Leigh Matthews roasted by AFL fans over 'laughable' claim about Adelaide free kick farce

The AFL legend has made a stunning claim about who really should have been awarded the free kick.

AFL legend Leigh Matthews has made extraordinary claims that it was actually Adelaide who should have been pinged for a free kick in the final seconds of their controversial loss to Essendon. With the Crows launching one final attacking raid and scrambling for the ball in the forward square, Bombers player Sam Draper dived on top of it and should have been done for holding the ball.

Under AFL rules, players aren't allowed to dive on top of the ball and hold it in, and should be pinged for a free kick if they do so. It should have given the Crows a shot at goal to win the game, but the closest umpire didn't call the free kick and the siren sounded to give Essendon a 78-75 victory.

Leigh Matthews, pictured here alongside Taylor Walker.
Leigh Matthews reckons Taylor Walker actually should have been pinged. Image: Fox Footy/Channel 9

The AFL admitted on Saturday that it was 'technically' a free kick to the Crows, but the league backed the umpire's call due to how difficult it would have been because of the mad scramble. But according to Matthews, it should have been Essendon being given the free kick because Taylor Walker tackled Draper in the back.

Walker jumped on top of Draper after he'd dived on the ball, which Matthews reckons was against the rules. "[Walker] jumped on his back. It should have been a free kick to Draper," he said on Channel 9 program 'Footy Furnace' on Sunday night.

Taylor Walker and Sam Draper.
Taylor Walker jumped on Sam Draper's back after he'd flopped on the ball. Image: Fox Footy

"Seriously, in the back is one of the fundamental rules of the game and I understand the umpires don't seem to play it that way. But if a player is lying on the ground and you jump on top of his back surely that's in the back.

" I mean anyone can look at the replays and say, 'Well, that was a bit of smartarsery from Sam Draper' with the benefit of hindsight. But the umpires at ground level - with (players') legs everywhere - it's easy for them to be uncertain of exactly what transpired. It's easier on the replay."

What Matthews failed to recognise was that as soon as Draper flopped on the ball he broke the rules, meaning Walker's actions were irrelevant. Fans on social media were quick to roast the AFL legend, with many describing it as the 'worst take ever'.


AFL admits umpire got it wrong and Crows were dudded

The AFL released a statement on Saturday, saying: "In the moment and at ground level, the umpires believed that Draper dived on the ball, and then the ball came out to Draper's left [hand], and was then knocked back under him by Walker. In review and with the assistance of the broadcast angle and behind the goals Hawkeye vision providing a clearer look, you can see that the ball moves from under Draper's chest to under his armpit/shoulder, which means the ball is still in his possession and he's not immediately knocked it clear.

"Therefore it technically should have been a holding the ball free kick. It's a very challenging one for the umpires in this situation, with the ball on the ground, to see exactly where the ball is, under a large number of players (there were 17 Essendon players in the area) and who has control of it. On ground level they were not certain of all these factors, so they didn't pay it - which is the correct approach at the time."

AFL greats Nathan Buckley and Luke Hodge both declared the umpire got it wrong at the time. "Technically in any part on the field at any time of the game, that is holding the ball," Buckley said. Hodge added: "It's a free kick in any way you look at that. They made the wrong decision, that should have been a free kick and Tex Walker should have been having a shot on goal. Without a shadow of a doubt."