Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson has taken aim at the Adelaide media for its response to coverage of the Crows’ infamous 2018 camp amid more calls for club figures responsible at the time to take ownership.
The Crows on Monday night released a lengthy open letter to the club’s fans, apologising to Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins and any players that had a “negative experience” at the pre-season camp after shock new revelations emerged last week.
It comes after Adelaide journalist David Penberthy earlier this year slammed Nine’s Sam McClure and Wilson, who’ve both extensively reported on the camp, saying the latter’s coverage was a “miserable way to spend your post-journalistic career.”
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And speaking on Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Monday night, Wilson said she remained “baffled at the collective chip on the shoulder of certain sections of the Adelaide media where that camp was concerned”.
“I don’t know the above mentioned commentator (Penberthy), but I gather he’s flipped around a bit on the camp story since then,” Wilson said.
“Graham Cornes in his Advertiser column recently tried to portray another side of the story, and talked about more brutal camps of days gone by, and asked where then was the Victoria media pile on. Seriously, Graham?
“You boys, all of you, need to grow up, this is so childish. That story would’ve been a massive yarn wherever it’d taken place, and equally condemned. In fact it would’ve been a much bigger story if it had taken place at Collingwood or Richmond. Talk about shooting the messenger.”
The directors of Collective Mind, who organised the camp, Amon Woulfe and Derek Leddie told the Advertiser in February the Crows’ then chief executive Andrew Fagan and the club’s board had “full awareness” of the program.
The story also states the program was approved by senior club figures including coach Don Pyke, head of football Brett Burton, and doctor Marc Cesana who cleared every player as mentally and emotionally fit to attend, and was even pilot tested by one of the coaches.
And while current Crows bosses and the AFL have both apologised following last week’s revelations, McClure, who in 2020 broke the story of the camp’s details, still wasn’t satisfied those who oversaw the controversial pre-season event have taken ownership.
“We’ve talked a lot about the potential cover-up and to what extent it went. I know there’s been apologies and elements of contrition, but I stand here today still wondering who is going to take responsibility for some of the things that went on at that camp,” he said.
“They either knew about it and they deliberately lied, or they didn‘t know. I’m not sure which one’s worse.”
Fox Footy AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whateley called for all Crows figures in power at the time who’re still at the club to depart.
“I hold to the view that those who were in positions of authority at the time and oversaw this and who have actively participated in the cover-up over four and half years should depart their positions,” he said.
“(Crows director of footy Mark Ricciuto) would be one, but I doubt he’s the only one within that club that would still occupy one of those positions.“
Wilson also hit out at the AFL’s lack of accountability and why it took so long for it to act.
“For Gillon McLachlan to take four years — given the AFL’s known since 2020 what went on — to actually apologise in a stand up at an airport with Channel 7 in an exclusively arranged interview is frankly quite pathetic,” she said.
“Why the AFL did nothing then still baffles me. The cover-up has been astonishing.”
The AFLPA (Players Association) last week indicated it would effectively reopen its investigation into the camp and contact all players for a “better understanding” of what occurred, saying it would’ve taken more immediate action had it known all the information from the outset.
However McClure believes putting the onus on the players to divulge the information is “classic victim blaming” and that more action should’ve been taken at the time.
“The last people who are responsible for what went on at that camp are the players,” he said,
“It is absolute garbage to think that we could sit here and label any of those players as part of the problem. And yet when people come out and speak the truth and show great courage, we suddenly turn around the responsibility on them.
“If the AFLPA wanted to know what was going in that camp, they could’ve asked, because from where we sat, it wasn’t that hard to find out.”