AFL H&V Round 13: Ben Stratton and the AFL's behavioural awareness officers

Round 13 saw Dockers sharpshooter Michael Walters step up late (again), Hawks skipper Ben Stratton have an absolute shocker and the AFL take fan behaviour to an almost embarrassing level.

Here are this week's Heroes & Villains.


Eddie Betts (and Sydney Stack): We're not quite sure why there was contrived outrage regarding the very human moment between Betts and Stack late in the fourth term of Adelaide's 33-point win over Richmond on Thursday night, but let's all just take a deep breath.

Betts had just kicked a trademark outrageous goal from 'his' pocket at Adelaide Oval, and despite Stack's efforts to smother the champ's snap, the ball sailed through, sealing the game for the Crows. But what followed was a great act of respect with a smiling Eddie coming over to the the young Tiger for a quick embrace - all in good nature and good fun.

According to Betts, the pair had an exchange earlier in the game when Stack told him he wouldn't be allowed any room for magic, but Eddie's classy goal late in proceedings gave the 308-gamer a small personal victory.

It's a shame some sections of the footy media are so hell-bent on creating fake fan outrage at a wonderful moment of sportsmanship. Let the players have a human side and the game will be much better off!

The AFL's new must-see fixture: It's not your typical 'circle-it-in-your-calendar' fixture, but the Saints and Suns are building a healthy little rivalry that, dare we say, is a little reminiscent of the Eagles and Swans in the mid-2000s.

Okay, perhaps we're embellishing a little considering West Coast and Sydney each won a flag at that time and had a cumulative margin of just 13 points from their seven matches between the qualifying final in 2005 and Round 1, 2007, but the Saints have beaten the Suns by just four points, one point and two points for a cumulative margin of just seven points over their last three clashes.

Like the Swans' style of the play in the mid-2000s, Saturday's game began in dour fashion, but the finish -- and the fact the Saints came back from 31 points in arrears -- made for compelling viewing.

The four point-win in Townsville comes just a few months after their one-point thriller in Round 1, while Jade Gresham's stunning match-winner in Round 13, 2018 was one of St Kilda's best highlights in an otherwise underwhelming year.

Do not miss this game next season!

Michael Walters: No, you're not reading our Round 10 Heroes & Villains column - Michael Walters is a hero yet again.

Putting together an almighty season and one that has to have him in All-Australian discussions, the Freo sharpshooter was at his lethal best on Saturday afternoon during the Dockers' fourth quarter demolition of the Power at Optus Stadium.

Walters kicked a stunning 6.1 on the day, including some brilliant snaps from all around the forward 50m. His final two goals came at crucial points in the last to give the Dockers much-needed breathing room following an extended period of goal-for-goal action between the teams.

His final stat line? 25 disposals (11 contested), six marks, five clearances, four tackles and of course those six goals. Surely three Brownlow Medal votes as well.

In fairness, Walters wasn't the only Freo forward on song; Brandon Matera and Jesse Hogan both kicked 3.1, with Hogan playing a pivotal role behind the ball when the Power looked threatening early in the fourth term.


Ben Stratton: Ben, can you please just stop this utter nonsense?

In case you missed it on Friday night, Hawthorn skipper Ben Stratton was repeatedly seen pinching the arm of Essendon forward Orazio Fantasia. He barely stopped for the four quarters and by full time the back of Fantasia's arm had bruised up significantly.

It's not the first time Stratton has been caught using this dirty tactic. Since the AFL clamped down on gut punches, Stratton has attempted to get under his opponents' skin by literally pinching them all game long.

Still, Fantasia had the last laugh by kicking two goals in the Bombers' 19-point win, while Stratton only managed 11 disposals and had little influence

To add insult to injury, he has been referred directly to the tribunal for this case of "serious misconduct", while he was also cited for stomping, and has been slapped with a $1,000 fine for making an "obscene gesture" towards Essendon's fans.

As captain of one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the league -- and one labelled 'the family club', no less -- Stratton should be embarrassed by those actions.

The AFL's fan crackdown: According to AFL House, nothing has changed in relation to security at the footy, but the weekend again exposed the AFL for the totalitarian organisation that it is.

On Friday night, "Behavioural Awareness Officers" were spotted for the very first time prowling the Marvel Stadium concourse, while the very next evening during the Carlton vs. Western Bulldogs game, beefed-up security staring down patrons and kicking out more fans was seen.

Is the AFL really treating fans with this much disrespect that they aren't admitting a crackdown? Why are fans -- who are spending their hard-earned money to attend matches -- being treated like prisoners in the yard on a lunch break - under the constant watch of the all-seeing eye?

Talkback radio was flooded by fans saying they felt "intimidated" by the increased presence and heavy-handedness, while media personalities, too, were taken aback. Channel 7's Nat Edwards said of Friday night: "Security was staring down anyone who became animated and several fans were warned for just barracking. It was like we were being spied on."

The AFL has a massive image problem right now, from its clear mistreatment of the fans, to confusion surrounding the MRO and score review system, to the inability to admit any wrongdoing by umpires. Right now there doesn't seem to be any accountability and AFL House is just going to keep getting away with whatever it wants.

Time for a re-think, Gil. Be careful about biting the hand that feeds you.

Port's ruck duo: Many would say Paddy Ryder and Scott Lycett are the best one-two punch ruck combo in the league, but on Saturday afternoon the experienced pair were upstaged by a 21-year-old in just his 18th game.

Sean Darcy had the monster, solo task of going up against Ryder and Lycett and when the game was on the line in the final quarter he lifted and proved the difference.

In the final term at Optus Stadium, Darcy dominated the hitouts and taps to advantage as both Ryder and Lycett looked completely out of gas. His advantage in the ruck lead to Fremantle enjoying nine more clearances while the Power themselves failed to score a single point in what was a woeful last term.

Darcy, who has spent much of the season in the WAFL, finished up with 30 hitouts, 12 disposals, two clearances and two tackles but most importantly won what seemed like an impossible task at the start of the day.

Ever since their huge Round 1 win over the Demons, where they beat up on All-Australian starting ruck Max Gawn, Ryder and Lycett have been on a bit of a slide and must turn it around if the Power are to play finals.