Oct 9 2019

Fiery dwarf jape AFL’s latest sorry episode

Burnt: Blake Johnston, right, former footballer Warwick Capper, centre, and a fellow ‘Dwarf My Party’ entertainer. Photo: SuppliedWarning. Do not fall into Andrew Demetriou’s error and presume this is a joke, and that this could not possibly be true. This is not make believe, this happened.
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A St Kilda player at the team’s Mad Monday celebration set fire to a dwarf. Ahem, you read that correctly. That was not a mistake. It reads like a Seinfeld episode but it was not a joke.

The player, Clinton Jones, on Tuesday apologised to dwarf entertainer Blake Johnston and agreed to pay $3000 to charity for his misbehaviour.

On August 26, AFL officials drove to Seaford, sat St Kilda players down and did as they had done with players at numerous other clubs and spelt out the dangers of binge drinking on Mad Monday and the pitfalls to be avoided.

They plainly forgot to discuss the most obvious and important advice: ”Do not set fire to a dwarf. In fact, under no circumstances go near a dwarf entertainer with a naked flame. And while you are at it, do not set fire to each other.”

This is the weirder-than-life reality show that periodically percolates around the St Kilda Football Club. Why did it have to be StKilda?

A day after the NRL was sheepishly looking at its feet and kicking pebbles about a state-league player allegedly biting another player’s penis in a match (yes, also a true story) the AFL trumps it with … burning a dwarf entertainer.

Demetriou can be forgiven for laughing on TV when first told of this story, for it is so ridiculous, so comically exaggerated it could not possibly be true. But it was.

When Demetriou realised he was not being fed a line but that the story was real, he was aghast.

”After I found out that it was true, it’s just reprehensible,” he said on Tuesday.

”I was flabbergasted, because in the scheme of all the things that we’ve been [through this season], that would’ve been one thing I could have never predicted that we would deal with.”

When a sobered-up Jones realised on Tuesday what he had done, he, too, was aghast. What started out as drunken high jinks – lighting each others’ shoelaces when players were not looking, moved into lighting the back of each other’s clothes – and escalated into putting a flame to the entertainer’s shirt.

”I sincerely apologise to Mr Johnston and have done so personally today,” Jones said. ”As a playing group, we were engaged in end-of-season activities which, in hindsight, were quite childish. I made an error of judgment in including Mr Johnston in the activity.

”I am embarrassed if this has caused angst and certainly had no intention to cause any harm to anyone, including the St Kilda Football Club and its members.”

Presumably when players organised their day’s activities at the South Melbourne pub they figured the dwarf entertainers were a safe if unusual choice. They didn’t figure on getting, ahem, burnt.

Consider this though: this season St Kilda Football Club has had a player fail a drugs tests for performance-enhancing drugs, they have had another player charged with rape and have now burnt a person … and they are still not the most outrageous embarrassment of the league.

Essendon burnt more people and was more badly burnt than anyone by its own people.

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