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WELCOME TO THE MELBOURNE FOOTBALL CLUB - HARLEY BENNELL



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As most of you will know I attended many of Melbourne's training sessions at Gosch's before we moved to Casey as a result of Covid.  My main interest was the rehab group, I always like to see who's in

You are wrong on both counts. I lost my job and my husband’s business is surviving on jobkeeper and is 70% down.  I had a friend attempt to commit suicide and I had a friend who works in a hospital

Username officially updated. Welcome to the MFC Harley.

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He left the hub - as is his human right to do so - an employer doesn't control your freedom of movement outside the work place, and didn't ever re-enter the hub. And now he's no longer on the list.

So why do we have to pay a fine?

Sad to see him screw up after working so hard to get his life on track. But the club can gamble on a worn down body if the mind is strong. I worn down body without full commitment isn't worth the risks.

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As most of you will know I attended many of Melbourne's training sessions at Gosch's before we moved to Casey as a result of Covid.  My main interest was the rehab group, I always like to see who's in rehab and how they are progressing and as a result I watched Harley on many occasions.

I'll confess to being hard line when it comes to a failure of individual responsibilities and whilst I welcomed Harley's presence because I thought he had exactly the skills we needed I wasn't sold on him as a person for obvious reasons.  But since then a couple of things have happened.  The first was reading the story in The Australian of the racism Eddie Betts has suffered over the journey in which things happened that I found hard to believe.  It made me appreciate the racism indigenous people suffer in this country.

The second was getting to know Harley in a very minor way.  He didn't talk to "track watchers" but because I was always near the rehab group he came to recognize me after a while.  I'd say hello and he'd just smile, perhaps say a few words,  but that was more than many got.  I'd watch him casually grab a footy and from the boundary slot a banana goal so easily it seemed surreal.  One day he decided that doing this was too easy so he made the shot more difficult and slotted it again.  I was open mouthed and he looked at me and had a huge smile on his face.  I said to him "it's like hitting a great drive, it never gets stale" and he laughed.

For all that has happened what Harley had was a type of quiet charisma.  The players clearly loved him and I really liked him to the point he became my favourite player.  I didn't really understand why he was but he just was.

What has happened is terribly sad but Harley is a product of his upbringing and his past.  I'm proud we gave him a chance, sad it failed and wish him all the best for the future.  Thanks Harley and thanks for showing me repeatedly the extraordinary skills you have first hand.  I'd not have believed them if I hadn't seen them.

I hope you find happiness.

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Disappointing all round.

I was all for taking him on, I was all for getting him into the side, and I was all for us priming him for a bigger impact in 2021 after a full pre-season.

It's hard to understand what's gone wrong: various reports suggesting the breach was bad, or the breach wasn't bad but it's all about how he's responded, or that we'd already decided we weren't going to keep him anyway.

I saw a future for him with us and I had genuinely thought he'd made improvements in the way he conducted himself to be past doing the sort of things that run you into this sort of position in the first place.

I hope he's OK, I hope he can work things out in a post-football life, but the lasting feeling I have is disappointment: for him, for the club who invested so much into him and get left with a $50,000 fine to show for it, and for anyone at the club who might lose their income/job because of the fine.

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Terribly sad for Harley, but I am incredibly proud of our club (I sound like Goody now). We did the right thing in giving him a chance - it was always a gamble, this time it didn’t pay off as we’d hoped, but at least we took the risk. Regardless of what happened at the end, our club can be secure in the knowledge that they gave him the absolute best chance at another go.

I wish all the best for Harley and his family - I can’t help thinking it will be a tough old road ahead for a while - hopefully the club will check in on him from time to time.

Some things are bigger than footy.

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26 minutes ago, DeeSpencer said:

He left the hub - as is his human right to do so - an employer doesn't control your freedom of movement outside the work place, and didn't ever re-enter the hub. And now he's no longer on the list.

So why do we have to pay a fine?

...

I have thought a similar thing, though the fact he is now gone doesn't help that argument. 

It's not as if he attempted to return to the hub thereby endangering other players and the AFL season.  He just left. 

However, the employer does control your freedom of movement if you sign up to such an agreement.  And can penalise you if you disobey.  But did individual players sign up or does their standard agreement have such a clause or one that gives the club the ability to impose it at whim? I expect not.    Doubtless there is a "don't bring the AFL/club into disrepute" clause.  But I don't see how just walking out and not returning brings the AFL/club into disrepute.

MFC did not take him back into the hub and presumably would have made sure he did not.  So while I can see that the AFL should be able to suspend him for 2000 weeks if he continued as a player, I don't see the rationale for the club's fine.  I'm not even sure I see a rationale for that in any of these cases, unless the club tries to cover up or get some advantage somehow.

So I wasn't entirely joking when I suggested the MFC find a way to get the $50K back in kind from the AFL.

(His apparently poor behaviour afterwards are reasons for the MFC to be hard on him.  But that is a separate issue.)

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Harley's decision to leave the hub makes it pretty clear to me that he wasn't expecting to play on next year, and this seems to be supported by his actions after the event. 

He tried, we tried, it didn't work out as we had hoped, but it wasn't a failure either. We move on and hopefully Harley has something to fall back on as well to keep himself out of trouble. 

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51 minutes ago, DeeSpencer said:

He left the hub - as is his human right to do so - an employer doesn't control your freedom of movement outside the work place, and didn't ever re-enter the hub. And now he's no longer on the list.

So why do we have to pay a fine?

Sad to see him screw up after working so hard to get his life on track. But the club can gamble on a worn down body if the mind is strong. I worn down body without full commitment isn't worth the risks.

Just wondering about this. Where does the workplace start and finish for professional sports people subject to random drug testing. Don't they have to be available and notify where they are going to be at all times? 

As to Bennell, the mooted cut to list sizes and the soft cap (which will likely impact on resources such as pastoral care) would make it difficult for all clubs to keep players with off field issues, whether they are physical injuries or what I'll loosely or broadly call "psychological issues".

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Seems like a real complex one. Did we tell him he would be cut and this forced the decision? A series of things in such a short space of time has led to this. Glad he gave it a crack and very much hope he gets his life on track. 

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We made the right call. I don't care how little some perceive the action to be it is zero tolerance with these rules. Just like Stack and the other guy should have been sacked. Enough with this crap already, he did well in pre season but forget it good riddance.

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Part of me can’t help but wonder how things would’ve gone had COVID not happened. He came to MELBOURNE, not just the team but the city for a fresh start with his family. Instead he ended up back in Queensland where everything started turning, in a hub with people he has known for less than a year, and without a second tier league for the club to properly reintroduce him back to footy with. 

None of these are excuses, as a footy club I really think we did everything we could to help him and regardless of what has transpired and will happen in the future I still think we have been a positive impact on him. He was a free hit, we got his body working again but the mind is a harder prospect particularly when it comes to things like depression and substance/alcohol addiction. 

I’m absolutely gutted that it hasn’t worked, I think the demon faithful would’ve fallen in love with watching him at the G. This is on Harley and now that footy hasn’t worked he needs to knuckle down and sort his s*** out not just for himself but for his partner and kid(s). 

Well done to the club, good luck to Harley. 

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The whole saga makes me feel really sad. I always have empathy for the men and women and children from Struggletown. Any form of moralising about this situation is even sadder. I really like and appreciate Baghdad Bob's response. It comes from a true Mensch.

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I think players like Harley Bennell are (yet another of the many excellent) one of the reasons supporting the case for significantly upgrading the resources and profile of the second-tier competitions. There are many hugely talented players who are a joy to watch but who lack either the 'completeness', temperament or fanatical level of professionalism needed to play at the top 0.1% level.

Imagine the magnificent teams you could assemble from the not-quite crowd. 

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Well we gave him a chance and he didn't make the most of it. 

I wonder if 5  10 years down the track Harley looks back and thinks what could have been. 

He had all the talent but never took advantage of it. 

I hope he gets his life to a peaceful place. 

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10 minutes ago, Little Goffy said:

I think players like Harley Bennell are (yet another of the many excellent) one of the reasons supporting the case for significantly upgrading the resources and profile of the second-tier competitions. There are many hugely talented players who are a joy to watch but who lack either the 'completeness', temperament or fanatical level of professionalism needed to play at the top 0.1% level.

Imagine the magnificent teams you could assemble from the not-quite crowd. 

It’s not even the second tier comps it’s the first tier. Plenty of examples of players going off the rails in the AFL. The young bloke at Carlton 10-15 years ago who turned up to training on the flippers. Liam J. The amount of money spent of coaches and camps and sports science, how about pushing more of that to welfare. 

The AFL/Suns people from that time need to have some deep self reflection on how they allowed that generation of talent to [censored] there careers away on the Coast. I hope Campbell Brown/Gary Ablett/Karmichael Hunt are embarrassed every time the Suns are brought up.
 

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3 hours ago, sue said:

I have thought a similar thing, though the fact he is now gone doesn't help that argument. 

It's not as if he attempted to return to the hub thereby endangering other players and the AFL season.  He just left. 

However, the employer does control your freedom of movement if you sign up to such an agreement.  And can penalise you if you disobey.  But did individual players sign up or does their standard agreement have such a clause or one that gives the club the ability to impose it at whim? I expect not.    Doubtless there is a "don't bring the AFL/club into disrepute" clause.  But I don't see how just walking out and not returning brings the AFL/club into disrepute.

MFC did not take him back into the hub and presumably would have made sure he did not.  So while I can see that the AFL should be able to suspend him for 2000 weeks if he continued as a player, I don't see the rationale for the club's fine.  I'm not even sure I see a rationale for that in any of these cases, unless the club tries to cover up or get some advantage somehow.

So I wasn't entirely joking when I suggested the MFC find a way to get the $50K back in kind from the AFL.

(His apparently poor behaviour afterwards are reasons for the MFC to be hard on him.  But that is a separate issue.)

You are making a good point.

An employer can't generally stop an employee leaving the particular employment and certainly can't hold a person in premises against their will, as if not lawful detention,  it is kidnapping, assault and whatever.  

If Bennell retired and walked out, never to return and in fact didn't, how has he breached the AFL rule on spreading Covid?

How has the club breached the rule, when it can't lawfully stop him leaving?

The Club should fight this as to their fine.

Do I have any confidence they will, no I don't.

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19 minutes ago, Redleg said:

 

The Club should fight this as to their fine.

Do I have any confidence they will, no I don't.

Sadly I expect that's the case. It would be unacceptable PR-wise for the AFL to do it. My suggestion of something coming back to the club worth $50k would be more likely to fly. 

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13 minutes ago, sue said:

Sadly I expect that's the case. It would be unacceptable PR-wise for the AFL to do it. My suggestion of something coming back to the club worth $50k would be more likely to fly. 

I don’t think it is unacceptable PR wise, as it is just treating a matter on its merits. After all the umpires are having decisions reviewed every match. Isn’t the aim of proper governance to get thIngs right?

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