Shock after footy king-hit

Bridport reserves player Steve McKillop received multiple facial injuries in the NEFU match against the East Coast Swans.  Picture: SCOTT GELSTON
Bridport reserves player Steve McKillop received multiple facial injuries in the NEFU match against the East Coast Swans. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

A FORMER premiership captain, best-and-fairest winner and umpire says he will quit football after a sickening incident in a game on Saturday left him with two fractured cheekbones, a broken eye socket, broken jawbone, fractured sinus bone and facing major dental work.

Police are seeking witnesses to the assault behind play during a reserves match at Bridport that left Steve McKillop in hospital. 

It followed a dreadful week for the sport in Tasmania in which brawls saw several games abandoned and an under-16 player was king-hit in a junior match.

``I can understand why children are playing other sports,'' said McKillop, a 44-year-old father-of-two who said his 11-year-old daughter was almost inconsolable after witnessing the incident.

``I won't ever play again. I was really enjoying footy this year but no longer. It's sad the way it's finished.

``I'm just disappointed by the whole thing. I'm in shock as to why it would happen.''

McKillop said he was king-hit inside the first 10 minutes of the NEFU match between Bridport reserves and the East Coast Swans at Bridport.

``I fell to the ground, got back up and left the ground bleeding. It wasn't pretty. Both my kids were there and my daughter was hysterical.''

A life member of Bridport who had been umpiring for three years before resuming playing to help out the reserves, McKillop was taken to Scottsdale where an ambulance transported him to Launceston General Hospital.

He received extensive treatment, but will require further appointments before a specialist decides whether he needs an operation to insert plates into his face.

On Sunday, the furnace operator at Temco was interviewed by police who yesterday issued an appeal for witnesses to the assault.

``The man received a hit to the face and fell to the ground,'' a statement said.

``Police are investigating the matter and would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the actual assault. Information can be left via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.''

Among those witnesses will be NEFU president Leon Quilliam who was at the Bridport sportsground when the incident happened and was interviewed by police yesterday.

``It makes you sick in the stomach,'' Quilliam said.

``I saw what happened and it was totally uncalled for. I didn't know how badly hurt the gentleman was until I saw him and then I knew the injuries were very significant.

``This is the sort of thing we don't need in football, especially in country football.

``He [McKillop] is a genuinely nice guy but now we've lost not just a brilliant footballer but a brilliant umpire as well.''

Quilliam said the East Coast Swans president asked the player involved not to continue playing in the match and he obliged.

Because the incident was behind play, no report was filed but the NEFU executive has taken the decision to take the matter to the tribunal, which will be conducted by the NTFA.

``When someone presents to hospital with injuries like he had, police are notified automatically,'' Quilliam said.