Bannockburn co-coach Peter Riccardi.
Bannockburn co-coach Peter Riccardi.

Country footy captain reported for abusing own players

A COUNTRY footy captain has been reported for abusing his own players after an "obscene" spray on the weekend.

Bannockburn coach and former Geelong AFL player Peter Riccardi says he is "dumbfounded" after captain Brad Watts was reported over the abuse in Saturday's loss to Thomson.

Riccardi yesterday said he was "filthy" with the move by umpires to book Watts for a spray they overheard at halftime, claiming it was a "deadset joke".

Watts was yellow carded and missed most of the third quarter following an incident that happened before his players left the field for the main break.

He was offered a set one-match ban but the highly respected leader, who has never been suspended in his long senior career, has vowed to challenge it at the tribunal.

The Tigers veteran was addressing his players after the half-time siren when the incident occurred. But Watts was not shown the yellow card until the team re-emerged after the main break.

He was reported for "using abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene language".

It comes after controversy over Brendon Goddard's spraying teammates during Essendon's Anzac Day loss to Collingwood.

GWS defender Heath Shaw also faced controversy last year for spraying teammate Aidan Corr.

The Bannockburn captain said his spray was not directed at any individual.

"I was frustrated and I gave the boys a spray about little things that we were doing wrong, some things that needed to sink in," Watts said.

"I did use colourful language, I'm not arguing that I didn't, I may have half a dozen times truthfully, but the colourful language was not directed at any individual.

"Unbeknown to me I didn't realise that the umpires were gathered around the boundary listening.

"In the heat of the moment I didn't think about crowd members or umpires; I just thought I was in the huddle with my men and addressing them with tone and volume."

Bannockburn's Brad Watts was reported for spraying teammates. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Bannockburn's Brad Watts was reported for spraying teammates. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Riccardi was in the change rooms when Watts took aim at his teammates as they walked from the field. But the former Geelong champion questioned why the umpires chose such a severe course of action.

"I'm dumbfounded," Riccardi said.

"This is the first I've ever heard of a person getting reported for abusing his teammates. And the more people you talk to, the more they can't believe it either.

"He wants to challenge it. It wasn't like he was abusing anyone, he was just rallying the troops and obviously a few F-bombs were dropped.

"He (Watts) was saying to them (umpires), 'Why didn't you come to me and say enough of the language?'

"But they were walking off the ground and they didn't say anything to him.

"I've got no idea why they reported him. It's a new one for me and it's a new one for a lot of people.

"It's a joke, seriously. I understand if it (abuse) was towards an umpire or an opposition player or towards someone in the crowd, but I just think it's a joke, to be honest.

"It's a deadset joke if he gets a week for that."

Bannockburn president Neil Grinter was handed reports from six individual umpires post-match who had each ticked AFL law 19.2.2 j) "using abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene language".

Thomson president Terry Macleod, who supported Watts post-match, said he was also appalled by the decision which took the spotlight away from his side's impressive win.

Watts has vowed to fight the ban.

"I thought they were calling me over for a warning but they handed me a card straight away," Watts said. "At the time I wasn't warned or anything like that so I'm going to fight it.

"They could have walked over and tapped me on the shoulder to calm down.

"Thomson were the far better side today, take nothing away from them, which was part of the reason why I gave the boys a spray."