Veteran AFL journalist Caroline Wilson says she will “not apologise” for her “perfectly reasonable” questioning of St Kilda pair Seb Ross and Tim Membrey for missing Saturday’s loss to Adelaide for family reasons.
Melbourne great Garry Lyon took aim at Wilson for her comments on Monday night’s Footy Classified, where she said Saints players and fans had reason to be disappointed with Ross and (to a lesser extent) Membrey for missing their club’s Round 13 loss to the Crows in Cairns.
Wilson said there was “no medical emergency” for either player’s families, questioning their decision to head home even after the pair, particularly Ross, were encouraged to remain with the team as it fought for a finals spot.
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Speaking on SEN Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Lyon said he was “almost speechless” when he heard Wilson “speak for the family” of Seb Ross.
Lyon also called for greater acceptance surrounding players’ decisions to be with their families or deal with sensitive issues.
Responding to Lyon’s comments on her Don’t Shoot the Messenger podcast, Wilson stood by her comments.
“I was just surprised, personally, that Seb Ross would (leave) – I wondered whether there was a medical problem with the twins and I established there wasn’t. I suppose my feelings were reflected by people across the AFL,” she said.
“I’m gonna own what I said because I said it, but pretty much everyone I spoke to in footy said, ‘Oh yeah, I agree with you but I couldn’t say that I’m not gonna say that. I’m a man. I’m not gonna say that.’”
“These (people) are from AFL headquarters to clubs, to the footy club itself. I know that senior leaders at the club tried to talk to Seb about staying.
“As it turns out, St Kilda lost the game by less than a kick to the Crows, their finals chances are now over and there was a significant level of disappointment within that club to the decision particularly by Seb.”
Wilson contended very few if any workplaces outside of football would support an employee taking leave at a time of need in the same manner as Ross.
She then responded to Lyon’s comments as well as adding Watson may’ve had biases in any views he put forward due to his familial connection to Ross and Wilson’s coverage of the supplements saga at Essendon – the club at which Watson made his name.
“My comments reflect people at the footy club and I gather a couple of blokes on SEN Breakfast in Garry and Tim, with Garry in particular, having a serious go at me,” she said.
“Tim Watson is Seb Ross uncle, so he’s obviously got a very personal (view) and Tim Watson does not like me because he was an Essendon apparatchik at the time of the drug scandal and supported the club completely and James Hird or certainly publicly did anyway and didn’t agree with a lot of what I said and was very angry and he’s very angry and bitter about what happened.
“I understand that – I would be too if my son was captain and what happened to him happened to (son) Jobe (Watson).
“But I will not apologise for basically saying what I think is a perfectly reasonable conversation.
“It’s a fine line and I know people are gonna condemn me for it. But I also think that most people are deep down thinking what I’m thinking – I’m sorry, but I really do.”