Former AFL player Steven Lawrence prepared for a career as a property developer during a football career plagued with alcohol abuse, fights and drink driving, which earned him a nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
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, while NRL player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.
Lawrence pleaded gulity to assault during a fight in a St Kilda pub on the eve of the grand final in 2007, and was subsequently ordered to pay a fine of $5000. His lawyer told the court that Lawrence swung his fist at the victim’s head, causing the victim to fall to the ground unconscious. When translated into language accessible to the average footy player, that means – he punched a guy in the head and knocked him out.
It was alleged that the fight broke out when Lawrence pushed a pool cue close to a woman’s face, and her boyfriend retaliated. Reports indicate that Lawrence left the scene and refused to comment during a police interview when he was shown footage of the incident.
Lawrence had already landed himself in trouble in his fledgling career. While playing for Brisbane in 2000, he injured a finger after smashing a glass door panel at a teammate’s 21st party, and was fined by the Lions.
The former St Kilda and Brisbane player also attracted criticism from other AFL players, who claimed that his heavy drinking and partying made him a bad influence on other players. It takes a lot of effort to be a bad influence on an AFL player. Lawrence was eventually sacked by St Kilda after he was caught drink driving. His car rammed into a telegraph pole and he ended up in hospital with a damaged vertebrae.
After a career full of off-field incidents, Lawrence was advised to enter rehabilitation for his alcohol abuse, but his lawyer claimed he intended to enter property development.