‘Left a damaged man’: Fan comes clear on viral AFL participant hug

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The Collingwood fan who grabbed West Coast teen Harvey Johnston throughout Sunday’s match at Marvel Stadium has apologised for the incident and promised to “be taught from this and be higher for it”.

Collingwood fan Justin Witcombe has been banned for the rest of the season, with an additional six months suspended, that means he’ll be unable to attend an AFL or AFLW sport for the rest of 2024.

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Early within the fourth quarter of the match the Pies gained by 66-points, a ball went to the boundary with Johnston and Collingwood’s Josh Daicos in chase.

Because it went over the road, Johnston picked up the ball and ran to the promoting boards, the place Witcombe was standing.

After giving Johnston a little bit hug, Witcombe grabbed the ball and handballed it to the umpire.

Johnston, who was enjoying in simply his second sport, provided a small smile for the innocuous and bizarrely tender second.

However touching a participant is a large no-no and Witcombe should watch the rest of the season on TV.

There may be latest precedent, with a fan making contact with Richmond’s Marlion Pickett in a spherical 21 conflict towards the Bulldogs final season.

That man was banned till the tip of the 2024 season.

Talking to Channel 9, Witcombe, who has 150 tattoos, stated he’d cop his punishment on the chin.

“It’s going to kill me not going to a Collingwood sport as a result of I’ve been going because the 80s with mum and pop,” he stated.

“I simply noticed the ball come to the fence and I stood up and it simply occurred. It was only a reflex motion and it was only a pat on the top and a hug. And the ball got here free and I handballed it to the umpire.”

Whereas the AFL accepted it was an innocuous scenario, AFL authorized counsel Stephen Meade added the interplay “mustn’t occur”.

It’s one thing Witcombe additionally recognised.

“I’ll look within the digicam and say I’m very sorry for this, it gained’t occur once more. I’ll be taught from this and I’ll be a greater individual for it,” he stated.

“At no stage did he ever give me permission to place my fingers on him and it’s uncalled for and unacceptable in at this time’s world.

“I’m actually sorry for my household, I’ve embarrassed myself and them. However I do know I’ll be taught from this and be again.

“I used to be there as a household man and I left a damaged man due to what had occurred. (It was) a spur-of-the-moment alternative I want I might take again however I can’t.”

9’s Tom Morris reported Witcombe had misplaced his brother to liver most cancers two and a half weeks in the past.

Talking to Information Corp, Meade stated the fan apologised to each groups and the AFL in addition to “proactively made himself recognized to safety and Police”.

“Reinforcing what we communicated final 12 months – we love the interactions between gamers and followers particularly within the moments pre and post-game, and the event in-game when a participant celebrates along with his membership’s followers – nonetheless what we noticed on Sunday through the match is just not acceptable,” Meade stated.

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