JACK Viney is free to play for Melbourne this weekend and so he should be.
But if the tribunal’s form during the week is anything to go by, the game we all know and love could be in big trouble.
The two-week suspension given to Viney on Tuesday night was a disgrace — there’s no other way of putting it.
I can’t remember that much anger and frustration in the AFL community ever before.
Supporters, today’s players, ex-players and even outgoing chief executive Andrew Demetriou were left stunned by the tribunal’s decision.
And rightly so.
It was a joke.
Sure, Adelaide player Tom Lynch was left with a broken jaw from the collision but tell me how that was Viney’s fault?
It is crystal clear in the footage that Viney had absolutely no chance of stopping and preventing contact.
Football is a contact sport.
For now, anyway.
For more than 100 years, players have been taught to do whatever it takes to get the ball.
That is what footy is all about.
If the ball is there to be won, you get your body behind it and you don’t deviate.
I see some people defended the two-game suspension during the week by saying Viney had time to get out of the way.
Give me a spell.
Viney had no time to get out of the way but even if he did, why should he?
It is a contact sport.
Imagine the hammering he would have copped for shirking the contest.
The reaction from the media, and from his teammates, would have been brutal.
That’s why I was stunned to find out it was a handful of former players — Wayne Henwood, Emmett Dunne and Wayne Schimmelbusch — who made the decision at the tribunal.
They need to have a long, hard look at themselves.
I’m pretty sure that in their day if a player had been rubbed out for a bump like Viney’s, it would have been laughable.
Well guess what? It still is laughable.
Our great game is in danger of turning into a non-contact sport, going by all the constant rule changes and match review panel findings.
The AFL says it is making these changes for the good of the game, but they aren’t doing the game any good.
It’s not what the fans, clubs or players want.
So tell me who is benefiting from it?
It’s time for the AFL to get serious and fix these rules that are wrecking our game.
I’m just glad country footy hasn’t gone down the same path.
If you want good, tough footy, come and watch some Ovens and Murray.
It’s tough, players are still allowed to bump, courage is still seen as a good thing and players don’t get suspended for attacking the ball.
Fans are still allowed on the ground for a kick and food and drink isn’t ridiculously priced.
I know what I prefer.
TOMORROW could be the making of Lavington.
If the Panthers can beat Albury, it is game on.
The competition that everyone says is between two teams will become a race in three.
Lavi has been around the mark the last five years and both Yarra and Albury have had some ripping encounters with them.
But they haven’t quite had the edge over either of us to make a grand final.
But that could change this year.
After landing a couple of big recruits in Kosi and Adam Prior, it is massive for Lavi to get over the line tomorrow for the sake of their mindset.
If they win, they’ll get a heap of confidence and will think they can beat anyone.
But if they lose, they might start to think they’ve made no inroads from last year and question the game plan.
Albury has won three of the past five grand finals and there’s no doubt they’re the benchmark of the competition.
Lavi had them on toast in last year’s prelim but couldn’t get over the line.
I know people say it all the time, but this game will be won in the midfield.
Albury has guns everywhere with Hyde, O’Hara, Mackie and Polo but if Lavi’s midfield can outdo them and get it to their forwards, then they can win.
A forward-line with Kosi, Prior and Flagg, who is flying, will be very hard to stop if it gets enough supply.
I don’t know who to tip but like everyone, I can’t wait to see what happens.