Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has apologized to journalist Tom Morris for his post-game outburst on Wednesday night.
Beveridge came under fire after his extraordinary tirade towards the senior reporter.
One day before the Dogs’ line-up was officially released, Morris reported on foxfooty.com.au that premiership midfielder Lachie Hunter would be left out of the Bulldogs’ starting 22 for the clash against Melbourne.
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In the wake of his side’s 26-point loss to the Demons, Beveridge questioned Morris’ motives, claiming he’d been “causing turmoil” within the Bulldogs, despite conceding the Fox Footy journalist’s reporting was correct.
“I have reflected on my comments and actions from the post-game press conference after last night’s game and acknowledge that my exchange with journalist Tom Morris overstepped the mark,” Beveridge said in the statement.
“I want to apologise for my behavior. I want to apologise to Tom Morris and all those present last night and to our members, supporters, partners and the wider football community.
“We have strong values at the Bulldogs that we all sign up to. They are values that I believe in and support and live. My actions last night were not consistent with those values or the way we go about business as a football club, or I go about life as an individual.
“I recognized that what I did was not okay. It was not representative of our club culture which is so special and means so much to me. While I was highly emotional in the moments after a difficult loss, it is no excuse to let those emotions spill over and get the better of me.
“As people would know, I am extremely passionate about, and protective of, our players and our people, and I always have their welfare and their best interests at heart. I pride myself on being measured and thoughtful, however on this occasion I clearly didn’t handle it the way I should have, and I understand and accept that.
“The last thing I want is for my actions to reflect negatively on the Western Bulldogs Football Club and our culture. As I’ve said many times, I want our members and supporters to be proud of their Club on and off the field and to be proud of the way we conduct ourselves at all times, and I’ll continue to strive for that.
“I take accountability for my actions. We will work through that as a club and I will focus on getting the best out of the team for the remainder of the season, and my energies will be centered on preparing our players for our next game against Carlton. “
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Bulldogs president Kylie Watson-Wheeler also released a statement.
“The Western Bulldogs Football Club cannot and does not condone senior coach Luke Beveridge’s handling of his post-game press conference exchange with Tom Morris last night. The Club sincerely apologises to Tom for the incident. It is important to us that Tom is ok, ”she said.
“Our CEO Ameet Bains and I have had extensive and frank discussions with Luke today. From the very beginning of those discussions this morning, Luke made clear that he understood his behavior di lui was inappropriate and he is deeply remorseful.
“Luke also understands that his conduct in the press conference was not reflective of the values of the Western Bulldogs and has shone a negative light on the Club. Everyone is entitled to a respectful workplace and we acknowledge the important and sometimes difficult job the football media have to do.
“In addition to Luke’s formal apology, the Club has agreed with the AFL to donate $ 20,000 to Orygen, a key partner of the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation, to assist Orygen with the important work it does in youth mental health.
“Luke is a man of strong integrity who leads with heart and soul, caring deeply for everyone at the Western Bulldogs. His passion di lui crossed a line last night and he is aware of that. As a Club, we commit to a thorough process of internal assessment to ensure better outcomes in the future.
“Luke is a much loved and valued leader within our club. Our role as a Board, as a management group and as a club as a whole, is to support Luke through the incredible pressures and emotions of the AFL industry as it exists today. We will continue to provide Luke with the resources, guidance and support he needs to perform in his role of him at the highest level of professionalism. “
Veteran football reporter Caroline Wilson called on the AFL to hand Luke Beveridge a hefty “six-figure” sanction while urging footy journalists to boycott the coach’s media appearances should he or the Western Bulldogs fail to take action.
Speaking on Neil Mitchell’s 3AW program on Thursday morning, Wilson urged both the Bulldogs and the AFL to take action, while questioning whether Beveridge was fit to coach the club.
“I think it’s bigger than the AFL looking at fining Luke Beveridge – which they certainly will, he’s brought the game into disrepute,” Wilson told 3AW. “I think it should be a six-figure fine myself.
“But I think Luke Beveridge needs to look at whether he is equipped to coach. I mean what we saw last night is a man unraveling – and I’m quite serious about this.
“Who invokes the mental health and wellbeing card over a selection story? I’ve never seen anything so disgraceful in all my years of covering football.
“It is a man who’s clearly not coping.
“I can see how no other journo intervened in a way because it was almost so fascinating as a story to watch the unraveling of a senior coach, who clearly can’t deal with life at the moment. I don’t think he’s equipped to be looking after the futures of 30 young men, quite frankly. “
Asked on Fox Footy if he was expecting ramifications for Beveridge, Melbourne champion Garry Lyon said: “I don’t think the AFL will like that one bit – and nor should they. Nor the AFL Media Association won’t like that one bit.
“I know people never barrack for the journalist… but it’s a respect industry that we’re in. Like it or not, Tom was doing nothing else but his job. I don’t think the president of the Western Bulldogs will be too impressed by it. “
Wilson urged Beveridge to apologise to Morris, both privately and publicly, and for the club to take action.
“People cannot treat other people like this in public over a story,” she said.
“I know clubs are control freaks, but to use words like“ muckraking ”and“ gutter journalism ”over a selection story – for heaven’s sake. Stories get out, this guy has done his job by him.
“What disgusts me is that this football club, which is run by good people… they’re allowing something dreadful to go on and they need to step up.
“If the Bulldogs don’t respond and if there isn’t an adequate response from the AFL, I would urge all journalists to ban Luke Beveridge.
“He doesn’t have a right to perform in public if that’s what he’s going to do.
“They’ll be desperately worried about this and if they continue to back him and allow him to behave like this, they’re complicit. In the end you’ve got sponsors, you’ve got people that want to see their coach – and I think it’ll hurt them in the long run. “
Veteran Channel 9 presenter Tony Jones told The Today Show there was a “real determination” among football reporters to impose some sort of boycott on the Bulldogs and Beveridge if no action was taken.
“That could if there’s not an apology forthcoming,” Jones said on Channel 9.
Jones added: “I think he (Beveridge) has made a complete dill of himself, to be honest, and that’s not the Luke Beveridge I know.
“I think – and I would hope – that when Luke Beveridge wakes up this morning he would reflect on that performance last night – not the four quarters, but his fifth quarter – and maybe even ring Tom Morris and offer an apology, because it was completely out of line.
“Why Luke Beveridge would take umbrage to that is beyond me. The only reason Tom Morris knew there was a big question mark over Lachie Hunter was because someone within Luke Beveridge’s own ranks told him so. So the problem should be with the rat in the ranks, not Tom Morris who was merely doing his job di lui. I don’t think any reporter on that basis should have to put up with the crap that he put up last night. “