Bartel clear for Wizard Cup final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bartel clear for Wizard Cup final

By Adam Cooper 09/03/2004 07:13:32 PM Comments (0)

Geelong midfielder James Bartel is free to play in Saturday night's Wizard Cup final against St Kilda after escaping a charge at the AFL tribunal of attempting to trip an opponent.

Bartel convinced the tribunal he stuck his right leg out involuntarily towards Melbourne's James McDonald in the dying stages of last Friday night's semi-final because he lost his footing on the sandy Telstra Dome surface.

Bartel, one of the Cats' best in the one-point win over Melbourne, said he lost his balance as he followed the ball when McDonald feigned to the right and by having his left foot "jam" into the ground, accidentally put his right foot out as he tried to regain his balance.

The 20-year-old said it was never his intention to trip McDonald and while the tribunal ruled there was slight contact - but not enough for the Demon to lose his footing - gave Bartel the benefit of the doubt.

Tribunal chairman Brian Collis, QC, said to find Bartel guilty the tribunal had to be satisfied his action was deliberate.

But Collis said that was difficult and ruled in the onballer's favour.

Bartel's availability is a huge bonus for Geelong, which is chasing its first piece of silverware since its 1963 premiership and will try to break a run of seven grand final defeats (four day, three night) since its last flag.

Despite that unenviable record, Geelong forward Ben Graham said the Cats didn't care for the past and were keen to make their own history.

"Winning certainly does change the mentality of a few people, but I think the stigma attached is a long time ago," said Graham, who played in the Cats' 1995 day grand final loss to Carlton.

"A lot of these guys weren't born around the `60s and early `70s.

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