After an explosive Great Northern Football League (GNFL) season, club presidents are now backing a full review by the West Australian Football Commission.
- Geraldton police have charged several people over a recent brawl during a preliminary football match
- They say troublemakers will be turned away from the GNFL grand final
- There is a strong backing for a WA Football Commission review of the GNFL
The 2022 GNFL season has been plagued by anti-social behaviour on and off the field, with the latest incident under investigation involving former AFL Collingwood player and now Rover Shannon Cox.
Cox and another man were allegedly involved in a scuffle during a preliminary football match between the Rovers and Brigades in Geraldton at the weekend.
Police have since charged one man with common assault and disorderly conduct.
A woman has also been charged with one count of common assault, and another male is facing one count of disorderly conduct over the incident.
Geraldton Police Acting Officer in Charge, Senior Sergeant Stuart Gerreyn, described the actions of some game attendees as disappointing.
“The type of behaviour and the language being used is, for want of a better term, quite disgraceful,” he said.
Senior Sergeant Gerreyn said a history of family feuding had contributed to some of the spats.
“For this small minority to be impacting their attendance at the game is disappointing, whether it’s personal grudges against other people … that doesn’t need to be aired in public,” he said.
Bad behaviour spoils season
The GNFL slapped several players with suspensions after an on-field melee broke out during a Brigades and Mullewa Colts game in July.
Thirteen players, eight from Mullewa and five from Brigades, were reprimanded by the football league for fighting and abusing umpires.
Senior Sergeant Gerreyn said anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated at the GNFL grand final on Saturday.
“We will have police at the gate turning people away [who] we think or we know have been involved in previous incidents,” he said.
GNFL president Carrissa Bellotti said it was not unusual for police to be on site during finals.
“We request police at all our grand finals,” she said.
“It is a big event and we are just ensuring the safety of everyone on the day.”
She said she was aware police had laid charges over the incident at the weekend but would not comment further.
It is understood the West Australian Football Commission has now launched an investigation into conduct during the 2022 GNFL season.
Rovers Football Club president Daniel Starling welcomed the review.
“There have been a lot of things that haven’t gone as they should have,” he said.
“[The investigation] is definitely needed for the future of football in Geraldton.
“It should probably happen every couple of years … we need to be proactive, not reactive.”
Brigades Football Club president Craig Harrington also supported a review of the season by the commission.
Grand final day milestone
It is understood Saturday will mark the first time in GNFL history that each club will have a team playing in the grand final.
Mr Starling said the Rovers League team was aware it was the underdog but had prepared as best it could for Saturday’s game.
“Our boys are very confident and they are all working really well together,” he said.
“It is very satisfying to be at this point after 10 months of working so hard.”