Bulldogs coach launches extraordinary personal attack on journalist during press conference

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has risked censure or sanction from the AFL after launching an extraordinary personal attack on a journalist during his post-match media conference.

Beveridge accused Fox Footy reporter Tom Morris of “gutter journalism” for reporting earlier this week that Lachie Hunter would be omitted from the Bulldogs’ team for last night’s season opener, which they lost to Melbourne.

Hunter was initially named in Dogs’ starting side on Tuesday night, but Morris’s report proved to be correct when the midfielder was moved to the medical substitute role before the match. He was only brought into the 22 as a late replacement for Jason Johannisen, who was ruled out during the warm-up due to leg soreness.

Beveridge reacted angrily when asked by Morris to clarify what had happened with selection.


“You’ve got the nerve to ask me a question, and even be here?” Beveridge said to Morris.

“You barrack for Melbourne, you’ve been preying on us. You’ve been opening us up, causing turmoil within our football club by declaring our team well before it needs to be declared. Is that the way Fox want you to operate? Is that the gutter journalist you want to be?”

Last September, Morris had broken the news that defender Ryan Gardner would be dropped by the Dogs for the Grand Final.

Despite confirming Morris’s reporting had been accurate, Beveridge questioned the journalist’s ethics and professionalism.

“Somehow you’ve found out about it again, so we need to get to the bottom of this — obviously we need to put our hand up and say there’s some leakage going on, but you’re preying on it,” Beveridge said.

“It’s a team you barrack for, your conflict of interest here is considerable. Your gutter journalism at the moment is killing us behind the scenes.”

The Western Bulldogs coach then went further, seemingly accusing Morris of jeopardising the welfare of players and staff.

There had been speculation during the week that the Bulldogs had deliberately planted the story that Hunter would be dropped in order to find out how stories were being leaked.

“This is why the health and wellbeing of people in the game is caught up in this, because we’ve got things to concentrate on performance-wise, we’ve got to look after our own and then you cause all this muckraking trash that happens behind the scenes and names get caught up into it,” Beveridge said.

“All we’re doing is planning for a football game. Are you proud of yourself?”

Morris responded: “Yes, absolutely, Fox backs me.”

When Beveridge then told the reporter he was no longer welcome in the room, Morris countered that it was not the coach’s decision to make because it was an AFL-run media conference.

“Yeah, OK, well I think we’ve got enough boys and girls — I think we’re probably done, aren’t we?”, Beveridge said as he tried to bring the session to a sudden close, before leaving with a parting shot.

“This bloke here and what he’s doing is giving everybody else a bad name, and right when we’re trying to stabilise our competition and what we do, with everything that’s gone on behind the scenes, and us as coaches and a football program with the soft cap situation as it is, and this sort of stuff happens.

“You’re an embarrassment to what you do, mate. You’re an embarrassment.”

Beveridge’s tirade drew immediate criticism from across the football industry.

“I was stunned… often the coach will be agitated, but he won’t share that,” former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said on Fox Footy.

“That’s abnormal — there’s going to be ramifications from that.”

Melbourne great Garry Lyon said Beveridge’s outburst was “a poor reflection on him as a coach”.

“I know Luke, I know how passionate he is, I know how hard he defends his turf, but he’s let himself down in this instance,” Lyon said.

“Luke doesn’t get to invite who comes to the press conference and who asks questions.”



Author: Ivan Robinson