Good Brian Vs Bad Brian: a war over Brian Lake's mind

Brian Lake of Hawthorn runs with the ball, during the Round 14 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG in Melbourne, Saturday, June 21, 2014.
Brian Lake of Hawthorn runs with the ball, during the Round 14 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG in Melbourne, Saturday, June 21, 2014. AAP Image - Joe Castro

IT'S ironic Brian Lake has had two different identities during his AFL career, the other being Brian Harris.

But going by the names 'Good Brian' or 'Bad Brian' would be far more apt.

The enigmatic key defender, who reverted to using his father's surname in 2008, has become renowned for his both his 'footy smarts' and, let's say, 'footy stupids' since he was first drafted by the Western Bulldogs from South Australia in 2001.

Good Brian is a likable character who has been among the best tall defenders over the last decade, earning All-Australian jumpers in 2009 and 2010 with the Dogs, before crossing to Hawthorn and winning a premiership and a Norm Smith Medal.

Good Brian's judgement of the ball coming into defence is second to none, his VFL/AFL match-record of 24 marks against Brisbane in 2007, and his 10 in last year's grand final triumph, testament to his ability.

Good Brian can also be a successful stopper, and once kept St Kilda behemoth and two-time Coleman Medallist Fraser Gehrig possessionless during a match in 2007, before going on to win a club best-and-fairest that year.

Bad Brian has earned a reputation as suffering what non-medical experts call 'brain fades', and been a source of frustration for coaches, teammates, fans … and probably Good Brian.

Bad Brian can be lazy out on the field and regularly found himself on the receiving end of a 'rocket' from former Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, who remarked after a game against Hawthorn in 2010: "I thought he was playing for them with the way he kicked the ball back to them".

Bad Brian has been suspended more times than most, bookended by his three separate bans in 2004 (twice for rough conduct and once for tripping) and the seven matches he will miss in 2014 - three for the elbow that struck

Fremantle's Michael Walters in last year's premiership decider, and the four for the ugly incident involving North's Drew Petrie last Friday night.

Good Brian had argued at the tribunal on Tuesday night that Bad Brian was not actually trying to choke the Kangaroos forward during their now infamous wrestle on the wing at the MCG, but merely trying to grab at the 'V' of his jumper.

Petrie certainly showed no ill-effects from the incident, the big fella taking a magnificent pack mark in the goalsquare moments later before slotting one of his five match-winning goals.

But, described by one of Lake's former Bulldogs teammates Rob Murphy as "graphic", the 'wrestle' was not a good look for the game, and while four weeks may have been one too harsh, Bad Brian deserved to be punished.

It's just unfortunate for the Hawks, they will now be left without Good Brian for a month - he would have come in handy against Adelaide tonight and Sydney in a fortnight.

Topics:  afl western bulldogs

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