THE father of Andrew Brayshaw has pleaded with the AFL community to forgive West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, despite his ugly hit that left the Fremantle youngster with a broken jaw and three displaced teeth.
Gaff on Tuesday night was handed an eight-match suspension by the AFL tribunal for his brutal punch to Brayshaw on the weekend.
Moments after his strike, Gaff showed genuine remorse on the Eagles’ interchange bench, appeared on Fox Footy post-game to address the matter and apologise for his actions then made contact with Brayshaw personally.
During and after Tuesday’s tribunal hearing, Gaff remained contrite about the damage he’d done to Brayshaw and his family, adding it was never his intention to hit the Docker in the face.
Brayshaw’s father, Mark Brayshaw, spoke to Herald Sun chief football writer Mark Robinson on Tuesday, pleading with pleaded for the football community to forgive Gaff.
Before the interview was published, Robinson relayed the crux of his conversation on Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“I interviewed Mark Brayshaw before the tribunal tonight and he’s revealed that Angus and Andrew Gaff are going to be meeting this week to have a talk,” Robinson told AFL 360 from AFL House.
“What Mark has done as a father is call for the football community to forgive Gaff and cease the condemnation of this young man.
“He’s made a mistake and he doesn’t want this young man to have to wear it for the rest of his footy career and the rest of his football life.”
Mark, who’s also the president of the AFL Coaches’ Association, told Robinson that he thought Gaff was “genuinely embarrassed and remorseful” and deserved the footy world’s forgiveness.
“There’s no question of the sincerity and remorse,” Brayshaw told the Herald Sun.
“You know, we all make mistakes and I — of course it’s not for me to excuse — but I want his father and mother to realise we’re thinking of them and we look forward to the next Eagles dinner.’’
While he’d met with coaches, chief executives, football managers and presidents of both West Coast and Fremantle, Mark said he’d also had a good conversation with Gaff’s dad, Paul Gaff, who was also present at Tuesday night’s tribunal hearing.
“He was very apologetic and I just said to him, ‘Look mate don’t worry about it — stuff happens and my bloke’s going to be fine. I was more worried about you guys. If I could shake your hand, buy you a beer and deal with it, and I hope your young bloke’s OK’,” Mark said.
Mark said he was sitting with his wife Debra in the Optus Stadium grandstand on Sunday and saw the punch happen live.
While Debra went down to the rooms, Mark stayed in his seat, as Fremantle’s club doctor told him things were “not too bad”.
“I was generally more worried about Gaff and his family to be honest.
“I just thought Andrew might need some stitches. I had no idea of the gravity of what had happened and neither did anybody else for that matter.
“So I stayed in the grandstand and my wife went down and she saw the distress and the blood. Deb was right there, watching it all and in the ambulance, so she was a bit more immediate and a bit more distressed.”
Mark said Andrew Brayshaw and Gaff were planning to meet either later this week or next week, with Hamish Brayshaw — Andrew’s brother and Gaff’s West Coast teammate — integral to setting the meeting up.
“That meeting is going to be just as important for Andrew Brayshaw as it is for Andrew Gaff because it’s going to be a pretty powerful interview,” Mark said.
“Unless you live in Perth, mate — it’s a ferocious environment … I just hope they meet soon and shake hands and I’m sure they will.
“And when that happens, I’d like people to hear that an apology has been given and accepted and we move on because it’s a pretty intense place at the moment.”