‘Naked’ footballer smacked with multi game ban
Steele Sidebottom has been whacked with a four-week ban after it emerged he was picked up by police drunk and half-naked on the streets of Williamstown at 7.30am on Sunday.
The AFL has come down hard on the Magpies vice-captain as the competition reels from Victoria's deepening COVID-19 crisis.
The league found Sidebottom broke three of its strict coronavirus protocols by staying longer than he should have at teammate Jeremy Howe's house on Saturday, travelling in an Uber and visiting the home of Daniel Wells, who is not in the club's COVID-compliant "bubble".
Sidebottom's marathon weekend bender followed his side's narrow loss to Greater Western Sydney on Friday night.
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The Magpies and Sidebottom slammed the four-week ban as "excessive (and) inconsistent with recent protocol breaches and contestable" but said they had accepted the verdict "for the greater good of the game".
A witness, who was with a friend outside the Williamstown housing lodge on Sunday morning, said they saw Sidebottom, 29, in a semi-dressed state.
"All he wanted to do was get in (the housing lodge) because he was cold and freezing," the witness said.
"I was there, I was visiting my mate and he looked naked and the coppers knew him straight away."
The temperature on Sunday morning dropped as low as 2C.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said Sidebottom's recollection of events over the course of his booze up "isn't that great''.
Teammate Lynden Dunn, who was with Sidebottom in the Uber, has copped a one-week ban.
The pair had visited Howe to console him after scans showed the star defender would miss the bulk of the season with a knee injury.
"In speaking with Steele, he's quite embarrassed about the situation," Buckley said.
"He's obviously remorseful about the decisions that were made, but he's also in some ways confused about what has taken place.
"At some point obviously with his drinking he's made some poor decisions but his recollection isn't that great.
"He hasn't been consuming as much alcohol (before the weekend) and one of the theories is that he wasn't able to handle what he consumed at Howe's place
"In the end they are details to try and explain in some way what's happened in the evening, or in Steele's understanding of it.
"He's suitably embarrassed and very contrite as you'd understand."
Buckley said Sidebottom's decision to head to former teammate Wells' house after finishing up with Howe was a "poor" one.
"That was probably the next bad decision, and things have headed a little bit off the tracks at that point," Buckley said.
"Steele obviously needed to get help home and in his recollection can't remember a lot around what happened that evening.
"He found himself home sometime the next morning."
Buckley described Sidebottom's actions as out of character.
"This is an event, not a pattern and we're treating it as such," he said.
"We're trying to support Steele through it because his major emotion is embarrassment at the moment."
"The initial idea to go over to Howie's on Saturday afternoon was in terms of love and care for his teammate.
"We also see that part of it as well.
"He's been a great support and he's been playing great footy.
"He had a quiet one on Friday night and potentially all of those things weighed on top of one another."
WHERE IT WENT WRONG
SIDEBOTTOM'S NIGHT OUT
- Played against GWS Giants in Sydney on Friday night, stayed overnight in Sydney.
- Flew back to Melbourne with team on Saturday afternoon.
-Sidebottom went to injured teammate Jeremy Howe's house in the afternoon. Teammate Lynden Dunn also joined.
- At about 12am, Sidebottom and Dunn took an Uber from Howe's place to drop Dunn off at his home. Sidebottom then went on to ex-teammate and Pies staff member Daniel Wells' house.
- Just before 7.30am on Sunday, police find Sidebottom at Hanmer Street, Williamstown. He was partially naked before being taken home by police.
Originally published as 'Naked' Pie smacked with multi game ban