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‘For goodness sake, that is football’

The free kick issued against James Sicily in the dying minutes of the Bulldogs’ come from behind win over the Hawks has left many pundits baffled.

Granted, it was behind the play, but there was no closed fist and no high contact from Sicily on Josh Schache and former Melbourne Demons forward David ‘Ox’ Schwarz tells Mark Allen he can’t see how it was a free kick.

“There’s been a shift from head office, from Gil all the way down, that players now cannot make contact without the expectation that a penalty is going to be given,” Ox explains.

“But the briefing we got from the AFL at the beginning of the year was for a clenched fist,

“You can still push, you can push with an open hand, that is fine, it is a contact sport.

“If you’re beside each other and you bump into each other, for goodness sake, that is football.”

Sicily’s free kick wasn’t the only contentious umpiring decision made over the weekend. Collingwood’s Mason Cox was given a one-match suspension for rough conduct and while the Magpies have decided to appeal the decision, Mark Allen is furious such bad calls were made at all.

“That is the most ridiculous penalty, and if we’re going to start giving players weeks for what he did, then the game is completely stuffed,” Allen said.

“If we’re going to start giving free kicks away like we saw in the Hawthorn game, the game will be stuffed,

“We need the AFL to come out and say ‘sorry, these were incorrect’ – and that’s got to happen soon.”

While debate rages over where Sicily’s actions were deserving of a free kick, The Ox is convinced the subsequent 50m penalty ordered after Sicily decided to run his mouth at the umpire was entirely deserved.

Speaking with Mark Robinson, the Herald Sun’s Chief Football writer, Ox explains:

“If you give enough lip, the umpires square up, and whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, if it’s a 50/50 decision it will go against that person,

“James Sicily’s mouth is getting him and his side into trouble and the 50-metre penalty he got he deserved,

“The free kick shouldn’t have happened initially but if there is a gray area and you have been a continual pain in the backside, at thorn in the backside of the umpires, they’re not going to go your way.”

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