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What was said to spark a brawl between Melbourne Demons players Steven May and Jake Melksham has been revealed, with the former taking a brutal dig at his teammate over last year's grand final.
The 2022 season had largely been smooth sailing for the reigning premiers until Monday, when it was announced the club would suspend May for one game after he was involved an an alcohol-fuelled altercation with Melksham on Sunday night.
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May, who was not supposed to drink while in the AFL's concussion protocols, reportedly told Melksham “If you had have played in the granny (grand final) we would have lost.”
Melksham was an emergency for last year's grand final win over the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne's first since 1964.
The Herald Sun reported that Melksham punched May in retaliation, with the venue claiming the pair left significant damage in their wake.
The pair reportedly broke the venue's reception desk, and the venue has since lashed out at the apology given by May and the club, labelling it 'weak' and saying what had happened between the two players was 'far from a scuffle'.
"Thanks for your lukewarm apology that is tantamount to ‘boys will be boys’," the venue wrote on Instagram.
In a statement on Monday, head of football Alan Richardson described what had happened as a 'light-hearted disagreement' which 'escalated'.
'If he [Melksham] had played in the Grand Final they wouldn't have won'
Steven May's alleged sledge to teammate Jake Melksham that sparked restaurant scuffle.
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May apologised to Demons fans in a video posted by the club on Monday night, saying he was 'deeply apologetic'.
“Just extremely disappointed. I know I’ve let a lot of people down, especially myself and the footy club, through uncharacteristic actions,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of work to try and build respect and trust at the footy club, and I’m disappointed these actions don’t reflect that.
“Just a bad mistake, a bad error of judgement, unfortunately has consequences.”
Steven May suspended after altercation with AFL teammate Jake Melksham
The Demons have lost their last two games in a row, with May suffering a concussion against Fremantle and unavailable against Sydney the following week.
Melbourne have desperately missed star defender May, but said they needed to stick to their standards.
"Over the past three years, Steven has developed into one of our most important on-field leaders, and while the impact of not having him available for selection is significant, what is more significant to us is our culture and the commitment we have to live by our values," Richardson said.
"Steven is extremely remorseful and accepts his actions were completely out of step with the expectations the club and his teammates have of him.
"He accepts the sanction handed down and makes no excuse for his poor judgement."
In his first season at Melbourne in May 2019, May apologised to his teammates after he was spotted drinking at a pub while sidelined with a groin injury, but avoided suspension.
He had previously been criticised for turning up to pre-season unfit and had his 2019 season ruined by injuries, before becoming the Demons' defensive rock over the past three years.
May previously had his jaw broken by then-teammate Campbell Brown in an altercation at a Los Angeles nightclub in 2013.
Both the "extremely remorseful" May and Melksham will also complete community service.
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