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Seymour footballer attacked on leaving ground

Bottle thrown at Jason Cole in bitter aftermath to Seymour-Benalla game on Saturday.

CHALPAT SONTI September 3, 2014 3:56am

The bottle thrown at Seymour midfielder Jason Cole as he left the field following Seymour's loss at Benalla on Saturday.


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This was like something out of a bad movie, but instead it was the disgraceful scene after a country football match.

A player being abused as he left the field, a projectile thrown at him, an official from the host club yelling obscenities at the umpires, the visiting team told not to bother to come up to the bar after the game, and police called for and the abused player leaving under heavy escort.

That’s what happened at Benalla on Saturday afternoon, as the Saints and Seymour left the field.

Benalla had just thumped the Lions to finish unbeaten in the regular season, but trouble was brewing.

It stemmed from a ball-up in the centre early in the final quarter.

Seymour’s tough-as-nails onballer Jason Cole went for the ball as he does dozens of times every game and also trying to get to it was Saints star Will Martiniello.

Neither player gave any quarter and the upshot was Martiniello came off second best, leaving the ground with a broken jaw.

That infuriated some Saints fans, who, though their side was winning by a proverbial country mile, spent the rest of the game yelling abuse at the umpires and Seymour players.

Nothing unusual in that, you might say.

Both central umpires would have seen the incident as they were standing near it and did not deem it worthy of a report.

However, along with a free kick they awarded a 50m penalty and then another when a Lions player questioned the decision, gifting the Saints a goal.

But as Cole left the field with his teammates, some Benalla supporters came down towards the exit from the ground and began yelling abuse at him.

A bottle — pictured on this page — was hurled at Cole and narrowly missed the back of his head.

By this time Chinese whispers had been travelling at the speed of sound.

The seemingly-legitimate clash morphed into a ‘‘king hit behind the play’’ and there was talk of all sorts of repercussions.

It concerned Seymour players so much, that player-coach Brent Colbert ordered the door to the rooms shut after the game. Lions forward Jimmy Falcone’s father - a policeman - was concerned enough that he contacted his colleagues at Benalla and asked for their presence at the ground, which was supplied shortly afterward.

Meanwhile various Seymour people - including reserves assistant coach Craig Zotti and Ian Baker - were speaking to the Saints hierarchy including president Bruce Biggs, who told them, within earshot of the writer, that it might be a good idea if the Lions didn’t come up to the bar afterwards. As they stood there having robust discussions about what happened, the bemused Seymour players were trying to come to terms with it in the rooms.

And among them was Cole, who during that period told the Telegraph in his own words what happened.

‘‘We were both just going for the ball,’’ he said of the on-field incident.

‘‘We basically had a head-on clash and my shoulder just hit him on the jaw. I feel for him obviously, but it happens in the game. half a second before or later and it doesn’t happen.’’

But that was just the start.

‘‘All their supporters were getting into me as we came off. I can’t remember what they were saying but apparently some lady threw a bottle which went past my head. I saw it coming but it went behind me.

‘‘It’s pretty average. Fair enough the blokes out on the ground had a bit of a go, you do that for your teammates, but when there’s nothing in it, I think from supporters it’s pretty average.’’

Cole was feeling bad enough that Martiniello’s season had ended he was making plans to ring him during the week.

But at the time it was decided, for safety’s sake, to spirit Cole out the back of the grandstand when the players were ready to leave. As Seymour supporters, and some players, left around the perimeter of the ground they were subjected to more foul-mouthed abuse by Benalla supporters, including one with a young girl by his side. At least one player had to be restrained from responding.

Now Benalla have requested a GVFL investigation into the on-field incident. Seymour - which filmed the game - decided not to take the off-field matter further as a club, but several players and supporters were angry about what they had witnessed after the game.

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