Melbourne Demons, Max Gawn legacy being tarnished, off field incidents, Matthew Lloyd comments

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Essendon great Matthew Lloyd believes Melbourne captain Max Gawn‘s legacy is being impacted by the club’s spate of off-field issues.

The Demons have been rocked by several scandals in recent months, including forward Joel Smith’s allegations of “trafficking or attempted trafficking” of cocaine to third parties by Sport Integrity Australia last week.

After naming his top-five current club captains he would like to play under during a segment for 3AW’s Wide World of Sports — a list which did not include Gawn — Lloyd said Melbourne’s issues were damaging Gawn’s reputation as a leader.

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“I think you can be hurt by those around you and your legacy can be hurt by those around you,” Lloyd said.

“So, Melbourne now has a situation where after winning a premiership (in 2021), they had the Entrecote (restaurant) brawl where Steven May had a crack at Jake Melksham and said Melksham wasn’t a premiership player.

“You’ve had Clayton Oliver and what’s gone on with him. And now, Joel Smith.

“That hurts.

“Max could be doing everything in his power but at the end of the day, this hurts him, it hurts Melbourne, it hurts Simon Goodwin, it hurts (chief executive) Gary Pert.

“I think it hurts everybody.”

Asked if the situation was fair on Gawn, Lloyd drew on his experience as captain of Essendon from 2006 to 2009.

“Unfortunately, it’s just reality,” he said.

“I’ve been defensive at times of people who have made errors in my environments but I understand that at the end of the day, it comes back and it’s reflective on you as well.”

Lloyd said he had not lost any respect for Gawn as a player but admitted that his captaincy credentials were taking a beating because of the actions of a select few,

“Max Gawn is in the best couple of captains I’ve seen. He is courageous. He gets battered and bruised — he picks himself back up,” he said.

“But I think he’s being hurt by those around him at Melbourne.

“They’ve lost four finals in a row and it hurts when you’re being let down by those around you.”

Victoria Police are now “assessing” the allegations into Smith.

In an anti-doping context, trafficking may include an athlete “selling, delivering or distributing” any prohibited substance.

Other Melbourne players may yet be scrutinised given text messages were reportedly found on Smith’s phone referencing the giving of cocaine to teammates.

Speaking to 3AW Wide World of Sports host Sam McClure, Gawn admitted his relationship with Smith has been “strained” by the latest development.

Gawn added that Smith was still part of the team but due to being provisionally suspended, pending a resolution, because of the allegations, can not engage in any parts of Melbourne’s football program.

“Certainly there are aspects that are difficult,” he said.

“We’re not allowed to train or talk football with Joel — that’s one of the rules — so that does put a strain on our relationship. But you’re still allowed to check in so that is something I’m doing.”

Last week, Gawn admitted to feeling “flat” as the Demons’ off-field culture continues to be scrutinised.

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