STEVE JOHNSON ALL BUT AVOIDS CLUB PENALTY FOR SPEEDING
By Ben Jensen STEVE JOHNSON AVOIDS FINE GEELONG'S NORTH SMITH MEDALLIST Steve Johnson has avoided being fined or suspended by the club over another off-field incident. Johnson was busted driving at 72 km/hr over the speed limit, in a 50 zone, by Geelong police last week in his Ford XR6. Johnson has agreed to serve fifty hours of community service with Victoria's TAC.
Johnson, who was memorably suspended for five matches after a drunk and disorderly incident last pre-season, was detected driving at 122 km/hr in a 50 zone, with fellow Premiership player Shannon Byrnes in the passenger seat.
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Link: Steve Johnson career stats http://stats.rleague.com/afl/stats/players/S/Steve_Johnson.html
Last season the club suspended wayward forward Steve Johnson indefinitely, with the suspension to be reviewed "'no sooner than the sixth round of the season". 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. AFL Players Association Executive Director Brendan Gale described the sanction as 'harsh', but admitted he has spoken to Geelong Captain Tom Harley and was satisfied due process was followed.
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.
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.
Next season, Geelong's first match is a grand final replay with Port Adelaide on a Thursday night at AAMI Stadium, while in the NAB Cup the Cats open up with a match at Skilled Stadium against Melbourne. The Cats travel interstate five times, including two trips to each of Perth and Adelaide; the other game being at Sydney's Telstra Stadium. Geelong's eleven home games are split between Skilled Stadium (8 games) and Telstra Dome (3).
The unfurling of the Premiership Flag is unlikely to occur until the second home game, but first at Geelong, against Melbourne in round three, however Brian Cook is considering recommending two unfurlings - one for the first 'home' game at Telstra Dome against the Bombers in round two.
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