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  • Writer's pictureJohn Townsend

Time for Sampi to get his Glendinning Medal

Ashley Sampi wants to get the retrospective Glendinning Medal he deserves.

West Coast want Sampi to get the retrospective Glendinning Medal he deserves.

The WA Football Commission has said they want Sampi to get the retrospective Glendinning Medal he deserves.

And Ross Glendinning has not said - publicly at least – that he does not want Sampi to get the retrospective Glendinning Medal he deserves.

So why is it taking Sampi so long to get the retrospective Glendinning Medal he deserves?

The greatest injustice in WA football should be easy to rectify yet it appears to have become a potato so hot that no one can hold onto it for more than a moment.

Let’s go back nearly 20 years.

It was the first western derby of 2003 and 19-year-old Sampi produced an outstanding four-goal game to be named – by the WAFC’s official judges – as the best player on the ground and winner of the Glendinning Medal.

But Glendinning disagreed with the judges, took matters into his own hands at the presentation and awarded the medal to Michael Gardiner.

Now I am both invested and conflicted in this matter.

I was one of the five judges asked by the WAFC to vote on the Glendinning Medal and have long been uncomfortable that not only was our decision overturned but that the WAFC has done virtually nothing to address the matter.

Yet I am conflicted because I thought Gardiner was best on ground and gave him three votes – the only judge to give him any.

Nonetheless, that conflict carries little weight because my role as a judge was to be part of a panel that would come up with a valid candidate.

Once the panel made its majority call to pick Sampi as best-on-ground – with 11 of a possible 15 votes - I endorsed the decision without qualification. I still do.

About 10 years ago, I started lobbying for Sampi to receive a retrospective medal.

The argument was simple as I set out in various appeals to administrators based on procedure and precedent.

“The voting panel was appointed by the WAFC and there was no suggestion at the time that it was only there in an advisory capacity nor that its decision was not binding on Glendinning,” I said.

“It was effectively a WAFC decision that Sampi was best on ground.

“There is a strong precedent in WA football for retrospective medals to be awarded to players denied recognition by the rules or circumstances of the day.

“In 1997, the WAFC approved retrospective Sandover medals to seven WAFL players who had lost on countbacks due to the rules of their time.

“Furthermore, 12 retrospective Glendinning medals were awarded in 2018 to the players deemed to be best on ground in the first six years of Western derbies.

“In my view, Sampi has an even more compelling case for recognition than any of those Glendinning Medal winners given he was the subject of an official vote.”

Twenty years on and Sampi still has not been recognised.

The logistics of the announcement are not as important as the decision itself but it would make sense for it to happen at Optus Stadium in round 22 this year.

I clearly recall the rousing cheer that arose when Glendinning led the first West Coast team onto Subiaco Oval in 1987.

It is quite likely that he would get a similar response should he end WA’s greatest football injustice by presenting a retrospective Glendinning Medal to Sampi after western derby 57.

Twenty years is long enough.



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