By Keith Miller
Occasionally you’ll come across a guy who’s as nice as pie off a sporting field, but suffers from white line fever. He’ll turn from Mr Nice Guy to complete filth merchant as soon as the game kicks off
A rarer case of player is the one who, off the field, is a total dick who couldn’t behave himself if his life depended on it, but on the field is a bit of a gentle giant. Alcohol usually plays a factor in his behaviour.
Rarer still is the player who is a violent, braindead twat off the field, and a violent, braindead twat on the field.
And regardless of whether he is found guilty of the two charges of supplying cocaine brought against him, Greg Bird is that special kind of idiot who has a foot in both camps.
It needs to be stated that as this point, until proven otherwise, Greg Bird is innocent of the cocaine charges unless proven guilty. But Bird’s track record both on and off the field is one that beggars belief.
Making his debut for Cronulla in 2002, it didn’t take too long for him to make an impact. That impact came by way of a ridiculously stupid and incredibly dangerous knee to the head of the Rabbitohs’ Shane Marteene in Round 4 of 2004.
After the game Bird showed a ton of alleged remorse, and apologised to Marteene. His manager, Gavin Orr, predictably played the “he’s-not-that-kind-of-guy” routine. But when all was said and done, Bird had to suck up a 10 week suspension. Good opportunity for him to make some changes.
Two years later he was accused of sending “really crude” text messages to model Lara Bingle. Bird denied the allegations however, to date it remains unclear as to why Bingle would make something of that nature up.
Then came something far, far more sinister.
In August 2008, Bird’s then girlfriend, American Kate Milligan, climbed out of the apartment they shared together bearing cuts all over her face and a broken eye socket. Bird was charged with maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm, after allegedly slamming a beer glass into her face.
Further charges were added when Bird claimed – somewhat bizarrely – that their flatmate was actually the imbecile responsible for Milligan’s injuries. The main problem with that theory is that he wasn’t actually home at the time.
Initially Bird was found guilty of the charges in April 2009, and two months later he sentenced to a maximum of 16 months imprisonment for one count of reckless wounding, and one charge of making a false claim.
However, on appeal in November 2009 Bird was acquitted of all charges. In essence, our hero claimed that Milligan came after him with a beer glass, and he was simply wrestling it off her. After about 15 months, Milligan had now decided to back Bird’s version of events.
Prior to his acquittal, he reappeared in court facing five charges of assault on a woman in a Sydney nightclub by throwing a bottle at her (if you were a little suspicious you could almost sense a pattern emerging here). However, Bird was cleared of all charges on the basis of inaccuracies in the complainant’s evidence.
For the next few years, Bird mainly stayed out of trouble off the field, but couldn’t help but be a grub on it. Striking charges and dangerous throws were the order of the day, and he missed a number of games through his indiscretions.
Fortunately for Bird, he wasn’t charged for all the filth on the park that he should have been. The King of the Cheap Shot was a nasty piece of work.
But then in December 2014 he settled down and got married in Byron Bay. Settled down, that is, until he hit the piss again the day after and urinated on a marked police car. His vigorous defence lay in the fact that he didn’t know it was a marked police car. A large number of witnesses claimed that the lights on top should have given it away. He then claimed he was actually urinating between two parked cars. Uh-huh.
In one of the best quotes in recent memory, Bird stated that “it’s put a dampener on our wedding weekend”. And, without a hint of irony, “I’m incredibly embarrassed and disappointed at myself”. Really Greg? Again?
Greg Bird is (was?) a very talented and versatile footballer. Yet he is one of those players who also managed to stud his career with a number of on field and off field acts of stupidity and violence.
It’s not certain whether or not these charges will be the end of his NRL career. As stated earlier, he (yet again) remains innocent until proven guilty. But one thing is sure. If this does end up being Greg Bird’s swansong as a footballer, very few will miss him.