomber reserve John Cassin sprinted from the bench, his red dressing gown flowing behind him like a cape, to take on Brown.

Within seconds, an already volatile situation exploded, with most players and officials from either club sitting on the nearby benches embroiled. There were mounted police - who had been escorting the umpires from the field - even a six-year-old boy, James Ferguson, who had been with police attempting to find his family and followed the men in blue out on to the ground, strolling casually around the mayhem.

It was an ugly scene. Essendon fitness adviser Jim Bradley, clad in "civvies", lay prostrate on the turf with a broken jaw. Tiger big man "Whale" Roberts lay nearby, nursing a broken nose. Such was the brawl's fury, Roberts thought he had been kicked in the head by a trooper's horse.

The visiting Tigers then ran the gauntlet of enraged Essendon fans on their way up the unprotected players' race, dodging beer cans and pies - Richmond's Kevin Morris re-emerging from the rooms to throw a bucket of water over the Bomber fans.

The VFL immediately called an emergency meeting to discuss action, and, after a report by investigations officer Jack Chessell, seven players and officials were cited. Andrews was suspended for six games for striking Roberts. Bradley copped six games for striking Brown. Parsons, just 17, got four games for striking Bradley. Brown received a one-week penalty for striking Essendon runner Laurie Ashley, who himself was rubbed out for six games for "conduct unbecoming". Cassin was cleared.

Graeme Richmond was still dealing with the fall-out seven months later, when he finished serving a lengthy suspension, and had the $2000 fine that had been imposed upon him by the VFL, rescinded. In return, he dropped a Supreme Court writ against the league. Richmond and Parsons had by then already had their assault charges dismissed.

But Parsons was already scarred. A highly rated junior in his first year of senior football, he would play only another four games for the Tigers. "It caused me a lot of grief," he has said of the incident. "Sure, it gets you a lot of notoriety and publicity, but probably at that age it was too much at one time . . . People remind me about it twice or three times a week; they always want to talk about it. You just learn to live with it."

Bradley recalled "hands flying everywhere". "I was on the deck before you could say Jack Robinson. The doctor said my jaw was broken and they'd take me to hospital. I said I'd go myself, and that's how I found out I was concussed. I got there, but I can't remember driving."

Thirty years on, Labor's Tanner, still a regular at Essendon games, remembers his wide-eyed disbelief at what he had witnessed.

"The breathless hysteria they carry on with now when a few blokes start grabbing each other and pushing and shoving is all very manufactured and artificial. This was pretty serious stuff," he said.
All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be - Pink Floyd

Offline Fishfinger

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Re: Windy Hill Brawl
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2004, 08:22:34 AM »
Essendon were a filthy sniping side then and Richmond had quite a few blokes who were happy to accommodate anyone interested in fighting.
Although the whole incident was unsavoury it was the catalyst of our premiership year and reinforced what a tough side we were to any doubters. It also showed Essendon that although they could mug and bully young teams like St Kilda when they tried it on the big boys they'd get it back with interest.
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Re: Windy Hill Brawl
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2004, 08:26:56 AM »
Must be the sick side of me - but i miss this kind of stuff lol

Offline WilliamPowell

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Re: Windy Hill Brawl
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2004, 08:51:41 AM »
Must be the sick side of me - but i miss this kind of stuff lol

I don't think you're sick Froars.

I reckon the problem is that the game seems so sanitised now that any "biffo" we get we enjoy because it is so uncommon.

The way it is going these days you have to wonder if they could - would they get rid of the "hip 'n' shoulder".
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Re: Windy Hill Brawl
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2004, 10:24:58 AM »
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...........real footy.

As a kid i used to watch Clayton (ycw) on a Sunday.
It was a given that would be a huge blue every week.

It's un-natural how much the game is policed nowdays.
Another reason for the drop in club emotion and passion.
U cant expect to have 36 red blooded Aussie boys out on a field
and no violence of any sort.
So long as they can be civil after the match there is no problem,
In fact,a lot of great friendships often begin after such incidents.
It's called manly respect.