A Rushworth reserves footballer has been hit with a record 15-year suspension for pushing an umpire.
Martin Forde will be de-registered by AFL Victoria after the Kyabram District Football League's independent tribunal handed down its decision last night.
A player can apply for re-registration with AFL Victoria 12 months after serving the suspension period, potentially allowing him to play again in 2034.
The Tigers player faced the tribunal as a result of an investigation into an abandoned match between Rushworth and Ardmona on July 22.
Forde pleaded guilty to unbecoming conduct.
The game was called off at quarter-time after Forde forcefully pushed an umpire with both hands in the face following a free kick being paid to the Cats.
The umpire was verbally abused before being knocked to the ground with the force of the push.
The contact came as the umpire was in the process of red-carding the Rushworth player.
Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association president Darren Meek applauded the tribunal's handling of the case.
"I think it sends a clear message to players and officials that touching or striking, or any offence against an umpire, and you're going to serve a very severe penalty," Meek said.
"The independent tribunal behaved in a very professional manner and handled a very difficult situation very well.
"They've sent a message out to the football community that behaviour like this will not be tolerated."
Rushworth has been contacted for comment.
For more, see tomorrow's Shepparton News.