Former Collingwood premiership player Michael Christian has announced that he will resign from his position as the sole AFL Match Review Officer, just seven rounds into the 2018 season, to take up a new role as Architect of the Matrix.
Christian was hired as the lone adjudicator on punishments for on-field incidents in a revamped system this year by the AFL. The AFL must now find a replacement for the outgoing Christian who has told them that he intends to leave for his new job immediately.
In his new position as Matrix Architect, Christian will again be solely responsible for viewing hours of incident footage and - by making judgements on intent, severity of action and severity of outcome - handing down sanctions and setting precedents by which people must adhere to in the future.
While previously Christian was only responsible for reviewing nine AFL games’ worth of incidents, however, he will now be responsible for viewing and judging all incidents across the universe transcending time and space.
Christian, who previously held commentary positions in the media, told ASW that while he appreciated his time with the AFL he could not turn down the opportunity to join the machines as their sole arbiter over all conscious reality.
“I’ve spent most of my life in football and it’s sad to leave, but with every ending is a new beginning and I look forward to this new chapter,” said Christian.
“The last few weeks as AFL Match Review Officer have taught me a lot of skills that I think I can use to my advantage as Architect. I’ll have no issue staring at television screens all day, I’ll have experience in working independently, and I’ve trained myself to make all judgements based on a version of reality that I’ve superimposed onto the version preferred by those affected, ignoring or sometimes directly contradicting the laws previously established.
“It’s going to be a blast.”
ASW asked Christian if his decision to leave his AFL position was related to the controversy and backlash on social media over his decision to suspend West Coast Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui after a tackle that many argue did not warrant a punishment.
“That tackle was the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. It was the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control,” said Christian.
“Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the anomaly revealed as both beginning... and end.”
ASW pressed Christian for clarification but he was unwilling to elaborate further.
“You have many questions, and although the process has altered your consciousness, you remain irrevocably human. Ergo, some of my answers you will understand, and some of them you will not.”
Naitanui will be unable to play this week for the Eagles.
Periodically, throughout the year, Geoff Stone will be sitting down to talk with Adelaide captain Taylor Walker about his team's performances and the hottest news stories from around the league. This is the first instalment.
Hawthorn footballer James Sicily finds himself under scrutiny by Match Review Officer Michael Christian after footage surfaced of Sicily acting exactly as you would expect if you just saw a picture of his face.
In the final quarter of the Easter Monday clash between Hawthorn and Geelong, Sicily appears to drop his knee into the head of Geelong’s Joel Selwood during an off-the-ball scuffle. Further video analysis appears to show that of course he did, just look at him.
Christian, speaking to ASW, refused to make any definitive judgements until he was able to complete his formal match review process.
“I can’t make any comment on the incident until I’ve seen it presented in context in a timely manner. I’m not going to entertain any audience on the matter until due process has been carried out,” said Christian.
“Still, he looks like the fuckin’ type, hey?” he continued.
Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson, commenting in February to AFL.com.au, admitted that Sicily had troubles with anger issues.
"With Sicily, there is no point trying to sweep things under the carpet," Clarkson said.
"He has some things in his temperament and with being able to push aside the emotions of the game and we still see evidence in stages of games when he just loses it.
“Actually, not just in games. The other week Poppy (teammate Paul Puopolo) brought his new puppy to training. James doesn’t have a puppy, but he really wanted a puppy, and he got so upset he took an axe to all the showerheads in the changeroom. Now the water just sprays straight forward out of the wall.”
A source within the club, who chose to remain anonymous, tells of two more recent incidents that have prompted Clarkson to seek outside help with Sicily’s anger management.
“The first one was just before the first round. Sicily had a brand new harmonica that he was really proud of, and he brought it to training and was blowing on it all smug, but he couldn’t really play a tune or anything,” said the source.
“Schoenmakers asked if he could have a go and he’s really good on the harmonica. It’s like his first love. So he plays this amazing tune and Sicily got so upset that when he took the harmonica back he just threw it as hard as he could. It smashed a mug of tea that Burgoyne was drinking at the time. Burgoyne just looked forlorn and a single tear fell from his face. I’ll never forget it.
“The other incident was Wednesday last week. Tom Mitchell had bought himself these new shoes, you know, as a treat for his 54 touches. Sicily got jealous and stood on them. Didn’t even pretend it was an accident. He just looked in Mitchell’s face and sneered. Mitchell’s mood just dropped. He cancelled the movie night he’d been planning. They were going to watch 10 Things I Hate About You. It’s Titch’s (Mitchell) favourite film.”
Anger management professionals are expected to arrive at the club this week. Michael Christian is expected to give his match review findings later today. James Sicily is expected to do a burnout out of the carpark while giving everyone the finger.
The Adelaide Crows are set to appeal a one-match suspension handed to midfielder Richard Douglas for ‘careless conduct with medium impact to the head’ by the Match Review Officer Michael Christian after his Friday night bump on Bomber Zach Merrett, by arguing to the AFL Tribunal that ‘at least he didn’t sandpaper his head’.
Taking inspiration from recent events surrounding the Australian Test cricket team, the Crows are set to argue that Australian captain Steve Smith was handed a one-match penalty for an action that has brought the entire fabric of our nation’s society into disrepute, and that an equivalent penalty for a bump in an AFL game is ‘a bit much’.
Smith was suspended by the ICC after his involvement in ball-tampering when he, as part of the Australian leadership group, encouraged Cameron Bancroft to use sandpaper to change the condition of the cricket ball in their third Test against South Africa.
Crows Head of Football Brett Burton said he was confident that the severity of the Douglas incident did not warrant the penalty and is willing to risk a $10,000 fine by challenging the decision.
“We have thoroughly reviewed the incident and after seeking some independent expert advice we believe that we have a strong argument which we will present on Tuesday evening,” said Burton.
“Our argument is that, essentially, at least Douglas didn’t pull out some sandpaper, secretly and surreptitiously rub it on Merrett’s head, and then conceal it in his underwear.
“We can all agree - especially after the public outcry and the fact that Smith’s lost the captaincy, his integrity and the nation’s trust – that rubbing sandpaper on a thing is the worst thing that a sportsman can do. Well, Douglas didn’t do that, and I hope the Tribunal will see that to be the case.”
The AFL Tribunal will hear Adelaide’s case when it convenes Tuesday evening from 5pm Melbourne time. Douglas will incur no further penalty if the original finding is upheld but if it is found that he did use sandpaper in his clash with Merrett, Douglas will forfeit his right to Australian citizenship.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has followed Friday’s controversial release of 15 re-recorded club songs by revealing that he is planning to re-release footage of past Grand Finals with CGI additions and edits, ASW has learned.
The AFL announced on Friday that they had recorded updated versions of the traditional club songs for 15 of the 18 AFL teams, with many supporters up in arms at the changes, and it’s expected that there will be further outrage if McLachlan’s plans to amend past Grand Final footage are realised.
Sources close to McLachlan’s inner sanctum have told ASW that McLachlan revealed in a private meeting his plans to re-visit several Grand Finals and insert ‘CGI and digital effects’ to make the matches fit his ‘original vision’, including the addition of Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett to 2005 Grand Final footage, and replacing North Melbourne’s 1999 Grand Final player Cameron Mooney with the ghost of Hayden Christensen.
“Jabba, Boba, Hayden Christensen…these are just the tip of the iceberg,” said one insider who had detailed knowledge of the meeting.
“Gil spoke for 45 minutes about different visions he had. He’d mapped them all out on a storyboard and even hired sketch artists and animators to mock up quick screen tests of what he’d planned.
“We tried to tell him that he was going to make the traditionalists angry – that people were happy with things the way they were and he didn’t have to do this sort of stuff…but he just had a crazed glint in his eye. It looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks.”
ASW was able to obtain a partial list of proposed changes, with the understanding that McLachlan has already allocated AFL funds to their execution. They are as follows:
It is unknown how many more amendments have been suggested by McLachlan, and information is not expected to be released before the beginning of the 2018 AFL season on March 22.