A Queensland brewery's attempt to create an 'ice-breaker' over the ongoing furore surrounding Jason Horne-Francis has been met with a stiff rebuke and threat of legal action from Port Adelaide. Whitelabel Brewing were informed without question by the Power that their attempt at humour over the situation had fallen flat - and would end up with them in court should they persist.
Horne-Francis is in his first season with Port Adelaide, following a difficult rookie season with North Melbourne which resulted in the No.1 overall pick demanding a trade back to his home state of South Australia. It was the culmination of a clearly unhappy debut AFL season for the 20-year-old, who fell short of the expectations Kangaroos fans had for the highly-coveted pick.
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Since being traded to Port Adelaide, Horne-Francis has faced choruses of boos from opposition fans - drawing confusion from many in the AFL world wondering why any fan outside of Arden St would care about the trade demand. The response also lead to a heated clash between former stars Kane Cornes and David King, who argued over who was more responsible for the treatment Horne-Francis had copped.
With that in mind, it's unsurprising that Port Adelaide wouldn't be thrilled by the brewery's new 'Icebath Lager' - a reference to Horne-Francis being dropped by the Kangaroos in 2022 after reportedly skipping a post-game recovery session. The 'icebath' hashtag has frequently been used by Cornes on social media in his criticism of the young gun.
"The idea behind the beer was for it to be a bit of an ice-breaker for the hot topic which is running amok at the moment in the AFL, and to try and take a bit of the air out of it," a Whitelabel Brewing spokesman told ESPN. "It's a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at not being professional, because that was the last straw for North."
ESPN's Jack Michaels was able to obtain the email sent to the brewing company from Port Adelaide, demanding the immediate removal of any use of Horne-Francis' likeness. The strongly-worded message indicated the club did not see the funny side.
Port Adelaide has threatened legal action after a brewery released a special edition beer, called '#Icebath Lager', a cheeky sledge of Jason Horne-Francis 🍺
READ 📝: https://t.co/Re2hkZ2BXO pic.twitter.com/FfNjj9NT8m
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) May 9, 2023
"This is not lighthearted fun as you put it," the email read. "The AFL and AFLPA have been informed. You should remove any use of Jason's image immediately and any reference to him.
"And no, we are not interested in your offer in any way. Please remove this product ASAP. Legal action is pending."
Jason Horne-Francis anticipating boos from North Melbourne fans
While he hasn't been thrilled about being booed by opposition fans, it'll come as no surprise to Horne-Francis that Kangaroos fans won't be welcoming him with open arms when Port Adelaide face the Kangaroos in Hobart this weekend. Former teammate Will Phillips agreed that it was strange for fans of other clubs to boo him, but added that it was par for the course for Kangaroos fans.
“I think it’s understandable if they want to have a boo,” Phillips told the Sunday Footy Show.
“It’s probably unfair for other teams to do that but understandable for the North fans. They’re pretty passionate and for him to leave us like that I can understand if they want to boo.”
Saints coach Ross Lyon called out St Kilda fans for booing Horne-Francis when the Power came to Melbourne earlier this season. There was also criticism after the 20-year-old copped from from Western Bulldogs and Sydney fans as well.
Lyon referred to American comedian Dave Chappelle in defending Horne-Francis, saying "let's not punch down on a 19-year-old." He added: "People were doing as a mob that they wouldn't do as individuals. Maybe just check yourself ... there's a lot of mental stress of players.
"If you're doing it to put him off his game ... well, clearly it doesn't work, which is good for the kid, so maybe don't boo him."
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley said Horne-Francis showed his power in the hard-fought win. "Play on - we've made our point," he said. "Jase will grow, he'll be okay. He knows one thing for certain. His footy team is in his corner."
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