Fury over Darren Winter's "putrid" umpire assessment

Spot the brawl: Another Lauderdale player follows his coach's instructions during Saturday's State League grand final against North Launceston. Picture: Scott Gelston.
Spot the brawl: Another Lauderdale player follows his coach's instructions during Saturday's State League grand final against North Launceston. Picture: Scott Gelston.

Say what you like about Darren Winter – and plenty of our readers did at the weekend – at least he is a man of his word.

Heading into Saturday’s State League grand final against North Launceston, the Lauderdale coach wasn’t exactly trying to hide his gameplan.

“We’ll be a lot more physical,” Winter said at Thursday’s press conference.

“We’ve focused on not getting reports and being undisciplined. That will be freed up in the grand final and there will be a lot more aggression … at the opposition when they have the ball.”

Winter warned North stars Taylor Whitford, Tom Couch, Tom Bennett and Jay Lockhart they could expect close attention.

Not exactly keeping cards close to the chest as laying them all on the table.

Two days later Winter’s charges set about making sure the TSL match review panel was destined for a busy Monday.

Josh McGuinness managed the impressive feat of getting reported twice within 20 minutes, the stupidity of Robbie McManus invited Tarryn Thomas to kick two goals in 20 seconds and, in the words of The Examiner’s reporter Corey Martin, North took full advantage of Lauderdale’s mental capitulation. 

Disciplined: Northern Bombers coach Tom Couch keeps his players focused at three-quarter time.

Disciplined: Northern Bombers coach Tom Couch keeps his players focused at three-quarter time.

Winter’s men were following his instructions, the umpires duly applied the rules and North had the premiership flag secured by half-time.

In contrast to his opposite number’s approach, Couch later revealed: “We said to the players before the game ‘you don’t win the premiership going the biff’ and if that happened we were going to stay clear of it. We were happy to cop it and we got a lot of frees.”

Like a Lauderdale gameplan, it all seemed fairly uncomplicated – until Winter changed tack.

“The umpiring was putrid today,” he said after the game.

So it wasn’t his players’ fault for committing offences, it was the umpires’ fault for punishing them for committing offences.

Damn those killjoy umpies, ruining a perfectly fair punch-up by allowing some footy to break out.

“I told [my players] at half-time to stop giving the umpires the opportunity to pay a free-kick against you and be more disciplined,” Winter added.

So 48 hours after telling players they were “freed up” to be more undisciplined, he berated them for being undisciplined.

Players losing the plot before the coach thickened it.

Having subsequently seen his approach branded “disgraceful” by North Launceston president Thane Brady, Winter was in for an even frostier reception on social media.

North captain Taylor Whitford looks happy with developments.

North captain Taylor Whitford looks happy with developments.

When his opinion of the umpires was posted on The Examiner’s Facebook page, reaction flooded in, unanimously suggesting the only thing putrid about the match was Lauderdale’s tactics.

Words like “thuggery”, “dirty”, “shocking”, “awful”, “idiotic” and “the Lauderdale wannabe MMA club” all got a guernsey as readers praised the performance under pressure of the umpiring team.

Many added laughing emojis for good measure. That’s how serious this was.

Several pointed out that back-to-back thrashings to North by 90-odd points suggested the umpiring had been consistently bad of late.

It did not escape many observers that it had been a similar story in the previous week’s preliminary final victory over Sam Lonergan’s young Launceston side when three Lauderdale players – McManus, Scott Hill and Nat Franklin – were reported only to be freed to reoffend by the MRP.

Ruckman Toutai Havea also returned for the grand final after missing a week following rough conduct in the second semi-final.

Earlier this season, Lonergan spoke out after Lauderdale midfielder Jordan Roberts was given a six-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Launceston’s Stewart Will­iams.

Only thing that was putrid was Lauderdale

Comment on The Examiner's Facebook page

The Southern Bombers appear to spend almost as much time at the MRP as Dustin Martin does at the tattooist.

When the latest MRP report was published on Monday it contained a total of six reports against Lauderdale ranging from striking and late contact to instigating a melee.

Perhaps most concerning was the sanctioning of Winter for “behaving in an abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene manner towards or in relation to an umpire in the first quarter” which was considered serious enough to be referred directly to the TSL tribunal.

Lauderdale and North Launceston players discuss proceedings.

Lauderdale and North Launceston players discuss proceedings.

Less than a week ago Winter spoke of how his players were free to get reported – an appalling instruction to give to young men under his guidance.

They duly delivered. McGuinness did so twice. Winter even showed them how to do it.

Saturday’s so-called showpiece was an embarrassment to Lauderdale and, as a result, to the State League.

The tribunal has the chance to do something about it.

Along with AFL guidelines, it also has the discretion to double penalties for offences in grand finals.

The book. Darren Winter.

Throw it at him.