Harley Reid dragged into Patrick Dangerfield furore as AFL world blasts 'embarrassing' call

AFL fans and pundits are questioning how the Geelong Cats captain got off at the Tribunal.

Former West Coast player Will Schofield has joined AFL fans in blasting the Tribunal's decision to overturn a one-game suspension for Patrick Dangerfield. The Geelong Cats captain is free to play this weekend after winning his challenge of a one-game ban on Tuesday night for his tackle on Carlton player Sam Walsh.

Walsh's head was driven into the ground after Dangerfield pinned his arms in a tackle that the AFL has outlawed in recent years. The incident was assessed by the match review officer as rough conduct, comprising careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.

But Dangerfield insisted it was the safest way to tackle the Carlton midfielder in the circumstances, and the Tribunal agreed on Tuesday night. "I knew what I wanted to do in terms of the way I wanted to tackle him," Dangerfield said. "I understand the letter of the law ... it was the safest way I could control the way he landed. I haven't driven through in the tackle ... you wouldn't execute a tackle in this way if you were going to enforce maximum damage."

Patrick Dangerfield and Harley Reid.
Patrick Dangerfield got off at the AFL Tribunal, but Harley Reid copped a two-game ban. Image: Getty

Dangerfield, who is president of the AFL Players Association, said he was well aware of his duty of care to Walsh. "I am not disputing I had both arms pinned," he said. "I was in control of the way he was brought to the ground, absolutely I was in control, I was pulling him back.

"I know where the industry is at with concussion, with head-high impact and trauma, all of those things. That is why I was pulling him back. I felt it was the safest way to do it."

The Tribunal deliberated for 40 minutes before chair Jeff Gleeson said the three-member panel deemed Dangerfield's tackle as not unreasonable. "The evidence is clear that Dangerfield ... pulled back with considerable force to attempt to prevent Walsh being driven into the ground," Gleeson said. "This was not rough conduct."


But that explanation has gone down like a lead balloon amongst AFL fans and pundits. Schofield asked how Dangerfield could possibly get off when Eagles young gun Harley Reid and others have copped bans in recent weeks.

"We've seen a pattern over the last few weeks that if a player hits their head, it's a week (ban)," he said on 6PR radio. "That is just making up a different rule for the Head of the AFLPA, that is embarrassing. What about Harley Reid and what about the others who've been done?"

Harley Reid.
Harley Reid copped a two-game ban for a dangerous sling tackle. Image: Getty/Fox Footy

Reid copped a two-game ban for a slinging tackle that resulted in Darcy Wilson's head slamming into the turf. The Eagles challenged the grading of the tackle at the Tribunal, but it was upheld and Reid has missed the last two games. It means he is now ineligible to win the AFL Rising Star award, which he was seemingly a shoe-in to snare.

Dangerfield is now available for Geelong's MCG clash against third-placed Essendon on Saturday night. The seventh-placed Cats are seeking to arrest an alarming stretch of six defeats from their past seven matches.

with AAP