Tony Liberatore believes the sledge Will Minson (front) directed at Port Adelaide's Danyle Pearce regarding his mother was
Tony Liberatore believes the sledge Will Minson (front) directed at Port Adelaide's Danyle Pearce regarding his mother was "totally unacceptable". Robert Cianflone - Getty Images

Even yappa Libba had boundaries

TONY Liberatore took tagging to new levels during his career with the Western Bulldogs. The little bloke won a Brownlow Medal in 1990 as a ball-winner, but will be best remembered as a ball-buster.

He made annoying an art form with his brand of niggling tactics out on the field. On top of the physical pressure he would apply to his opponents was the verbal barrage he subjected them to - from the first bounce to the final siren.
He was relentless. No matter who it was.

"But, it was more sort of tongue-in-cheek," Libba recalled this week. "To try and put him off his game, I remember one day I said to (Brisbane great) Michael Voss, apart from me, you are the worst Brownlow Medallist that has ever played.

"I had to try and stop him from getting 100 kicks for the game.

"He had a big chuckle over that. That was a bit of fun. It was more banter."

His opponents may disagree, but even the little yappa Libba had boundaries. While he says, "a lot of the sledging was more about them as individuals", race was off limits - even though he would cop an earful himself, opposition players pointing out his ethnicity, his parents being Italian.

"I probably got called 'Wog' a couple of times … well, more than a couple of times. That was very early '90s, and it was probably accepted."

Also a no-go area was family, and he believes the crude sledge Will Minson, a teammate of Libba's son Tom at the Bulldogs, directed at Port Adelaide's Danyle Pearce regarding his mother as "totally unacceptable".

Minson has long had a reputation as being intelligent off the field - he's studying civil engineering, speaks fluent German and can play the saxophone.

Having had a little bit to do with him back in Melbourne, he does come across as a 'decent bloke'. He seemed genuinely apologetic the other day, when condemning his actions, holding back tears.

But, it seems when he crosses that white line the 27-year-old he loses a few brain cells.

There is still a place for some form of sledging, as long as players keep it within strict limits, and throw in some creativity.

It was a big part of both Brisbane and Geelong's dominance in recent times.

While copping it from Libba, three-time Lions premiership skipper Voss was up there with the best of them when it came to upsetting opponents with a quiet word or two.

One famous story had Voss trying to put off a St Kilda player who had just been awarded a free kick and was lining up for goal 20m out, by yelling out something along the lines of - "Oi! My dad had sexual relations with your mum!"

The Saints player was his brother Brett, who promptly kicked the ball out on the full.

 

Best Sledges

A SLEDGE from a supporter backfired when he fired off this at Justin Madden, who had just crossed to Carlton from Essendon, where his brother Simon was skipper: "You're a moron Madden. You will never be as good as your brother Justin."

WORD has it three-time Brisbane premiership defender Justin Leppitsch gave a young Lance 'Buddy' Franklin some lip in his first game against the Lions, only to cop this from the Hawk star in return: "I'd rather be dead than red."

CHRIS Judd has been receiving plenty of stick from old team the West Coast since he left it for Carlton in 2007, one former teammate questioning whether the champ's suspect shoulders would continue to hold up. Judd famously replied: "Well, they would be stuffed after carrying you guys for the last four years".

ESSENDON premiership player Adam Ramanauskas has called for all sledges to be banned, and you probably can't blame him. He fought cancer during his career, only to cop this from Port's Brett Montgomery: "I think the chemo fried your brain".

It's one of those 'not-on' comments!



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