In light of Tuesday night’s Tribunal decision to suspend Andrew Gaff for eight weeks, we’ve decided to go back through and look at the longest suspensions in history.
To qualify for this list, the incident must have occurred at a game and on the field of play from anywhere between 1990 to now.
Alastair Lynch – 2004 vs. Port Adelaide – 10 games
In 2004, Brisbane were going for an unbelievable fourth premiership in a row. Now that wouldn’t eventuate, but it didn’t stop Alastair Lynch from going down swinging, literally.
It was late in the first quarter when Lynch went at Darryl Wakelin and the two didn’t much around. They started wrestling and throwing punches almost immediately. At one point Jason Akermanis and Gavin Wanganeen looked as if they would join/intervene, however they both thought better of it.
It was a violent incident that Lynch would go on to regret. He never served his 10 game ban, due to retiring after that match.
Steven Baker – 2010 vs. Geelong – 9 games
It was a grand final rematch and Steven Baker and Steve Johnson had a bone to pick with each other.
It all began with Johnson throwing a wild elbow into the face of Baker after the latter was niggling the Cat. From there, Baker would strike the Norm Smith Medallist a number of times. One of the hits included a hit to the injured hand of Johnson.
After accepting guilty pleas to number of the charges, Baker would be suspended for nine games. At the time, a number of AFL analysts did not agree with the ban that was handed down.
Johnson would miss three games due to his role in what occurred.
Greg Williams – 1997 vs. Essendon – 9 games
It stands as one of the more controversial suspensions in AFL history. After a round one game between Carlton and Essendon, Bombers player Sean Denham was getting into a heated argument with a number of Carlton players. Williams wasn’t pleased with what was going on, and while he was talking back at Denham gave a slight push to umpire Andrew Coates who was holding him back.
Despite the relatively innocuous push from Williams, he was suspended for a historic nine matches. Carlton then took the ban through the court system, and it was eventually dismissed. However, the AFL then appealed that decision and it was reinstated.
Due to the process, Williams suspension was set to begin in round 17, however he retired and never served the ban.
Andrew Gaff – 2018 vs. Fremantle – 8 games
Despite never having been suspended, fined or even reprimanded in his career before this moment, Andrew Gaff’s major brain fade sees him ranked high on this list.
The All-Australian was a genuine Brownlow Medal threat this season, although one big hit on Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw saw both players’ seasons end.
Gaff was hit with an eight-game ban, while Brayshaw suffered a broken jaw, and saw three of his lower teeth displaced.
Brayshaw can not eat solid foods for a month after the incident. Ouch.
Dean Solomon – 2008 vs. Geelong – 8 games
In his second year since leaving Essendon, the Docker crunched Cameron Ling with a high elbow after the Geelong tagger had released a handball.
The hit resulted in a broken cheekbone and eye socket for Ling. The eight games he was suspended for was the longest singular incident ban since Williams in 1997 (Lynch’s was from a number of hits/incidents).
Solomon apologised directly after the game for his action and also explained how he and Ling were in fact friends.
Barry Hall – 2008 vs. West Coast – 7 games
The most infamous incident of the past decade, who could forget Hall’s vicious left hand hook. It resulted in a seven game ban for the Swan, and the vision shown around the world.
Hall has never really been able to shake the bad boy tag, and this hit is the first thing that springs to mind for many AFL fans. Like Lynch he has gone on to state that the incident is one of his biggest regrets in football.
Staker took no further part in the game, and like Hall is also predominantly remembered for this hit.
Steven Baker – 2007 vs. Fremantle – 7 games
The only suspension on this list that we don’t have footage of. In a game being played at the Telstra Dome, Baker was found guilty of rough conduct and suspended for an incredible seven games.
The Saint’s actions led to a broken nose, lacerated lip, and concussion for Docker Jeff Farmer. There was no video evidence of the incident, thus the tribunal relied upon eye witness accounts from other players and club officials.
Another reason for the length of Baker’s ban was his previous record, and carry over points from past incidents.
Richie Vandenberg – 2004 vs. Essendon – 6 games
The ‘Line in the Sand’ match is one of the more memorable games in AFL history. After years of Essendon intimidating the Hawks and many other teams, Hawthorn made a stand. However, it boiled over into one of the biggest melee’s we’ve seen.
Richie Vandenberg, a future captain of the Hawks, was the most involved of any player, hence the lengthy suspension. He was charged with striking Adam McPhee, making unnecessary and unreasonable contact with his leg to McPhee, and engaging in a melee.
There were a number of penalties handed out from that game, however Vandenberg’s was the most severe.