Judges of The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame have denied rumours that famous underworld figure Mick Gatto nominated former AFL player Dean Wallis for the prestigious award. Wallis earned the nomination all by himself, for betting on AFL games and being investigated for blackmail.
The former player and coach was investigated by police for blackmail after he was accused of making threatening phone calls to senior figures within the AFL and Essendon following his sacking by the Bombers.
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. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
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.
Wallis is alleged to have made the phone calls after he was sacked from the coaching staff in 2013. The investigation unearthed the name of a famous underworld figure Mick Gatto. All of the parties involved in the investigation have denied any wrong-doing and Wallis has not held a senior AFL coaching role for many years.
In 2011, Wallis was fined $7500 by the AFL and suspended from coaching duties for 14 games for betting on league games and breaching anti-gambling rules.
The truth about who did what and who said what to whom may never be known, but what is known is that Wallis has been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hlal of Fame, and he will find out later in the year if he has done enough to be inducted alongside some of the greats of Australian sport – with or without Gatto’s help.