DOUBT has been cast over the future of Ty Zantuck at Kangaroo Flat, with the former AFL player fed up with the treatment he is receiving from the umpires.
Zantuck joined Kangaroo Flat this season as the most high profile signing to enter the All Seasons Bendigo Football League, but at not even the halfway point of the season, his frustration at his treatment from the umpires has grown to the point where he is questioning his value to the Roos.
The 25-year-old, who played 77 AFL games with Richmond and Essendon, was suspended by the tribunal on Wednesday night for two matches after being found guilty of using abusive language in the final quarter of the Roos' clash with Sandhurst at the Queen Elizabeth Oval last Saturday.
During the hearing, it was noted Zantuck, who admitted he left the ground in the last quarter because he was "fed up", had received just one free kick this season, while on average, he was being penalised four per game.
"His mindset is certainly of the state where he could decide he has had a gutful of Bendigo football because of the treatment he is getting," Kangaroo Flat president Paul Brooks said yesterday.
"He was very emotional after the tribunal hearing, and he is certainly questioning if he is of any use to anyone in the BFL with the way he is being treated.
"He is thinking, `Brooksy, I'm probably wasting your money', a little like Brett Cook with his situation at Kyneton last year when he said, `you blokes are wasting the money you are paying me because you're not having a fair dinkum crack'."
Wednesday night was the second consecutive week Zantuck was forced to front the tribunal.
A week earlier, he was cleared of a striking charge against North City's Adam Beattie.
"We thought things were changing for him after that first appearance at the tribunal," Brooks said.
"He was taking a bit of time to settle in; he only wanted to play up forward, but then came to the realisation that he had better get into the midfield.
"He played in the midfield last Saturday, was best on ground, now he is getting treated like this and he is questioning whether he has a future in our league because of the treatment he is getting.
"I'm just gutted that he is not playing (for the next two weeks) because he is a drawcard, and our gate receipts indicate he is pulling people through the gate.
"Our young blokes love playing with him, and Ron Wicks, who is 41, came out of retirement to play alongside Ty."
Kangaroo Flat coach John Rombotis confirmed to The Advertiser last week that 2007 would be Zantuck's only season at Dower Park, with him to continue his career in Queensland next season.
Kangaroo Flat is yet to decide whether it will appeal Zantuck's two-game ban.
Following last Saturday's 108-point loss to the Dragons, Kangaroo Flat has lodged a letter of complaint with the BFL regarding the standard of umpiring.
The Roos' concerns are with 17-year-old central umpire James Read, who was the umpire who reported Zantuck.
"We have concerns about his professionalism as an umpire; he is just a kid doing a man's job," Brooks said.
Bendigo Umpire's Association general manager Ron Threlfall was an observer in the second half of the Dragons versus Roos clash.
"Obviously, the umpires will investigate it (the complaint), deal with it and act accordingly," Threlfall said.
"It's not the first time we've had a complaint against an umpire's performance.
"I was the observer at the game in the second half, and I didn't think there was anything wrong with his (Read's) performance.
"I picked out probably three decisions in the second half that I believe were either incorrect of unwarranted free kicks paid.
"We probably work on an umpire awarding five or six incorrect free kicks per match, so his three were nothing out of the ordinary."
Asked about Brooks' comments regarding Zantuck weighing his future up in the BFL because of the treatment he is receiving from the umpires, Threlfall said: "I have only seen Kangaroo Flat for that second half last week, but I couldn't see anything to substantiate that claim.
"I would be totally surprised if that would be the case."
BFL general manager Tony Pierce said the league was determined to work with the BUA.
"We understand that due to the numbers the umpires have the quality isn't as good as it has been in the past, but we fully support the umpires in their endeavour to increase their numbers and for the younger ones to gain experience at the highest level," he said.