Waalitj Marawaar (West Coast Eagles) midfielder Reuben Ginbey says unwanted crowd contact is something players ‘definitely don’t want’ following an incident at Marvel Stadium involving his teammate.

On Monday the AFL announced a Collingwood member had been suspended for a strange incident involving first-year Harvey Johnston during Sunday’s match at Marvel Stadium. 

During the final quarter, the fan reached over the fence, and grabbed and patted Johnston’s head before taking the ball from his hands. 

The AFL banned the fan from attending all matches for 12 months, with six months suspended. The Magpies also suspended the fan’s membership. 

Although the incident was harmless, Ginbey told SportFM that stepping in and setting the standards makes it obvious this contact is unacceptable moving forward.

“I guess a lot of that’s getting speculated lately, the verbal and social media abuse of players,” he said.

“I don’t know if I can call it physical abuse, but definitely don’t want to be touched and hugged all over the face. Especially not like that. 

“I think that’s something that stepping in and setting the line pretty straight, makes it pretty obvious for the future going forward.”

Following the announcement of the ban, the Collingwood member has since expressed remorse for the incident and says he will learn from it. 

Johnston – who is in his second game of AFL footy after debuting in round 8 – appeared unphased by the incident. 

However, Ginbey has emphasised the contact he received is something players shouldn’t get from the crowd. 

“He’s a super skilful player, can use both feet. He’s been elite in WAFL and he’s really earned his spot on our side now,” he said.

“That hug he got from the fan, I don’t think he minded too much but I think that’s something we definitely can’t get from the crowd.”

Looking ahead, West Coast returns to Optus Stadium this Sunday to take on Naarm (Melbourne) after their 66-point defeat to Collingwood last weekend. 

The Eagles’ record at home has been significantly better than on the road, with two wins and two losses – including the near win against the Bombers in round 8.

Ginbey says the form on the road is something they’re looking to improve on when they travel to Adelaide in round 11.

“The difference between us last year and this year is a 60-point loss for us last year was we’d probably only look at the positives,” he said.

“This year, we were honest as a group and that was really disappointing. Our form at home has been great and our midfield has been really strong at home, but we haven’t been out quite do that on the road yet. 

“Maybe there’s a few adjustments we’ve got to make or maybe the younger boys have got to get a new, a different routine on the road. That’s definitely something we’re going to look into and hope it can impact in Adelaide in a few weeks time.”

IMAGE: AFL.com.au