Darley president Mark Shelly has defended his club following Saturday’s ugly half-time incident against East Point in the Ballarat Football League preliminary final, believing derogatory comments directed at Abe Kur from an East Point supporter was the fuel that started the altercation.
The BFL has launched an investigation into the fight which saw several Darley players involved with the East Point supporter along with officials and support staff from the BFL and each club.
The Ballarat Football League will release a statement later on Wednesday, further detailing the investigation.
However, BFL commercial and regional operations manager Aaron Nunn provided The Courier with an insight as to where the process was at.
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“Both clubs are fully cooperating with the investigation, they want to see the back of this as much as anyone does,” Nunn said.
“We just need to cool our jets until this process has taken place. Yes, it’s unfortunate that it has happened in grand final week and it’s detracted from what we should be talking about, which is the game, but it is what it is.”
Meanwhile, Shelly vehemently defended Darley, quick to point out his club was not the instigator of the latest indiscretion.
This is the second time this season Darley has been part of an investigation by the BFL.
The BFL fined Darley $5000 for bringing the league into disrepute after club players, officials and supporters, four of which were handed life bans by Darley, became involved in an on-ground melee after a senior match at Darley Park in round 10.
Shelly, who has been on the senior committee for more than a decade, said while this year has had its challenges he was confident the club’s culture was as good as it has ever been.
“We weren’t the instigators, because that’s the perception,” Shelly told The Courier.
“We’re trying our hardest to be seen as a club that people want to come to.
“We certainly had some cultural issues within the club 5-6 years ago, we’ve worked tirelessly to address those, more in relation to our supporter base.
“I think our culture is as good as it’s ever been. Mind you, the incident mid-year certainly set us back, but we’re on the path to rebuilding.
“We believe we are clearly on the right track.”
Shelly said Kur, fellow involved players and spectators would be more than happy to support the investigation process.
He added that measures needed to be taken to ensure confrontations with players and spectators did not happen in the future.
“The security of players and officials leaving the ground was disgraceful.
“You’ve got 40-something players, officials and coaches – and particularly at City Oval – they’ve got to walk a considerable distance through the public, it’s a recipe for disaster.
“(There needs to be) some preventive measures put in place at those sorts of grounds.”
East Point was contacted and said it would fully support the investigation but preferred not to comment further, instead focusing on this weekend’s grand final.
The Courier also contacted the supporter involved, but he did not wish to comment.
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