What makes Mark McLinden different?

Mark McLinden is the first footballer to earn a Frownlow nomination for the right reasons. The former NRL player is a candidate for The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame after invading the pitch at the NRL Grand Final to protest against fossil fuels.

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 star Jarryd Hayne is 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.

McLinden ran onto the pitch during the game between the Eels and the Panthers and ripped the padding off one of the goal posts. He then dodged a few security officers before being caught and escorted from the ground. He was fined $5000 and banned from future games.

It was later revealed that the former Canberra Raiders player was wearing a bike lock around his neck, and a T-Shirt which read:

“End coal, gas and oil” on the front, and “For our kids” on the back.

He was also desperate to get onto the field during a grand final – something he never did as a player – and that’s why he was wearing footy boots.

Hundreds of players have been nominated for Frownlow honours since 2015, but usually for destroying their own lives or the lives of others. McLinden is the first player to call attention to companies which are destroying the planet.

He also posted on social media before the grand final:

‘The world’s climate scientists have concluded that the continuing burning of coal, gas and oil is causing catastrophic ecosystem loss and climate change. As a result, the stable climate that humans have enjoyed for the last 10,000 years is becoming unstable before our eyes. The floods, fires, heatwaves and droughts will only get worse unless we stand up against the fossil fuel industry and demand that they pay for the carbon they emit.’

‘In addition, they must phase out its use to be replaced with renewable energy far quicker than governments have allowed. Climate scientists are turning to activism due to the lack of action from governments. I stand for science. I stand with scientists, and have joined them in activism.’

‘I encourage you to do the same. Our kids and grandkids are relying on it.’

Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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