Former NRL bad boy Craig Gower has edged out faeces enthusiast Julian O’Neill to become the first inductee into the Guildford Hall of Fame.
But the event, held at The Public Apology’s Sydney headquarters, was unfortunately soured by the claim that the nominees had later destroyed the venue in a maniacal alcohol-fueled frenzy.
The former Penrith halfback was nominated for the prestigious award alongside O’Neill and shamed rugby league duo Todd Carney and Nate Myles. The Public Apology judges deemed Gower’s behaviour over his NRL career as “clearly the most controversial” of all the contenders, praising his commitment to drunken off-field escapades over the past 12 years.
Gower first announced himself on the scene in 1999 when he exposed himself to a female Irish tourist in a Coogee bar, an act he later blamed on The Drink. He was dumped from the Kangaroos squad and fined $2,500 by the NRL and a further $500 in court after pleading guilty to indecent exposure.
But it was a multi-layered incident at a charity golf event in December 2005 that lingered in the minds of The Public Apology judges the longest. Wikipedia puts it best: “[Gower] argued with several guests, groped the teenage daughter of former league player Wayne Pearce, chased Pearce’s son with a bottle before vomiting on him, streaked nude around the resort, stole and crashed a golf cart, held a butter knife to the throat of a Sydney radio personality before throwing it at resort guests, and engaged in a brawl with resort security before being ejected from the official function and detained by police.”
Gower copped a $100,000 fine, with $10,000 of that set aside to replace the destroyed golf cart. Gower was reportedly “deeply unhappy” that the Penrith Panthers club did not defend his reputation, and at one stage threatened to “walk” from the club. This lack of contrition is believed to have gone down very well with the Guildford’s judging panel.
Gower also hit the headlines in 2007 when he allegedly tried to kiss a man at notorious Kings Cross haunt Peppermint Lounge, before biting him on the neck and sparking a brawl; he later assaulted a separate bloke for good measure. The Panthers club controversially reappointed Gower as captain in 2007, claiming it was just a media “beat-up”.
The Public Apology journalist and Guildford’s founder Al McClintock said Gower’s career achievements – and extensive ‘controversy’ section on his Wikipedia page – were impossible to ignore.
“The sheer incongruousness of taking a butter knife to the throat of an unknown Sydney radio personality at a charity golf event probably earned him the title, but the fact that he threatened to walk from the club over the incident was the clincher. We don’t just look at the incident, but how said incident is handled after the event. Gower’s utter lack of contrition is exactly what we’re after – and what earned him the award. Bravo!”
Gower did not attend the awards night, but said in a pre-recorded statement via satellite that he was thrilled to be honoured for his life-time commitment to debauchery and wished he could be there to celebrate and “get fucked up.”
“Have a beer for me, boys!” he told fellow nominees O’Neill, Carney and Myles.
MORE CONTROVERSY: Meanwhile, several janitors have quit their jobs at The Public Apology after the bathrooms were left in a god-awful state following the Guildford’s presentation.
The Public Apology head janitor and sometime-barista Luke Meredith said that the amount of shit smeared throughout the men’s bathroom rivaled that of a “fucking baboon park.”
“You’ve got Nate Myles and Julian O’Neill together at an awards ceremony – you do the fucking math,” he said angrily.
“I heard Todd Carney and Willie Mason were pissing on blokes, too. These bastards just can’t keep it in their pants, can they?”
McClintock expressed his surprise at the janitor’s allegation, given the Guildford’s are – for obvious reasons – a “dry” event.
“I don’t understand it, that was non-alcoholic champagne!” he exclaimed.
By Dave Edwards