THE father of Wangaratta Rovers star Sam Carpenter has called for a stop to abuse thrown at his son from on and off the football field for having an amputated left arm.
The situation reached flashpoint for Leigh Carpenter in the recent Ovens and Murray Football League elimination final.
Mr Carpenter had to be escorted away from North Albury supporters by police during the game after becoming incensed about what had been said to his son.
The Rovers player also had to be dragged away from near the Hoppers’ three-quarter-time huddle by North Albury skipper Daniel Leslie.
Carpenter was four years old when he got his hand caught in a meat mincer at his father’s butcher shop.
As a result, part of his left arm was later amputated.
He has bounced back from the setback to play at VFL level and finish runner-up in an O and M league Morris Medal.
Mr Carpenter said the vilification had to stop.
“The thing that upsets him the most is they are having a go at something he has had all his life,” he said.
“They are highlighting a difference when he sees himself as being a normal, knockaround, everyday bloke.
“He can wear a smack in the gob or a knee in the back, but not being treated as an equal really cuts to the core.”
Carpenter previously played in the O and M for Corowa-Rutherglen and was never targeted about his disability.
His father said an off-season incident relating to another O and M club and what happened during the elimination final was the tipping point for the family to speak publicly.
“People need to realise what is happening is not acceptable,” he said.
“They hurt more people than the player concerned.
“If a player loses his cool and belts someone they go to the tribunal and get four or six weeks.
“But they also need to know they can’t vilify someone like the way Sam has been.
“Unfortunately it still gets swept under the carpet a bit and it is hurtful.”
North Albury president Paul Spencer said last night he was aware something had been said to Carpenter.
“My understanding is a comment was made on the field and an apology was made after the game,” he said.
Mr Carpenter said his son previously encountered similar abuse when he played in the Mornington Peninsula league.
He retaliated by whacking the player who made the comment, but the umpire let him off as he had heard what was said.
The rival player was given an in-house suspension for the incident.
Mr Carpenter said his son was fearful to speak out personally.
“He doesn’t want to take the risk of being labelled as a whinger,” he said.