So much for the fabled commitment to covering the climate debate among News Ltd papers. Today’s Herald Sun could only manage to find room on the “dead” news page, aka page four, for John Howard shrugging off the Stern Report into international climate change.
Why? Because page one was reserved for the word “BANISHED”, in the largest headline font the little paper could manage. The subhead (white writing on red in fine tabloid style) screeched: “Fevola sent home in disgrace”.
What happened is that Carlton full forward Brendan Fevola fell off his self-imposed wagon on the Australian international rules team’s only evening off in the entire Irish tour, and promptly got so drunk he was refused service by a local barman, put said barman in a headlock and was escorted back to his hotel by the constabulary.
AFL officials didn’t muck around, sending Fevola home while holding a presser to confirm that yes, they think he is a d-ckhead.
It is an unfortunate incident and nobody can deny that Fev was an idiot and is yet another AFL player who might need to look in the mirror and admit alcohol is something he should steer clear of as a life decision, not just to play better footy.
But a screaming front page headline, ahead of the landmark global warming report put on in London? The Fevola story spilled onto page four and even enjoyed more space there than the Howard-climate yarn.
The Herald Sun also devoted an entire page of sport to the incident, including an earnest “analysis” piece by Mark Robinson, who is not believed to be allergic to beer and in fact features in a regular column that pitches Robinson and Jon Anderson drinking while yarning about footy.
Robinson does make the great point that an AFL player exposed himself to two female members of the Australian party at a team function during the same tour two years ago and received a light slap on the wrist.
Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that Fevola would be the first or last yobbo to be escorted from an Irish pub because of drunken misbehaviour.
So, why the hysteria? Maybe it all comes down to the fact that an Irish tabloid carried the story on its front page, with the barman saying “he (Fevola) acted like a right thug”. Image is everything for the AFL and Fev paid the price. It will be a long plane ride home.