Richmond has been left “disappointed” by an incident from Friday night’s game at Marvel Stadium that saw a fan reach over the fence and touch Tiger Marlion Pickett that’s currently being investigated by the AFL.
Pickett had been beaten in a one-on-one making contest with Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli and overcommitted. As Bontempelli ran into the open goal, Pickett was left getting to his feet over the boundary line.
With his back to the crowd, a rogue fan reached out and patted Pickett repeatedly on the shoulder and then started gesturing to the Tiger as he turned around.
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A security guard, who was seated just a metre away, quickly got to his feet to step in between the fan and Pickett. The Tigers premiership hero could be seen swiping at the man’s hand holding a beer as he returned to his seat.
AFL spokesperson Jay Allen on Saturday confirmed the AFL is currently reviewing the security and match managers report.
“While in normal circumstances we embrace player and fan interaction after a game, what happened at last night’s game is not acceptable and the AFL will work through it in the coming days,” the statement read.
Speaking post-match on Friday night, Richmond coach Andrew McQualter also condemned the actions of the fan.
“It shouldn’t happen … we love fans in our game and they are so critical to our game but players should never, ever be touched when they’re on the football field,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that happened.”
“I think all Marlion was doing (at three quarter time) was alerting Tim to the fact that something happened and just getting security to deal with it.
“The AFL will deal with it now.”
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Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis described the whole ordeal, which unfolded late in the third term, as unacceptable with player touching a “no-go zone”.
“You never ever, ever, ever touch a player on the ground – I don’t care who you are,” he said on Fox Footy.
“That fan right there should be banned for life.
“I would hope that that fan was ejected straight away and the right process and protocol should be followed.
“It’s a no-go zone – that should be worldwide in any sport.
“That’s why the fence is there, to separate the fans from the players because people can get heated.”
Pickett appeared rattled by the moment at the three-quarter time break in vision of him talking with Tigers footy boss Tim Livingstone.
Fellow Fox Footy commentator Jonathan Brown agreed it was an unacceptable situation for Pickett to be placed in, and praised his ability to walk away from the confrontation.
“(The fan) should be kicked out,” he said.
“We don’t want to ever see that in a game.
“It’s such a dangerous situation.
“Marlion Pickett should be congratulated for keeping under control.
“He could have quite easy gone bang! and put one on his chin.”
Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph had already confirmed the AFL would begin investigating the matter on Saturday.
“I’ve spoken to the league about this, they clearly will liaise with Richmond and follow up this incident where Marlion Pickett was touched basically unprompted,” he said on Fox Footy.
“The league tells me it will get the security report from Marvel Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) – they want to know who the fan was, exactly what happened.
“The very strong message from the league tonight is fans should not touch players under any circumstances.
“Marlion probably did well to try and knock his beer over and then he moved away. The security guard did the right thing here.
“You can pay your 25 bucks, you can cheer and you can shout – you just don’t deserve the right to do that there.”
Pickett has endured a tough 2023 season after missing a game following his arrest in Perth when the Tigers travelled to face Fremantle in June.
The 2019 Grand Final hero remains out on bail on alleged burglary offences.
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