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As a 14-year-old, Brayden Maynard came up with a phrase his Hampton Rovers teammates adopted as their theme for the under-15s season.
Respect all, fear none.
Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard has had a full-on week after the incident that left Angus Brayshaw concussed.Credit: Eddie Jim
His willingness to take that approach into the AFL had won him admiration from fans as he played with a “never complain, never explain” style over 184 games.
That was until he jumped to smother a kick from Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw early in the qualifying final and crashed into him as he landed, leaving Brayshaw concussed and almost immediately raising emotions and dividing public opinion.
Was it an accident, something that happens in footy? Or had Maynard stepped too far, his willingness to live on the edge tipping him over it?
Melbourne supporters were incensed and Brayshaw’s friends were, understandably, upset at the sight of their mate out cold on the turf for two minutes.
By Tuesday the matter was settled at the tribunal when Maynard was cleared of a rough conduct charge to play in this week’s preliminary final, with the tribunal chair Jeff Gleeson and two past players declaring the incident an accident.
By Friday, with Brayshaw slowly but steadily recovering, Maynard admitted he’d had a rough week as his concern for his old Hampton Rovers teammate’s wellbeing became his priority.
“I am really close with Angus and have been for quite a while. It was an accident and I have checked up on him a couple of times. I love the guy and it has been pretty full on,” Maynard said.
There was no defiant swagger in his voice and it was clear he had been on an emotional roller-coaster. Teammate Taylor Adams told RSN on Thursday that the incident had clearly rattled the defender.
Not much rattles Maynard.
Brayden Maynard won his tribunal hearing over the clash with Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw.Credit: Getty Images
Hawthorn premiership player Peter Schwab got to know the 27-year-old a little when Maynard came down to help out his old school team De La Salle while Schwab was coaching.
“I like him. He’s a knockabout kid. What you see is what you get,” Schwab said.
His teammates love him not just for the way he plays but for the person he is. They were ready to support him after his tribunal hearing, regardless of the outcome.
“He’s a ripper. He’d do anything for anyone,” Collingwood premiership skipper Nick Maxwell said.
Maynard, who captained the club for the final two home-and-away matches in Darcy Moore’s absence, has come a long way in a short time.
By his own admission, he took time to mature during high school at De La Salle in Malvern, the turnaround starting soon after he found himself appearing on a Crimestoppers poster at Elsternwick Station after he graffitied a train.
He told the Dyl and Friends podcast his first instinct was to get a haircut, but when his mum Donna found out, she marched him down to Moorabbin Police Station, where he was scared straight. He was embarrassed now, he said, to think he had done something so stupid – and can only laugh in horror at the position he put himself and his parents in.
But it was clear a lovable larrikin was emerging.
Brayden Maynard (centre) at Collingwood’s open training session on Friday.Credit: Eddie Jim
He has competitiveness in his DNA via his grandfather, Fitzroy great Graham Campbell, and his father Peter, who played eight games with Melbourne and 217 games in the SANFL.
Collingwood’s football department now views him as more lovable than larrikin and although he can hit hard on the field, he can hug just as tight off it.
“He crosses that line and he’s this fierce competitor you love to play with,” teammate Darcy Cameron said. “You get him off the training track and he’s a cuddler.”
Maynard’s love of the contest has been a feature of his game since his junior days at Hampton Rovers, when he sometimes played alongside Brayshaw, and the Sandringham Dragons, where the likeable pair played together before both were drafted in 2014.
The Dragons manager at the time, former Essendon ruckman Ryan O’Connor, compared him to Hawthorn great Luke Hodge – another knockabout who was much admired for playing without any beg pardons – leading into the 2014 national draft.
“He’s passionate about those around him … I think he has handled himself extremely well under a lot of pressure. I think the microscope on both boys this week has been unbelievable and you just hope both boys are OK,” O’Connor said.
“He’s just a ripping kid. ‘Gussy’ is similar. They have a lot of similar attributes in how they go about it.”
A Hampton Rovers official, who preferred to speak anonymously because of the emotions surrounding the issue, said the club’s main concern had been the wellbeing of both families as the issue became a media frenzy.
“The Brayshaws and the Maynards are top of the rung at Hampton Rovers. They are great community people and they have given so much whether it be administration, coaching, always giving their time … it was a concern for Hampton Rovers to see two of their greats in that situation,” he said.
Maynard’s decision to drop in on Angus with a bottle of wine and flowers for his partner Danielle symbolised the connection – he wanted to check in on the welfare of a person he saw as both an opponent and a colleague.
Heavy collision: Brayden Maynard crashes into Angus Brayshaw.Credit: Channel Seven
There was no overthinking, nor permission sought from the club; there had been an accident on the football field and an opponent Maynard respected had been hurt. That warranted a visit and a gesture.
Not that Maynard is anyone’s idea of a saint, as he has been happy to portray a rugged image in front of the cameras.
Ahead of last year’s qualifying final against Geelong, a reporter asked Maynard whether he feared the Cats’ attack.
“Fear? Nah, never mate. I never fear anyone. I’m looking forward to the contest though,” Maynard said.
That rough and tumble attitude meant his approach to the contest was the first thing reporters went to when he spoke before last Thursday’s qualifying final.
Once his joking was over, he gave a more serious answer to represent his approach to the game.
“I just want to play a fair game, and like I said it’s finals football, so it is going to be pretty intense when we go out there,” Maynard said.
It became more intense than he had ever imagined. Despite knowing the incident was an accident, it’s possible that Maynard won’t be completely comfortable until Brayshaw’s football career resumes with no aftereffects.
He won’t be changing his style; no one expects him to. Until now, the motto has served him well.
Respect all, fear none.
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