AFL legend Garry Lyon has taken aim at journalist Caroline Wilson for claims she made on TV about the family situations of two St Kilda players.
Wilson said Saints players and fans had reason to be disappointed with Seb Ross and Tim Membrey after they missed their club’s nailbiting six-point loss to Adelaide on the weekend.
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Ross reportedly left to be with his partner, who gave birth to twins about five weeks ago, while Membrey skipped the clash in Cairns as his wife prepares to give birth shortly. Both players flew home after St Kilda’s defeat to Sydney at the SCG two weekends ago.
Wilson said “there was no medical emergency” with regards to the players’ families, adding she would question the decision of two senior stars to miss such an important game as St Kilda’s season hangs in the balance, particularly as she revealed the pair had been encouraged to stay on.
“It is a very odd situation when you have two leaders of the club, particularly one where the babies were born five or six weeks ago, to leave when this was probably their last shot at making finals,” Wilson said.
“I think supporters and sponsors and members and other teammates would have every right to be a bit disappointed.”
However, Lyon said Wilson was out of line.
“So, Caro is suggesting she knows better than the Ross family? I would suggest that’s a conversation she would not want to have with Seb Ross’ wife and/or mother or family members that she has in her opinion said there are no medical problems,” Lyon told SEN Breakfast on Tuesday.
“How she can make a judgment on the family situation of a young mother with twins from afar and say, ‘Why didn’t they bow to peer pressure these blokes and stay?’
“I’m almost speechless with this one. To think you can sit there on national television and speak for the family, ‘I must stress there is no medical problem’. Oh really Caro? You stress that do you? You would know, would you?”
Lyon also said there needs to be a greater acceptance of sensitive issues around footy players.
“We are trying to have our minds around if a player says they need time out for whatever reason we go, ‘OK, there’s a great reason for that, we respect it, good luck’,” he said.
“If a player says they have a family issue, a baby pending, I need to be home — the footy world goes, ‘OK’. We’ve been conditioned to be much more empathetic.
“I’m almost speechless … they may need to take time away. It’s none of our business.
“If someone says they need to be at home with their family, good. We love you and we support you.
“Not, ‘Supporters, sponsors and everyone else is going to be disappointed with you’.”