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Three-strike policy to stay: McLachlan

Written By malwan milad on Selasa, 24 Februari 2015 | 23.49

The AFL says it's working closely with the Gold Coast Suns, since former player Karmichael Hunt was charged with supplying drugs.

Gillon McLachlan says the three-strike policy will remain. Picture: Mark Evans Source: News Corp Australia

THE AFL is backing its contentious three-strikes illicit drug policy despite Brisbane Lions legend Leigh Matthews' calls for immediate bans for first-time offenders.

Former Gold Coast midfielder Karmichael Hunt will face court on cocaine supply charges relating to his time with the Suns as part of a wider sting on Australian sportsmen.

The league is cautiously optimistic the AFL is not caught up in widespread issues despite a host of rugby union and league stars being implicated in the scandal.

The AFL's integrity department has spoken to the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission and while there is scant information available is hopeful no bombshell will be forthcoming.

Gold Coast players have been asked about their potential involvement and denied any links with the players arrested in the past week.

The episode has again put the league's illicit drugs policy under siege, with critics believing players are simply not scared of recording positive strikes.

The AFL is confident it will not be caught up in the current cocaine scandal. Source: Getty Images

Matthews wants a more penal policy, tweeting that even first-time offenders should receive four-match bans.

Only one player has ever been suspended as part of the AFL's illicit drug code, with Hawthorn's Travis Tuck receiving a 12-match ban after being found by police with drugs in his possession.

"AFL three-strike drug policy is welfare based. Time for (the) game to take a stand. Even first strike should get say a four-week penalty,'' Matthews said.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said yesterday he believed in the three-strikes policy

"We have an illicit drugs policy. We work assiduously with players and clubs. By and large we have a fabulous groups of players and young men who will have their challenges," he said.

"I understand the role of the law enforcement bodies, but the vast majority of athletes in Australia are role models and fabulous professionals.

"I don't have any information that is negative or alarming (apart from Hunt's involvement) but I don't have any assurances about broader implications either.

"It is a disappointing situation for Karmichael. He has seemingly made a mistake and I don't have any information about the Suns, but he has also made a significant commitment to our industry and I won't walk away from that."

McLachlan dismissed suggestions the AFL should be embarrassed to have recruited Hunt from rugby league.

"I don't think so," McLachlan said. "People make mistakes and have issues. He is not with the Suns any more but he was with the Suns. He was an influential leader at the Suns, he made a significant contribution, seemingly he made a terrible mistake and what he has done will play out, but I am not going to be piling in with everyone else to diminish what he did."

Originally published as Three-strike policy to stay: McLachlan
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Day rejoins Suns after mystery illness

Written By malwan milad on Selasa, 13 Januari 2015 | 23.49

Sam Day back from mystery illness and raring to get his body right. Picture: Darren England Source: News Corp Australia

SUNS forward Sam Day returned to work on Monday to begin a catch-up mission after having the pre-Christmas training block wiped out by a mystery illness.

Pre-seasons are supposed to be tough but for the 22-year-old it was pure hell.

It was the time of year when everyone at the club was training the house down in a desperate bid to impress new coach Rodney Eade.

Teammates were setting personal bests while Day seemed to be running backwards.

It was the same in the gym.

Football department staff were at first concerned that Day had let himself go on his holidays. Then, when he showed no signs of improvement, they were worried about his motivation.

Eventually in late December they realised he was ill and it was discovered he had a 10cm bacterial cyst in his stomach that had stripped him of a few kilograms and sapped all his energy.

Football manager Marcus Ashcroft said it was suspected he contracted the bug while holidaying in Fiji in October but they could not confirm that. "We are not entirely sure, who knows exactly where he picked it up, we haven't got to the bottom of that, but it could have been in Fiji,'' he said.

Day did not realise he was ill. He just felt flat.

"This has been a long running one, ever since he started back he hasn't been himself,'' Ashcroft said.

"We didn't know what was wrong, we weren't sure if we needed to push him harder "Eventually in late December it became obvious there was a medical issue.'' Day consulted a number of specialists and was put through a battery of tests and scans.

One treatment option was to attempt to remove the cyst by burning it out but with the Christmas break upon them it was decided medication and a long rest period would return him to full health.

"In a way we are glad there was an issue, because it explained everything for us, and for him,'' he said.

"It was a bit of a relief for him.

"You can imagine as a player and you want to get better, and he is certainly a driven person who takes pride in his performance, he was seeing everyone else getting better and he was falling behind and he started to doubt himself.''

He returned to training on Monday and although he is far from 100 per cent, impressed the footy staff with his work.

Day did not wish to discuss the setback, telling Suns' media staff he would rather wait until he was back to full strength.

Ashcroft said the club was now confident he would be in peak condition for the start of the season.

"Today would have given him a lot of confidence because he was able to get out there and train and he was moving well,'' he said.

"We've still got two months to get him fit so we aren't worried about it all.''

Originally published as Day rejoins Suns after mystery illness
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Give Buddy two weeks

Written By malwan milad on Selasa, 18 Juni 2013 | 23.49

Lance Franklin has put off contract discussions until the end of the season. Source: Getty Images

COLLINGWOOD premiership captain Tony Shaw has urged Hawthorn to issue Lance Franklin a two-week contract ultimatum.

Shaw believes history shows that Franklin will leave for a huge offer after delaying contract talks, just as Tom Scully and Gary Ablett did before him.

He would still play Franklin until season's end, but says clarity on Franklin's position would give Hawthorn a three-month headstart on an aggressive trade or free agency strategy.

Luke Hodge beats tribunal charge

Many of the biggest free agents and out-of-contract stars are being signed by their existing clubs, but the likes of Dale Thomas, Mark LeCras, Jack Riewoldt and Dustin Martin are unsigned.

Shaw says a hard-line stance will pay off for Hawthorn either way.

"When you look at Scully and Ablett, their negotiations were totally off. The guys who said they are postponing talks until the end of the year are gone,'' Shaw said.

"You give Franklin the ultimatum - this is our best offer. We can't do any more. You know what it is. You are either going to go for the money or stay. If you don't tell us within two weeks, we think you are going, and we are going down the track of getting a free agent in.

"I think they have to put the pressure on him. You have to get it out of the way now and do it because to wait until the end of the year, your whole recruiting process is held up until that point.

The Barometer: Updated injury list at every club

"At the price Buddy Franklin is paid, you could get two solid performers, not just one. You could get two blokes on $500,000 or $600,000.''

Coach Alastair Clarkson has already signalled that he would play Franklin if he came to the club and admitted he was walking at season's end.

Hawthorn football director Jason Dunstall said recently the club would negotiate with Franklin whenever he was ready.

But as Essendon showed with free agency acquisition Brendon Goddard last year, many of those deals are clinched unofficially early in the year then revealed late.

Shaw argues Hawthorn's discussions with Franklin could be in-house, with any refusal from the Hawks spearhead to discuss the deal effectively becoming an admission he was leaving for Greater Western Sydney.


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New chapter in season of shame

Stephen Milne may be playing his final AFL season. Source: Getty Images

JUST eight days ago Stephen Milne was lauded as a statesman holding court with the AFL to discuss preventive measures to minimise crowd abuse.

Today he is accused of four counts of rape, yet another figure turning the spotlight on the code as it suffers through its never-ending Season of Shame.

No doubt the resilient 33-year-old will try to let his football do the talking as he has in 267 games and 559 goals.

That record is good enough to have him statistically behind only greats Leigh Matthews and Kevin Bartlett as a goalkicking small forward.

Milne: Let me play against Demons

Yet the question must be asked despite all those goals: is Milne's AFL career now on borrowed time?

Has he played his last game of AFL football?

Let Milne play footy

St Kilda now has enough evidence to stand down Milne indefinitely ahead of a court case that experts predict is as many as two years into the future.

St Kilda AFL player Stephen Milne has been charged with rape.

In 2004 Milne faced a recommendation to charge the Saint with rape, but he was never actually charged with that offence.

Now he faces four rape charges at a club which has already shown it has a no-tolerance policy in relation to offences against women.

Jason Gram was stood down after repeatedly breaking protocols, and Andrew Lovett's rape allegations were the last straw after repeated misbehaviour.

Gram urges Saints to stand by Milne

Given those precedents, is a St Kilda club trying to transform itself with a new squeaky-clean "No Dickheads" policy prepared to stand by Milne?

Andrew Demetriou's strong statement last year over the presumption of innocence for Liam Jurrah while he continued to play after being charged with serious offences will give Milne some strong backing.

As should the continued presence in Collingwood's backline of Marley Williams despite charges of grievous bodily harm.

Yet football clubs are places of expediency, even if that creates double-standards.

If Milne was a 22-year-old superstar rather a 33-year-old almost certainly in his last season, would St Kilda be more determined to keep him playing?

If the Saints were heading for another of those Grand Final charges rather than in a rebuilding mode with multiple small forwards on their list would they be more prepared to stand by Milne at all costs?

They are all impossible questions to answer, as St Kilda tries to balance the AFL's respect and responsibility policy, the alleged victim's pain, Milne's presumption of innocence, and the demand that the Saints take this issue seriously.

Whatever St Kilda decides, there is another hammer blow for the AFL as a code.

First salary cap deceit, then tanking, then a peptides scandal which has spread to four clubs.

Now a nine-year old rape charge.

It means the AFL must bid a hasty retreat from the moral high ground that saw it once favourably compared to codes like the NRL.

This case might hark from 2004, but even then it was the murky intersection of club politics and favours and interference that allegedly saw any potential justice postponed.

Now it has come sweeping back in from the cold, plunging St Kilda into controversy and the game into a new level of turmoil.

Milne should be allowed to play on this season under the presumption of innocence, but not even 18 goals in 10 games are likely to save him at season's end.


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Milne: Let me play Dees

Stephen Milne kicks his fourth goal. Picture: Michael Dodge Source: Herald Sun

STEPHEN Milne wants to play this weekend despite being charged yesterday with four counts of rape.

The St Kilda forward trained yesterday and has told the club he wants to play beside great mates Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo, who will play their 250th games for the Saints on Saturday.

A source close to Milne said the Saints forward was shocked and raw when he was alerted to the charges on Monday.

Milne should be allowed to play footy

The source said Milne was in a better head space yesterday and was determined to play against Melbourne at the MCG.

New chapter in season of shame

A decision on Milne's immediate future rested with a crisis teleconference last night, which involved the entire Saints board, chief executive Michael Nettlefold, who is In Italy, acting CEO Terry Dillon and head of football Chris Pelchen.

Milne's career on the brink

An earlier meeting at the AFL was attended by Milne's management and the AFL Players' Association, and senior AFL staffers including deputy CEO Gil McLachlan and cultural strategy and education manager Sue Clark.

There was no discussion about immediate retirement for Milne.

St Kilda forward Stephen Milne is charged with four counts of rape for an alleged attack on a woman in 2004.

It was acknowledged that Milne had copped years of spectator abuse and that if he did play this weekend, he could expect the same.

The AFLPA last night said: "The right to the presumption of innocence is essential to our system of justice and that is important for everyone that Stephen is afforded that basic right.

"The AFLPA will support Stephen in continuing his football commitments as these charges are being dealt with.''

Jason Gram backs a 'St Kilda great'

His manager Tom Pretoro refused to comment.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou yesterday described the charges as "serious'', and said that the league had sought more information from the Saints board, which will be relayed today.

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt leaves training at Seaford. Picture: Andrew Tauber Source: Herald Sun

Milne, 33, has played 268 games and kicked 564 goals since making his debut in 2001.

He is out of contract at the end of this season.

Milne is the second St Kilda player to face rape charges in four years.

In 2010, the Saints sacked Andrew Lovett on February 16, a day after he was charged with one count of rape stemming from incident on December 24th, 2009.

The Saints claimed Lovett's sacking came not because of the charge, but because he "engaged in actions that were failures to comply with our standards of expected behavioural conduct''.

The failures related to training commitments and communications with club officials, and the club admitted they could not ignore the "damage being done to St Kilda's reputation".

At the time, the AFL supported the club's decision to sack Lovett. In July 2011, Lovett was found not guilty of rape.


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Gram backs 'St Kilda great'

Teammates Jason Gram and Stephen Milne sing the song after a St Kilda victory. Source: News Limited

SACKED St Kilda midfielder Jason Gram has urged the club to stand by Stephen Milne and allow him to play despite four rape charges.

Milne was yesterday officially charged over a 2004 incident, with the club deciding last night whether to stand down the veteran goalsneak.

Gram was sacked by St Kilda last year after several warnings involving conduct towards women. He still believes his contract should not have been terminated by St Kilda, but said yesterday Milne deserved the presumption of innocence.

"I love Milney, he's one of my best mates, and I do hope the club stand by him, just like I hoped and think they should have with me'' he told the Herald Sun.

"He's one of the greats of the St Kilda football club.''

Former Essendon and St Kilda player Andrew Lovett was sacked by St Kilda after being charged with rape. He was later acquitted.

An Instagram account belonging to Lovett had a message about double standards yesterday, but it was quickly taken down.

"Wow, I wonder if Milney will get the a--- like I did? #sacked #unfair,'' it said.

Milne is believed to be keen to play, and can point to the precedent that AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou set last year regarding Melbourne's Liam Jurrah.

Jurrah faced charges over a serious assault, of which he was later acquitted, and Demetriou said at the time he should be allowed to continue to play.

"He's not the first player who's been charged who's been allowed to play football,'' Demetriou said at the time.

Jurrah was jailed earlier this month over a separate case.

"We've even got Heath Scotland at the moment who's facing charges playing for Carlton, I think Dane Swan was another one who had charges against him and he continued to play," Demetriou said.

"I really, really value the presumption of innocence in this country.''

Collingwood defender Marley Williams recently pleaded not guilty to a charge of grievous bodily assault in Albany, and is still being allowed to play senior football for the club.

He will appear again in Albany District Court on August 29.

Milne is ranked 38th on the AFL's all-time goalkicking tally with 559 goals at an elite average of 2.09 a game, and after early form concerns this year has rebounded strongly.

He kicked five goals against West Coast on Sunday in another strong showing, but before this incident he was still considered likely to retire at year's end despite season-ending goals tallies of 57, 56, and 56 in the past three years.

The AFL Players' Association yesterday backed that right to innocence, with chief executive Matt Finnis saying it was important for Milne to be afforded that right.


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Melbourne players out of excuses

Colin Sylvia must decide if he wants to be a key player for Melbourne. Source: Herald Sun

MELBOURNE'S players seem to be an extraordinarily sensitive lot.

In 2010 they whispered in corridors and at secret meetings with president Don McLardy as their season turned to rot.

They complained about a split football department, about the actions of chief executive Cameron Schwab and bemoaned the lack of support for coach Dean Bailey.

Which Dees need to stand up or get out? Chat live at noon Wednesday EST

Then they effectively had their beloved coach sacked in one foul afternoon in 2011 at Skilled Stadium when their words of support proved empty. In the past 18 months they have had to endure plenty under Bailey's replacement Mark Neeld - support structures they held dear were stripped away and a massive dose of tough love administered.

Eventually, they got their man, with Neeld's downfall expedited by, if not a player revolt, then at least deep dissatisfaction with him on many levels.

Now two coaches are gone, and the Demons are a laughing stock.

Stats say Neil Craig is in strife

Can it scarcely be possible that the collection of humble champions, premiership players and superstars at Geelong are paid the same $9.139 million salary cap as Melbourne?

It is inarguable the Demons have been let down by poor coaching, a crumbling administration and poor development.

The contenders: Who will coach Dees next year?

But enough of the excuses.

The next 10 weeks will show how many players actually value their careers as highly paid professional players.

Chat live with Jon Ralph from noon EST below.

On a mobile device? Click here for a better chat experience

Right now, Colin Garland, Nathan Jones, Jeremy Howe and only a handful of others refuse to allow excuses, and poor teammates, and tough circumstances, affect their performance.

Way too many Demons have a kitbag of excuses on show when the going gets tough.

The coach is mean to me. The forward-line delivery isn't good enough. The player development is lacking.

Now it is time for the tail to stop wagging the dog.

Time for the players to realise it is their careers on the line, too.

We hear Jack Watts is under-developed and played out of position.

Yet has Watts ever gone away during the off-season and attacked the weights and training track like a man possessed, taking responsibility for his own career?

Who at Melbourne has done what Jobe Watson did at Essendon, ntsGreinventing his body shape and nteputting the onus on himself to save a career on the fast track to nowhere?

Nathan Jones does that, playing like an animal who could be dropped at any moment, never to return to the AFL.

Does Sam Blease?

Or fellow high-draft pick Luke Tapscott?

Or Cam Pedersen, given a three-year deal but showing no signs of repaying the faith?

Does Colin Sylvia, who is on track to becoming a great wasted talent?

Mark Jamar was All-Australian in 2010, and was apparently mystified when ruck coach David Loats was sacked by Neeld.

But is Jamar happy to coast along on a three-year deal, or does he devote every waking hour to leading this football club?

"Karma is a bitch,'' former Melbourne midfielder Brent Moloney wrote of Neeld's sacking.

Yet Moloney is another who allowed himself to be sucked down into mediocrity under Neeld.

Neeld felt Moloney simply refused to play to any game plan that did not include him getting every hitout from Jamar.

Neeld preached the benefits of a varied midfield setup that also gave Jack Trengove, Jordie McKenzie and the young kids a chance to receive Jamar's centre-square largesse.

Neeld pushed that mantra mid-week.

Moloney continually circumvented it mid-game, demanding his teammates ignore Neeld.

So Neeld pushed him out, never to return.

He might be laughing at Neeld, but now it is Moloney getting tagged out of the game in a weak Brisbane midfield. 

Time for Melbourne's list to grow up.

To realise they better start justifying the inflated pay packets they are handed, or a new coach will simply tear those contracts up and push them out the door.

Fitzroy simply ceased to exist despite fighting to the end.

Melbourne has beaten one club bar the two expansion sides in its past 33 games of football.

Extraordinary.

Does the coach need to take some blame? Sure.

But now he is gone, and the blowtorch turns firmly to a playing list that has nowhere left to hide.


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Demons to call Lethal

Triple Brisbane premiership coach Leigh Matthews could be part of the search for a new Melbourne coach. Source: News Limited

MELBOURNE'S search for a new coach will include a call to AFL legend Leigh Matthews.

Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson has not named a list of candidates, but has spoken privately of his determination to cast his net across all premiership coaches of the current era.

Former Swans coach Paul Roos is the leading contender ahead of Port premiership coach and current Tigers assistant Mark Williams.

West Coast's John Worsfold is also in the mix but is believed to be leaning towards a break from football.

Rodney Eade tops the list of senior coaches without a premiership to their name.

Matthews is still heavily involved in football during his roles as a commentator for Channel 7.

But he lives in Brisbane and commutes to Melbourne on weekends and a return to the coaching ranks would be a major upheaval to a lifestyle he is said to be greatly enjoying.

The contenders: Who will coach Demons next year?

However, a host of his former premiership players, who did not want to go the record because they held senior positions at rival clubs across the league, were unanimous that Melbourne should make an approach to the four-time premiership coach.

Melbourne is believed to be prepared to make Roos an offer he can't refuse.

Sydney's 2005 premiership coach appeared to distance himself from the position on Fox Footy's On the Couch program, but later told News Limited he would "take a call'' from Melbourne.

However, his Fox Footy colleague Anthony Hudson said yesterday he did not believe Roos was considering the Demons job and if he coached again was "more likely to end up at Brisbane'' next season, replacing Michael Voss.

A former colleague of Jackson's said he "would not be surprised'' if Matthews come into the equation.

He stressed he had not spoken to Jackson about the issue and had not heard the AFL player of the century linked to the job but said it would not be out of place with Jackson's methods.

"He will want someone who can bring credibility to that football club and build the culture of that football club,'' he said.

"It will be someone the players will follow and respect and someone the fans and sponsors believe will take the club somewhere.

"Paul Roos does that and so does Leigh Matthews.''

Rodney Eade and Paul Roos react to being linked with the recently vacant Melbourne Demons coaching job.

Roos was unequivocal that the Demons needed a high-profile coach that could revitalise the club and buy time with fans and sponsors while the rebuild took place.

"I think they have to get an experienced coach for all those things ... hope and brand, etc,'' he said.

"I think it's got to be someone who you can sell to the members immediately because this is the hard thing for the Melbourne supporters they may not win next year.

"So that's a long rebuilding process and a young coach is going to find that very, very difficult.

Meanwhile, Voss said he could not see how Mark Neeld's situation could be linked in any way to his own.

Voss is out of contract at the end of the season and has come under much scrutiny for the Lions' 3-8 record.

He stressed he could not allow the public's desire for results to shift his focus from developing for the long-term.


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When the Lions came to play footy

The 1888 British Lions rugby union team that toured the southern hemisphere. Source: Getty Images

The cover of 'The First Lions of Rugby' by Sean Fagan. Source: Getty Images

JAMES Lillywhite captained England against Australia in cricket's inaugural Test match at the MCG in 1877.

Alfred Shaw bowled 90 overs for the visitors in that match, including the first delivery in Test cricket.

Arthur Shrewsbury was the finest batsman of the era, rated so by none other than the great W. G. Grace.

This trio of Englishmen would go on to organise three successful Australian tours for England's professional cricketers in the 1880s. But a fourth tour, in 1887-88, proved such a financial disaster that Lillywhite was moved to declare that cricket was played out in Australia and to observe that crowds were now flocking to football.

While in Melbourne, at that time easily Australia's biggest city, the Englishmen declared that on their next tour they would bring out a team of rugby players to take on the colonials, and in particular to challenge Victorian teams playing under their own code of rules.

In the 1880s, the differences between rugby and Australian rules were not substantial, the main variations being: 20 players instead of 15, the ability to call a mark after catching a kick, the absence of an offside rule and the need to bounce the ball every seven yards while running with it.

Richmond FC captain Frank Adams had explored the idea of bringing out an England football team in 1879, while one of the fathers of the Australian code, Henry Colden Harrison, had tried unsuccessfully to organise a tour to the mother country in 1884.

Both times the sticking point had been that each nation was determined to play under its own superior rules.

Now, though, the genuine possibility of international football was being met with great enthusiasm: Rugby devotees in Australia were convinced the tour would prove the superiority of their game, whereas advocates of the Victorian code felt certain it would pave the way for the sport to gain a foothold in Britain, a dream being encouraged by the English promoters.

An article in Sydney's The Referee at the time explained the difference between the camps: Those of the Victorian faith term themselves the liberals, while the rugby followers are considered out -and-out conservatives.

The Englishmen sailed home, leaving behind Shrewsbury to smooth out logistics.

Copies of the Victorian rules were dispatched to Colombo for Lillywhite to collect on the way through. He declared: "A little examination showed us that there was not a great deal to learn that our players did not know, so we decided to go for it.''

Upon returning to England the promoters posted letters to elite players, promising that should they express interest a tour taking in a 54-match schedule of both rugby and Australian football matches "we will communicate terms to you, which I feel sure will prove satisfactory".

The 22-man British Isles squad was dominated by northern English county players, as well as two from Edinburgh, one from Wales and another from the Isle of Man.

Also included was Arthur Paul, the Belfast-born son of an army officer who had been among the British forces when they confronted rebellious miners at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat 34 years earlier.

Several leading players declined the offer, but the first major hurdle came when the Rugby football Union refused to sanction the undertaking and promised to scrutinise the squad's amateur status.

One player, Jack Clowes, was banned for accepting 15 pounds in clothing expenses from a tour agent.

The party set out from Gravesend aboard the steamship Kaikoura on March 8, taking 46 days to reach Dunedin for the opening leg of the expedition, nine matches in New Zealand.

Next followed five rugby matches in New South Wales, before the squad boarded the train for Spencer Street Station, where hundreds of Melburnians greeted them with a rousing three cheers.

Yet there were more obstacles to negotiate. The VFA declined to grant its patronage, the individual clubs and host grounds each wanted a third of the gate-takings, and Shrewsbury would later claim the Melbourne Cricket Club did all they could to thwart the scheme in many little annoying ways.

The Brits had only managed to squeeze in four Australian football training sessions during the tour, one of them a scratch match in Sydney. But they had enlisted the services of former Essendon players Jack Lawler and Fred McShane as coaches.

Apart from challenging the colonials at their own game, the motivation for the Victorian leg was financial. As captain Robert Seddon noted, football in Victoria had reached a height of popularity unknown in any part of the world.

They discovered as much in their first match, played just two days after arriving.

Whereas the Sydney matches had attracted crowds of maybe one or two thousand, the MCG was overflowing with more than 26,000 spectators as the visitors prepared to take on the strong Carlton team.

The local players came out wearing lace-up guernseys with chamois shoulders, the British were decked out in loose, long-sleeved woollen jumpers, with red, white and blue hoops.

As was the norm in that era, the game began and was restarted after every goal  with the teams in their respective halves, with one kicking off to the other. Only goals counted in the score (behinds were recorded but did not influence results).

A mark could be paid as long as the ball travelled at least two yards, and Carlton used that tactic to advantage. In contrast, the Lions made the mistake of playing their forwards in attack, and they were generally poor kickers, so struggled to convert any chances.

Seddon suggested that had the tourist come with the sole purpose of playing the local game they would have picked a vastly different squad.

Carlton led 7 goals to 0 at half time, then eased off to win 14.17 to 3.8. By the low-scoring standards of the day, it was an absolute belting.

Over the next 17 days the Lions played seven matches against Victorian clubs: during the week they headed to gold rush towns such as Castlemaine, Bendigo and Ballarat where they included Lawler and McShane in their line-up, and back to Melbourne for Saturday matches against VFA clubs South Melbourne, Fitzroy and Port Melbourne. Next were four matches in Adelaide, followed by another five back in Victoria.

As the tour progressed they became more proficient at the local code and tactics, with the highlight a one-goal win over the powerful Port Adelaide team at Adelaide Oval.

British three-quarter Jack Anderton admired the Victorian game for the speed and splendid kicking abilities required, but felt that agile Lancashire forward Sam Williams was the only one who could play the game equal to the Australians.

As the weeks passed, the enthusiasm for the cross-code experiment dwindled among the players and spectators.

The last match of the southern leg was against Essendon (the eighth VFA club the Brits faced). A game against Melbourne had been cancelled because of tensions between the touring party and the MCC, and not only did a meagre crowd attend the Essendon match, but three of the touring team members were disciplined after reporting for the match drunk.

The Brits ended their time in Australian football's heartland with a rugby match against a Victorian representative team at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground (football officials responded by promptly scheduling a rival match between Carlton and Melbourne at the neighbouring MCG).

Seddon departed by saying Victorians were wedded to their game and think there is no game in the world but their own.

He had admiration for the game, but was critical of the short-passing rule and the inability to have a shot after the bell. The latter rule was changed later that year, while the minimum length of kicks was changed to ten yards in 1897.

The visitors headed north for more rugby matches in New South Wales and Queensland, before concluding the tour with an unbeaten return to New Zealand for the final 10 matches.

In all they were away from home for 249 days, returning to England in mid-November.

Upon their return there was negligible interest in the Australasian matches, rather the central focus was upon whether the players would retain their amateur status, which they did (provided they supplied a signed affidavit to say that their only allowance, besides the travelling and hotel expenses, was two shillings a day).

In Australia, the rival codes continued to boom in their own heartlands.

The Illustrated Sydney News wrote that the visit of the English team has been of infinite use in giving ocular demonstration of two styles of play - their own, the game of today, and ours, the game of two years ago.

The game they play in heaven was played with renewed gusto in the northern states and New Zealand, and there are several examples of towns, regions and schools in NSW and Queensland abandoning Australian football.

In Melbourne, the formation of the all-powerful Victorian Football League was less than a decade away. But dreams of taking Aussie rules to the world have barely moved forward some 125 years later.

The tourists did nothing to push the game's cause back in Britain. The next British Isles tour, this time sanctioned by authorities, was to South Africa in 1891.

In 1888 there had not been a single rugby club in Victoria. By the 1930s the state was supplying 13 players to the Wallabies, including Edward Weary Dunlop.

There exists a photograph of that trailblazing British squad, assembled on a playing field in Flinders Park looking defiantly down the lens. It is dated June 25, 1888.

When the 2013 British Lions come to town, they are scheduled to play against the Melbourne Rebels, across the road at AAMI Park. The match will be played on June 25.

THE TOUR CARD

The touring Lions of 1888 played 54 matches in Australasia, winning 33, losing 14 and drawing seven. That included 18 games of Australian rules, of which they won 5, lost 12 and drew one (in these matches only goals counted, even though behinds were recorded).

JUNE
LOST: 3.8 to Carlton 14.17 at the MCG
WON: 5.16 to Bendigo 1.14 at Back Creek CG, Bendigo
DREW: 1.2 with Castlemaine Reps 1.4at Camp Res Ground, Castlemaine
LOST: 3.7 to South Melbourne 7.20 at Sth Melb CG
LOST: 3.11 to Maryborough 4.12 at Princes Park, Maryborough
LOST: 3.7 to 7.18 to South Ballarat at Eastern Oval, Ballarat
LOST: 3.4 to Fitzroy 12.10 at Fitzroy CG

JULY
LOST: 6.11 to Port Melbourne 7.15 at East Melbourne CG
LOST: 5.9 to South Adelaide 8.9 at Adelaide Oval
WON: 8.8 to Port Adelaide 7.8 at Adelaide Oval
LOST: 3.5 to Adelaide 6.13 at Adelaide Oval
LOST: 3.1 to Norwood 5.8 at Adelaide Oval
WON: 6.5 to Horsham 0.2 at Horsham Recreation Reserve
LOST: 1.2 to Ballarat Imperial 4.15 at Saxon Paddock, Ballarat
WON: 3.3 to Sandhurst 2.10 at Back Creek CG, Bendigo
WON: 2.7 to Kyneton 1.5 at Kyneton Racecourse
LOST: 3.5 to Essendon 7.16 at East Melbourne CG

AUGUST
LOST: 4.5 to Northern District Reps 9.19 at Albion Ground, Maitland, NSW

FOR those wishing to read a comprehensive account of the 1888 tour, a new book titled 'The First Lions of Rugby', by Sean Fagan, has been published by the Slattery Media Group
 


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Swans trio enter record books

Swans stars Jude Bolton, Adam Goodes and Ryan O'Keefe at the SCG. The trio will break the record for the most matches ever played together by an AFL trio when the Swans play Port Adelaide in Adelaide on Saturday. Picture: Nic Gibson Source: News Limited

SWANS premiership veterans Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton and Ryan O'Keefe set an AFL record this Saturday which may never be broken.

When the high-quality trio line up against Port Adelaide in Adelaide it will be their 254th game together, passing the mark that Bulldogs Brad Johnson, Rohan Smith and Scott West achieved from 1994 to 2006.

The closest current trio, on 207 games, are St Kilda's Nick Riewoldt, Nick Dal Santo and Stephen Milne, who faces an uncertain future after being charged with rape yesterday.

Goodes, 33, Bolton, 33 and O'Keefe, 32, have played during the most successful era in the Swans' history, hardly missing a finals series during their careers, and that passion was renewed in spades last season when the Swans won their second flag in seven years.

Add to those premierships the two Brownlow Medals won by Goodes and the Norm Smith Medal O'Keefe claimed last season as best on ground in the Grand Final victory over Hawthorn.

"If you're playing with a good group of players and you've had a fair bit of success as we have it keeps you up and excited," O'Keefe said.

"A winning culture makes you want to turn up and makes the place a lot happier."

So what is the secret to their success?

"We don't ever sit back and think we've made it to the top, that we're the best," Goodes said.

"The three of us still think we can improve and that's what drives us.

"We want to play finals every year. That's not being selfish, that's just what we want.

"We've been able to do it for such a long period of time."

Their golden run together started when O'Keefe debuted on Mother's Day, 2000, against the Bulldogs at the SCG.

"It was a long time ago. I was just trying to get a kick and my first kick was on my right foot," said O'Keefe, a natural left footer.

Bolton puts their collective longevity down to mindset, being able to play through injury and getting the job done even if they haven't been at their best all the time.

They each agreed the game was becoming faster, putting a greater physical and mental demand on players.

"There's no time to switch off," Bolton said. "Guys come off with a headache. You're really concentrating the whole time."

Not surprisingly it is the premierships shared that the trio look back on most fondly.

"I remember Jude wearing a helmet in '05 with blood dripping out the side of it and Ryan winning the Normie (Norm Smith Medal) last year, those fantastic memories will always sit in your mind and will always be fresh in your mind," Goodes said.

Bolton recalled the special effort Goodes made trying to lift the side in the 2006 Grand Final, when the Swans lost, and O'Keefe's brilliant performance in the 2005 preliminary final.

"Even the whole journey together," O'Keefe said. "We've pretty much grown up together as teenagers, right through to our adult life, sharing memories and families and kids, all sorts of things.

"I classify them as two of my really good mates, just being able to share life and work. This period of time has been pretty special."


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