Former NRL player Jamil Hopoate has emulated his father John with induction into The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame. Hopoate Jr joins five other distinguished footballers to earn a place in the hallowed halls in 2021 alongside some of the greats of Australian sport.
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 AFL player Elijah Taylor 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.
Hopoate earned his place after being nominated for the medal and the hall of fame in the same year. While still contracted to the Brisbane Broncos, he was charged with three counts of common assault, two counts of stalk/intimidate intend fear physical harm, and mid-range drink driving, after an incident in Port Macquarie in late 2020. He later pleaded guilty to many of these charges.
But that’s not all.
In early 2021, Jamil allegedly got into a truck containing $155 million worth of cocaine, and sped through the streets of Sydney with the police in pursuit. He then allegedly jumped from the truck, dumped a backpack also containing cocaine and sprinted away from police in the suburb of Pagewood. He was eventually caught before he could ground the ball with downward pressure in the in-goal area.
He narrowly avoided prison after he contracted COVID-19, and after he was sacked by the Broncos, he became eligible for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
Jamil’s father John already sits in the hall of fame for his infamous finger incident, as well as numerous other off-field scandals during and after his career. Jamil himself spent time in prison after assaulting two men outside a pub in Sydney in 2014, for which he was sacked by the Manly Sea Eagles. After pleading guilty to domestic violence, he earns the coveted Frownlow Wife Beater Tattoo.
Nathan Bock also has a Wife Beater Tattoo and this earned him his place in the hall of fame. The former Adelaide Crows defender and All Australian representative was charged with assault and property damage and accused of causing his girlfriend ‘considerable pain’ after slapping her and throwing a beer in her face. A court handed him a 12-month good behaviour bond and a $200 fine, while the Crows slapped him with an ‘indefinite’ suspension from the club – which lasted only one game.
Bock later apologised through a prepared statement while his lawyer, Stephen White, was reported as saying,
“…in the context, these are not serious assaults,” before adding,
“…he is very mindful that he is a role model to younger people.”
Ben Rogers was inducted after assaulting someone in the name of charity. The former NRL player was found guilty of two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm during a fight at a taxi rank involving two men and a woman.
The incident occurred outside Wests Leagues in Lambton while Rogers was playing for the Newcastle Knights, and erupted at the conclusion of the Down Town Ball, a charity function in support of Down Syndrome NSW, for which Rogers was the Hunter Region ambassador. Two men suffered facial injuries and one required stitches in hospital.
Rogers received a twelve-month good behaviour bond and a $1000 fine, and was stood down by the Knights.
Former NRL player Gideon Gela-Mosby was charged with smashing a man’s skull and assaulting another man late one night in Cairns in November 2020.
The victims claim that the former Cowboys player approached them on the street and threw a surprise punch at one man, fracturing his skull. Gela-Mosby then allegedly punched the second man when he came to the aid of his friend. As a result, Gela-Mosby was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm.
Gela-Mosby secured his place in the hall of fame with multiple driving offences. He committed his first offence in 2017 when he was caught driving without a licence. He then offended twice more in 2018, and on one occasion was caught driving to a bottle shop with an expired learner’s licence. He was fined multiple times and prevented from securing a driver’s licence.
NRL star Jason Smith confessed to years of drug and alcohol abuse and was charged with drug possession offences after ending a football career in which he represented Australia. His lawyer encouraged people to have a drink with him to help him through troubled times.
Encouraging people to have a drink with a recovering alcoholic may seem a little odd, but this is the exact advice given to the people of Toowoomba and Queensland by lawyer Chris Hannay, who represented Smith during his court hearings for possession of cocaine, and who believed it would help the Qld State of Origin hero to get his life back on track.
During the court proceedings and afterwards, Smith confessed to years of alcohol and drug abuse, and claims he considered suicide. He was also implicated in the drug supply ring which earned prison sentences for two other former NRL players and Frownlow nominees, Matt Seers and John Touma.
The News Maker
Former AFL player Jake Carlisle was filmed by A Current Affair snorting cocaine on the same day that he was traded from Essendon To St Kilda in 2015.
And they say all publicity is good publicity.
Carlisle received a two match suspension for his actions, but it didn’t damage his form too much, because he was already serving a suspension for his role in the Essendon performance enhancing drugs saga.
Carlisle’s appearance on A Current Affair does make one ponder…is “Footballer Snorts Cocaine” even a news story these days? Maybe only if they bite a dog at the same time.
St Kilda Club officials claimed he faced a much harsher penalty than a media grilling upon his arrival at St Kilda.
“…he’s got to front Nick Riewoldt and our leadership group,’ they explained.
The club extrapolated on the reaction of the leadership group.
“They’re absolutely filthy. They’ve done a lot of work to really be clear on what it is they want our club to stand for.”
To find out exactly what Australian football clubs stand for, go to www.instagram.com/thefrownlowmedal/