Michael Gardiner emerges from the underworld.

Former AFL player Michael Gardiner has surfaced from the underworld in order to accept his nomination for The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame. Gardiner has been nominated for numerous incidents, including involvement with a group of alleged underworld figures from Perth.

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.

Gardiner was criticised in 2005 for an association with a group of alleged underworld figures in Perth, alongside the human disaster and fellow West Coast player Cousins. The teammates allegedly received phone calls from gangland figures before and after a stabbing at a Perth nightclub, and refused to cooperate with police during the investigation.

The Eagles told Gardiner and Cousins they were on their last warning, but as The Fronwlow Medal has proven, a last warning in professional football is rarely a last warning. The pair were warned that their off-field behaviour would not be tolerated, but Gardiner stayed at the Eagles in 2006, when he was dropped to club football for his involvement in a booze bus incident alongside…Cousins.

Not sacked, just dropped.

Later in 2006, Gardiner had his contract suspended indefinitely, but not terminated, after a drunken traffic accident which earned him only a $5000 fine and a warning from club bosses that they were highly unlikely to renew his contract at the end of the year.

Gardiner was also praised as a mentor to Dustin Martin, who has received numerous Fronwlow nominations, one of which involved trying to stab a woman in the eye with chopsticks. Martin once called Gardiner a ‘Great Man’.

After accepting the nomination, Gardiner returned to the underworld alongside Cousins.

Image: NuNa

Why Buddy and Dusty met with Eddie Hayson.

AFL players Dustin Martin and Lance Buddy Franklin have revealed that they met with notorious Sydney identity Eddie Hayson because they were desperate to earn nominations for The Frownlow Medal.

The sporting champions were spotted at a restaurant with the infamous Hayson and the media went into a frenzy attempting to explain the meeting. The players finally revealed that they were making a last ditch effort to secure nominations for the most prestigious prize in 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 NRL player Ben Barba 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.

The AFL legends were seen with the notorious gambling figure and former brothel owner who has been the subject of police inquiries in the past and was suspected of using inside information provided by NRL players to gamble on matches.

Franklin and Martin have both been nominated for Frownlow honours in the past, and were keen to remind the rookies that they’re still a threat on and off the feild.

Franklin actually achieves the rare honour of being nominated for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, in the same year. He earned his hall of fame nomination for reportedly verbally abusing and physically intimidating a woman at a bar in Melbourne and for defending his actions on Twitter. He then got drunk and embarrassed himself at the F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne in 2013, and crashed into a row of parked cars in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Rose Bay in 2014.

Dusty, meanwhile, has an even more colourful record. The Richmond legend was nominated for The Frownlow Medal in 2016 for threatening to stab a woman in the eye with chopsticks, making a handcuff gesture to fans, giving the two finger salute to fans, missing training after mixing prescription drugs with alcohol, and for driving while suspended.

The Frownlow Medal would cap off a great season for Martin, who won the premiership with Richmond and the Norm Smith medal, and it would redeem a disappointing year for Franklin who struggled with injury and watched his Sydney Swans finish near the bottom of the ladder.

The sporting heroes will find out in a matter of weeks if they’ve done enough to win the greatest prize in Australian sport. They’ve been assured they can invite Hayson to the award’s night, because attendees will be in need of some company.

Image: NuNa