A dramatic incident with Steven May prematurely ended the career of Suns veteran Campbell Brown when the club decided to sack him on December 3rd. It followed the news that Brown had broken his teammate’s jaw in a scuffle while the team was in Los Angeles. Despite being quite sudden and unexpected, it is a step in the right direction for the young squad from the Gold Coast. Putting it bluntly, Campbell Brown is about five or six years past his prime, and a prime which had an inflated perspective in the footballing world. Brown was always a player that was more aggression than skill and in today’s game that just is not a viable way of fitting into the team’s needs.
His sacking has opened up the door for a number of young players who are bursting with potential and hunger to drag the Suns up the ladder. The newest crop of draftees picked up by Gold Coast now leave them as a club that won’t put up with incidents that are not becoming of a professional sportsman. Kade Kolodjashnij, Jack Leslie and Sean Lemmens enter a team that is stronger than they were before with the proverbial black sheep released from the herd. In the last few days Suns coach Guy McKenna has thanked Brown for his contribution to the young club, citing his passion for the game as a major positive. However, there is a fine line between passion and the overenthusiastic approach that led to the forward being suspended a number of times.
The other positive stemming from this situation is the message it sends to every player in the league. This culture of violence and misbehaviour that has plagued Australian sport and the football codes in particular can be hopefully begin to be stamped out. The Brendan Fevolas and Campbell Browns are starting to dissolve from the league. Brown may have fit in perfectly during his father Mal’s era but now he sticks out like a sore thumb. The importance of public image and team culture is taking precedence over the rock star lifestyle that previous generations experienced.
Just look at this year’s number one draft pick, Tom Boyd. He handles himself with an unbelievable modesty and professionalism despite only being 18 years old. If people like Boyd are the future of the sport than there will be an extremely positive message being sent to the children who idolise the champions of the AFL.