Hawthorn captain Ben Stratton has apologised again and vowed to put his “head down and bum up” after the AFL tribunal banned him for two games.
- Ben Stratton has been given two week’s ban for pinching and stomping on Essendon opponents
- He will miss games against Sydney and West Coast
- Stratton has also received a fine for flipping the middle finger to a member of the crowd during the match
Stratton predictably threw himself at the mercy of the tribunal, pleading guilty to his serious misconduct charge for repeatedly pinching Essendon opponent Orazio Fantasia.
He also pleaded guilty to stomping Shaun McKernan in last Friday night’s clash.
The Hawks argued that Stratton should be fined for the two offences, but after 10 minutes the three-man jury accepted the submission from AFL advocate Jeff Gleeson QC and imposed the two one-game suspensions.
“As captain of the football club and as a player of the AFL, I understand this is not a good look for the game, especially the kids watching at home, the Auskick kids and stuff like that,” Stratton said after the hearing.
“I am extremely remorseful for my actions. I never meant to go out there and hurt my opponent, I just wanted to play in the hardest manner possible.
“So I accept the two weeks that the tribunal came up with. It will be head down and bum up.
“There is no use complaining about it. We have a match on Friday night to win against the Sydney Swans.”
His two-game suspension is another blow for the Hawks, whose loss to the Bombers left them two games outside the top eight.
One of their best defenders will miss Friday night’s clash against the SCG and then their round-15 match against reigning premiers West Coast at the MCG.
Stratton was referred directly to the tribunal on the two charges.
He previously expressed remorse on Saturday about the repeated pinching, which left Fantasia with a cluster of bruises on the back of his left upper arm.
Hawks chief executive Justin Reeves admonished Stratton publicly over the weekend for the pinching.
It was a dirty Friday night for the first-year Hawks skipper, who was also fined $1,000 for flipping the bird at Essendon supporters.
The two bans are the first suspensions of Stratton’s 181-game AFL career.
After three days of extensive media commentary, especially over the pinching charge, Hawthorn decided less was more with how they tackled the two charges.
Stratton did not give evidence and the two charges were heard together to save time.
While Gleeson said Stratton deserved a discount on his penalties for pleading guilty, he said one-game bans were in order.
“(The pinches) were, it has to be said, sly — they were intended to hurt and distract his opponent, they weren’t a playful nip,” Gleeson said.
“They were unacceptable, unsportsmanlike acts.
“To stomp with vigour and force — you can put a player out of the game for a long period of time.”
Essendon’s medical reports on Fantasia and McKernan said they suffered no injury, undoubtedly saving Stratton from a longer suspension.