Will Minson’s VFL indiscretion could have repercussions far beyond the Western Bulldogs’ reserve side as he awaits punishment from the league tribunal on Tuesday night.
The 2013 All-Australian ruckman – who hasn’t played in the AFL since round three – is facing suspension for deliberate contact with an umpire.
His action has drawn in Bulldogs senior coach Luke Beveridge, and potentially club president Peter Gordon too, for inflammatory comments over the incident.
Minson’s actions seemed innocuous enough.
The 30-year-old appears to give a field umpire a slap on the back as he runs past to give the all-clear to a Footscray goal in the VFL match against North Ballarat on Sunday.
The umpire returns to Minson to send him from the field, much to the ruckman’s protestations.
It’s the first case of deliberate contact with an umpire the VFL has seen in seven years, meaning the league tribunal is in uncharted waters when it considers the case.
But there’s no case to answer according to Beveridge and Gordon, who were floored by the decision.
“I think I’ve pushed peas to the side of my plate harder than Will Minson did any pushing yesterday,” Gordon told Triple M radio on Monday.
Beveridge said he would be “staggered” should the tribunal punish Minson.
“Over the course of my career I patted umpires on the back, I talked to them with my hand on their shoulder,” he said.
“There’s always a rapport between players and umpires and I think this one just took it the wrong way.
“Something has gone drastically wrong if it’s not thrown out straight away.”
Beveridge’s comments, made after the AFL club’s shock 39-point loss to Melbourne, earned the club a “please explain” letter from AFL Victoria.
Whether the AFL coach is sanctioned remains to be seen.
But the most galling outcome for the Bulldogs would be Minson’s potential unavailability for AFL selection.
Melbourne’s Jake Spencer played his best-ever AFL match in Sunday’s victory over the Bulldogs, dominating the ruck contests against Ayce Cordy as the Demons won the hitouts to advantage 18-8.