Brayshaw family’s remarkable act of forgiveness
THE Brayshaw family has pleaded with the football community to forgive Andrew Gaff as plans are being made for him to meet Andrew Brayshaw later this week.
Andrew's brother Hamish, a teammate of Gaff's at West Coast, is involved in bringing the pair together.
Andrew's father Mark Brayshaw said it was important Gaff did not suffer long-term condemnation for his punch, which resulted in an eight-week suspension handed down at the AFL tribunal.
"That meeting is going to be just as important for Andrew Brayshaw as it is for Andrew Gaff because it's going to be a pretty powerful interview," Brayshaw Sr said.
"Unless you live in Perth, mate, it's a ferocious environment. I just hope they meet soon and shake hands and I'm sure they will.
"And when that happens, I'd like people to hear that an apology has been given and accepted and we move on because it's a pretty intense place at the moment.
"The meeting will happen this week if not next week."
Gaff told the AFL Tribunal he tried to punch Brayshaw in the chest and revealed he sent Brayshaw a text message hours after the incident.
Mark Brayshaw said the family had forgiven Gaff.
"Yeah, yeah," he said. "I think he's genuinely embarrassed and remorseful. There's no question of the sincerity and remorse. You know, we all make mistakes and I, of course it's not for me to excuse, but I want his father and mother to realise we're thinking of them and we look forward to the next Eagles dinner.''
Mark praised both clubs for their support after the game and on Monday through difficult circumstances.
He has spoken to the two coaches, chief executives, football managers and presidents of both clubs.
He spoke to Eagles coach Adam Simpson after the game, while Dockers coach Ross Lyon visited the family and Brayshaw in hospital.
He spoke to Gaff's father on Monday.
"Both clubs have been wonderful," he said. "They've been fantastic and I hope that can really find its way into the local vernacular because that's really important.
"I spoke to Andrew's father, yeah it was dad to dad.
"He was very apologetic and I just said to him, 'Look mate don't worry about it, stuff happens and my bloke's going to be fine. I was more worried about you guys. If I could shake your hand, buy you a beer and deal with it, and I hope your young bloke's OK'."
"The highlight reels will probably feature him forever now, you know, the social and accredited media. He's Hamish's mate, there's just a whole set of things that are much worse for Andrew Gaff than they are for Andrew Brayshaw who's going to be fine in a months' time.''
Mark, who sat with wife Deb with the parents groups behind the goals, said he saw the punch and soon after received texts from friends abusing Gaff.
"Then the club doctor rang and said, 'Look, it's not too bad, we think it's a fracture, the teeth are pushed back but we think it's OK', which to the punter sounds a bit bizarre, but hearing it from the doctor wasn't so bad.
"And then Deb was very upset. She went down the rooms. I was generally more worried about Gaff and his family to be honest.
"I just thought Andrew might need some stitches. I had no idea of the gravity of what had happened, and neither did anybody else for that matter.
"The first thing we heard was the club doctor ringing and he explained that he wasn't too bad despite the fact he was going to get in an ambulance, he had a suspected fractured jaw and his teeth were pushed back.
"So I stayed in the grandstand and my wife went down and she saw the distress and the blood. Deb was right there, watching it all and in the ambulance, so she was a bit more immediate and a bit more distressed."
He said he sensed the game "getting a bit dangerous" at three-quarter time.
"I could see at three-quarter time Ross Lyon held them out for longer, like a lot longer and it was like a schoolboys game, and I could see young Andrew Gaff and I just thought, and I don't know him from a bar of soap, but I could see that he felt horrible and uncomfortable and his body language was terrible."
Hamish drove Mark home after the game, where Mark learned more about Gaff's character.
"He told me he and Andrew Gaff are pretty tight and he said he's just the nicest bloke that you've met," Mark said.
"He said he (Gaff) was distraught and devastated and ashamed and all these things."
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