Jackson Nelson and Josh Rotham are devoted clubmen. They’re just devoted to the wrong club. The West Coast players partied at a Perth nightclub recently while their AFL club struggled to field a team amid a COVID and injury crisis, and they have earned themselves a nomination for The Frownlow Medal.
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.
Nelson and Rotham were clearly confused when they were told to devote themselves to the club. They received the same message that every AFL player receives upon signing a contract, which is to give their heart and soul to the club, to put the club before everything, to sweat for the club and even die for the club – because that’s what it takes to win a premiership. The only problem is that they put in the hard yards at a Leedverville nightclub after being told to stay away from public places due to COVID restrictions imposed on the club.
Many West Coast players and staff had been affected by COVID, and the club advised players to avoid public gatherings to reduce the risk of contagion. This was especially important since the Eagles had already lost many first-choice players to COVID and injuries. So few players were available that the club had to ask the AFL for an extension just to name a run-on side against the Brisbane Lions. Despite this, Nelson and Rothman went partying at a nightclub.
According to media reports, the Eagles have used an AFL-high 42 players this year, the most through seven rounds of a VFL-AFL season since St Kilda in 1910.
Nelson and Rothman will learn their fate soon, but have been assured that the awards night for The Frownlow Medal, to which they have been invited, is one giant nightclub at which anything goes.