Geelong AFL star Jimmy Bartel has lashed out at what he sees as an attack on his integrity after tumbling forward during last week’s game against Hawthorn.
Geelong’s triple-premiership star Jimmy Bartel denies he’s a diver and says he has been the victim of a witch hunt.
Bartel did admit on Thursday that last week’s incident looked bad.
The 2011 Norm Smith Medallist faced heavy criticism after he fell forward and received a free kick during the second quarter of last Saturday night’s AFL clash with Hawthorn at the MCG.
The Hawks’ Matthew Suckling was penalised for a push and Bartel kicked a goal before he was booed by fans for the rest of the game.
TV commentators suggested it looked like Bartel was staging, but added he had plenty of credits in the bank.
Collingwood’s 1990 premiership captain Tony Shaw said Bartel should have been reprimanded by the match review panel, while his former skipper Cameron Ling said it was “very un-Jimmy”.
“It’s a load of rubbish,” Bartel told SEN radio.
“If you’re running flat out for the ball and, as you’re jumping, you’ve got someone who puts any sort of contact behind you, you’re going to go forward.
“I’m not sure what people wanted me to do – maybe flip my legs out and land on my back.
“I just put my hands down actually to brace myself for a fall.
“Probably in hindsight, I shouldn’t do that. I should just fall on my back or something like that.
“I don’t pay them, I just play, and everyone else has already made their decision about me and about that free kick.
“I can see it looks bad. But I can only tell you how I was feeling at the moment.”
Bartel said he wasn’t bothered by the crowd’s reaction.
“Probably the fact I kicked a goal out of it made everyone more upset,” the 2007 Brownlow Medallist said.
“I can understand that.
“The thing that bothered me was sort of the witch hunt for the next four to five days with people saying I should be suspended and reprimanded.
“It sort of questions a bit of your integrity, the way you play the game, and I feel over my career, I’ve played the game hard and fair and within the rules.
“At no stage was I thinking, ‘free kick’. It just so happened I got one.”
The third-placed Cats host 15th-placed Brisbane on Saturday night at Simonds Stadium in the last round.
Geelong have re-signed ex-Demon Jared Rivers.