AFL great Nicky Winmar and the photographer who took an iconic 1993 image of him are launching legal action against three AFL greats who cast doubt on the footballer’s stance against racism.
Photographer Wayne Ludbey captured the iconic moment after a Collingwood versus St Kilda game while working for The Sunday Age newspaper.
In the image, the indigenous player is seen pointing at his skin before a rabid Victoria Park crowd following a hard-fought win against the Magpies on their home soil.
Nicky Winmar lifts his shirt to a feral Collingwood crowd in 1993 after the Saints won at Victoria Park. The image has become iconic in the move against racism in sport
Sam Newman (left), Mike Sheahan (centre) and Don Scott chew the fat in their podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’
Former St Kilda Saints player and Western Australian-born Noongar man, Nicky Winmar (right) speaks with photographer Wayne Ludbey before the unveiling of his statue at Optus Stadium in Perth last year
A furious Ludbey has told Daily Mail Australia the pair have already engaged Lion Zwier of Arnold Bloch Leibler lawyers to bring unspecified action against Sam Newman, Don Scott and Mike Sheahan.
‘I don’t feel I need to respond to the three stooges,’ he said. ‘They’re d**kheads.’
The three caused outrage this week when they claimed Winmar’s stance was really about the club having ‘guts’.
The law firm has a long history of acting on indigenous matters.
Ludbey said he was shocked, disillusioned and angry over the discussion the men had on their podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’.
In it, Scott, who was a 300-game veteran for the Hawks in the 60s and 70s, claimed Winmar had ‘dined out’ on Ludbey’s image, which he claimed had been misrepresented in the years that followed.
‘Maybe Nicky’s dining out on it now about lifting his jumper because I reported on that game at Collingwood,’ Scott said.
‘St Kilda played Collingwood and my recollection was that St Kilda won and Nicky lifted his jumper saying ‘That was a gutsy effort. We have got heart’. Now it’s been misconstrued.’
Scott was supported by both Sheahan and Newman.
While Sheahan, who hosts Fox Footy’s Open Mike on Tuesday nights, acknowledged only Winmar himself would know what the gesture meant, he believed at the time it was about guts, not racism.
‘He now says that he was pointing to the colour of his skin and making a political statement,’ Sheahan said.
‘Well done. And then it just morphed into all that other by activists,’ Newman said.
Ludbey said he had never deviated from his version of events on that day at Victoria Park in 1993, which was reported the following day in the Sunday Age.
‘I’ve never deviated from the line once,’ Ludbey said.
Photographer Wayne Ludbey poses with Nicky Winmar during the Nicky Winmar statue unveiling at Optus Stadium in Perth last year
The 1993 news article that appeared in the Sunday Age which recorded Wayne Ludbey’s version of events at the time
Mike Sheahan accepts his Most Outstanding Sports Entertainment Program award during the 12th ASTRA Awards at Carriageworks on March 20, 2014
‘What I find extraordinary is that 27 years after the act Nicky Winmar is still having to respond to three stooges sitting up in the stalls pelting him about is race, his heritage and him as a person.’
Ludbey claimed the trio knew what they were doing when they brought the subject of Winmar up.
‘It’s a calculated act on their part to attack a black man who they think can’t fight back,’ he said.
The award winning photographer took special offence to the comments made by his former Herald Sun colleague Mike Sheahan.
Sam Newman branded George Floyd a ‘piece of sh*t’ during a rant on his podcast last week
Nicky Winmar dropped to his knee while paying his respects to the Black Lives Matter movement during a recent tv appearance. He was wearing a George Floyd T-shirt
Former footy great Don Scott said he could understand why police behaved the way they did against George Floyd. He also believes Nicky Winmar was not standing against racism at the time
‘Will the real Mike Sheahan please stand up. The name of the media centre at AFL HQ – The Mike Sheahan Media Centre – that name needs to be seriously reviewed,’ Ludbey said.
‘I’ll leave with you with a last line. Game on.’
Ludbey has always maintained Winmar pointed at his skin and said ‘I’m black and proud to be black’.
He had followed Winmar with his camera as he ran over to his fellow indigenous team mate Gilbert McAdam.
Ludbey said Winmar repeated the phrase again and again: ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black’.
Caroline Wilson, who worked at the Sunday Age in 1993, said the questioning of Winmar’s moment had raised a lot of anger among senior indigenous figures in and around the AFL.
‘I’m disappointed, Don Scott might have remembered that, but I know this has really upset a lot of senior indigenous AFL people,’ Wilson told 3AW radio.
‘They’re really upset that this has been put out there. They see it as attention seeking.
Nicky Winmar poses with his statue during the Nicky Winmar statue unveiling at Optus Stadium on July 06, 2019 in Perth
‘Sam would call it political correctness that I’m even saying this, but I’m just staggered that everybody remembers what Wayne Ludbey reported, said, heard. What Nicky said afterwards. Why? Why would you do this at a time when people are feeling so vulnerable across Australia and many Indigenous people too. I just don’t understand it.’
The revelations come as Newman fends off shots from all sides.
He resigned from Channel 9 amid furore over comments he previously made against dead black American George Floyd and has now had to answer criticism from within his beloved Cats.
Newman played 300 games for the Geelong Cats and served as club captain. He is a life member at the club and in the Team the Century.
Cats members are reportedly disappointed by Newman’s latest controversial comments but Geelong CEO Brian Cook said there were no plans to wipe Newman from the club’s history.