LIKE SO MANY weeks throughout the year, it was an off-field story that dominated the Aussie Rules headlines.
Former Carlton and Brisbane Lions forward Brendan Fevola told the popular TV programme The Footy Show that he attempted suicide just before Christmas due to his gambling and alcohol addictions. He had just finished 65 days of rehab for his issues, but was spotted playing poker at Melbourne’s Crown Casino days after filming the warts-and-all interview.
Fevola will be familiar to Irish sporting fans following his expulsion from the Australian International Rules squad in 2006 for an altercation a barman in Galway. Since then Fev has hardly been out of the media spotlight for a variety of incidents including urinating outside a nightclub, drunken behaviour at the 2009 Brownlow Medal awards night and flashing a woman in a Brisbane park.
The Lions suspended Fevola for the latter incident and have since severed his contract (at the cost of a reported $1 million), making him a free agent. He has tried to make a comeback of sorts with regional side Casey Scorpions but his latest trip to casino may have ruined any chance of a footy return.
There was some football played on Friday night as Collingwood overcame Essendon to claim the NAB Cup in what was the final hit-out before the season proper gets underway in less than a fortnight.
The Hyundai A-League reached its climax on Sunday with a thrilling encounter in front of over 50,000 spectators at Suncorp Stadium. The league’s best team throughout the season, Brisbane Roar, came from two goals down to beat the Central Coast Mariners on penalties in a game that saw four seasons in one day with blistering sunshine and torrential rain.
It was end-to-end stuff throughout with goalkeepers Michael Theoklitos and Matt Ryan, who picked up the man-of-the-match award, in fine form, though the Roar were much the better side. Adam Kwasnik opened the scoring in the first period of extra time before Oliver Bozanic looked to have sealed the Mariners’ first ‘toilet seat’ (the name that the circular trophy is affectionately known by).
Brazilian Henrique gave the Roar a lifeline with four minutes remaining before Erik Paartalu headed home a Thomas Broich header to send the game to penalties. Theoklitos stepped up to the plate, saving from Daniel McBreen and Pedj Bojic, and Brisbane were home and dry.
Interestingly, when Central Coast scored their second, over 1000 Roar fans left the stadium to head home but had to go back inside when they were informed that their coaches weren’t ready to leave. Lucky eh?
Rugby League returned at the weekend with the first round of the 2011 season, and the Canberra Raiders got off to a flying start with a thumping 40-12 win over the Cronulla Sharks. The Newcastle Knights also recorded a big victory, easily beating Penrith 42-8 as the Panthers made 21 errors to shoot themselves in the foot.
South Sydney has been hit with a $15,000 fine after fielding 14 men in Friday night’s loss to the Sydney Roosters. An interchange mix-up resulted in the additional player taking the field and the NRL decided to take action which the club has five days to respond to.
There was something of a shock as the much fancied Wests Tigers were beaten 24-14 by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in front of over 26,000 spectators at ANZ Stadium.
Also picking up opening week wins were the Cowboys, Eels, Dragons and Storm.
Sadly there is no NRL team in Western Australia so it’s the least accessible sport for me. They do host a game in Perth every year but the market is quite competitive with AFL, rugby union, soccer, basketball and netball all competing for a metropolitan market roughly the size of Dublin.