A dodgy tail-light has earned former Socceroo Ahmad Elrich the honour of becoming the first soccer player to have been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
Elrich was found to be in possession of drugs and guns after being pulled over for a faulty tail-light on his motorbike in 2011 and consequently served a prison sentence in New South Wales.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international and Sydney Roosters player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while Corey Norman from the Parramatta Eels won in 2016.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
Elrich played 17 times for the Socceroos, including at the 2004 Olympic Games, in between stints with Fulham in The UK and Busan in South Korea.
Upon his return to Australia, he played in The A-League for both the Wellington Phoenix and the Central Coast Mariners before the diligent officer found him in possession of two loaded guns plus the medical drug Cialis, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction and for which Elrich did not have a prescription.
It was not known if Elrich was struggling to score off-field, as well as on the field, but he certainly had problems when he was targeted in a drive by shooting while on bail for the possession charges and before becoming a guest of her majesty.
The former winger is not the only Frownlow Medal nominee to have been locked up.
Current jail-birds include the two Craigs, Wells and Field, as well as Nick Stevens. Russell Packer and Zane Tetevano are back playing in the NRL after stints in prison, a place well known to Cousins and Anthony Watts. Matthew Lodge made the Frownlow international, spending time in Rikers Island Jail in The USA and is attempting to resume his NRL career, while Jim and Andrew Krakouer are the only father and son duo to have served a prison sentence and earned a Hall of Fame nomination.
Elrich is currently playing lower division football in Sydney and will find out later this year if he has been inducted into The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
First published in August, 2017.