AFL in uproar over Adelaide pitch invader as Ben Keays act cements 'legend' status

Keays was hailed across the AFL world after the shocking incident.

Crows star Ben Keays has endeared himself to AFL fans around the country after dealing with a shocking incident involving a pitch invader at Adelaide Oval on Friday night. The man ran onto the ground during the third quarter of Geelong's 14.12 (96) to 11.11 (77) win over Adelaide, with Cats coach Chris Scott describing it as a "really dangerous" incident in his post-game press conference.

The pitch invader not only illegally entered the field of play but ran straight towards players from both teams who were scrambling for a contested ball. The umpires promptly stopped play as Crows star Matt Crouch grabbed hold of the pitch invader, only for the man to break free and continue running around the field.

Pictured here, Crows AFL star Ben Keays grabs an Adelaide Oval pitch invader and throws him to the ground.
Crows AFL star Ben Keays grabbed an Adelaide Oval pitch invader and tossed him to the ground in the match against Geelong. Pic: Getty

He sprinted around a pack of players and started running straight at Keays, who collared the offender and tossed him to the turf, enabling security to grab the man and escort him from the ground. The actions of the unruly fan were condemned around the footy world but Keays was hailed as a "legend" for his response to the pitch invader.

Coaches hit out over 'dangerous' pitch invader incident

The pitch invader faces at least a three-year ban from Adelaide Oval and a fine of up to $5000 for his actions on Friday night. But while many fans saw the funny side of the incident, both coaches said the fact someone was able to enter the field of play and get so close to the players raised serious concerns for their safety.


"Maybe the fines aren't big enough," Geelong coach Scott said. "It's really dangerous too. I am generally so far away from punitive reactions to almost anything in society, that's just not the way I believe things should be done.

Crows coach Matthew Nicks also agreed the incident was "concerning" for the game. "It's really disappointing and it's dangerous... pitch invaders, I don't understand it," he said. "I took the opportunity to have a look into the computer and see where the team could be better so I didn't really get a good look at what played out.

"But it's disappointing to see that someone in this day and age still runs out on the footy field. I don't get it." The incident also raised questions about how the AFL would respond to the players who lay hands on the pitch invader but Nicks said the man had brought the risk of injury on himself by illegally running onto the field.

"There's high risk in that and that's probably what I'm talking about when it comes to the dangerous part of actually someone being on a footy field," Nicks added. "Especially when the game is going, to be right in amongst it. The dangers are huge not only for our players but for that individual - probably more so for that individual, to be honest."

AFL commentator James Brayshaw labelled the incident "astounding" and suggested security needed to do a better job of ensuring it doesn't happen again. “As much as anything, it’s an occupational health and safety issue,” he said. “Players have no idea that a member of the crowd is suddenly moving around in the middle of frenetic play. This just can’t happen.”

Tom Hawkins stars in second straight win for Geelong

The incident failed to overshadow a second straight win for Geelong, highlighted by a four-goal display from Tom Hawkins. The Cats veteran kicked three goals in 12 minutes after the Crows briefly hit the front in the third quarter and also produced a game-busting burst in the spirited 19-point away win.

Seen here, Tom Hawkins is congratulated by Geelong teammates.
Tom Hawkins kicked four goals for Geelong in the win over Adelaide. Pic: Getty

Adelaide were left to rue a number of missed opportunities, particularly in the final quarter, as they slumped to a second defeat before a testing trip to Fremantle next weekend. For the Cats, 150-game milestone man Tom Stewart (28 disposals) was superb as he took 11 marks - 10 of them intercepts - to set an AFL record.

"It's hard to believe with what he's given our footy club that he's only played 150 games," Cats coach Chris Scott said of the five-time All Australian. "That might be up there with the best 150 games ever played. I am biased obviously but the position he plays, he is just special."