AFL greats hit out after 'horrible' Patrick Dangerfield call ticked off by Laura Kane

Trent Cotchin and Joel Selwood have both disagreed with the league's footy boss.

Trent Cotchin has expressed his disbelief that AFL boss Laura Kane ticked off a controversial free kick paid to Patrick Dangerfield last weekend. Dangerfield was involved in contentious scenes in Geelong's win over St Kilda on Saturday night when he collided with Liam Stocker during a contest.

Stocker dived in head-first and won the ball, before Dangerfield collected his opponent in the back with his knees and flipped over the top. But it was Stocker who was pinged by the umpires under the much-maligned 'below the knees' rule.

Trent Cotchin, Laura Kane and Patrick Dangerfield in the AFL.
Trent Cotchin can't believe Laura Kane ticked off the free kick paid to AFL veteran Patrick Dangerfield. Image: Getty

The AFL introduced the rule in recent years to prevent players from diving in dangerously at an opponent's legs during a contest. But as many pointed out, it was actually Dangerfield who put Stocker in danger.

Fans and commentators were left fuming at the umpire's call, which popular social media account 'Has the umpire made a bad decision' said was wrong. The account, run by an accredited AFL umpire, wrong: "This is a wrong decision. Ball is never in dispute, Dangerfield was never winning it and it is Danger who rushes in and causes contact. Stocker off his feet does look bad so I do get umpires thinking. If ball in dispute - FK. But should have just been play on here."

AFL greats disagree with Laura Kane's assessment

But the league's footy boss Laura Kane gave the call the tick of approval despite the widespread backlash. “We reviewed it closely,” she said this week. “In real time, the umpires have made a decision that Stocker’s elected to go to ground and caused contact below the knees.

"They’re adjudicating that as forceful contact below the knees, which is the right call. We’ve since reviewed that (with) many different angles, real-time speed, slow-mo, and we’re comfortable that they’ve landed in the right spot.”


But Kane's comments didn't go down well with retired champions Cotchin and Joel Selwood. Discussing Kane's response on Channel 7 on Wednesday night, Cotchin said: “For me, it should be play-on, and I think that becomes a really good contest where one player is desperate to go to ground, (but) Paddy had a different idea."

Selwood added: “I think what Laura’s getting us to try and think about is that we need people to keep their feet. The game looks a lot better if Stocker is able to take the ball and then Paddy lays a big tackle.

"I don’t know about you guys, but I actually thought it was going the other way. It just all goes so fast. It’s definitely not a free kick. The umpires, just like the players, sometimes make mistakes.”

Patrick Dangerfield, pictured here collecting Liam Stocker in the back with his knees.
Patrick Dangerfield collected Liam Stocker in the back with his knees, but won the free kick. Image: Channel 7

AFL world in uproar over 'horrible' Patrick Dangerfield call

Luke Darcy and Jobe Watson also condemned the decision, with Darcy saying: “I think this is the rule that needs to be generally looked at. The ‘contact below the knees’ rule was brought in a number of years ago. We understand why, but what more can Liam Stocker do there, apart from attack the footy in that position?”

On SEN radio, Nic Negrepontis said: “If that’s a free kick against Liam Stocker, the rule needs to be reworked ASAP. Brad Klibansky was fuming, saying: “That’s a disgraceful free kick against Stocker. A player should never get punished for attacking and winning the ball first.”

Commentator Darren Parkin wrote on social media at the time: "Surely the worst decision of the season and won’t be beaten?" Others described it as "horrible" and "embarrassing", while another person commented: "Worst umpiring decision of the year so far but will probably be the leader by the end of the season. Dangerfield v Stocker, I guess it’s the Danger tax."