'Hope your mother dies': The vile sledge that rocked Aussie sport, but Harrison Petty's mum refutes claims she's terminally-ill
Dayne Zorko has apologised but no action has been taken against him for his execrable remarks which has left fans fuming
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Australian Football League star Harrison Petty recently broke down in tears after a brutal statement from rival Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko, 33, who said, "I hope your mother dies." However, the Melbourne Demons' young gun's mother Karen Petty has quashed all the claims that she has cancer. Many fans were left wondering how Petty, 22, could be so upset by a sledge on the football field.
Several AFL political commentators claimed Petty's mother Karen was '"terminally ill" with cancer, upsetting the young footballer who was already upset about her "illness." The Adelaide Thunderbirds netball team, which Petty's sister Hannah co-captains, also held its first cancer fundraiser earlier in August with The Longest Table, and Hannah posed for photos in team uniform.
Karen, on the other hand, was working behind the desk at a hardware store in the family's hometown of Wudinna on Thursday, August 25, looking healthy. "That's all rumors," she responded when asked about reports that she was terminally ill, according to Daily Mail ''I don't have cancer,'' she said with an amused smile. Petty's father, Simon, also stated that his wife was not ill, though both refused to discuss the Zorko situation, reveal what was said, or explain why their son was upset.
For generations, the family has lived in the small town of 550 on the Eyre Peninsula, about seven hours from Adelaide. The Petty family was local sporting royalty long before the defender lifted the AFL Premiership Cup last season. Karen is one of Eyre's best-ever netballers, having played for Wudinna United's A grade team for 18 seasons and winning 13 premierships, as well as nine clubs and three league best and fairest awards.
She has spent the last decade assisting the club as a coach and logistical organizer after her playing days were over. Her last two titles were shared with her daughter Hannah, 25, who now co-captains the Thunderbirds in the Super Netball league. Petty was selected by Melbourne in the third round of the 2017 draught and was named the Harold Ball Memorial Trophy winner for the Demons' best first-season player in 2019.
The sledge sparked a heated debate between Melbourne and Brisbane football managers Alan Richardson and Danny Daly before Zorko was confronted by several Demons at full-time. Melbourne said on Saturday, August 20, that it accepted the Lions' apology and was happy to put the matter to rest after Petty and Zorko had a heart-to-heart after the game.
"I have apologized to Harrison for the inappropriate comment I made to him,'' Zorko said. "I'm remorseful for my actions and take full responsibility for the hurt caused to Harrison, his family, and the Melbourne Football Club. In reflection, I understand I need to be a better leader and have spoken with the club who have reinforced this," he added, as per the Daily Mail.
Despite multiple calls for the AFL to probe the Brisbane star's comments and summon him before a court of law, the league has taken no action. Many AFL fans and pundits were outraged by Zorko's lack of punishment, believing it would send a message that such comments were acceptable. Zorko later claimed that he wasn't the only one engaging in sleazy banter during the match and that he was provoked into the sledge.