Join the Discussion

In a decisive move, the AFL has imposed a ban on a Collingwood club member for the remainder of the year after an incident involving West Coast Eagles player Harvey Johnston during a game at Marvel Stadium. The event took place in the fourth quarter when the fan overstepped boundaries by leaning over the fence, grabbing Johnston, and then taking the football from him.

Following a thorough review of the security report and considering the fan’s immediate show of remorse—including voluntarily providing his details to police and security on the day of the incident—the AFL decided to prohibit him from attending any AFL or AFLW matches for the rest of 2024. The total duration of the ban is 12 months, with six months suspended. This suspension will remain on record for two years.

Collingwood Football Club has responded by suspending the member’s club membership for the duration of 2024. Compliance with the sanction will allow the member to purchase a membership for the 2025 season and return to attending matches.

AFL General Counsel Stephen Meade commented on the seriousness of the incident, stating, “While the interaction initially appeared innocuous, such behavior is unacceptable and could have escalated if not for Harvey Johnston’s professional response.” Meade emphasized that while the AFL appreciates fan enthusiasm and encourages interactions between players and fans during appropriate moments, the boundaries set during matches must be respected.

Meade further acknowledged the fan’s proactive approach in making himself known to authorities and his apologies to Collingwood, West Coast, and the AFL, noting his realization that his actions were inappropriate.

The AFL uses this incident as a reminder to all fans: while the league values the dynamic between players and spectators, it is imperative that everyone adheres to the established guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at the games. Overstepping these boundaries, as occurred on Sunday, results in serious repercussions.