The AFL world has blown up over this contentious call.
The AFL world has blown up over this contentious call.

Filthy legends erupt over AFL ‘disgrace’

Rodney Eade thought it was disgraceful, Alastair Clarkson didn't want to know about it and Luke Beveridge was just glad it got paid.

Once thing is certain: the pivotal free kick against James Sicily late in the Western Bulldogs' stunning come-from-behind win over Hawthorn at the MCG will be hotly debated.

With the scores level and just under five minutes left in Sunday's clash, Josh Schache was awarded a free kick directly in front of goal for what appeared to be little more than a push and shove with the Hawks firebrand.

There appeared to be no high contact and no clenched fists in the off-the-ball incident that was whistled as the ball was about to be bounced in the centre after a Bulldogs goal.

Some would argue that with the game so evenly poised Sicily should just keep his hands to himself, but former Dogs coach Eade saw the contact and immediately labelled it "a disgraceful decision" on Triple M.

Footy legends Matthew Richardson and Wayne Schwass weighed in on Twitter, slamming the decision.

Former Hawthorn and Gold Coast star Campbell Brown also joined in the umpire-bashing on social media before doubling down on radio.

"I've watched the replay about 10 times … this was just a defender and a forward having a little bit of jostling," Brown said on SEN's The Wash Up.

"He bumped him, he pushed him, something you would see every single defender on the ground do just to grapple with position and for an umpire to come in at a critical stage of that game, it was just diabolically bad.

"The AFL have overreacted like they always do in their umpiring department. They said they were going to come out and be hard on punches, which is great. The brutality is out of AFL footy, don't take the physicality out as well.

"What are we turning our game into?

"It's absolutely pathetic. I don't think you'll find a lover of the game, ex-players or current day players who would agree with those decisions."

Schache's goal from the free kick was the sixth of eight unanswered majors as the Dogs overcame a 30-point three-quarter time deficit to win by 19.

Hawthorn was overrun at the death.
Hawthorn was overrun at the death.

"I'm not really interested in making that the debate," a diplomatic Clarkson said of the Sicily decision. "All I know is the best side won on the day and that wasn't us … the Bulldogs deserved their win.

"Sometimes you make your own luck on those sorts of things. They had the momentum, they made their own luck, and they get the chocolates.

"There's no point sooking over little things."

Nearby Bulldogs players, including star midfielder Marcus Bontempelli, let Sicily know in no uncertain terms they felt he had let his team down. Beveridge didn't see the incident but wasn't about to apologise for receiving the crucial break that helped his team to a 2-0 record.

"We were just thankful that we got it," the coach said. "(Sicily's) a dangerous intercept player for them and at different stages we tried to impact his game.

"Not by unsettling him in his emotions, just by making sure that we were accountable for his intercept game.

"You take them where you can get them.

"There are others that happened last week and throughout the course of this game that you don't get, so we'll take the soft ones if they're there."