Footy’s Great Feuds

We talk about the big issues in the Mongrel household – never leaving a stone unturned.

We have almost daily chats about the state of the world, as we lament any number of things seeping into life as we know it like water under the floorboards… ask me how I know about this. And we talk about the bigger issues as well.

Recently, we engaged in a heated debate over which Disney Princesses would be the highest maintenance in a relationship. Mrs Mongrel was tossing up between Jasmine from Aladdin, and Tiana from The Princess and The Frog, and I was set on Elsa from Frozen (and Frozen 2, in which she’s probably worse!).

And so, conversations tend to flow from one subject to the other. We moved onto which AFL player would be the worst to have a relationship with (many mentions of Jake Stringer in this conversation… and the comment of “he probably wouldn’t even drop you at school after it,” shocked and appalled me – I can’t believe I said it!). Finally, we settled on the subject of football feuds or vendettas that didn’t just dissipate in the traditional mantra of “what happens on the park stays on the park.”

Oh, and I left out the most obvious one. We’ve already dedicated thousands of words to it for members below

An Oral History of the Carey-Stevens-Archer Triangle

But here are some of the others.



The two were inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame on the same night, but when they were player and coach, they were never really on the same page.

Malthouse was not a fan of unaccountable football, and Hardie was as free-wheeling a player as there’s been at the highest level. I think it would be fair to say that defensive acts were not a part of Brad Hardie’s repertoire.

But he could flat-out play footy! He won the Brownlow in 1985, and the Dogs’ Best and Fairest the following season. The breaking point came in Round 21, 1986 against the Blues, when Malthouse dragged Hardie for lack of defensive efforts. In response, Hardie removed his jumper and waved it at Malthouse in the coaches box.

Despite not fronting up to the next morning’s training session, Hardie played in Round 22 against the Hawks.

It would be his last game for the Dogs, relocating to Brisbane to continue his career.



This one finally came to a head on an episode of Talking Footy several years back, when the two old enemies finally going head to head.

The two had traded criticism of each other for close to 40 years, with some stating that it was a behind-the-play incident by Walls that sparked the dislike, and others claiming it was the niggling tactics of Sheedy that got under Walls’ skin.

Nevertheless, their TV encounter was… interesting. Walls asked whether Sheedy thought he was a “sniper”, with Sheedy having alluded to it but never having named him. He also questioned how broad Sheedy’s experience actually was in coaching, having been at the one club for so long.

Sheedy had previously commented that Walls had “hid” up in Brisbane when he went there to coach.

The two shook hands at the end of the segment, and even managed a smile, but there is a lot of water under the Sheedy-Walls Bridge, and if you think it’s smooth sailing for the pair, you’d be wrong.



You all know the incident. In a very spiteful clash, Matthews decked Bruns off the ball in a violent incident that saw Matthews charged by the police and deregistered by the VFL, and left Bruns with a badly broken jaw.

Matthews’ conviction for assault was later overturned on appeal, but the ramifications of that moment have had a lasting effect on the reputation of Matthews, and the life of Bruns.

“It comes up minimum weekly,” stated Bruns.

Amazingly, the two have never sat down to discuss it, or shared a phone call where they could address it. It obviously still haunts Bruns.

“I’ve tried many times on many occasions and Leigh doesn’t want to talk to me about it for whatever reason.”



Damn you, Lleyton Hewitt!

In a storyline that looks like it came directly from a script from the producers of Home and Away, the McLeod-Edwards relationship disintegrated in a whirlwind of documentaries, court battles, affidavits and the loyalty, or lack thereof of partners.

Confused? I sure as hell was when reading about it.

So, McLeod and his missus were friends with Lleyton Hewitt and his missus. Tyson Edwards and his missus became part of the click somewhat and when Hewitt used footage of an Indigenous sacred site on a DVD, McLeod didn’t like it, and Mrs Edwards sided with Hewitt.

Things escalated as the oblivious Crows management allowed the situation to fester, with the best and fairest award the stage for the blow-up, with Mandy Edwards mentioning that McLeod had cheated on his wife.

The blokes got involved and a friendship was irrevocably damaged.

Amazingly, on-field the guys played exceptional football together following the breakdown of their friendship.



Imagine moving clubs to get away from a coach, having a Best and Fairest season, going away for a holiday, and as you step off the plane, border security ask how you feel about the new coach of your team… who just happens to be the coach you left the previous club to get away from?

Welcome to the world of Corey McKernan.

The AFL MVP of 1996 flew the Kangaroos coop after 12 years under Pagan including the under 19s, stating they did not get the best out of each other, but now laments not leaving immediately after Pagan showed up at Carlton.

So, was it Pagan’s notoriously intense approach that didn’t work for Corey, or was it McKernan’s inability to thrive in Pagan’s system the reason for Corey needing to get away?



This is as close as we get to two modern keyboard warriors slagging off at each other. Part of it is theatre – make no mistake. These two may very well not like each other, but they play it up for the media, which seems to benefit Cornes a lot more than it does Tex.

When Tex makes a mistake in a game, Cornes is all over it like a cheap suit. When Cornes calls Walker out, Kane fires back.

In a word, it’s “bitchy” and given these two haven’t really had an altercation in person, it’s the AFL’s version of a hair-pulling match at an all-girls school.



Derek knows how to hold onto a grudge.

Sheedy famously dropped Kickett from the 1993 Grand Final after Kickett had played every game of the season up until that point. The Bombers would go on to capture the flag, and Kickett was so devastated by the move that he left Essendon to complete his career in Sydney, claiming Sheedy had a “personal vendetta” against him.

It took 25 years for the two to finally sit down and speak about the issue to the point where, after several harsh words from Kickett, they were able to finally shake hands.



Ah, sisters… they’ll get you in a bit of trouble, particularly when you play footy with the brother.

Daniel Kerr was having a relationship of sorts with Ben’s sister, and it all came to a head one night in 2002 when Ben decided to fly the flag for “sis” and put one on Kerr’s chin. Amazingly, the same night, Cousins managed to fall down a flight of stairs and break his arm.

Of course, management of the nightclub in which this incident occurred stated that security footage showed no one falling down the stairs… probably the same security company that was in charge of keeping an eye on Jeffrey Epstein’s cell, huh?

Witnesses state that it was Kerr’s nonchalant attitude to a clearly upset Cousins that prompted the blow. Kerr “turned his nose up” at Cousins, which led to the Brownlow Medallist swinging at Kerr and dropping him.

The club stated there was no ongoing issue between them the next day and that it had been sorted.



Hawthorn prides itself on being the “family club”. Would this, then, be sibling rivalry? Some people you just have nothing in common with, and that seemed to be the case between Don Scott and Lethal Leigh.

The Hawthorn legends were frosty at best during their time together at Glenferrie. Matthews has stated that he and Scott spoke just once in an entire decade. That’s a shitload of awkward silences between a captain and vice-captain.

Many believe the angst stems from a practice game in the mid-70s where Scott responded to a Matthews sling tackle with a backhander that connected with Matthews’ face. Lethal then tried to even up with an elbow a minute later, but Scott pulled out of the way.

“You come from all walks of life,” said Scott. “You’re doctors, you’re lawyers, you’re Indian chiefs. The common denominator is football. When you’ve finished football, you go back to your life.”

Not sure how many Indian chiefs there’s been at Hawthorn, but I am sure the club would have provided a safe, culturally sensitive environment for them, right?



David Rhys-Jones is no angel. He holds the record for most reports, with 25, but in fairness, he was “only” found guilty 11 times. But for someone so willing to mix it up on the field, his resentment toward former opponent-cum-teammate, Greg Williams is a little strange.

In a 1989 game between the Blues and Swans, Williams landed a heavy blow, breaking Rhys-Jones’ jaw. He was suspended for five weeks, whilst Rhys-Jones got off on THREE counts of striking Williams.

The two would later play together at Carlton in 1992 but they never mended that bridge, and to this day, it doesn’t take much to stoke the embers of what is left between them to get the fire started again.

Whilst working at Essendon in 2017, Williams stated that he hoped the Bombers “kick the arse” of the Blues.

Rhys-Jones immediately took the bait, calling Williams’ words “treason” and adding “I hope all Carlton supporters read it as it shows what he is.” He also labelled Williams a “mercenary”.

Has there been a truce recently? With Diesel back at Carlton a couple of years ago as an assistant coach, things seemed to have simmered, but in the COVID-19 fallout, Williams was let go. Maybe one day soon, Rhys-Jones can have another go at him? I’m sure it won’t take much prompting.



I could list a dozen nemeses for each of these two, but Caroline Wilson and Eddie McGuire really don’t like each other much, and I have to say…I don’t blame either of them.

Caroline is not a footy reporter. She is a footy gossip reporter. When was the last time you heard her with a take on an actual game? All her reporting revolves around the behind-the-scenes aspects of the game.

And that’s where Eddie spent his time, as well.

McGuire quipped that he’d pay $50K to have someone “hold her under” when Wilson’s name came up as a participant in the “Fight MND” slide at the MCG to raise money for Motor-Neuron Disease. Wilson claimed it promoted violence against women.

And round and round we go.

Wilson saw it as her job to needle McGuire. Eddie saw it as his job to defend his club and what Wilson terms as “the boys club” whenever the mood strikes her.

Whose side do you sit on here? I have to say… and I feel dirty saying it, I actually sit with Big Ed, here.



Ah yes, the “ion” plan.

Why “ion”?

Because there was no “success” in the “succession” plan. Boom-Tish!

Mick Malthouse did not want to leave the Pies. Nathan Buckley was ready to coach. So, Eddie McGuire implemented a plan that would see Malthouse move into a different role at the club (was it Director of Coaching? Something like that) which would see him act as a mentor of sorts to Bucks.

The problem was, Malthouse had already mentored Bucks as both a player and assistant coach. Buckley had done his apprenticeship and was ready to strike out on his own.

Malthouse would leave the Pies, heading to Carlton to coach what was a poor team, and later stating that Buckley “did not want me in the box, did not want me on the bench and did not want me talking to his players.”

On the eve of Malthouse’s induction into the AFL Hall of Fame, Buckley spoke of Malthouse on Melbourne radio, stating “Mick and I don’t get on.”

In an attempt to humanise the distaste Malthouse had for him, Buckley then said he thought he understood Mick, stating he had “rat-cunning” and was a “master manipulator”.

Malthouse called Buckley’s comments “bewildering.”

The two have yet to bury the hatchet.


So, these are just a few of the footy feuds we’ve seen over the years. If you’ve got more, add them in the comments, or on our socials.

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