Former AFL star Brendan Fevola has hit out at Richmond’s decision to pick Aussie superstar Ash Barty to present the premiership cup should the Tigers win on Saturday night.
Richmond and Geelong will square off at the Gabba with the winner claiming premiership glory in what has been a rollercoaster 2020 season.
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Barty, a diehard Tigers fan, has made waves throughout the finals series as she cheers on the yellow and black from the stands.
The Tigers announced Barty as their choice to present the cup with Geelong selecting club legend Ian Nankervis should they claim the win.
But it was Barty being named that didn’t sit well with two-time Coleman Medal winner in Fevola, who said the call was like picking any member from the cheer squad.
“I just don’t think it’s football,’’ Fevola said on Fox FM’s Fifi, Fev and Byron.
“She’s a supporter, she was in the grandstand about 150 rows back last week with a pot going, ‘yes’.
“I love Ash Barty. She’s a supporter, she’s like a cheer squad member.
“But should she be giving away the premiership cup to the premiership captain and coach? I don’t think so. I think it should be a past player, she has nothing to do with the Richmond Football Club apart from being a supporter.
“We’re not going to see (Richmond captain) Trent Cotchin hand her the Australian Open at Melbourne Park come January. They would never do that the tennis association.”
Ash Barty punching the air, not spilling a drop! Seven grab 04.10.20Source:Supplied
Fevola said the swell for Barty only grew thanks to the Channel 7 cameras constantly panning to her in the crowd throughout the finals series.
“I love Ash Barty, she’s brilliant and a great person,” Fevola said.
“If she wasn’t at the footy when they played Brisbane in the first final drinking a pot of beer and cheering when Daniel Rioli kicked a goal, she wouldn’t be giving the cup away today. She got so much publicity.
“The next match on the Gold Coast they got her a Richmond jumper with Barty on it, we’ll get on the coat-tails of this.
“I know what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to look good.
“Virtue signalling, that’s the one.”
The decision to announce the 24-year-old world number one, went against AFL “tradition” according to Fevola.
“I never played in a Grand Final, it’s probably not my space so might be unpopular,’’ he said.
“But … tradition is big in the AFL. And it’s a thing we live by in the AFL.
“I love the history that our game has. In the history of our game on Grand Final day when it comes to the end and a team wins, a past champion will present the cup, which is great.
“Last year was Tommy Hafey’s wife, she was with Tommy for a long time, she lived football and she took people in. And Tommy couldn’t be there because he’s passed away.
“This year they’ve got Ian Nankervis who’s a great of the Geelong Football Club, past captain, he would present if they win. This year the Tigers have nominated Ash Barty, a tennis player, and I don’t like it at all.”
Barty soaking in the finals action.Source:Supplied
Of course not everyone thought the decision went against tradition, with Richmond great Matthew Richardson saying the Barty call was a “fantastic choice” and presenting the premiership cup wasn’t just for past players.
This below. Never been reserved for past players. @ashbarty is fantastic choice to present the cup if the Tigers win Saturday. #afl https://t.co/pPqUqiYlpi
Barty was caught off guard when Richmond asked her to present the cup, but said she was extremely grateful for the opportunity.
“I was surprised and very honoured when Peggy asked me to present the Cup. I know there are many other Richmond people who would normally do this but given the circumstances I am very grateful for the opportunity,” Barty said.
“I wish the boys all the best for Saturday and very much hope I have the chance to be out there when the siren goes celebrating another Richmond Premiership.
“I am a long-time fan of the Tigers and so proud to be associated with the Club. I trained at the Club for several years with a lot of the boys and have loved watching the Tigers on my travels, supporting them has been a constant source of enjoyment for me on the road. I have a huge admiration and respect for the Club on and off the field, what they have achieved over the last decade is incredible.”
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