Chants from Collingwood fans during Thursday night’s blockbuster qualifying final against Melbourne have been slammed as “utterly disrespectful”, “cruel” and “despicable”.
The controversial moment came when Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard laid out Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw in an ugly first quarter incident.
The Collingwood star leapt forward to attempt a smother and caught Brayshaw’s head with his braced shoulder, leaving the Demons star knocked out cold.
While Brayshaw was motionless lying on the turf, the traditional drawn out cry of “Collingwood” echoed around the MCG.
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Diversity in sport advocate Rana Hussain was livid, despite giving Maynard the benefit of the doubt for the bump itself.
“The Maynard incident looked pretty unintentional,” Hussain said on Twitter.
“What was mind blowing was the ‘Collingwood’ chant that erupted from the crowd as Brayshaw laid out flat and motionless. Despicable. That felt utterly disrespectful and cruel actually.”
News Corp’s Agostino Giramondo agreed, saying it ran counter to much of the positive cultural work facilitated by Collingwood’s executive leadership.
“I was there and it was disturbing to hear that chant,” Giramondo wrote.
“That behaviour undermines the amazing work done by Jeff Browne, Craig Kelly and Craig McRae. All good people who I doubt would have been happy with it.”
One fan said it was typical of football fans in general, saying: “AFL games were better in empty stadiums without the 90k ferals.”
Brayshaw KNOCKED OUT after BRUTAL hit | 00:40
Another Demons fan noted Brayshaw’s long history of concussion, which is the reason he sports a helmet during games.
“I just can’t imagine EVER behaving this way about an unconscious opposition player, especially one with a history of concussion,” the fan wrote.
“Don’t fans of both teams usually show basic concern for a seriously injured player? It was really sickening to be honest. Angus deserves better.
“It happened over the other side of the ground from me, and the Collingwood chanting was so loud that I initially assumed Maynard was the one who’d been hurt. I’d be so embarrassed if Dees fans did that!”
Some fans have defended the chants, saying that they were in response to boos ringing out across the ground.
“It was to drown out the booing of an accidental act,” said one fan in reply to Hussain.
Another Collingwood fan was nonplussed by the commotion.
“There was a scuffle after the incident and Melbourne fans started booing Maynard so our fans started chanting,” they wrote.
“The fans got into it, nothing to do with Brayshaw being knocked out, move on.”
Hussain was emphatic in her reply to the suggestions that the behaviour from some Collingwood fans was acceptable.
“It’s about respect,” she said.
“A man is lying on the ground unconscious, his family watching on & yet ‘defending’ your player is more important cause you heard some boos? Seriously.
“I wouldn’t boo Maynard & I wouldn’t cheer him even while a guy is laid out unconscious.”
Brayshaw took an extended break from the sport in 2016 over his history of head trauma, sitting out half of his second year and the majority of 2017 after suffering four concussions in the space of 12 months.
In 2018, Brayshaw’s brother Andrew was also violently struck in the face in an off-the-ball incident by West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, leaving the younger Brayshaw with a fractured jaw and three dislodged teeth.
Maynard himself has since defended the incident as a “footy act”, speaking to Channel 7 post-match after being placed on report for the hit.
“I don’t want to say too much, but it’s a footy act,” Maynard said.
“I came forward, I jumped to smother the ball and unfortunately I just got him on the way down.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but it’s all love, I absolutely love that guy to bits. It’s shattering what happened.”
Collingwood coach Craig McRae said he hoped Brayshaw was okay.
“I’ve caught it on a phone, one view of it, one angle, looks like he’s in the air … actually, I’ll go back a step – I hope Angus is OK,” McRae said when asked about the collision in the post-match press-conference.
“I’ve met him a couple of times socially, he’s a ripping guy, and hopefully this is not too bad for him, because he’s had multiple concussions.
“Then the act itself, it didn’t look like it had much malice, but I’ll leave it up to others to decide whether that’s worthy of a suspension or not.”
With their 9.6 (60) to 7.11 (53) win over the Dees, Collingwood earn themselves a week’s break and are into the preliminary final, where they look forward to welcoming back superstar Nick Daicos from a knee injury.
Melbourne will face the winner of Friday night’s elimination final between Carlton and Sydney for a spot in the other preliminary final.