Debate continues to rage over the statue of AFLW player Tayla Harris that was unveiled at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Wednesday.
Her famous kick, immortalised in bronze, has now drawn the ire of a legend of the sport.
North Melbourne great and famed premiership coach Malcolm Blight, who has his own statue outside the Adelaide Oval, erupted over the NAB-commissioned statue.
Blight, clearly irked by a player who has had little on-field impact getting a statue, said the decision to give the Carlton player her own statue was “ludicrous” and “mystifying” in a sensational rant on Sportsday SA.
The 3.3m statue is inspired by a photograph by Michael Wilson of the Carlton AFLW player which became the target of social media and online trolls.
“She is getting a statue for being trolled online. Mystifying to me. One of the most mystifying things I have ever heard of. I am not happy about it,” Blight said.
“We have Sam our producer, Ben another producer and Will our panel operator they have all been trolled online — I want a statue of one of these three to go alongside Tayla Harris because that’s how ludicrous and silly the whole thing is.
“What’s the difference between a male and a female in that environment?
“What about all the AFL players, all the SANFL players, all the WAFL players, all those players around Australia being trolled by d***heads, on a medium that I know very little about? Why aren’t they getting a statue? That’s how stupid the whole thing is.”
On Wednesday the unveiling of the statue sparked a spirited debate with plenty of detractors of the statue being met with resistance as others who supported the notion of the statue suggested it represented a line in the sand moment for women’s sport in Australia.
Harris herself said she doubted she would understand the significance of it for another two decades but was humbled by the experience.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling, it’s incredible and it’s more than me just kicking football, it’s a message, it’s a turning point in Australian society, so it’s something I can be personally proud of,” Harris said.
Other social media users echoed Blight, questioning why Harris had received a statue after 22 AFL games and before players such as Daisy Pearce and Erin Phillips.
And news.com.au readers also sided against the Harris statue in an online poll that suggested many other female athletes were more worthy of their own statue than Harris — 72 per cent of 6,468 polled at the time of writing.