Monthly Archives: September 2019

Gladiators president Frank Van Der Kroft in court

RIDING: Gladiators president Frank Van Der Kroft didn’t see who shot him on Wine Country Drive. GLADIATORS president Frank Van Der Kroft said Grant Welsh was demoted to nominee status at the Maitland chapter’s 2011 AGM, but he denied that Mr Welsh expressed himself in ‘‘colourful’’ language upon hearing the news, Newcastle District Court heard yesterday.

Mr Van Der Kroft was shot four or five times while riding his Harley Davidson along Wine Country Drive at North Rothbury before 2pm on July 22, 2012.

Mr Welsh, 36, of Ashtonfield, is accused of carrying out the shooting as an act of revenge and has pleaded not guilty to shooting with intent to murder.

Mr Van Der Kroft said Mr Welsh had been a member of the club for a number of years and had risen to sergeant-at-arms at one stage.

Mr Welsh held the rank of corporal when he was demoted to nominee status at the chapter’s 2011 annual meeting, Mr Van Der Kroft said.

Mr Welsh had to hand in his colours and later left the club of his own accord.

His barrister, Paul Rosser QC, suggested to Mr Van Der Kroft that Mr Welsh left the club immediately after his demotion and voicing his disapproval in ‘‘colourful’’ terms, but Mr Van Der Kroft said that wasn’t the case.

He said Mr Welsh left the club about a week after the meeting.

Co-accused Andrew Pickering was a former president of the Gunnedah chapter, Mr Van Der Kroft said.

Mr Pickering, 41, of Ashtonfield, has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He and Mr Welsh are accused of following Mr Van Der Kroft in two cars before Mr Welsh, who was being driven by another man, produced a pistol and shot Mr Van Der Kroft four or five times.

Mr Van Der Kroft said he didn’t see who shot him.

He was shown footage of a fight at the Hunter Valley Brewery in Maitland about a month before the shooting involving a number of Gladiators and Mr Welsh, however, Mr Van Der Kroft said he didn’t recognise anyone in the footage because of its poor quality.

The trial, before Judge Helen Wilson, continues.

Karl Stefanovic gives Jesinta Campbell his car

Car loan: Jesinta Campbell and Buddy Franklin getting into Karl Stefanovic’s car. Photo: infausy-42Karl Stefanovic has come to the car rescue of Jesinta Campbell and her boyfriend Buddy Franklin. Somewhat randomly, Stefanovic offered his car to the couple after the Swans player smashed Campbell’s sponsored vehicle last Wednesday in Rose Bay.

The Today Show host has loaned the car to Campbell while he is overseas on a job filming for 60 Minutes.

The two share a manager, Sharon Finnigan as well as a sponsorship deal with Jeep Chrysler. Finnigan presented all her major stars, including Samantha Armytage and Natalie Barr, with the key to a Jeep Cherokee as a Christmas bonus in December 2012.

Campbell and Franklin were photographed driving in Stefanovic’s Jeep SRT 8 – a top-of-the-range Jeep Cherokee – as the pair visited Finnigan. They were pictured collecting items of clothing and loading them into the car.

Campbell is driving Stefanovic’s car until her new car is ready to be collected on Friday. Her promo vehicle was a completely written-off after Franklin’s unexplained crash into three parked vehicles on Old South Head Road last week.

”Karl had to shoot a story overseas so he said to Jess to ‘use the car while I’m away’,” Finnigan told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

”Fiat Chrysler needed a couple of days to get sorted and are getting her another car on Friday. It will be an Alfa Romeo she will be driving, I think, till they get a Jeep in.”

Finnigan said the loan was simply a friend being a friend.

”They’re great mates and lending her his car while he was away seemed obvious. He said ‘use mine, I’m going overseas – yours will be ready to use this week’.”

Stefanovic’s sponsor car is the same as the one Campbell wrote off, although his is Gold and hers was a darker silver-grey colour. The original car is reported to be in a smash repair yard in Brookvale.

Franklin was charged with negligent driving following the incident. He registered a negative breath test and denied he was texting at the time of the accident.

“I wasn’t texting, I wasn’t doing anything at all, I wasn’t speeding. It was just an accident, accidents happen,” he said at the time. “I am truly sorry for the inconvenience I have caused.”

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The man who will be king of the AFL

The story of how Gillon McLachlan made his first dollar does nothing for the perception that he has led a silver-spoon existence.

As a young boy, he and brother Hamish were told by their father, Angus, that under no circumstances would pocket money be handed out in the household.

That they would work almost every daylight hour while growing up on the family cattle and sheep farm, at Mount Pleasant in South Australia, was an expectation. If the boys wanted fiscal rewards, they would have to find their own means. This led the inseparable pair to the old woolshed on the property. More specifically, to 100 years’ worth of accumulated sheep manure. In the heap of dung, Gill and Hamish spotted opportunity. Soon enough, this saw the enterprising duo take to hands and knees in order to prepare chaff bags full of the stuff for local ladies willing to pay for garden fertiliser.

The McLachlan who, at age 40, would go on to win the most powerful and high-earning job in Australian sport, did not stop there.

‘‘With his share of the money we earned, Gill bought a pig,’’ Hamish, 38, recalled on Wednesday after watching his older brother speak for the first time officially as the AFL’s next top dog.

‘‘Then he bred pigs.’’

Unsophisticated as all this may have been, it marked an early commercial success.

While Gillon, as an AFL executive who was earmarked early for big things, went on to cut a record broadcast rights deal, Hamish, working in television and radio, became one of the band who broadcasts the nation’s richest and most popular football code. Their younger brothers, Banjo, 35, and Will, 30, have pursued contrasting occupations, one in the law and the other taking a recent step into the arts.

From the moment he landed on the AFL beat 14 years ago, the eldest of the McLachlan boys – with his smooth and supremely confident presentation, private school upbringing, Melbourne University qualifications, penchant for polo and connections in high places to match – has been easy to box.

Hamish, who considers Gillon his best friend, acknowledges his brother’s intellect, fierce competitiveness and relatively rapid rise, but presents a richer picture from what he terms a ‘‘solid grounding’’. The Gillon he knows ‘‘disappears’’ whenever he gets the chance to the Otways hinterland near the small Victorian township of Birregurra, where their mother, Sylvia – who separated more than a decade ago from her former husband – now lives.

‘‘Any weekend he can, Gill goes to mum’s, drenches the cattle and plants trees with the kids. They’re in charge of watering the trees so they can learn how to grow and create,’’ Hamish said.

‘‘I can’t keep up with him. He rarely sleeps. On a long weekend he could drive up to mum’s farm, fix fences, drive home, see the footy and then get back to the farm in six hours.’’

With wife Laura, the daughter of former Spotless chairman Brian Blythe, Gillon has three children – two girls, Edie and Cleo, and a son, Sidney. ‘‘His primary concern in his life is his family and his friends,’’ Hamish said. ‘‘That’s what he gets out of bed for and that’s why he goes to work. To be able to provide.

‘‘And while it’s perhaps hard to imagine when you see him being bombarded by press, the best days that Gill and I have had have been watching amateur footy with the races in one ear, footy in the other, and trying to get the quaddie.’’

As for how his big brother will negotiate the most high-profile job in Australian sport, Hamish says: ‘‘I don’t know how he will be different, but I’m sure he will be different. Gillon is really conscious of his strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, I think he will try to get a great team around him.’’

‘‘I’m nervous for him. But I’ve got an enormous faith in his ability. He has always been an extraordinary achiever.’’

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TOPICS: Political sponsors miss advertising opportunity

UNIFORMS for politicians that display their sponsors. Why didn’t we think of that?

The idea belongs to a small political party in the UK, but Topics reckons it’d be a winner here.

‘‘Politicians should wear uniforms like race car drivers so we can identify their corporate sponsors,’’ tweeted the National Health Action Party, with this image of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mind you, with the number of NSW political sponsors – and fronts for the sponsors – alleged this week, something bigger than a suit might be required to fit them all in. Maybe a team bus. Or a blimp.

CUNNING: Tony Robinson knows how to deal with enthusiastic fans.

SIR Tony Robinson, best-known as Baldrick from Blackadder, has still got it.

The comedian and presenter, in Newcastle to film an episode of Tony Robinson’s Tour of Duty for the History Channel, was asked by a reporter about Blackadder fans.

For instance, what’s it like when people come up and quote lines at him?

‘‘Oh, it’s very flattering,’’ Robinson said.

‘‘There’s no better endorsement of your work than to have people quote it years later.’’

The reporter pressed on.

‘‘So what do you say when someone comes up and says …’’

And here she quoted a slab of Blackadder dialogue too dense for us to recall. Robinson thought about it, then answered brightly.

‘‘F— off.’’

START HIM UP: Mick Jagger knows a thing or two about the ladies.

REMEMBER when tickets to your favourite band only cost an arm, a leg and a week’s pay?

Well it’s considerably more if you plan to catch rock’s leading dinosaurs at Hope Estate in November. While general tickets to the Rolling Stones are steep enough, dinner, concert and wine packages are going for $1475 per person. No. You can’t always get what you want.

Of course, it all depends how you look at it. For instance, that it’s only $5 multiplied by each year the four members of the Stones have been alive. And if you divided it by the number of ladies Mick Jagger’s put the moves on, you wouldn’t be left with enough for a soft serve at Macca’s.

NO KIDDING: Nathan Tinkler.

WHEN you’ve got ICAC, who needs Game of Thrones?

Actually, the quotes from the ICAC hearings are more entertaining than the hearings themselves. They don’t make for great TV.

Still, we’ve been treated to lines like Nathan Tinkler’s instant classic: ‘‘oh mate u r f—ing kidding me’’.

Which is applicable in a range of situations. We’ve used it twice today. Try it out.

We’ve also met characters like Matthew Lusted, a builder from Wyong, who Fairfax’s Kate McClymont described as ‘‘wearing a dazzling collection of lapel pins’’ and ‘‘looking around incredulously’’.

You could say the Hunter’s in the grip of ICAC fever (we wouldn’t), judging by a sign out the front of a shop in Newcastle East.

‘‘Hallo juicy ICAC,’’ it read.

For political junkies and corruption connoisseurs, this must feel like finals time.

New AFL chief outlines his vision

Gillon McLachlan with Mike Fitzpatrick. Photo: Pat ScalaNew AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says he has a ”clear vision” for the league’s future, declaring improving the financial health of battling clubs, engaging with supporters and dealing with the escalating price of tickets were his priority.

McLachlan’s expected appointment was officially confirmed on Wednesday, with AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick revealing there had been 100 initial applicants, with this list slashed to 20 and then to a final three.

Geelong chief Brian Cook and Richmond counterpart Brendon Gale were interviewed by the AFL Commission on Monday, with McLachlan offered the job that evening.

Insisting he will have a different style to Demetriou’s sometimes confrontational manner and suggesting there will be executive and staff changes, McLachlan, who will also sit on the commission but not have a deputy, said he would have two “pressing” issues to deal with.

“The continued support and structural improvement of our weaker clubs, having a strong competition,” he said.

”I think also engaging with our fans and understanding the challenges and really, in my words, taking away any incumbrance, whether they be financial or scheduling or logistical from them being able to pursue their passion and going to the football.”

While attendance figures are slightly down this season, McLachlan, 40, said he didn’t feel there was a ”disconnect” between league headquarters and supporters but admitted there was work to be done.

”I don’t know how big that challenge is. I completely accept that we need to listen to the fans, we need to work incredibly hard on dealing with the issues they have and the challenges they have with going to our game,” McLachlan said.

”We will be addressing the cost of going to the football. Cost is more than just ticketing. It is ticketing charges, it is food and beverage, it is the total cost.”

Fitzpatrick admitted the league had endured a ”difficult” start to the season and ticket prices ”had certainly been an issue”. He said the AFL had failed to sell its variable ticket pricing ”particularly well” but more time was needed to determine its success.

Questioned on a range of issues, McLachlan, regarded in the industry as a top negotiator, said outside of the commission, he would answer to ”four masters” – the fans, community, clubs and players.

”They often have competing interests. It is my commitment that I will never prioritise one at the expense of the other,” he said.

South-Australian born McLachlan, having rejected an approach by the National Rugby League in 2012, admitted he would have quit the AFL had he not been awarded the top job. He had been groomed for the role for three years.

”I think the reality is I would have had to have left. The short answer is yes. I think everyone understands and accepts that. That wouldn’t have been in a fit of pique, that’s just a reality,” he said.

McLachlan, a life member of VAFA club Uni Blues and president of the Victorian Polo Club, said he was in favour of retaining an afternoon grand final and said he liked the centre bounce, although he did not guarantee it would remain.

He reaffirmed he would prefer Tasmania to eventually support the one team, a stance that  recently drew a sharp response from Hawthorn and North Melbourne, which each host matches in the state.

”My vision for Tasmania is that we have a one-state approach. That means the north and the south working together to come in behind one team. Whether that’s possible, it’s a very challenging proposition but that is what Tasmanians ultimately need to become, one team, and that’s an aspiration,” he said.

McLachlan said his desire for a ”truly national” competition did not yet involve more expansion.

”I believe we have the right amount of teams for the foreseeable future, whether that’s five or 10 years. (But) it means consolidating the expansion teams, it means having a clear future in Tasmania, it means finishing and building a stadium in Burswood to deliver on a first-class stadium for all West Australians. It means ensuring that all people in the ACT buy into the Giants,” he said.

McLachlan said a decision on Good Friday football would be made at the June commission meeting.

Fitzpatrick said he would remain ”indefinitely” as chairman, a role he has held since 2007.

Demetriou will remain with the AFL until Thursday June 5, by which time it is expected the AFL will have ratified its new equalisation measures to help the less wealthy clubs. That will also be the day after the AFL’s Hall of Fame dinner.

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