Ben Jensen 14 January 2007

By Ben Jensen GEELONG fans have backed the Cats' hierachy and 'leadership group' decision to impose a minimum six match ban on wayward forward Steve Johnson. 55% said the decision was 'spot on', while another 25% believed he should have been sacked rather than given a final chance to revive his flailing career. A further 20% agreed with AFL Players' Association boss Brendan Gale's statement the ban was too harsh.

GEELONG suspended wayward forward Steve Johnson indefinitely. Johnson was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in Wangaratta on Christmas Eve, the third serious incident involving alcohol in just three years. Johnson only came clean with the club of the charge ten days following the incident, and only then when the club found out on the grapevine.

Johnson has been suspended from the AFL playing group, instead consigned to train with the VFL squad under former goalsneak Leigh Tudor. Johnson faced Geelong's top brass, including the players' leadership group. It was this group that decided his fate, which the club adopted.

Johnson's position will be reconsidered 'no sooner than the sixth round of the season' - that would be Monday 7 May. Presumably, should he not improve he'll stay with the VFL until the end of the season, or be relieved of his obligations immediately (i.e.. sacked). Should his 'attitude and behaviour' change for the better, he may again be considered for selection in the AFL team.



Geelong forward Steve Johnson has been suspended by the club from the senior playing group indefinitely.

All of Johnson’s training will take place with the club’s VFL squad under coach Leigh Tudor and he will not be invited back with the senior squad until such time as he proves that his attitude and behaviour have changed and that he is willing to be a responsible and contributing member of the club. Johnson’s suspension from the senior group will be reviewed no sooner than the sixth round of the season.

“The club has not taken this decision lightly,” Geelong’s general manager of football operations Neil Balme said.

“Steve has been given numerous chances and it is fair to say that he is now down to his last opportunity to prove that he wants to stay with the club.

“We understand that young people make mistakes in all walks of life. This includes AFL players. We do believe in allowing people to grow, learn from their mistakes and mature.

“We have provided ample opportunity for Steve to display the behaviour that we expect from all of our players. The ball is now firmly in his court to prove that he is worthy of a return to the senior group.”

The club decided to sanction Johnson following his recent arrest for being drunk in a public place and his decision not to inform the club of this latest indiscretion. The player leadership group was given the responsibility of working through this issue and their recommendation was accepted by the club.

Johnson was informed of the outcome and accepted the view of the club and his fellow players.

In 2005, Johnson and fellow erratic forward Andrew Mackie were arrested after an incident outside Geelong nightclub 'Home House, following a round 19 loss to St Kilda. Keeping in check with previous incidents involving alcohol at the club such as Ronnie Burns, neither player was suspended and fined just $1,000 apiece.

But the Home House incident wasn't the first for Johnson; his struggles to maintain fitness and a place in the AFL stem from another incident involving alcohol, at the Torquay pub in late December 2003. Johnson, who was earlier ejected from the Torquay Hotel, attempted to regain entry by climbing a fence. He fell, broke his ankle and has played just 40 out of a possible 71 games since.



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