Inside the incident between Melbourne Demons’ Brayden Maynard and Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard

In 2021, then AFL football boss Steve Hocking had sent Adelaide’s David Mackay directly to the tribunal without a grading for bumping in a contest with St Kilda’s Hunter Clark, who was concussed in the collision. Hocking had let the tribunal decide, as Mackay was cleared.


Hocking had wanted the case – another split-second call by a player that led to a nasty-looking concussion – heard, given the ramifications. A source said Hocking took the view that the Mackay incident was unusual and he did not take that strong a position on Mackay’s guilt.

If Christian did not want a grading, he finally accepted that Maynard would go to the tribunal with a grading of “careless”, which set the suspension bar at a minimum of three matches. Two matches would be enough to rule him out of the grand final if the Pies made it, a fate that famously befell Collingwood’s Anthony Rocca (2003), Jason Cloke (2002) and Phil Carman (1977) in losing or drawn grand finals.

Christian’s acceptance of the charge and grading was – as the AFL’s media release suggested – on the proviso that the AFL and Kane take some ownership of the decision to charge Maynard; in the release, Kane, the executive general manager of football, was cited as the person who’d made the call, alongside the MRO.


Once Maynard went to the tribunal, the case went in his favour. Collingwood were armed with a biomechanist and behind-the-goals footage that allowed Ben Ihle, KC, to argue that Brayshaw had moved slightly into the “lane” that Maynard was hurtling towards; essentially, Ihle and Maynard argued that the Collingwood player had not enough time (inside fractions of a second) to alter his course and also that he had touched the ball – evidence that his smother attempt was genuine and not something carelessly endangering Brayshaw.

That the AFL chose not to appeal the verdict of the tribunal was, in part, a recognition that the odds were stacked against a successful appeal to their own last-chance saloon (the AFL appeals tribunal). The tribunal chairman, Jeff Gleeson, KC, had all but closed the door on a successful appeal in his 1100-word judgment of why Maynard had been cleared of rough conduct.

The case was closed, the arguments about the incident would linger for a while yet, in one of the game’s most emotive episodes.

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