DARLEY will call a council of war with the Ballarat Football League’s other four eastern clubs in the wake of the five-week penalty handed down to Devils defender Drew Edwards by the league’s independent tribunal this week.
Club president Gerard Harrington said he was confident the five eastern clubs were united in their concerns about the tribunal and the penalties issued to players.
The call came after Darley players voted on Thursday night not to forfeit today’s match against Sunbury after the leadership group earlier discussed pulling out of the match in protest to the Edwards ban.
Edwards was issued with the five-match suspension on Wednesday on a charge of engaging in rough conduct following an incident that left Ballarat player Jayden Cordy with a dislocated jaw.
“Logistically (meeting with the eastern clubs) is the simplest way to do it,” Harrington said.
“They are the clubs we most often communicate with and associate with on the most regular basis and I know they have similar concerns to what we do.
“As a club we have concerns about certain operations in the league, particularly the procedures at the tribunal such an apparent perception that that there is an assumpion of guilty rather than innocence at the tribunal.”
“There is also an issue relating to the relationship between players and umpires.”
The Devils’ entire playing group, including reserves and under-18.5s, held a crisis meeting in response to the Edwards ban. While the Darley player vote was held in secret, The Courier understands the vote was not unanimous.
Harrington said he found out at 6pm on Thursday the playing group was considering the walk out. He said the players were incensed that Edward received five weeks compared with the one week penalty received by Ballarat’s Matt Dawson for a hit under what Darley says were similar circumstances. The Devils board has since confirmed it will appeal the penalty through the VCFL appeals board.
“The leadership group had a meeting with Craig Baker, the coach Rod MacPherson, and myself,” Harrington confirmed.
“We presented our view and then allowed the players to go away and discuss it. If the players had pulled out the club would have been devastated by it but we felt we could not stop them as a group if they feel that strongly about it.
“As a club we were disappointed with the severity of the penalty. We agree with the players in thinking it was unfair and that’s why we are putting in an appeal.
“Drew has been reported once in 21 years of footy since he started in under-sevens. We were expecting Drew to be suspended but compared with other tribunal results we think it is too harsh.”
League chief executive officer Rod Ward also addressed the player group before the vote, pointing out that if they had elected to forfeit the match the club could have been charged with bringing the league into disrepute.