AFL throws book at Collingwood member for bizarre interaction with West Coast Eagle Harvey Johnston

Aaron Kirby
The Nightly
2 Min Read
The fan that touched Harvey Johnston of the Eagles has copped a ban.
The fan that touched Harvey Johnston of the Eagles has copped a ban. Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

The Collingwood member who bizarrely patted Waalitj Marawar (West Coast Eagles) rookie Harvey Johnston at Marvel Stadium on Sunday won’t see another Magpies game in person this season.

On Monday, the league confirmed they were investigating the incident early in the last quarter of the Eagles’ 66-point defeat to the Magpies.

The young West Coast midfielder had collected the ball on the boundary line and run towards the fence to slow down.

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As he came to a stop, the tattooed fan reached out with two hands and embraced Johnston’s head with a rub and a pat on the back before taking the ball out of his hands.

Johnston looked unperturbed by the friendly interaction and promptly returned to play as the fan handballed the ball to the boundary umpire.

However, the AFL handed the man a 12-month ban, with six months suspended, for attending AFL fixtures.

AFL General Counsel Stephen Meade said the fan’s contact was “simply not acceptable”.

“While we acknowledge the innocuous nature in which the incident played out on the day, these types of interactions should not happen,” Meade said.

“Grabbing a player from over the fence could have potentially escalated if it wasn’t for the professional manner in which Eagles player Harvey responded.

“We also acknowledge the fan involved proactively made himself known to security and Police and apologised to both Collingwood, West Coast and the AFL, and recognise his immediate understanding of his actions not being acceptable.

“We have the best fans in sport, and more than 3.1 million people have attended the footy this year, and we want everyone who comes to games to barrack for their club and enjoy the experience, but when you overstep the clear boundaries, which is what happened on the weekend, then you will lose the privilege of being able to attend the footy.

“Reinforcing what we communicated last year – we love the interactions between players and fans, especially in the moments pre and post-game, and the occasion in-game when a player celebrates with his club’s fans – however, what we saw on Sunday during the match is not acceptable.”

Collingwood have also suspended his membership until the end of the year.

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