AFL greats including Kevin Sheedy, Bill Duckworth, and Jimmy & Phil Krakouer caught up in racism class action

Troy de Ruyter
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Jim Krakouer and Phil Krakouer at the height of their playing careers for North Melbourne in the 1980s.
Jim Krakouer and Phil Krakouer at the height of their playing careers for North Melbourne in the 1980s. Credit: Trevor Collens/The West Australian

AFL legends have been caught up in an explosive racism class action against the football league, with accusations of appalling behaviour against Krakouer brothers Phil and Jimmy.

Essendon greats Kevin Sheedy, Bill Duckworth, Terry Daniher and Roger Merrett, along with Carlton’s four-time premiership hero Wayne Johnson, are named in the Supreme Court statement of claim.

It alleges the Krakouer brothers were called “petrol sniffers”, “a..s” and “n.....s” during their careers with North Melbourne in the 1980s.

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Sheedy has denied any involvement in the allegations, which were lodged with the AFL on Tuesday and reported by the Herald Sun on Sunday.

“I have always had the utmost respect for all First Nations players who have played our great game,” the four-time premiership coach told newspaper.

“My track record stands for itself in this regard, and these allegations made against me are totally inaccurate, are hurtful and I look forward to defending myself vehemently against them.”

Essendon legend, Kevin Sheedy.
Essendon legend, Kevin Sheedy. Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

The AFL also told the Herald Sun that it would defend the claims.

“We fully acknowledge during our long history of the game there has been racism in Australian Football and that players have been marginalised, hurt or discriminated against because of their race and for that we have apologised and continue to apologise and will continue to act to address that harm,” the league said.

“While we work through the class action, we will continue our ongoing work against racism and discrimination with our clubs, our players, our staff and our supporters to promote football environments at all levels around the country that are safe and respectful for all.

“We do not agree with the claims that the VFL/AFL has been conducted negligently over the past 47 years and we will defend those claims.”

Essendon and West Perth champion Bill Duckworth presents the Norm Smith medal to Andrew Embley after the 2006 grand final.
Essendon and West Perth champion Bill Duckworth presents the Norm Smith medal to Andrew Embley after the 2006 grand final. Credit: TREVOR COLLENS/WA News

The class action will be open to more than 1000 former AFL players seeking compensation who are Indigenous or “persons of colour, meaning people who are not white”, as well as their families.

Daniher is alleged to have “frequently called Jimmy Krakouer racist names” during the 1982 elimination final.

Multiple Bombers allegedly made comments including: “you a..” and “b.... smelly bastard” in the final.

The document claims Johnston was a “constant” offender and called Krakouer a “petrol sniffer”.

Johnston also allegedly made disparaging comments about acts involving Krakouer’s sister and mother and made abusive references about Krakouer’s wife.

Dual premiership Bomber and 1984 Norm Smith Medallist Duckworth is accused of calling Krakouer an “a.., “black c...” and “smelly”.

An umpire is alleged to have said words to the effect of “you deserve it” to Krakouer when he retaliated to racist taunts by choking an unnamed opponent.

The Krakouer brothers hailed from Mt Barker before playing for Claremont and being recruited to the Kangaroos, where their skills and magic became folklore.

North Melbourne greats Phil and Jimmy Krakouer in 2013.
North Melbourne greats Phil and Jimmy Krakouer in 2013. Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media

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