Gary Sullivan and Paul Hayward played in the The Newtown Jets Rugby League team of the 1970s which was famous for its colourful characters, and their brushes with the law have earned them both nominations for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
Sullivan and Hayward clashed with police numerous times during their careers and played alongside fellow nominee Chris Dawson, who is at the centre of one of the most famous murder cases in recent Australian history.
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 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.
Hayward gained infamy for serving the longest prison sentence at the ‘Bangkok Hilton’. He was apparently once hung by his heels from the tenth floor of the notorious prison, to which he was sentenced after Thai police found more than 8 kilograms of heroin in his hotel room in 1978. Hayward contracted AIDS in prison, from sharing needles, and died of a drug overdose in 1992.
Hayward’s teammate, Sullivan, played for NSW and Australia but also made the headlines for other reasons. Sullivan was once listed as one of Australia’s 10 most wanted people after reportedly earning more than 3 million dollars from multiple armed robberies from 1985 – 1991. The robberies funded Sullivan’s gambling habit but also got him locked up. He escaped from prison once but was recaptured when he tried to steal a toothbrush – at least his teeth looked clean in the mug shot.
Hayward, Sullivan and Dawson formed a formidable team, and will discover later this year if their exploits have earned them a place in The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.