Essendon legend Tim Watson agrees that premierships cause an “automatic divide” within clubs, describing Steven May’s actions as demonstrating a “complete lack of empathy”.
May has been suspended for the Demons for one match for drinking while under concussion protocols. He’s since been confirmed to have had a physical altercation with teammate Jake Melksham last weekend while drinking at a restaurant.
The Herald Sun has reported Melksham stood up for his teammates, particularly Joel Smith, who was being taunted by May.
There are suggestions May referenced Smith missing out on the Demons’ 2021 premiership, and Hawthorn premiership player Jordan Lewis spoke about his concerns over the alleged sledge.
“As soon as you win a premiership there is an automatic divide within the football club, and that’s there whether you like it or not,” Lewis told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“It’s felt. It’s rarely spoken about, and on this occasion, it seems to be that was part of the banter, which (having been) involved in a club and being one of those players lucky enough to have success - it was have been a line I would never have said to another teammate.
“So that’s going to be pretty tough for (May) to get over.”
In response, Watson – a three-time premiership player for the Bombers – was critical of May’s behaviour.
“100 per cent there is (a divide after a premiership) … he (Lewis) is absolutely right about the sensitivity around this because everybody is there for the same reason,” he told SEN Breakfast.
“Everybody wants to play in that premiership team, unfortunately not everybody can and a lot of players that miss out believe that they should have been given the opportunity to play in that.
“So you are sensitive to the fact that they didn’t get the opportunity to play, and it’s not something you would ever – in a light-hearted way or other way – throw back at somebody.”
May took responsibility for the incident in a video released by Melbourne earlier this week.
“There’s a great sensitivity around that, and that shows to me a lack of maturity from Steven May, even though he may have been fuelled by alcohol, you can’t use that as an excuse,” Watson continued.
“The fact is that is a complete lack of empathy for his teammates as well.”
Melksham has since had surgery on his hand after picking up an infection during the fight with May and will also be unavailable for selection in Round 13.