Former St Kilda defender Mick Malthouse has suggested Robert Muir’s ‘Mad Dog’ nickname “served him well”.
Last week, ABC News sports journalist Russell Jackson penned an eye-opening feature which outlined the racial vilification Muir endured throughout his VFL career.
The Indigenous footballer was regularly subjected to racial abuse by players and spectators, which resulted in several on-field outbursts — he was reported 13 times and suspended for 22 matches during his career.
Last week, the St Kilda Football Club issued an apology in response to the bombshell story, which was widely praised by the Australian sporting community.
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The disturbing revelations include Muir’s private anguish at being given the nickname “Mad Dog” by his own teammates.
“I’m sick of people being frightened to ask for an autograph or talk to me,” Muir said.
“I want my grandkids to be proud of me. I want them to say, ‘That’s my grandfather, he played for St Kilda.’ I don’t want people to say, ‘There goes Mad Dog’.”
But speaking on ABC radio’s WA Sports Talk, Malthouse remarkably claimed Muir tried to “live up to the nickname” and suggested the racist slur “served him well”.
“Don’t forget this is the 1970s and I still think that Robbie lived up to that name,” Malthouse said on Saturday.
“I think he was quite happy with that name. I question that he questioned it. It served him well to get recognised. He never said to me ever that he was upset by the nickname because we never discussed it.
“He may well have been, but it wasn’t something to discuss. That was a public name, and I think in the end he tried to live up to that name.”
Malthouse also claimed Collingwood legend Lou Richards was the first to call Muir “Mad Dog”, which contradicts his teammate’s recollections — the 66-year-old asserted St Kilda great Kevin Neale gave him the nickname in the ABC feature.
“When he was nicknamed ‘Mad Dog Muir’, that was basically Lou Richards,” Malthouse said.
“Lou wouldn’t have had any intent to hurt. It was just Mad Dog Muir. I never knew him as that. It was always ‘Robbie’.
“But he picked up that nickname. I think Robbie tried to live by that name. And that’s a shame. It really wrecked his ability to say ‘I was a good footballer’. He was a very good footballer.”
Jackson responded to the premiership coach’s “disgusting” remarks on social media.
“It becomes easier to understand how far Robbie fell when you consider the sorts of people who called themselves his friends,” Jackson tweeted.
“A few things — he refused to be interviewed; he evidently hasn’t read the article; speaking on Rob’s behalf and diminishing his abuse as “a little bit” of racism is disgusting; victim-blaming; blatant factual errors; ‘I think he was quite happy with that name.’ Where do you start?
“Something else I suggest to football fans after spending a long time researching Robert Muir’s life, listening to him, and immersing myself in the issues at play — listen closely to Héritier Lumumba. Try to understand his experience — not what others say about him. Listen.”
Sports writer Richard Hinds posted: “That’s abhorrent victim blaming by Malthouse. Clearly hasn’t read the story or chose to completely disregard Muir’s version.”
Sports photographer Wayne Ludbey tweeted: “The Post Truth Whitewash has arrived.”
Fox Sports reporter Tom Morris bluntly posted: “Mick has lost it.”
On Sunday, a GoFundMe page was created for Muir’s much-needed shoulder surgery, and has already raised over $112,000.