Farmer still bitter over umpiring
One of the greatest Australian footballers ever to pull on a boot, Graham "Polly" Farmer, has weighed into the debate about umpiring standards - during a grand final played 37 years ago.
As Geelong prepares to take on Richmond at the MCG today, Farmer has called on the AFL to investigate the last time the two teams met in a grand final, the classic 1967 decider watched by a crowd of 109,396 at the MCG.
Geelong's team-of-the-century ruckman, who captained the Cats that day, believes that video footage of the 1967 grand final should be examined in slow motion. Richmond won the match by nine points after two controversial last-term Geelong goals were disallowed.
"I really don't want to leave this alone because I think it's unfair," Farmer said last week. "I know in my own mind - because I've watched the film a hundred times - that we were robbed.
"Slow it (the video) up. First of all, you'll pick up John Sharrock kicking the goal through, secondly you'll pick up where (Colin) Eales has kicked the ball and John Sharrock is to receive the ball and they've given it to Ricky Graham.
"You'll pick up where John Scarlett's marked the ball and they haven't given him the mark. You'll pick up where their ruckman is pushed in the side, 30 yards out, and he gets a push in the back (free kick). And on top of that, there's a million others."
Peter Sheales, who umpired the 1967 grand final, will be among those honoured at an AFL-VFL umpires function on Tuesday. When asked if he had heard complaints about the standard of umpiring that day, he said: "Who've you been talking to, Polly Farmer?"
Sheales said he had heard Farmer's complaints privately before, and was disappointed to hear that he had made them public. "I'm disappointed that a person who has been an ornament with his ruckwork and what he did with handball, is saying it."
One of the most controversial moments of the match occurred in the final term when Richmond captain Fred Swift pulled in a mark on the goal line from a shot by Geelong rover Bill Goggin.
Swift was awarded the mark but controversy raged - especially among Cats fans - about whether it had actually been taken behind the line. Had Goggin's shot gone through, Geelong would have moved to within a kick of Richmond's lead.
Geelong received 29 free kicks for the match to Richmond's 33, with many of the crucial decisions late in the match going the Tigers' way.
Sheales is confident that anyone who watched footage of the match would agree that the umpiring did not influence the outcome of the match.
Of the controversial Swift mark, Sheales said: "That was an uncontested mark and I had no say as to whether the mark was completed before or behind the line. Only the goal umpire could tell that."
Sheales also addressed Farmer's criticism of his umpiring with a sense of humour, saying: "How much did James Hird get fined? I wonder if it's retrospective. I might give (AFL chief executive) Andrew Demetriou a call."
Farmer said he had good reason to believe the umpiring was the reason Geelong lost. "Don't make me look like a bitter man," he said. "I'm just a disappointed man and I'm looking to try to put it together (the facts of the story) myself."
Nor does he have the support of his teammates. Present Geelong Football Club director Doug Wade, who kicked four goals for the Cats in the 1967 loss, said: "Polly says it all the time, he can't get over it, and he's the only one that says it.
"A couple of the decisions went against us, but that happens in footy."
The 1967 win was the first of four Richmond flags coached by the legendary Tom Hafey, who said of Farmer's claim this week: "I can understand him being upset, particularly when they were the favourites, and especially when you look at the stars they had in their team".
"He's got a real thing about 1967. He never played overly well that day. He's real bitter. He said the umpire favoured us. He's said that sort of thing so often."
When asked why Geelong had more kicks, more marks and more handballs than Richmond, and yet had lost the match, Hafey replied: "If you multiply the kicks by the yardage, you'll understand why.
"We didn't root around handballing and kicking in all directions. We kicked the ball long and direct and had a bloke there front-and-square picking up the crumbs. We got more goals from running through the lines and crumbs that day than marks."
Farmer has had several digs at umpires over the years. In 1997 he appeared on The Footy Show and said: "The umpires have no right to give (Brownlow) votes.
"The reason why they are umpires is because they didn't have the ability or the courage or desire to become a footballer."