As the fall-out over the dramatic ending of a friendship between two of the AFL’s biggest names continues, a study by the Australian Institute Of Sport has identified the breakdown of long-standing friendships between former footballers and is very common.

In fact, the estimated number of present and past AFL stars that are currently rooting another mates’ wife sits at roughly 54%.

An example of this was seen earlier this week, when AFL Footy Show commentator Billy Brownless, was reported to have confronted former good mate and colleague Garry Lyon about an affair he is believed to have had with Brownless’ ex-wife.

“Lyon, Brownless, Carey, Stevens.. That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

Lead researcher for the AIS, Vena Orbison says this has been happening for years.

“We have found that this is a result of the AFL alumni living in such a tight-knit community, these men are used to sharing the spotlight, the footy field, locker rooms, and premierships,”

“It’s hard for them to tell what they can and cannot share with each other,”

“While the wives are often welcoming to advances from their husband’s teammates, they should not be blamed for this – as they are simply viewed as an extension of the AFL community and the player they choose to marry,”

Professor Orbison says that while some footballers remain faithful to their wives throughout an entire marriage, it is when marriages end that the lines become blurred for their teammates.

“We have learnt of certain clubs employing representatives of June Dally-Watkins school of etiquette. This is a strategy used to help educate these men, young and old, that they are not allowed to take liberties with their mate’s wives,” says Orbison

Richmond Tigers Etiquette Coach, Wendy Waverley says it is always a hard job to enforce boundaries with a new draft. She says while it is inspiring to see grown men living such co-dependent lives, it can create friction when a culture of communism grows within a club.

“I have to run seminars each season on the difference between a team and an individual. Wallets, phones, car keys, wives and girlfriends are the ones that they get most confused by,”

“Inevitably there will always be at least three of four who try to leave the sessions with someone else’s phone or car,”

“I feel sorry for the likes of Wayne Carey and Garry Lyon… They didn’t have access to this kind of support when they were players,”



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